Do No Harm: A Doctor’s Hypocritical Oath

Take your medicine, as long as it’s not marijuana?
Compassionate conservatism in the world of modern medicine:

If your gut wrenches, vomit.

If you can’t absorb nutrients through your defective digestive system, get your nutrients intravenously.

If you have chronic pain so severe you want to die, suffer.

If you have arthritis so bad that your arms and legs are turning into mummified pretzel shapes, take a warm bath with Epsom Salts.

If you are starving to death because your cancer chemotherapy or AIDS drugs have stolen your appetite, force yourself to eat.

Or take prescription drugs that make the conditions worse. Or have surgery. Or die.

That’s the Bush administration’s message to the sick and dying people of the United States: suffer, endure pain, and perhaps even die, but whatever you do, don’t use medical marijuana, not even in a state where the majority of your fellow citizens approve of you using it.

If you want to use medical marijuana, you break federal law, and you know what happens if you break federal law ? you live in fear, you risk losing your family, assets, and freedom.

If you break an American federal marijuana law, you risk prosecution, even if you break the law while you live in Canada.

Just ask Canadian marijuana seed seller Marc Emery. He broke Canadian marijuana laws for years, but the worst that ever happened to him was 90 days in jail for passing a joint. He broke Canadian laws on television. He broke them in front of Parliament and police stations. He advertised illegal seed sales on the Internet. He gave illegal seed sale money to prominent politicians. The Canadian government investigated him a couple of years ago and decided not to bust him for selling seeds. But the US government decided to bust him for selling seeds, and the DEA wants to kidnap him from Canada (they call it “extradition”).

If you are an American in America, should you use and/or grow medical marijuana? It’s a hard choice. If the government catches you using, growing or advocating medical marijuana, you could lose your life. Like Steve McWilliams, the San Diego medpot activist who killed himself earlier this year after the feds took away his right to use medical marijuana and created an unbearable situation of pain and illness for him by doing so.

In most countries, if you want to use pot, you have two clear choices: help yourself with the relatively harmless healing herb and thus make yourself a federally-designated cannabis criminal, or take prescription drugs.

There are of course other choices, such as surgery, suicide, death, alternative therapies. But let’s just stay focused on the drug choice dilemma: the federal drug warriors say marijuana is not medicine; you have no right to choose medical marijuana even if you know it will help you. The federal drug warriors say a substance is not “a medicine” until the government says it’s a medicine, but the government won’t say something is a medicine unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it’s a medicine first. The FDA won?t say a substance is a medicine unless a pharmaceutical corporation pays off researchers, who then write a study or two saying that the substance is a medicine. The researchers and physicians who tell the FDA and federal government that a substance is or is not a medicine are as believable as the researchers and physicians who used to testify under oath to Congress, claiming that cigarettes were actually good for people’s health.

The process involved in creating “legal prescription drugs” causes more harm than illegal marijuana, and verges on criminal negligence. Consider a report titled “Uneasy Alliance: Clinical Investigators and the Pharmaceutical Industry” written by Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer. The report says many medical researchers, physicians and academic institutions are funded by the prescription drug industry.

Bodenheimer interviewed researchers who told how pharmaceutical companies halted publication or altered the contents of prescription drug studies, so they could cover up negative information that would interfere with FDA product approval.

One researcher who found problems with a company’s drug was told by the sponsoring pharmaceutical company that funded the research that he would not get hired as a contract researcher again, unless he falsified his findings to present the product in a more favorable light.

The FDA, supposedly a watchdog protecting the public from bad prescription drugs, is implicated in numerous scandals involving bad research and deadly drugs.

Recently, FDA safety officer David Graham stated that the FDA is “the single greatest obstacle to doing anything effective” regarding Vioxx, a drug reported to cause severe side effects and death.

Graham said the FDA could have prevented the deaths resulting from Vioxx.

“Nearly 60,000 people probably died from Vioxx,” Graham lamented. “The FDA had the opportunity, the responsibility, to stop that, and didn’t.”

Graham said the FDA was in “a collaborative relationship” with the pharmaceutical industry, and that FDA had financial incentive to “to approve new drugs and approve them more quickly.”

“The pharma-FDA complex has to be dismantled,” Graham warned, “and the American people have to insist on that, otherwise we’re going to have more disasters like Vioxx happen in the future.”

