When Will the War Be Over? Has the Tipping Point Arrived? - David Bearman, M.D.
Are we finally nearing the end to a long pointless war of hysteria? A war in which we
were lied about as to why we entered it. A war that has been particularly hard on
minorities. I’m not talking about the Iraq War. I’m talking about a much longer, more
insidious, more costly war – the so-called “War on Drugs”.
The Drug War has over 700,000 casualties a year from marijuana arrests alone (80% for
simple possession) and many more when the shattered families are added in. The
monetary costs are immense, amounting to over 50 billion dollars of our tax dollars per
year. Each year for a third of a century, the price tag for lost tax revenues, urine testing,
arrests, trials and incarcerations has mounted. Add to this the loss of access to a safe,
effective natural medication used by millions of Americans and may millions more
patients around the world, the opportunity costs and the priceless cost of our
Constitutional protections being shredded and science ignored and we have a crushing
We may have finally reached a tipping point in this long war on our sanity. We may have
come to the spot where cannabis and cannabinoids can rejoin their rightful place in the
panoply of therapeutic agents. Science and experience continue to validate the 1937
testimony of then Chief AMA Lobbyist, Dr. William Woodward, that “The AMA knows
of no dangers from the medicinal use of cannabis.” Even more importantly the ship of
state may finally get back to a full head of Constitutional steam to protect the rights and
freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
The real issues raised by medical cannabis are Constitutional and philosophical. In this
once free country does the individual have the right to care for their well-being or does
this pale in comparison to the responsibility of the government to protect us from
ourselves. The civil rights battle is crucial to protecting our liberty. Jefferson warned if
we let the government control what we put in our bodies, that this was governmental
tyranny. Why should the government stand in the way of an individual to take
responsibility for their health? Why should cannabis be in a separate category from other
On the one hand there is the argument that people have a right to self-medicate with a
natural product. On the other hand, does the 1938 Food, Cosmetics and Drug Act require
that the FDA prove the safety of cannabis? Those who say no, the Food, Cosmetics and
Drug Act does not confer that power to the FDA, point to the fact that since cannabis has
been widely recognized as a medicine for millennia, a person should be able to use
cannabis as they would other medicinal herbs, such as saw palmetto, milk thistle,
chamomile, and other natural substances on the shelves of pharmacy and natural remedy
stores. These are not manufactured and have never been tested nor been given FDA
approval. They are plants used for thousands of years by humans. In fact the 1938 law
excluded from it’s reach, products already being marketed. After cannabis was removed
from the USP in 1942, it was arbitrarily reclassified by the government as a “new” drug.
More and different questions are on the table now that cannabis is once again being
widely recognized as a therapeutic aid. Will European companies dominate the field of
cannabinoid chemistry? Will patients be able to produce their own medicine in
competition with corporations? If there is this competition, will individuals or
corporations prevail or can they coexist? Whatever happens regarding the emerging issue
of medicinal cannabis and cannabinoids, we are reaching the tipping point toward broad
legal acceptance of medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoids.
Seven Signs We’re Reaching a Tipping Point Legalizing Medicinal Cannabis
The U.S. is tipping toward a more reasonable policy regarding therapeutic and
recreational substances. There are at least seven (7) signs we are reaching this drug
control public policy tipping point.
These events and actions illustrate American’s dramatic change in attitude about the
efficacy of cannabis. They are favorable influences on public opinion and public policy.
- The December 2005 FDA approval of GW Pharmaceuticals phase III clinical
trials for tincture of cannabis.
- Former drug warriors Bob Barr and Dr. Barthwell becoming spokespeople for
MPP & GWP, respectively.
- Hinchey – Rohrbacher Amendment gaining more votes.
- University of Massachusetts Prof. Craker winning his suit before a DEA ALJ
charging the DEA with supporting a marijuana growing monopoly. The ruling directed
the DEA to issue Dr. Craker a license to grow cannabis for research.
- ASA lawsuit against HHS for violating the Data Quality Control Act of 2002.
- Governor William Richardson (NM) a Democratic Presidential candidate, signs
medicinal cannabis bill and was not adversely affected politically.
