The controversial topic of "medical" marijuana, the use of an illegal and unstudied substance by the lay public, promoted as a treatment for serious illnesses, and its societal role being decided by the political systems rather that a classical and tested scientific approach causes "The Reasonable Man" to shake his head in disbelief.
That this drug is grown, transported, processed, and sold to the public without any study, research, medical review and scientific testing by the usual process including the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, medical pharmacologists, and the clinical doctors who see the patients and the clinical results of treatments is an incredible comment on the thinking of our modern society.
It seems the only people who are studying and researching this phenomenon are drug cartels and marijuana entrepreneurs.
One of those entrepreneurs was recently interviewed by Bari Weiss of the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ, March 15-16, pA11). His discussion with Justin Hartfield, a "marijuana businessman" whose goal is to become the "Phillip Morris of the marijuana industry" really describes why these operators are in favor of legalizing marijuana. During the interview, Hartfield avoided any comment about the medicinal effect of marijuana. He has profited greatly from his websites in which he deals with the business aspects of the "retail sales" of the drug. He admitted the systems and knowledge regarding "medical marijuana" is a "farce."
The experience of Weiss of the WSJ in California validates Hartfield's opinion. "Not one person I met with a "medical marijuana" card was sick. It took me $150 and under an hour to get a card from a California physician, even after I admitted I was just in town for a visit"
The situation surrounding the promotion and use of marijuana vividly reminds me of the fraud perpetrated on the American people in the 1970s and 1980s. That product was Laetrile, a drug derived from apricot pits which was promoted as a cancer cure. As in the case of "medical" marijuana, many testimonials (individual patient experiences) were used as proof of the value of Laetrile, notably without any scientific studies or medical review. In fact, unethical and criminal physicians and methods were used to convince the public of the value of Laetrile.
The hoax was exposed and removed from the market by legal means, Supreme Court decisions, and the death of one of its proponents, actor Steve McQueen.
Does marijuana work? Is it effective and safe? No scientific studies or research has validated the claims of users. Is it dangerous? Studies from New Zealand have shown a decrease in IQ measurements in users; Colorado emergency facilities have reported incidents using synthetic cannabinoids causing altered mental status, seizures, heart disease, and strokes. An increase in child marijuana exposures has been linked to decriminalization. I personally treated a man who had used marijuana and then put his hand into a running engine to get "in tune" with the "rhythm of the engine" He incurred a severe laceration of his hand
A recent poll of members of the Minnesota Medical Association showed a significant majority of the physicians did not feel that marijuana should be used medically until appropriate studies and patient experiences have been reviewed by the medical community and public health authorities.
It is well known that the law enforcement community, who deals with the inherent problems of abuse of drugs, does not favor legalization of marijuana.