This is Your Drug Czar on Drugs

Maybe President Obama's new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske was high on some bad drug when he said this in Fresno Wednesday?

[T]he federal government views marijuana as a harmful and addictive drug, he said. "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit."

NORML responds:[More...]

Hundreds of scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals now document the therapeutic utility of cannabis. That’s why thirteen states, encompassing more than 25 percent of the US population, have legalized the physician-supervised use of pot. To add insult to injury, the Drug Czar was visiting a medical marijuana state (California) when he made his asinine remark.

A new study (pdf)estimates that in 2008, 7,000 doctors have prescribed marijuana for 400,000 patients in states where it is legal.

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    I guess this must be proof that (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Anne on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 07:03:03 AM EST
    we have transitioned to an administration that makes "science-based" policy decisions...or, maybe not so much.

    Have to assume, I think, that this is Obama's view, which is pretty discouraging.

    So? (none / 0) (#1)
    by bocajeff on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 01:29:07 AM EST
    Even if he's correct (which he isn't) what's the big deal? Alcohol is a far worse contributor to violence and death than pot ever would or could be - but that's legal. That's why I keep insisting that this fight be done on freedom grounds...

    BTW, I'm suffering from a kidney stone right now and taking percoset until it passes. Don't know if pot would help, but could it hurt?

    He is just testing the water. (none / 0) (#2)
    by BeAware on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 01:52:25 AM EST
    In my opinion Mr. Kerlikowskes comments were designed to elicit a response from those paying attention in the public, as those paying attention are probably the ones who vote. From their reaction they can then decide where to take the issue, if it is the right socio-political climate to go ahead and push for legalization, or if the majority still have some conservative reservation about it. Just the game of politics being played at a high level.

    One would hope... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:38:46 AM EST
    he's playing games and honestly doesn't believe that...otherwise this clown ain't qualified to be dogcatcher.

    Regardless, I'm tired of games being played with my inalienable rights.  Do the right thing for once and forget the next election...the people will appreciate it over politics as usual.


    Policy on autopilot (none / 0) (#4)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 06:58:42 AM EST
    Policies have inertia...just like elections have consequences. The inertia of 'drug control policy' - which controls nothing - was caused by decades of public indifference. So long as the economy was going well, who cared about dopers? More correctly, who cared about drug laws?

    But now, the economy's in the toilet. People are out of work, and need money in the form of unemployment bennies and other social safety net programs (tattered and torn by years of malign neglect). While the DrugWar trundles merrily along, swallowing literally tons of money and sh*ts out nothing but broken lives and prisons...the latter requiring even more money.

    How much longer before some 'enterprising' pol figures that that that money could be better used? I'd give the economy only one more serious downturn before you start hearing that it's time to be 'smart on crime' and more efficient in our use of taxpayer's money than throwing it down the DrugWar's fiscal black hole. And the process will start with start with re-legalizing cannabis. 'Cause we just can't afford this damn-foolishness anymore...

    The modern use of marijuana as a medicine (none / 0) (#6)
    by JSN on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 07:47:59 AM EST
    appears to be a medical backwater because most doctors think there are better alternatives. OTOH most of the doctors I know do not think that occasional use is harmful.

    That means that on technical grounds the drug czar is wrong but on political grounds he may not be in that it is still dangerous for politicians to support legalization.

    Solution (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:00:43 AM EST
    Have every politician at every level blood and hair tested every three months.  My guess is legalization would soon follow.

    and every cop, fire fighter (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:05:09 AM EST
    postal worker hell, every fed and state employee.  25% of the workforce would be gone or it would suddenly be not so unsafe and decriminalized.

    Or the gov't would be listening to all of our phone calls, wait that might be happening....


    Easy J... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:40:54 AM EST
    my brother is a postal worker...his kids gotta eat man!...:)

    it would never get enacted (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:45:01 AM EST
    you would see a storm of support for decriminalization.  Hypocrisy has a way of turning tides.....

    I got ya... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:05:39 AM EST
    I was just kidding really, though my brother would have stressfull time between the announcement of blood-testing and the legalization of drugs.  

    Hey (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:51:23 AM EST
    More stoners on the road than drunk drivers.

    More from Gil:

    Using new screening techniques to detect substances in addition to alcohol, the survey found that the most commonly detected drugs in drivers were marijuana (8.3%), cocaine (3.9%) and methamphetamine (1.3%). Researchers said the presence of these drugs can remain in a driver's system for weeks, making it difficult to know whether the drivers who tested positive were impaired on the road.

