Author: Fred Gardner

‘Entourage Effect’ debated in Scientific American

On April 20 Scientific American ran a piece by Angus Chen asking, “Is Marijuana’s ‘Entourage Effect’ Scientifically Valid?” “Industry players” Mowgli Holmes of Phylos Bioscience and Ethan Russo of Phytecs say yes, but “most scientists” like Margaret Haney of Columbia University and Barth Wilsey of UC San Diego say evidence is lacking. Haney, an Addiction Specialist, claims that the anecdotal evidence is  slanted: “The large majority of what’s being said is driven by anecdotal marketing. These guys are really trying to make money.”  Meg Haney’s only goal is to help suffering humanity. The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry lists...

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A Warning to Epilepsy Patients

Benedict Carey is a longtime shill for the drug companies and medical device manufacturers. His story hedded “‘Pacemaker’ for Brain May be Aid to Memory,” based on a very small study involving people with epilepsy, was played very big in the New York Times April 21. Carey is touting implanted devices that can supposedly “deliver pulses only in the very microseconds when they’re helpful” and thus improve memory formation and retention. Epilepsy patients at UCSF, Emory University, the University of Washington and the Mayo Clinic (n = 150) were the test subjects in a just-published study. The bigger market for these “sensitive, timed implants” are dementia patients....

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Good Physician Seeks to Practice Medicine

It has been almost five years since Joanne Benzor, MD, was allowed to practice medicine in California. On April 27 the Medical Board of California will consider restoring her license.  “Good Physician Barred From Practicing Medicine” is the account of Dr. Benzor’s downfall, published in  O’Shaughnessy’s (Winter/Spring 2013).  We fully support the med board’s mission of protecting the public from quacks, profiteers and predators. The ongoing punishment of Dr. Benzor in no way advances that mission. —Fred Gardner By Joanne Benzor, MD It’s been tough at times, juggling medicine and motherhood. I never wanted children until I hit 30. Then...

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MBC Meets in Santa Ana April 27

The Medical Board of California holds its next quarterly meeting in Santa Ana. On the morning of April 27, Panel A will consider reinstating the license of Joanne Benzor, MD. That afternoon the board will hear about legislation in the Sacramento pipeline, including a measure by Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) intriguingly entitled “Cannabidiol.”  Here is the board’s agenda notice: Panel A Meeting Agenda Panel B Meeting Agenda Licensing Committee Meeting Agenda Quarterly Board Meeting...

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Prozac and Medical Marijuana

Everybody who knows the history of the medical marijuana movement knows that Dennis Peron started the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club in response to the AIDS epidemic circa 1990. Less well known is that it was also the beginning of the Prozac epidemic. Eli Lilly’s brilliant, pervasive marketing scheme would change how US Americans thought about “Depression,” and what constitutes a “serious illness,” and the “medical use” of drugs to improve mood. I was working at UCSF and writing “Notes From the City” for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. At one point I wanted to get Dennis’s take on Prozac and went over to his...

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When JAMA Discovered the Endocannabinoid System

The very first description of the endocannibinoid system in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, can be found in a two-page advertisement in the September 21, 2005 issue. Sanofi-Aventis was preparing to market Rimonabant —a drug that blocks the CB1 receptor— as a treatment for Metabolic Syndrome. Both the disease and the treatment had to be defined for JAMA’s readers (physicians who had learned about neither in medical school). What does it say about JAMA, the AMA, and the biomedical establishment, that it took 15 years for them to acknowledge —by way of an advertisement!—the existence of this major...

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God Gave Gilbert the Rainbow Sign

I saw Gilbert Baker about a month ago at Cafe Flor. A bunch of us were waiting for Dennis Peron, who had been delayed at the VA Hospital. “You look great,” I blurted out, because he did. He was wearing his new Diversity t-shirt, with colored letters against a black background. His full head of hair was only half-way to gray at age 65. And last night he died. In my so-called files I found a picture of Gilbert shaking hands with San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan at a rally in front of the Federal Building soon after Prop 215 passed. Almost immediately...

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Perry Solomon, MD: Hello, Wall St. Journal

A letter from Perry Solomon, MD, was one of four that ran in the Wall St. Journal’s print edition April 2 in response to an essay about opioids being overprescribed.  All four letters made good points. Solomon alone achieved product placement (for Hello MD), and it was a line from his letter that the editor chose in the headline for the quartet. Thoughts on Our Growing Opioid Problem Dr. Marc Siegel fails to mention any alternative to opioids that a physician can use for treatment of their patients chronic pain. • Dr. Marc Siegel should spend less time at...

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Demand Keeps Growing for Indoor Grow Sites

“A Real Estate Boom, Powered by Pot,” said the headline in the Sunday NY Times over a piece that described landlords commanding inflated prices for industrial warehouses. The tone of David Gelles’ story glowed bright as a full-spectrum LED, but it was sad to learn what has been lost as the old occupants gave way to the money-mad squares who are bringing cannabis “out of the shadows” and into the artificial light: • “Until recently, the cinder-block structure was home to a wholesale florist, a granite cutter and a screen printer. Today, it is home to just one tenant: a medical marijuana operation called Ermont •...

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