Guess what happened to Graham after he admitted that the FDA had wrongly handled the Vioxx situation? Graham was subject to a smear campaign by FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford. But there is some justice in the world: Crawford, who was only following Karl Rove’s example regarding how you handle a critic (attack the critic, endanger the critic’s family, etc.), was forced to resign recently.

He joins FEMA boss Michael Brown, who resigned after it was discovered that his qualifications for doing hurricane relief consisted of being a lawyer for owners of Arabian race horses.

Crawford was a political hack who opposed women’s reproductive rights. He ran an agency that was all about government regulation, but he opposed government regulation.

Crawford believes, as does Bush’s new female Supreme Court nominee, that as soon as a sperm and egg get together, a baby exists.

That’s why, despite two FDA advisory committee votes approving the “morning-after contraceptive pill,” Crawford overruled his own experts and prohibited the drug from being provided. He said he was very concerned about womens’ health.

But Crawford wasn’t concerned about the health of people who used the painkiller Vioxx. According to Graham, “a study of patient insurance records showed that Vioxx users had a 50 percent greater chance of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.” Crawford knew about the study Graham had cited.

What did Crawford do to protect the American people from Vioxx? He helped Vioxx manufacturer Merck hide the negative Vioxx study.

He tried to force Graham to stop criticizing Vioxx. Graham resisted, so Crawford started slagging him. In December 2004, the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower support group, described Crawford’s actions against Graham as “rabid bureaucratic backlash.” Several Congressmembers wrote a report telling Crawford that his attacks on Graham were “out of line and may very well be illegal.”

“Your treatment of Dr. Graham,” the Congressional report said, “undoubtedly has had a chilling effect on the willingness of FDA employees to speak up and disagree when they believe the public’s health is at risk.”

Why would Crawford “whore” for Merck? Could it be because Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical company donors to the Republican Party? It gives hundreds of thousands of dollars directly and indirectly to Repubs every year.

Crawford isn’t just loyal to Merck. He also allegedly sold himself to the Bush 2004 campaign team. Before the election, Bush opposed allowing Canada to export prescription drugs to the USA, and the policy was costing Bush votes because elderly voters wanted Canadian drugs because they’re cheaper and better than US versions of the same drugs. Just before the election, then-FDA head Crawford falsely stated that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by putting poison in Canadian drugs, giving Bush political cover for opposing importation of Canadian drugs.

The importation of Canadian marijuana, and the approval of marijuana as a medicine by the FDA, has been similarly handled. The FDA and DEA say marijuana has no medical value and is deadly. The DEA and the White House describe Canadian marijuana as a deadly drug killing America’s youth.

Perhaps we will soon be told that Osama bin Laden is going to poison US-bound BC bud? Or that he is poisoning Afghani hashish sold in Dutch potshops?

The prescription and over the counter drugs that medical marijuana competes with are often certifiably deadly, but there has never been a certifiably recorded incident wherein somebody died from a marijuana overdose or marijuana side effects.

It is important to prove the relative harmlessness of marijuana when compared to prescription drugs, so forgive me the following list of pharmaceutical drug side effects. These drugs are prescribed for people who would rather use medical marijuana. Pharmaceutical drugs commonly prescribed for conditions that medical marijuana has been found to safely alleviate include the following drugs. We are also including a list of some side effects said to be associated with the drug:

Megestrol acetate (Megace). Can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation of the blood vessels, congestive heart failure, seizures, pneumonia, nausea, vomiting, impotence, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection, vaginal bleeding and discharge, heart disease, chest pain, lung disorders, rapid breathing, insomnia, headache, weakness, numbness, seizures, depression, and abnormal thinking.

Metronidazole (Flagyl), is carcinogenic. Patients treated with Metronidazole have reported convulsive seizures and peripheral neuropathy. Ironically, this medicine is prescribed for digestive problems but it causes nausea that is sometimes accompanied by headache, anorexia, and occasionally vomiting; diarrhea; gastric distress and abdominal cramping.

Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) -Common adverse reactions associated with sulfasalazine are anorexia, headache, nausea, vomiting, gastric distress.

Chlordiazepoxide/Clidinium (Librax) – Drowsiness, ataxia and confusion have been reported in some patients, particularly the elderly and debilitated. Adverse effects reported with use of Librax are those typical of anticholinergic agents, i.e., dryness of the mouth and blurred vision. Withdrawal symptoms, similar in character to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol (convulsions, tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting and sweating), have occurred following abrupt discontinuance of chlordiazepoxide.

