Sanjay Gupta – I was wrong about pot

English: An ounce of Green Crack bought from a...
English: An ounce of Green Crack bought from a dispensary in California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Worth noting that the guy was almost Surgeon General of the U.S. He’s changed his mind on marijuana. He says he overestimated the harm and looks forward to more research on medical marijuana.

 

I didn’t read many conclusions in his piece, but I agree with the questions he’s asking.

 

As far as medical research goes, he didn’t address one issue that I think is very important–the delivery method. Smoking weed bought at a dispensary does not resemble medicine in the least. It seems a very important step is to come up with a good delivery system that delivers a reliable and known dose.

 

 

Why “medical” marijuana gets little respect here

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis s...
Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Mark Kleiman, the Washington state pot czar,  explains his use of “scare quotes” when writing about medical marijuana:

 

Yes, cannabis has medical value for some people. And yes, the sustained effort of the federal government to make medical cannabis research as difficult as possible is a national disgrace.

And then, on the other hand, there’s this, from a report of the Colorado State Auditor:

As of October 2012, a total of 903 physicians had recommended medical marijuana for the 108,000 patients holding valid red cards. Twelve physicians recommended medical marijuana for 50 percent of those patients, including one physician with more than 8,400 patients on the Registry.

Some physicians have recommended what appear to be higher-than-reasonable amounts of medical marijuana. In one case, a physician recommended 501 plants for a patient. In another case, a physician recommended 75 ounces of useable marijuana for the patient.

Do the arithmetic on 8400 patients for one physician. Assume a 50 40-hour workweeks and zero time spent on administrative tasks. That’s a little bit less than 15 minutes per customer. Medical practice? No. Just dope dealing.

 

He adds:

 

The strategy of using quasi-medical legalization as a means of normalizing consumption and moving the political acceptability of full commercial legalization has been a great success … And I’m not unhappy with the outcome. … Still, the whole deal – and especially the role of the “kush docs” – makes me a little sick to my stomach.

 

 

 

“Yes, we are Big Marijuana”

T-Shirt In A Shop Window On Howard Street
T-Shirt In A Shop Window On Howard Street (Photo credit: spike55151)

 

The Stranger covers the launch of the first national marijuana brand and stock promotion. It even included a former Mexican President!

 

Flanked by lawyers, a state lawmaker, and former Mexico president Vicente Fox, Shively said he is a “couple weeks” from an initial $10 million milestone, and within three years, he fully expects to open—some medical marijuana and some recreational marijuana—a dozen branded stores in Washington State, another dozen stores in Colorado, and as many as hundreds in California (a state where only medical marijuana is currently legal but where voters are widely expected to legalize recreational pot in 2016).

A glimpse into the the commercialized pot market was evident in a menu of marijuana strains that hung in the back of the room, designed to capture the classic Latin American esthetic of tequila or cigar marketing, promoting future products with the gusto of a fast-food signboard: The “exclusive hand-selected variants” featured familial homages like “Diego Reserva” (the firm, Diego Pellicer, is named after Shively’s great grandfather) to local nods like “Juan de Fuca,” also the name of a waterway northwest of Seattle.

Despite connotations to Big Tobbacco, he says the reputation of Big Marijuana “is not a problem for us. We are honored to have this place in history. We intend to be the number one brand in both markets”—both medical and recreational marijuana—”on a worldwide basis.”

The project will begin by re-branding the Northwest Patient Resource Center and other local medical cannabis outlets, and soon stores will open under recognizable franchises across several states.

 

 

How to Legalize Pot

Marijuana!
Marijuana! (Photo credit: JohnathanLobel)

 

The NY Times recently had an Op-Ed based on an interview with Mark Kleiman about his plan for implementing Washington’s new pot policy. (They voted to legalize it last fall.):

 

If you read the proposal Kleiman’s team submitted to Washington State, you may be a little boggled by the complexities of turning an illicit herb into a regulated, safe, consumer-friendly business. Among the things on the to-do list: certifying labs to test for potency and contamination. (Pot can contain, among other nasty things, pesticides, molds and salmonella.) Devising rules on labeling, so users know what they’re getting. Hiring inspectors, to make sure the sellers comply. Establishing limits on advertising, because you don’t want allowing to become promoting. And all these rules must account not just for smoking but for pot pastries, pot candies, pot-infused beverages, pot lozenges, pot ice cream, pot vapor inhalers.

One of the selling points of legalization is that states can take a cut of what will be, according to estimates, a $35 billion to $45 billion industry and earmark some of these new tax revenues for good causes. It’s the same tactic used to win public approval of lotteries — and with the same danger: that some worthy government function comes to depend on creating more addicts. And how do you divvy up the revenues? How much goes to offset health consequences? How much goes to enforcement? How do you calibrate taxes so the price of pot is high enough to discourage excessive use, but not so high that a cheap black market arises? All this regulating is almost enough to take the fun out of drugs.

 

 

 

Michigan’s medical marijuana business

Marijuana AdvertisingCrain’s Detroit has an article on the state’s medical marijuana business from the grow side to the physicians. The article says that there have been 344,000 patient applications in the state since 2009 and that doctors often charge around $150 to certify patients, that’s $51,600,000 in revenue for the docs. Here’s a little from the article about one of them:

“I discovered the medical benefits of marijuana in 2007 when I was doing suboxone therapy for narcotics addiction,” said Townsend, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Michigan State University and a medical degree from the Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine in North Miami Beach, Fla.

“I began to notice that as I was weaning people off of narcotic pain medications, those that were using marijuana illegally, and then with medical marijuana cards after 2008, weaned very, very well.”

After seeing thousands of patients over the past five years, Townsend has concluded that marijuana has a deserved place in a doctor’s black bag.

“I discovered that people were coming off using handfuls of Vicodin a month — high doses of Vicodin every day — strictly through the use of medical marijuana,” said Townsend, who termed himself one of the biggest advocates for it in the state — but never has used it.

“It’s very good for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, excellent for nausea, very useful for treatment of glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease,” he said. “I’ve seen it stop a seizure in front of me.”

Of the approximately 30,000 active doctors in Michigan, only about 1,900 have written a single medical marijuana certification, Townsend said. When analyzed further a year ago, 55 doctors in Michigan wrote 70 percent of the certifications, with Townsend being in that group.

55 docs wrote 70%? Let’s see, 70% of $51.6 million is $36,120,000 and let’s divide that by 55 docs. That’s $656,727.27 per doc!

I wonder what other kinds of care they provide to these patients?