    "This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse," said Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    Listen to the researchers... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:01:11 AM EST
    all that proves is people who smoke also drive, no kidding!  I gotta get to work too ya know:)

    Of course (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:26:04 AM EST
    But if you're impaired (whether you think you are or not), we don't want you on the road either!  :)

    Have you ever used marijuana? (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:33:11 AM EST
    I smoked my brains out last night (like most nights:)...woke up this morning sober as a judge and drove my arse to work.  

    If I'm not mistaken I don't think there is a definitive way to test if somenody is high on reefer at any given moment, only if it is in your system, and it stays in your system longer than alcohol, cocaine, etc...up to and over a month or so.


    Nope (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:36:04 AM EST
    Figure I can't afford to lose the brain cells I'm starting with.  :)

    To each their own... (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:43:52 AM EST
    At least there is one topic where I know a little more than you brainiac:)

    Trust me, there is a long list of things to worry about on the road way ahead of stoners....but of course, nobody should drive recklessly.


    unlike alcohol, which clears out shortly. (none / 0) (#23)
    by cpinva on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:35:28 AM EST
    Researchers said the presence of these drugs can remain in a driver's system for weeks, making it difficult to know whether the drivers who tested positive were impaired on the road.

    for him to then make his claim is beyond assinine, it has zero basis in scientific fact. he either knows this, but figures no one will call him on it, or doesn't know it. either way, it's a problem.


    Connect the dots... (none / 0) (#18)
    by mcl on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:42:41 AM EST
    First Eric Holder proclaims that he wants to lower the minimum weight for filing federal charges against marijuana sellers as dealers. ("...With marijuana sales central to the drug trade, Mr. Holder said he was exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required for the federal prosecution of possession cases.") Now Kerlikowski assures us that The Weed With Roots In Hell will make your teenage daughter into a ravening drug-crazed psychopath and group-sex fiend, if she doesn't hurl herself out of a fifth-floor window first. Welcome to Reefer Madness in 2009. (Next up: Obama's surgeon general explains that masturbation makes you go blind...)

    In between, President Obama ridicules Americans (Obama jokes about pot-brained audience online) who raise the question of why he won't respond to the single most popular issue on Obama's own website, namely, When are we going to end the failed and counterproductively futile Drug War?

    Obama told us it was funny, hahaha, that people seem to care so much about ending the Drug War. Hehe. Hoho. Ha. Ho. And I thought my jokes were bad, said the Joker in Batman: Dark Knight,, just before he slams a pencil into the guy's eye and pulls a bunch of grenades out of his jacket.

    Giggle giggle. Tee hee. Very funny, Obama. 21% of all people in the state prison system are non-violent drug offenders, tee hee, giggle giggle. Entire states like California are going bankrupt because they've got so many non-violent drug offenders locked up for mandatory minimum 20-year sentences. Yuk yuk, snicker snicker. Out entire justice system is collapsing and falling apart because America has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prisoners behind bars, and it's melting down the state and federal budgets (CA spends 50% of its entire budget on its prison system) and destroying our society by turning it into a prison-industrial complex. Funny, funny, funny, Obama. Heehee. Hoho. Ha. Ho.

    And I thought my jokes were bad.

    I'm just waiting for Obama to pull open his jacket and reveal a bunch of grenades and then wave his hand connected to the pins of the grenades with a string and tell us, "Now let's not BLOW this out of proportion..."

    I voted for hope and change, and got the villain in a superhero B movie.

    Ah, hell, why not just go for it?  Why not just bring back public witch-burnings?  It isn't any crazier or more self-destructive than the War On Drugs. And the crowning irony...I've never done drugs, including pot, have no interest in using 'em, don't know anyone who does. But I can sure see how the War on Drugs is destroying our society while bankrupting us all, and for no rational reason.

    The parasite toxoplasma gondii invades the brain of the common garden snail and causes it to behave self-destructively, climbing tall clumps of grass so the snail gets eaten by a bird. This turns out to be necessary for the parasite to reproduce. The behavior of Americans with regard with the Drug War is so demented, so persistently self-destructive, so contrary to every vestige of reason and common sense, that you have to wonder if something similar isn't going on.

    "no medicinal benefit" (none / 0) (#20)
    by diogenes on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:09:48 AM EST
    Marijuana is smoked; VERY few need to smoke it as opposed to taking marinol for medicinal effect.  Ritalin and other stimulants has a beneficial effect for attention deficit disorder and is taken as a pill; wouldn't you be a wee bit suspicious if someone said that they suffered from ADHD and needed to snort cocaine or ritalin (another stimulant) for it's "medicinal effect"?

    This seems to be a very common theme... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:51:40 AM EST
    ...for you.  Do you happen to work for the maker?

    As Kdog said, it ain't the real thing...