- The 14-year history of the relegalization of medical cannabis and its documented
approval by over 5,000 U.S. physicians.
FDA / GW / Clinical Trial
A British Company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has been doing clinical research on tincture of
cannabis since 1999. They have done numerous research studies in the UK and Spain on
the efficacy of their tincture of cannabis product (Sativex) for relief of muscle spasm and
pain from multiple sclerosis and relief of neuropathic pain. The research was compelling
enough for Sativex to be approved for sale in Canada by Health Canada (the Canadian
equivalent to the FDA) in April 2005. Bayer AG has been marketing Sativex in Canada
to doctors and pharmacists since June, 2005.
GW then hired the former top doctor in the “Drug Czar’s” office, Dr. Andrea Barthwell,
to lobby the FDA. It paid off. In December 2005, the FDA approved a Phase III clinical
trial to determine if cannabis was effective in relieving intractable pain in cancer patients.
Completion of this study is projected for early winter, 2008.
Drug Warrior Conversion
Former drug warriors such as Dr. Barthwell and one-time Republican Georgia
Congressman, Bob Barr, are now lobbyists for legalization of marijuana and tincture of
cannabis. Dr. Barthwell, the doctor who on the Montel Williams show, stated in front of
at least four (4) medical marijuana patients that marijuana has no medicinal value, is now
a paid lobbyist for GW. She is still tap-dancing though. She says that tincture of
cannabis is not liquid marijuana. I’m willing to agree with her so long as she tells me
what it is.
Barr may be remembered for the aptly named Barr Amendment. This 1997 legislation
barred the expenditure of federal funds to count the votes in the District of Columbia for
a local D.C. initiative legalizing medical marijuana. Now he’s a paid lobbyist for the
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), an organization whose goal is to legalize the
recreational use of marijuana.
Barr, no longer either a Congressman or a Republican, attributes his change of heart to
his being appalled at the federal government’s opportunistic power grab since 9/11. He
recognizes that the federal drug laws have removed many of our historical protections on
freedom of speech, illegal search and seizure, self-incrimination, states rights and limits
to the reach of the federal government – the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendments to the
Constitution. Drug prohibition is hobbling our Constitutional protections against
government invasion of our historic American Freedoms and Rights.
Hinchey – Rohrbacher Amendment
For four years Hinchey, a very liberal New York Democrat, and Dana Rohrbacher, a
libertarian leaning California Republican, have co-sponsored an amendment to the
Department of Justice Budget Act. This amendment would prohibit expenditure of
federal funds to enforce federal marijuana laws in those states which have relegalized
medical cannabis. Each year it has received more votes. Last year it garnered 163, still a
far cry from the 218 required to assure passage.
It is strongly anticipated that it will receive many more votes this year for two reasons:
(1) 38 House members who did not support this amendment last year were not returning
to Congress. Most were Republicans who were replaced by Democrats. Since roughly
70% of Democrats have voted for the bill in the past, we can expect an additional 24-26
votes from that change. (2) Several Congressmen and women last year said, off the
record, that while they supported the content of the bill, they would not vote for it
because 2006 was an election year. Most of these legislators should vote for it this year.
So without any additional lobbying from groups like Marijuana Policy Project (MPP),
Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA), this amendment
should easily top 200 votes; closing in on the 218 required to guarantee passage.
Presidential Candidate Signs Legislation Legalizing Medical Marijuana
In May 2007, Democratic Presidential Candidate, Governor Bill Richardson of New
Mexico signed a medical marijuana bill into New Mexico state law without apparent
political damage and some possible political gain. This should make it easier for
Congress to have the legislative courage to vote for the Hinchey-Rohrbacher
Amendment. Most House watchers would not be surprised to see the yes vote approach
200 votes with an outside chance for more.
Suit to Prevent DEA from Blocking Studying the Constituents of Cannabis
For years the DEA has squelched legitimate medical cannabis research by limiting
researchers’ access to legal research grade marijuana. This leaves researchers – and the
16 states that have so far approved marijuana for medical purposes – in a Catch-22. Drug
warriors object that there is no research demonstrating marijuana’s efficacy while at the
same time preventing such research from being done.
