I just completed a training at NCNM and what I learned is that there ARE other people in the community who are impassioned about social justice. Sometimes, when I'm walking down the street, and the people around me are completely closed off from each other, I wonder. I feel good every time that I am the one to stop and ask if someone is OK, offer a hand with something, or otherwise step up to be part of the kinder gentler world that civilization is supposed to bring.
I feel our common humanity more deeply than I fear our external differences. I do not care what color you are, or what you think is sexy, or which religion you think is the right one. What I care about is joy.
So presume only that I will take you as another human, doing the best you can. I hope you will see that I am no different.
Recent post by Dr Gryder at the Madness Medicine Blog.
My patients often ask if I think medical marijuana might be helpful. We’ve had some widely ranging conversations about the risks and benefits of this drug. As a naturopathic physician I may not prescribe cannabis even though it is legal for medical use here in Oregon; it is not in the ND formulary. The fact that I cannot prescribe it does not prevent me from discussing it. The issue will not go away, regardless of the laws and the war on drugs. Cannabis is ubiquitous, even though it is federally illegal with varying levels of state permissiveness.
Just last month Colorado and Washington were the first states in America to approve the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Those who fear it as a gateway drug, and those who advocate its medical use or broader legalization, are all making noise about it. The politics often plays more loudly than the facts. Marijuana is the #1 drug brought our way by Mexican drug cartels, and Mexican weed is likely to contain pesticides and other toxins. Synthetic cannabinoids are being imported from Asia labelled as bath soaps and sold in convenience stores. The war on drugs highlights our incarceration problem and the ugly politics of race. Reasonable medical questions remain unanswered.
Our own government propagated a lot of disinformation back in the 1930’s when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created and cannabis was classified as a narcotic (against the advice of the American Medical Association). The original Greek meaning of “narcotic” was any psychoactive substance that induces sleep, but in more recent times it has come to mean opiates and any drug derived from them. Opiates are addictive and are carefully regulated by the DEA. Cannabis is pharmacologically a world apart from opiates, and is no longer thought of as a narcotic, but it is still plagued by the negative reputation engendered by federal prohibition and propaganda, and the War on Drugs. Cannabis was federally prohibited in 1933, the same year that the prohibition on alcohol was rescinded.
In 2009 the AMA did a review of the scientific literature on cannabis and found a few legitimate clinical trials with a grand total of less than 300 study participants. The DEA has refused to grant permission to universities or pharmaceutical companies to research it. The drug is approved by 18 states for medical use, but we have very little scientific information on which to base clinical applications. Anecdotal information about the indications of various strains guide the choices of medical users. The federal ban is still in effect, and current federal enforcement efforts are focused on importers and distributors and not on small scale possession (like they were under Reagan). Employers are within their legal rights to require drug testing. Law enforcement budgets rely on asset forfeitures (police can seize any cash or items likely to be related to drug trade without proof of guilt) which is incentive for police forces to continue to pursue small scale dealers. Medical cannabis programs provide a front for a new domestic black market. That the issue is contentious is an understatement; it is explosive. And we still don’t know what it is good for.
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This link goes to a Ted Talk by Jon Ronson, journalist from London, speaking about the research he did for a book on psychopathy. He pegs the relevant issue which is the fact that all of us display some characteristics of various mental disorders, including psychopathy. All of us, you say? Yes, all of us. Madness is inherent in the human condition. We have the capacity for rationality, but we also all have moments of unconsciousness. We have moments in which we are not as kind as we could be. We have moments of every description, but these moments do not condemn us. We can still be decent people.
In the Bible, Matthew 7:5 reminds us that we are not perfect. "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Before we accuse anyone else of madness, it is in our best interests to recognize that we are human too, with requisite portions of inexplicable wildness.
Author: Teresa Gryder
Integrative Physician and Student of Life, Medicine, and the River.