Sunday, January 31, 2016

Doctors confused about medical marijuana

I've had occasion to interview several MDs as my wife and I search for doctors here in Portland, where marijuana consumption has been legal since last year. The situation is this: my wife has chronic pain in her legs, chronic insomnia, and bouts of depression. She has discovered that there is one and only one drug that can help her with these problems.

She has tried the drugs prescribed by doctors, but started having suicidal thoughts and stopped immediately. So when she goes looking for a doctor, the first thing she asks is, Do you prescribe marijuana for your patients? The answer is invariably, no.

Doctors seem perplexed. The young ones recently left medical school, where they learned absolutely nothing about the possible benefits of medical marijuana, while the older ones grew up in the days when we were all told that marijuana was incredibly addictive and useless for the treatment of any disease.

Now that marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in many states, and likely soon will be legal in many more, doctors need to know more than just what the law says. They need to treat marijuana like any other drug that may possibly be helpful to their patients.

The problem here is akin to the problem with taking action on global warming. Millions of dollars are being spent to convince people that global is not real and that nothing can be done about it, or, worse, that it is a conspiracy to part them from their money. These millions of dollars have convinced a large segment of the population that scientists are dishonest charlatans who make millions from their lies.

These aren't the only cases of attacking scientists, who are frequently the messengers of truths that people don't want to hear. Tobacco companies spent millions fighting against claims that nicotine was addictive and caused cancer. The residual effects of this campaign are that some people still refuse to believe that smoking is bad for them. They also refuse to believe that second-hand smoke is also bad for them, despite numerous studies that show second-hand smoke is almost as bad as smoking itself.

This disbelief in science is a byproduct of capitalism. Corporations will spread propaganda (only they call it public relations) to keep their product from being outlawed and keep the money flowing into their bank accounts. They do not care how many people die as a result of their actions. They only care about the bottom line--the profits they make from the suffering of others.

Those who attack the Supreme Court for its Citizen's United ruling--that lets corporations and wealthy individuals spend as much money as they like to elect politicians to do their bidding--are missing the point. It's capitalism itself that permits the winning capitalists to impose their wills on the losers. Capitalism itself is causing the collapse of human societies all over the world.

We must find an alternative before it is too late. Or is it already too late?

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