    Dronabinol is known to produce mild side effects similar to cannabis. Many scientists believe that dronabinol lacks beneficial properties of cannabis,[55][56] which contains more than 60 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), thought to be the major anticonvulsant that helps multiple sclerosis patients;[57] and cannabichromene (CBC), an anti-inflammatory which may contribute to the pain-killing effect of cannabis.[58] Others have countered that the effects of all of cannabis's cannabinoids have not been completely studied and are not fully understood.[citation needed]

    It takes over one hour for Marinol to reach full systemic effect,[59] compared to minutes for smoked or vaporized cannabis.[60] Some patients accustomed to inhaling just enough cannabis smoke to manage symptoms have complained of too-intense intoxication from Marinol's predetermined dosages. This powerful psychoactive effect, however, has led to recreational use of Marinol.[61] Many patients have said that Marinol produces a more acute psychedelic effect than cannabis, and it has been speculated that this disparity can be explained by the moderating effect of the many non-THC cannabinoids present in cannabis. Mark Kleiman, director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA's School of Public Affairs said of Marinol, "It wasn't any fun and made the user feel bad, so it could be approved without any fear that it would penetrate the recreational market, and then used as a club with which to beat back the advocates of whole cannabis as a medicine."[55] United States federal law currently registers dronabinol as a Schedule III controlled substance, but all other cannabis remains Schedule I, except nabilone. Taking a Marinol pill to manage nausea can be ineffective because nausea can cause the pill to be ejected before it is absorbed by the body.

    Marinol is also more expensive than medical marijuana, costing for example US$723 for 30 doses at 10 mg online, as of May, 2008.[62]

    marinol is expensive... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:25:23 AM EST
    and there ain't nothing like the real thing baby, as Marvin Gaye would say.

    You don't have to smoke it, you can vaporize it or eat it.

    And I wouldn't get suspicous of my fellow Americans if they wanna snort coke to treat adhd or fatigue...thats their business, not mine.


    Meanwhile (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jondee on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:39:00 PM EST
    no charges will filed against Big Pharm for their campaign in the ninties to get half the kids America on behavior control drugs whose long-term effects are still being debated.

    This is so funny (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 09:37:52 AM EST
    Because even you must know that there is no serious medical debate about ADD/ADHD or the efficacy stimulant treatment, you're reduced to fretting about long term effects.

    Ritalin and Amphetamine are some of the best-studied drugs we have.


    I dont give little kids anything (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 01:45:46 PM EST
    that's being sold for ten-bucks-a-pop in the mens room at ALLman Brothers concerts.

    And,when was the last time Big Pharm DIDNT describe a controversial drug as "well studied","perfectly safe" etc etc?

    Also, I would add that I think it's something more than coincidental that the rash of school shootings in the early and mid ninties correlated with the period when the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in young people and the over-prescribing of medication for it was at it's height.


    I love it (none / 0) (#34)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 01:56:08 PM EST
    how we're supposed to automatically take at their word the people who filed suit to keep some African nations from making AIDS drugs too readily available
    a decade ago.

    Red herring (none / 0) (#38)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 02:59:24 PM EST
    You should talk to the people whose lives were changed by ADD medication.

    Another red herring (none / 0) (#39)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 03:09:16 PM EST
    And, since you brought it up, in my rather extensive travels, somehow I havnt met that many.

    More on point than what you said (none / 0) (#40)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 03:11:38 PM EST
    I know several. But if you're going to dispute the science, you need to actually dispute the science. Not invent a conspiracy about the evil drug companies.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#35)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 02:16:49 PM EST
    We learned lots from the pill popping housewives in the fifties. Big Pharma made a ton, first diet then sleep, then tranquilizers to calm down.. mostly over the counter and "safe" as advertised.

    Clearly we are overmedicating our children today. Yes, medication can and does help certain children, but mostly meds are used as a way to control children with discipline problems. For most it is as easy to get a script, as it is getting a bottle of pepsi. In most cases no real evaluation takes place, as that would be too expensive. The commercial side of medicine, pharmaceutical cos, lobby doctors just like they do congresscritters.

    The outcome is in favor of the corporations at the expense of the population at large, imo.


    The last numbers I saw (none / 0) (#36)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 02:35:28 PM EST
    indicated that American kids were four times more likely to be on some form of psychiatric medication              as kids in any other part of the world.
    I suppose that's because we're so much more advanced and progressive in our approaches to treating children with problems and has nothing whatsover to do with corporate marketing campaigns and drugs as profitable commodities.

    I trust doctors, not junk science innuendo (none / 0) (#37)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 02:58:37 PM EST
    Junk Science Innuendo? (none / 0) (#41)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 03:25:58 PM EST
    If you are disputing the epidemic of over the counter drug use and addiction by housewives in the fifties, that is your prerogative. It is well documented and hardly innuendo or junk science. Mother's little helpers.

