Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jun 2005
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2005 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Jerry Epstein


When The Law Plays Doctor

In his June 21 letter, retired DEA agent Lonny Watson calls the tens
of thousands of physicians who publicly support medical use of smoked
marijuana unethical.

The American Medical Association supported a suit against the
government and helped win the right of physicians to recommend
marijuana to appropriate patients. The New England Journal of Medicine
editorialized on Jan. 30, 1997: "A federal policy that prohibits
physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for
seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane."

Marinol contains one of marijuana's active ingredients
(tetra-hydrocannabinol) and has been available by prescription for
more than a decade. But it is difficult to titrate the therapeutic
dose of this drug, so it is not widely prescribed. Smoking marijuana
produces a rapid increase in the blood level of the active
ingredients, making it more therapeutic.

Patients say the pills don't work as well as natural marijuana, if at
all. Many who are fighting nausea say the pill makes them vomit. Many
complain that the pill, a highly concentrated version of marijuana's
most psychoactive ingredient, is far too strong.

Because he is a policeman and not a doctor, Watson is apparently
ignorant of Marinol's inadequacy. Educating himself with official
propaganda, he's bent on spreading his ignorance to the public.


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