University of Massachusetts Professor Albert Craker, an expert on medicinal plants,
along with MAPS recently sued the DEA for denying Craker a license to grow marijuana.
He wants to grow and study various strains of cannabis to discover which chemicals or
combination of chemicals in cannabis are most effective in treating the various diseases
cannabis provides relief for.
In February 2007 the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner ruled
for Craker and MAPS. The ALJ found that the DEA was guilty of suborning an illegal
monopoly by the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana. Judge Bittner
recommended to the head of the FDA that the DEA be ordered to grant Professor Craker
a license to grow cannabis. If this ruling stands, Dr. Craker will be studying different
strains of cannabis and compete with the government’s marijuana growing monopoly.
His research would also help identify possible cannabinoids for pharmaceutical use.
If the FDA Director does not overturn this decision, the DEA’s stranglehold on medicinal
cannabis research in the U.S. will be loosened. If implemented by the FDA, this ruling
will finally make research grade cannabis available to medical researchers. This will give
U.S. scientists a much better opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the endocannabinoid
system and a shot at catching up with such research in Canada, England and Europe.
ASA Data Quality Control Act
In 2003 Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an advocacy group for medical marijuana
patients, filed suit against HHS for violating the Data Quality Control Act (DQCA) of
2002. This law was passed with lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chevron
and Phillip Morris and other large corporations. The Data Quality Control Act requires
that information used and disseminated by certain federal departments and agencies meet
standards for “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information”.
The law has been used by industry, specifically the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness
to challenge so-called “junk science” which the government used to support health and
environmental regulations. In 2004 the Washington Post noted that 39 DQCA challenges
had been made, 32 filled by industries or industry organizations.
ASA wrote in their brief, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
repeatedly misstates the scientific evidence and ignores numerous reports and studies
demonstrating the medical utility of marijuana and its constituent compounds. In
particular, ASA challenged HHS statement that marijuana “has no currently
accepted medical use in the U.S.” As evidence, ASA cited the government funded
IOM report that clearly acknowledged the medical benefit from cannabis and
cannabinoids. ASA asserts that disseminations of these scientifically inaccurate
statements violate the Data Quality Control Act standards which require lack of
bias, consistency, and disclosure of the underlying rational basis for an agency’s
By law the government is required to timely respond to the allegations with their
scientific source of the disputed statements. HHS has not done so. First they did not
respond within the legal time limit. Then, rather than respond with documentation of
their science, HHS’ official response was “we are not going to respond.” So to date,
HHS is out of compliance with the DQCA. ASA has sued HHS a second time for
violating the process of the DQCA. The case is now in the 9th Federal Circuit Court.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several Fortune 500 companies have indicated
interest in filing amicus briefs for ASA in this matter.
The State of Oregon keeps official data on the number of physicians who make medical
marijuana recommendations. So far over 2,500 Oregon doctors have done so. In
California the figures can only be estimated but the number easily exceeds 3,500. The
conditions for recommendations include chronic pain, migraines, nausea, seizures. The
mounting research and patient reports are seeing more doctors open their minds to the
possibility of medicinal cannabis.
Is This the Turning Point?
It is clear to all but the most scientifically illiterate that cannabis and cannabinoids are
medicine. Many informed observers believe that the future of medical marijuana lies
with classical pharmacological drug development. While others champion individual
responsibility. Still others see both options existing side by side.
There is great interest in the pharmaceutical industry in developing new drugs that can
treat the constellation of symptoms for which cannabinoids might and/or do have
therapeutic benefit. Several companies are producing various synthetic cannabinoids and
GW continues to do research on a wide range of additional clinical applications for their
product Sativex and their other strains of cannabis.
In the 21st century we will see greater understanding of brain chemistry. The role of the
endocannabinoid system, the largest neurotransmitter system in the brain, will be much
better understood. We will have metabolic blockers which prolong the half-life of the
brain’s naturally occurring cannabinoid, anandamide. More anandamide (one of the
brain’s natural cannabinoids) antagonist agents, such as the weight loss drug,
Rimanabant, will be created. We will see development of different strains of cannabis
which can be used for specific disease entities. Scientists will isolate different chemical
components of the plant. More synthetic cannabinoids will be invented, researched,
approved and marketed.
