by Steven Hale
Shocking everyone, the House Health Subcommittee passed the "Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act" nearly a week ago. The small step for Mary Jane sparked an interesting conversation around my dinner table that night and, apparently, around U.S. Rep. Diane Black's as well.
A letter addressed to legislators and signed by Black's husband, David Black, has been making the rounds on the Hill. In the letter, which bares the stamp of his Aegis Sciences Corporation, Black denounces Doctor Doja, touting his medical and scientific credentials, making the usual gateway-drug arguments, and calling the growing push for medical marijuana a "George Soros financially supported movement." (The letter appears in full, for your perusal, after the jump.)
A few points of interest:
"There is absolutely no objective scientific evidence that [marijuana] administered through smoking [has] medical benefit," he writes. Here's an article about five studies, published in peer-reviewed medical journals, that found smoked marijuana relieved pain for patients suffering from HIV, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
In arguing that he is actually acting against his self-interest by opposing the bill, Black employs the laziest of anti-pot arguments: the gateway theory. "Passage of HB 294 will lead to much greater drug abuse (Marijuana is also a gateway drug leading to other drug abuse behaviors) which will increase the demand for our services," he writes. This argument is something like claiming that watching Will and Grace re-runs will turn you gay (a claim we haven't actually heard, but are quite sure has been made). In short: whatever correlation there may be does not equal causation. But for good measure, here's an article making that point, and another about a study that started scientists abandoning the gateway theory more than a decade ago.
But we digress. Dr. Black:
RE: HB 294 Medical Marijuana
To the Honorable Representative,
I am a clinical and forensic toxicologist with over 30 years of experience in dealing with substance abuse. I am very familiar with the George Soros financially supported movement to create state laws that allow the use of Marijuana for alleged Medical purposes. I would like to state unequivocally that there is no such thing as "Medical Marijuana." This nationally organized effort is well funded and designed to play on the compassion of legislators to legalize the use of Marijuana. A great deal of research has been conducted in an effort to determine if the unique chemicals derived from Marijuana have medical application. Such studies involving "double blind" assessment criteria document clearly that Marijuana has limited clinical usefulness. There is absolutely no objective scientific evidence that Cannabis sativa plant mixtures known as Marijuana and administered through smoking have medical benefit. To my knowledge there is no plant production that is administered by smoking approved anywhere in the world for medicinal purposes, except in the United States through emotionally driven state legislation. Personal testimonies are deceiving and without objective foundation. Although "moving" they cause an emotional response that is in conflict with sound medical and scientific practice to determine if a product may be useful as a medicine.
My doctoral studies involved an 8 year investigation into the pharmacology and toxicology of Marijuana. A thorough review of the medical and scientific literature for the past 50 years will reveal that Marijuana contains the health and safety liabilities of both Tobacco and Alcohol, which are currently two major subjects of health and safety concern. Marijuana contains all the liabilities of Tobacco and Alcohol rolled into one product. Marijuana smoke contains cancer causing chemicals just as tobacco. What is particularly troubling is that smoking Marijuana involves a deep inhalation to maximize the delivery of psychoactive THC which then exposes even more sensitive lung tissues to the potentially harmful effects of the Marijuana smoke. Marijuana users smoke Marijuana so they may experience effects on their cognitive and sensory perceptions. These effects on cognitive (thinking/decision making) and sensory functions result in the same type of intoxication as alcohol with all the associated risks of operating a motor vehicle or engaging in complex tasks. Thus, greater Marijuana use through passage of HB 294 will exacerbate challenges already associated to our Tennessee communities in dealing with the consequences of Alcohol and Tobacco products.
This letter and content has been reviewed and agreed with by the additional signatories. We strongly urfge you to become fully informed on this subject by reviewing the position statement of the American Medical Association and the United States Supreme Court decision related to "Medical Marijuana" before casting a vote on HB 294. We strongly urge you to vote against this measure and further urge your colleagues to vote against this legislation.
As a final statement, passage of this act will not only lead to greater Marijuana use it will enhance the growth and success of Aegis Sciences Corporation. Aegis provides drug testing services for post-mortem, workplace, criminal justice, driving under the influence of drugs, drug facilitated sexual assault, sports and pain management. Passage of HB 294 will lead to much greater drug abuse (Marijuana is also a gateway drug leading to other drug abuse behaviors) which will increase the demand for our services.
This is additional business we prefer not to experience since the implications for our communities and families are entirely negative. Approving the bogus Medical Marijuana argument does not improve health care, does not improve public safety and does not enhance the quality of our communities.
David L. Black, Ph.D., D-ABFT, FAIC
Anne DePriest, Pharm.D., BCPS.
Senior Scientist Healthcare Services
Julie Knight, Pharm.D., CPh.
Clinical Scientist Healthcare Services
Brandi Puet, Pharm.D.
Clinical Scientist Healthcare Services
Timothy Robert, Ph.D., ABCC
Vice President Research and Development / Forensic Labs
We're assuming the Supreme Court decision Black refers to is this one, in which the court ruled that the federal government could still ban possession of the drug, even in states that allow its use for medicinal purposes. Then again, there's also this one.
As for the American Medical Association, they started to rethink their position on the matter several years ago.
The bill is scheduled to appear in the full House Health Committee and the Senate Government Operations Committee tomorrow. It doesn't seem likely to make it much further. When asked about it at an avail last week, Gov. Bill Haslam treated the bill's progress so far like some sort of hilarious accident and laughed off the possibility of such a thing becoming law in Tennessee any time soon.