Author: Fred Gardner

High Blood Pressure Redefined

I won’t use this joke in my stand-up history routine at the Emerald Cup. It may be off topic, but it’s original: Did you hear that under new Guidelines from heart specialists, “Millions More Americans Will Need to Lower Blood Pressure?”  (Nodding to audience)  That’s what the headline said.  For many years my doctor insisted that I go on blood pressure meds. I would promise to get more exercise. I meant it —but exercise is hard to get. After six or seven years, I finally relented and he was pleased.  He said he would put me on WHAT BRAND,...

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The Opium Exclusion Act of 1909 (The US War on Drugs Commences)

By Dale Gieringer  Relevant background as the nation struggles with a deadly, worsening opiate epidemic. First published in O’Shaughnessy’s Autumn 2009, slugged “A Century of Failure.”  On February 9, 1909, Congress passed the Opium Exclusion Act, barring the importation of opium for smoking as of April 1. Thus began a hundred-year crusade that has unleashed unprecedented crime, violence and corruption around the world -a war with no victory in sight. Long accustomed to federal drug control, most Americans are unaware that there was once a time when people were free to buy any drug, including opium, cocaine, and cannabis, at...

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Opiate Deaths Jumped 17% in 2016

The photo accompanying a New York Times piece by Sheila Kaplan showed a harm reduction worker testing for traces of fentanyl in a heroin sample. Kaplan’s gist: “Preliminary data from the 50 states show that from the fourth quarter of 2015, through the fourth quarter of 2016, the rate of fatal overdoses rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 from 16.3 per 100,000. The C.D.C. had previously estimated that about 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, with the highest rates reported in New Hampshire, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Rhode Island. “Drug overdoses have become the leading...

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Plastic or Iron Pipes for Infrastructure Rebuild?

The Times ran an informative piece by Hioroko Tabuchi Nov. 11 describing the “$300 billion war” being waged by the plastics and iron industries over which material should be used in replacing the aging water and sewer systems throughout the US. Plastics are described as “lightweight, easy to install, corrosion-free and up to 50% cheaper than iron.” But: Scientists are just starting to understand the effect of plastic on the quality and safety of drinking water, including what sort of chemicals can leach into the water from the pipes themselves, or from surrounding groundwater contamination. Studies have shown that toxic...

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Briteside’s very bright video ad

Nancy Sajben, MD, forwarded this very well made ad for an Oregon delivery service, satirizing the drug-company commercials that forever emanate from our screens… Every touch —from the soccer mom opening sequence to the rapidfire listing of side effects at the end— is just right! Hats off to David Martin and the Communications team at Briteside Holdings. Big PhRMA is the ultimate upholder of marijuana prohibition. SCC founder Tod Mikuriya, MD, often made the point that marijuana use should be considered  in its real-world  context —as an alternative to pharmaceuticals and booze— and thus recognized as extremely safe. Ten years ago Jeffrey...

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MJ Recommendation Won’t Save Your Job

An item posted November 10 by Tom Angell, forwarded by Dale Gieringer with the comment, “But Rx opiates are okay.” Using medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation in accordance with state law is no excuse for failing a drug test, the Trump administration says in a new clarification of federal rules. “The term ‘prescription’ has become more loosely used in recent years,” the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) writes in a ruling scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday. “Some state laws allowing marijuana use the term ‘prescription,’ even though a recommendation for someone to use marijuana under...

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China Blamed for Rise in US Opiate Overdoses!

Sometimes you have to admire the audacity of politicians who direct the attention of the masses away from the real causes of our problems. Let’s also tip our hat to the journalists and PR specialists who keep Johnson & Johnson’s name out of stories about Fentanyl. (J&J has been making and selling the powerful synthetic opiate in the US since 1961, when it acquired Jannsen.) Last week President Trump complained —and the New York Times pseudo-substantiated— that Chinese companies selling fentanyl online are causal factors in the US opiate epidemic. “Despite Trump’s Pleas, China’s Opioid Bazaar is Booming,” was the...

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Mass Production of ‘Minor’ Cannabinoids —via Yeast

From the New Scientist: A non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana plants called cannabidivarin (CBDV) has shown promise in the treatment of severe cases of epilepsy. However, to treat just 10 per cent of people with epilepsy would require around 1500 tons of pure CBDV. To obtain this amount using current methods, you would need to plant large quantities of marijuana and extract their small supply of CBDV. “There’s so little of this chemical in plants it would actually be impossible to harvest it by traditional means,” says Kevin Chen, who runs Hyasynth Bio, a start-up in Montreal, Canada. That’s...

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MBC Cannabis Guidelines Have Appendicitis

By Fred Gardner   The Medical Board of California (MBC) at its October 27 meeting voted on new Guidelines for the Recommendation of Cannabis for Medical Purposes with two appendices that practitioners might find useful.  Appendix 1 is a “Decision Tree” that violates an important tenet of the Guidelines adopted by the board. This ruptured appendix is a clear case of bureaucratic malpractice. The Guidelines state, “A patient need not have failed on all standard medications in order for a physician to recommend or approve the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.” But the “Decision Tree” makes cannabis a treatment of last resort...

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