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Bush's Painful Obsession With Medical Pot

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:05 pm    Post subject: Bush's Painful Obsession With Medical Pot Reply with quote

Kate Scannell wrote:
I have known too many patients who have lived miserably or died painfully to have
patience with the Bush administration's intrusive attempts to bar them from discussing
medical marijuana with their doctors.

I've seen one too many old men spend their final hours nauseated and vomiting while
their distressed and helpless families watched. One too many women with cancer who
linger, bone-thin and languid, as their loved ones beg for "something" to make them
feel better.

And I, like so many doctors, have witnessed the therapeutic relief that many such
patients experience after using marijuana. Their illnesses become less miserable, their
difficult deaths are made more tolerable.

And those reasons explain precisely why the federal government's relentless attempts to
bar patients from access to medical marijuana constitute both cruel and unusual crimes
against us all. They are wrong-headed and politically driven obsessions, not
compassionate advisements intended to relieve human suffering.

As a patient, when I'm feeling ill, I don't want John Ashcroft's opinion about the best
medical treatment for my condition. When someone I love visits a medical clinic because
she is sick to death, I hope that she will be met by a doctor who will give her
truthful advice born of experience and a focused dedication to her well being. I pray
that she is not met by a federal agent with no clinical skills whose primary allegiance
is to a political agenda.

As a doctor, I am stunned by the intensity of the Bush administration's obsession with
medical marijuana. It boggles my mind to think that our government officials are
spending so much time and money to obstruct the use of a medication that might actually
help cancer patients tolerate their chemotherapy, AIDS patients gain a little weight,
glaucoma patients suffer less.

We have yet to see any data from the Feds that explains why medicinal marijuana should
be excluded from pharmacy shelves that already contain morphine and codeine -- as well
as a host of other drugs for conditions like heart disease or seizures that have longer
potential side effect profiles.

I wish the administration would channel some of that energy towards, say, improving
pain control in our debilitated nursing home patients. Or facilitating clinical
research trials with medical marijuana so that credible science could replace emotional
rhetoric about the drug's efficacy.

IT was heartening that on Oct. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to entertain the
Bush administration's latest attempt to silence discussions about medical marijuana
between doctors and patients. Specifically, the high court declined to re-examine last
year's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that said
doctors could speak freely with patients about the potential benefits of medical

But had the Bush administration gotten its way this time, the federal government would
have acquired the authority to punish a doctor who simply advised patients that
medical marijuana might relieve their pain and suffering. The Bush administration
would have gained the right to slap a federal offense on that doctor, revoke her
ability to write prescriptions, and subject her to criminal prosecution. And in the
meantime, while that doctor's prosecution might have given cause for some deluded
Washington administrators to raise their glasses in a rabid toast to the war on drugs,
a doctor who had tried to serve her ailing patients with honesty and compassion is
sidelined, and her patients are stranded.

We do have a drug problem in this country, but if it's to be solved, reason and clear
vision must guide us. The Feds' relentless attacks on physicians who discuss medical
marijuana as a potential means of alleviating their patients' suffering smacks of cheap
theatrics in a desperate effort to stage some semblance of a victory in the real war on

Kate Scannell is an East Bay physician and writer.

Bush's Painful Obsession With Medical Pot by Kate Scannell
Source: Oakland Tribune (CA) October 26, 2003

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