    As far as overprescribing drugs to our children that is quite well documented too. Take your pick.

    And if you think that many doctors are not lobbied buy the pharmaceutical companies, then you must also believe that there are no lobbyists in DC, or that in both cases the lobbyists have no influence. More here.

    Now it may be that you were prescribed meds as a child for ADD or whatever and they changed your life around. Or it may be that you have good doctors in your family. Or that you have been under the care of a great doctor for many years.

    In the case of the points I have made above, I do not believe that it is reasonable to generalize about medicine in the US, because you personally have had only great experiences with doctors.


    MDs in the family, and great Drs (none / 0) (#42)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 03:30:36 PM EST
    Nobody disputes that amphetamines were overused in the 50s and 60s. But that doesn't banish them to the dustheap.

    ADD/ADHD is recognized in all of the western world, and probably under treated, especially among girls (who do not tend to exhibit the hyperactive symptoms).


    Banishing to Dustheap? (none / 0) (#43)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:11:40 PM EST
    Never would suggest that. Still I maintain that drugs are over prescribed in the US. That does not contradict the fact that many who could benefit from drugs are not getting them.

    And it would make sense to me that due to the way women are socialized that many fall under the radar for diagnosis. I believe that is also true that girls who are high functioning on the autism spectrum are also under diagnosed, iow the 10:1 gender differential is due to the fact that shy girls with AS who do not speak much, are seen as typical, while boys with AS are seen as untypical and get diagnosed.


    UNDERtreated?! (none / 0) (#44)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:16:18 PM EST
    Man, has someone been indoctrinated. You're not a sales rep are you, and?

    Are you familiar with the research? (none / 0) (#46)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:37:51 PM EST
    Your Tom Cruise routine isn't helpful to anyone. And no, I do not work for a drug company.

    O.k you win, all those (none / 0) (#47)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:45:52 PM EST
    American kids need to be on all those drugs -- and more.

    You have more in with the initiates of Scientology than you think.


    Whether you like it or not (none / 0) (#48)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:49:43 PM EST
    you are arguing what they do.

    Hitler liked dogs (1.00 / 1) (#49)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:56:40 PM EST
    and so do I, that dosnt make me a Nazi.

    And yes, you sound like a Big Pharm hired gun defending against a lawsuit that hasnt happened yet.

    We're going to have to agree to disagree. I guess this means no sex tonight?


    My Grandfather was a doctor (none / 0) (#45)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 04:23:31 PM EST
    who had an office on Park Ave, NYC. He also happened to be an opiate and alchohol abuser who eventually killed himself.

    These people aren't necessarily all omniscient beings visiting here from some highly advanced civilisation.


    My clients say (none / 0) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 12:55:23 PM EST
    marinol is useless after a very short while because tolerance develops.

    "and addictive"? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Peter G on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:20:21 PM EST
    What's with that part of the statement?  At least on "no medicinal benefit" there's a sort of a controversy.

    Marinol's useless for people on chemo (none / 0) (#26)
    by mcl on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:17:15 PM EST
    Nausea, the main side effect of chemo, prevents people from keeping marinol down. It cannot have escaped your notice, therefore, that marinol proves useless for that reason for people on chemo.

    A cynical person might point out (none / 0) (#28)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 08:39:28 AM EST
    That big pharma is helping Obama on health care reform, his top issue. Pharma companies are against medicinal marijuana. Perhaps there was a backroom deal?

    If he wasn't so ridiculous... (none / 0) (#31)
    by KoolJeffrey on Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 10:15:45 AM EST
    ...I would laugh out loud. (Okay, I did a little bit). What kind of clown is this guy? Marijuana has no medicinal value? Is he nuts? Where has been during the discussion of medical marijuana? Pot clearly mitigates suffering for a wide variety of patients from cancer sufferers to mental disorders.

    As someone who has been hospitalized with bipolar disorder, I myself benefited greatly from pot as a mood stabilizer and anti-anxiety medication. Now that I work in a job that requires drug testing, I am forced to take a cocktail of five psych medications (depakote, seroquel, lamictal, klonopin, geodon), all of which come with unwanted side effects and one of which that is so addictive that I will probably have to take it for the rest of my life.

    My medication costs now run about $5000 a year, and that's with insurance. No way was I ever spending that kind of money on weed. I never smoked during the day and I never drove after smoking. My sleep was stable, and mood swings were within a healthy range.

    I am very disappointed that Obama is so brain dead on drug issues. I understand that he has a lot on his plate right now, and doesn't want to forfeit any political capital with health care on the line, but he is forcing a lot of people to suffer needlessly.