The future is bright for greater therapeutic applications of cannabis and cannabinoids.
Dr. Steven Hosea, Santa Barbara infectious disease doctor, and winner of the 2005 Santa
Barbara News Press Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in treating AIDS patients,
has said in support of the use of medicinal marijuana, “A physician’s mission is to heal
illness, alleviate suffering, and provide comfort for the sick and dying.” Thousands of
American doctors know from patient reports that cannabis is both therapeutic and has few
side effects. In 1988 Chief FDA ALJ Francis Young wrote after a 2-year hearing that
marijuana was “one of the safest therapeutic agents known to man.”
Who's Who in Medical Cannabis - Gradi Jordan
Gradi Jordan is a 42 year old single mother from Salt Lake City, Utah who is a lifelong user and proponent of medical marijuana. She co-founded the first NORML chapter in Utah, founded the Legalize Utah movement and is the Utah representative for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. She is also in the process of contacting every Utah lawmaker in order to obtain a personal opinion regarding the legalization of medical marijuana and has posted every response to her Facebook group, Legalize Utah
Legalize Utah is Utah's first Medical Marijuana Organization dedicated to legalizing and providing our choice of herbal medication throughout Utah. Gradi writes the Salt Lake City Medical Marijuana Examiner on examiner.com and is a regular contributor to the AAMC newsletter.
Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama
Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Connecticut: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Florida: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Illinois: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Bill Status of SB1381
Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Marijuana Bill Reaches House
Cannabis Compassion and Care Act
Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Bill Status of SB 627
Massachusetts: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law
New Hampshire: Considering a medical marijuana law.
New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act
Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act
Featured Recipe - Marble Madness by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD
A Canny Bus Quick Treat
Some of the best things in life are so easy. Here’s a recipe that is ready in minutes and tastes just delightful. The only problem with this desert treat is the urge to eat more than is really good for you. The trick to this recipe is getting the consistency right. Whenever you use cannabutter in place of dairy butter the result will be that the product is more crumbly. For stand up firm cookies and cakes it is best to go to a 50/50 mixture of butters but Nancy Wife and I prefer straight cannabutter for potency. As usual, feel free to improvise and use what ratio is right for you.
Now, some believe that when your cake crumbles that the calories leak out and it’s less fattening. Of course, this is true. You eat this cake by using a fork to push down on the moist blond/green/chocolate crumbs sticking them to the back of the fork or you can use your fingers and lots of licking. We used a special cannabutter for this recipe (see Kicked Up Better Bud Butter).
A word of caution about this cake you’re about to make: Don’t leave it out for the kids! They will eat it and you will be in trouble!
¾ cups of Kicked Up Better Bud Butter
1 ½ cups of light brown sugar
2 jumbo eggs beaten
2 teaspoons of bourbon vanilla extract (oh yum!)
2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Triple Sec or Amaretto liqueur (optional)
Melt the cannabutter in a sauce pan over low heat and pour it into a bowl containing the sugar and stir to mix. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and the liqueur of your choice.
Use a double boiler to melt your chocolate chips. Stir often. This step is what gives you the “marble” effect. If you’re lazy (and I am) you can just add the chips to the final batter.
In another bowl sift the dry ingredients together then mix with the wet ingredients then drizzle in the chocolate forming swirls or just mix in chips (some of you may prefer butterscotch chips or even white chocolate).
Place the batter in a baking pan that has been lightly oiled and floured. Bake at 325 degrees (I know that’s low) for about 20-40 minutes. You can tell when the cake is done by sticking a toothpick in the cake. When the toothpick comes out relatively clean, the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for a bit before attempting to remove from the pan. The cake is going to be crumbly so it’s tough to cut out nice squares but we don’t mind J
Recommended Beverage: 20 year old Tawny Port served room temperature or Hennessy VSOP Cognac served slightly warmed.
Recommended Activities: Getting a good nights sleep