Yes, Virginia — Cannabis IS Medicine


I recently got hold of a copy of Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution; a book by the same Robert C. Atkins, M.D. who invented the “Atkins Diet” –mainly known as the low-carb diet.  I was impressed by his general erudition and review of the literature.  He had even visited with various luminaries of alternative medicine.  Here was a guy who was capable of writing a pretty complete vitamin and mineral prescription for almost any chronic illness that was part of an internal medicine practice.

In a section titled “My Own Transformation,” he tells how, when he was devoted to mainstream medicine, he found a diet that worked for him and for most folks.  He had found it in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which is perhaps the most mainstream medical journal that exists.  He wrote his first book about that diet.  He was shocked when a consensus panel from the American Medical Association was critical. After all, he had been relying on medical literature which had been reviewed by peers and validated in every way that academics respect and deserve when they have done work.  He started questioning these professional “edicts” and found himself squarely in the world of nutrition-based therapeutics. I have believed for a long time that most psychiatric disorders, maybe all, are the result of a genetically transmitted limitation of the ability to metabolize nutrients.  There is plenty of evidence for this.

I worked on a large study of a Canadian made chelated vitamin for bipolar illness. *(NOTE: the link opens up a PDF so you must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer).  I used it in my private practice and got good results.

One of the co-directors of the company sat with me in a hotel room in the San Diego area once, where I was putting on a big seminar.  He lamented that the closer you get to your goal, the more opposition comes out of nowhere.  Nobody wanted to admit what world research was already starting to show — that high dose micro-nutrients can be a wonderful, side-effect free treatment for mental illness. Oh, the difficulties!  Difficulties like prescribing psychotropic drugs that have overwhelmingly nefarious side effects.  Or the pressures a psychiatrist deals with in working with politics-bound agencies, like being asked to falsify reports or given instructions to keep patients on logs when they have no need to be there. Believe me, I could go on. Anyway – after my typical exhaustive research and much searching of my own soul– I have turned to the practice of medical Cannabis – or medical marijuana, as it is commonly known.

I have come to believe this might be the only honest medical specialty left.  It is totally untainted by drug companies, but instead has the minor disadvantage of a huge disinformation and propaganda campaign by the establishment, and proponents — LOTS of people — who put beliefs ahead of facts.

At least in California and about 16 other states. An example that happened just this morning: I was at one of those “health information fairs” (this tailored toward senior citizens) and offered to take photos of staff people as a little souvenir.  I told people I was a marijuana doctor and handed out business cards.  An angry woman from an agency that had been granted a table at which to sit down — my marijuana clinic had been told we were too late to get a table, although there were many empty ones there — ripped up my list of email addresses of folks whose pictures I had taken.  She then brought me over to the nearest uniformed person she could find, whom she thought was a policeman but was actually a fireman. She asked if I were a criminal for recommending marijuana.  He validated me by saying I was not.  The frustrated woman first offered me a free health check, which I declined.  She then introduced me to the director of the sponsoring institution, who told me I had no right to give out business cards or tell people what I did for a living.

The director was a little nicer — she told me I could bring a brochure, not over 50 copies, and they would be happy to put it on their info rack.  By this time, I had lost trust and decided that I would not have the time to check their rack regularly, and left quietly. It has taken me several hours to completely swallow my outrage.  I have decided to save my strength for other battles.

Cannabis (I prefer the term to marijuana, which sounds more, uh, recreational) is as harmless as one could imagine a drug to be — no possibility of death through overdose, a great many ways to administer, and an essentially inexhaustible list of illnesses that can be significantly ameliorated.  Oftentimes, these are the same illnesses capable of causing regular medical doctors to throw up their hands in helplessness and defeat.

There is no destiny worse than seeing what others cannot see — flying in the face of what is commonly accepted, but wrong.  Maybe it is no accident that I love the fairy tale about The Emperor’s New Clothes,” where the emperor is supposed to be wearing special expensive clothes, but is in effect wearing nothing.  In the end, it is the naive young boy who speaks the truth and wins the admiration of all.

I identify with him. Maybe, I’ve often been accused of being naive.  (It felt better back when they would say “Young and naïve.”)

I remember the day I pointed out to a preceptor in psychiatry — whom I felt had given biased data to a judge for a commitment — that maybe this patient could have been discharged to a relative.  Maybe the patient did not really need to be committed.  He told me that he thought this would be easier and cleaner, and the patient was more likely to take the full dosage of medications and know what it was to be well.  Then he suddenly stopped and changed and turned to me and said; “You are so idealistic, Estelle.  They are going to stone you like they did Copernicus.”  They haven’t stoned me yet.  I am still called naive sometimes.

And for those punsters reading this – NO – I don’t partake of marijuana and I’ve never been “stoned” in that sense. There are now seventeen states where medical marijuana is legal.  There are some people who believe the propaganda they have been told by the government.

Although I am not at the top of the list of conspiracy theorist fans, there is something going on here.  Everyone who is against marijuana seems to have either a political or economic agenda, or both.  International research shows with clarity this is safe stuff that can help people.  Definitely idealistic, but naïve?  Well, they aren’t synonyms.

There is a song echoing in my head.  Strange, it is a Christian one. I went to Scotland only once, to visit the family to whom I had repatriated a young woman who had been rendered paraplegic in an accident near my medical school.  Inhabitants of the British Isles believed Christ made it that far north, and they had a wonderful anthem by William Blake, called after its first line, “And did those feet in ancient time…” I first learned it in fourth grade from a British teacher in gifted children’s school.  I especially like the first three lines of the last verse:

I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem

Although, now I am old enough to be thinking of life the way Edward Albee the playwright once said anyone of an appropriate age would ask. “Did I do life right? Have I made the right decisions?”  When one has clung to idealism, as it looks as if I have, the answer to the above must be “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.” I will continue to stand for the medication that helps people feel less pain and become more well, especially the severely afflicted, with minimum danger.  I did not plan it this way.  I will stand for marijuana.

And YES – it is medicine.

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November 29, 2012

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