Hyoscyamine Sulfate (Levsin) – Adverse reactions may include dryness of the mouth; urinary hesitancy and retention; blurred vision; tachycardia; palpitations; increased ocular tension; loss of taste; headache; nervousness; drowsiness; weakness; dizziness; insomnia; nausea; vomiting; impotence; suppression of lactation; constipation; bloated feeling; allergic reactions or drug idiosyncrasies; speech disturbance; mental confusion (especially in elderly persons); and decreased sweating.

Mesalamine CR (Pentasa) – Common side effects are diarrhea, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, vomiting, and rash.

Phosphorated carbohydrate (Emetrol) – Side effects include: fainting; swelling of face, arms, and legs; unusual bleeding; vomiting; weight loss; yellow eyes or skin, stomach or abdominal pain.

Dicyclomine (Bentyl) – Can cause blurred vision, dry mouth, heart problems, seizures, impotence, difficulty urinating.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) – The most frequent side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, headache, and restlessness.

Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) – Is very toxic, depending on dose. The most frequent reactions include mouth sores, stomach upset, and low white blood counts. Methotrexate can cause severe toxicity of the liver and bone marrow, which require regular monitoring with blood testing.

Diphenoxylate and atropine (Lotomil) – Bad effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache, nausea or vomiting, and dry mouth. Euphoria, depression, lethargy, restlessness, numbness of extremities, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain or discomfort has been reported less frequently. Side effects of atropine (including dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, increased heart rate, urinary retention, and increased body temperature) have been reported, particularly in children under two years of age.

Prednisone (Delatasone). This is a steroid drug that can have serious adverse musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, dermatologic, neurological, endocrine, and ophthalmic side effects. These include: congestive heart failure in susceptible patients, potassium loss, and hypertension. Muscle weakness, steroid myopathy, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, tendon rupture, vertebral compression fractures, and pathologic fracture of long bones; peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage; pancreatitis; abdominal distention; ulcerative esophagitis. Impaired wound healing, thin fragile skin. Increased intracranial pressure, usually after treatment, convulsions, vertigo, and headache. Menstrual irregularities; decreased carbohydrate tolerance; diabetes mellitus, cataracts and glaucoma.

Doses of these medicines are often huge. Some patients take thousands of milligrams of aspirin per day in continuous doses, which can cause stomach pain and damage; aspirin causes at least 1,500 deaths annually in the United States.

Pain killers prescribed against chronic pain (for which cannabis is known to offer especially effective relief) include codeine (Dolacet, Hydrocet, Lorcet, Lortab); morphine (Avinza, Oramorph); oxycodone (Vicodin, Oxycontin, Roxicodone); propoxyphene (Percocet, Darvon, Darvocet) and tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet). These medicines are serious drugs with severe side-effects that cannot be avoided. Problems include psychological and physical dependence, addiction, constipation, dizziness, lightheadedness, mood changes, nausea, sedation, shortness of breath, vomiting, depression, and death.

Doctors also prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and COX-2 inhibitors. All these substances can cause serious side-effects. Corticosteroids (Cortisone), prednisone and similar medications cause bruising, cataracts, elevated blood sugar, hypertension, increased appetite, indigestion, insomnia, mood swings, muscle weakness, nervousness or restlessness, osteoporosis, infection and thin skin.

People who take overdoses of these drugs, or who use them while also using alcohol, can suffer fatal consequences.

These prescription drugs are often prescribed in groups, and that creates a synergistic effect that potentiates the harmful effects.

These are just some of the prescription drugs that are given to people to alleviate conditions that marijuana can alleviate. The side effects of these and other prescription drugs can objectively be said to be far worse than the side effects of marijuana.

But let’s give the devil his due. Just to let the drug warriors know we aren’t liars, let?s list the “worst” side effects that could legitimately be proposed for marijuana: respiratory problems; being high; memory lapses; dependency; loss of energy; fatigue; impaired coordination; inability to concentrate; possible risk of triggering instability in people who already have a mental illness.

Even drug warriors admit that these are the only real side effects of pot, and that these side effects disappear if a person stops using marijuana.

Compare these marijuana side effects with those of pharmaceutical drugs that marijuana competes with. It?s undeniable that marijuana is safer, more effective, and less dangerous than any corporate drug it competes with.

And that?s why it?s illegal.