Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh Calvina...

A couple of weeks ago I was watching The Drug Years on the Sundance Channel, when the ever vigilant warrior in the War on Drugs, protector of America and outspoken, opinionated executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation Calvina Fay reaffirmed her tactlessness and obtuseness when she declared something akin to "Some people say the war on Drugs is failing and we should give up. To me, that's like saying we haven't found a cure for AIDS and cancer so we should stop our medical research."

Despite the irrationality and ignorance of such a brass statement, I’m almost tempted to agree to an extent. Please do not misunderstand my point, here. Unlike the search for a cure to cancer and AIDS, the Drug War has had purely negative and deleterious effects on individuals and society at large. Despite spending billions of dollars every year, and locking up hundreds of thousands of non-violent, otherwise law-abiding citizens, there has been no progress or improvement in solving the nation’s drug problem. True, despite decades of research, cancer and AIDS still kill millions of people each year. However, progress is being made. New treatments and drugs are discovered on a continual basis, making the lives of those afflicted with these ailments more bearable and enjoyable. What headway has been made in the thirty year-long, ineffective War on Drugs?

Wherein lies my agreement, then? I support a search for a cure, much to the chagrin of Ms. Fay, involving further research into the therapeutic value of many drugs in the medical arena. Cannabis has been shown to effectively help many patients left weak and wasting away after chemotherapy and other current treatments for cancer and AIDS. It has other properties that help mitigate pain and nausea associated with the drug cocktails prescribed to many patients with these ailments. People with other diseases such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis can also benefit from the use of marijuana.

Of course, Ms. Fay and her supporters would have us believe that legalizing the medical use of cannabis and other drugs would lead to an increase of use among the general population. However, in 1999 the Institute of Medicine concluded that, “At this point, there are no convincing data to support this concern. The existing data are consistent with the idea that this would not be a problem if marijuana were as closely regulated as other medications with abuse potential.” The current prohibition policies in America take control of these substances out of the government’s hands. Legalizing the medical use of these drugs would put the supply in the hands of physicians and doctors instead of street-dealers, greatly reducing the supply to children and the possibility of abuse. Furthermore, as the IOM said, “this question is beyond the issues normally considered for medical uses of drugs, and should not be a factor in evaluating the therapeutic potential of marijuana…”

All substances, including morphine (an opiate closely related to heroin) and cocaine, already legally prescribed and used by doctors, have the potential to be misused and abused. However, drugs that can ease the pain and suffering of millions should be administered and regulated. But, doesn’t that send the wrong message to children – that it is ok to use drugs? Would a better message be sending seriously ill people with terminal diseases to prison instead of allowing themselves and their doctors to determine the best possible treatment?

There is indeed a drug problem in this country. It’s called prohibition. Calvina Fay was right in saying the War on Drugs is failing. She was wrong in saying we should stop medical research for a cure to the plagues of cancer and AIDS. We should, however, broaden the scope of our research to include honest investigation into the therapeutic potential of drugs for medical use. Doctors, not “I-know-better-than-you” Congressmen and women, are the only qualified people to determine what should and should not be used to help their patients cope with illness. Yet, with the unsuccessful Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana amendment yesterday, it appears that many politicians feel truly ill people need a prison sentence more than their medicine. So, does compassion still mean anything on Capitol Hill? Of course, compassion for prison guards, parole officers, police, and their jobs; not for seriously ill people who only want to make their lives better.


Jonathan Perri said...

"Congressmen are not doctors, we just play them sometimes on C-span."
~Barney Frank yesterday.

800 pound gorilla said...

We still have an inconvenient truth out there: there is NO standard for drug prohibition. "Potential for abuse" is a standard for drug users, not the drug itself. Statistical correlations do not equal scientific studies; we can end death in our time by sterilizing the entire population because there is a 100% statistical correlation between birth and death.

I know that having a standard for users is appropriate because drugs don't serve time in prisons; people do. But when the drug czar ridicules any use of a drug by citing "lack of scientific evidence" it is akin to Hitler deriding Stalin for human rights abuses. Actually closer to home it's akin to GW deriding anyone for violating international law.

Kevin Cordia said...

your organizaion funds terrorism and is an instrument of absolute evil. Bless George W Bush and damn all of you to an eternity in hell. The rapture will wash my life of you turds!!!

Anonymous said...

Sean Randall,
You have grown up. Damn, that sucks. I should never have educated you.