Author: Fred Gardner

Will New York cover cannabis consultations?

Steve Robinson posed two questions after attending the New York State Medical Marijuana Commissioner’s online grand rounds October 30. Here they are, with answers from Misty at groundrounds@health.ny.gov. • Your question: “As I also understand it, the health commissioner has stated that as long as the cannabis recommendations are part of the patients regular care, the evaluation should be covered by he patients insurance.  Can you give me more information on this?  Also, I believe Dr. Forde mentioned in her presentation that having a medical card for cannabis will protect cannabis patients from workplace discrimination and firing by employers. ...

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Joanna McKee

We were sorry to learn of the passing of Joanna McKee, a leader in Washington State’s medical marijuana movement. In pain and debilitated after a car crash in the ’70s damaged her spine, McKee became a user and then a purveyor of the herb. As Casey Jaywork recounted in the Seattle Weekly: In Washington state, the 1995 arrest of Joanna McKee was the match that lit the fuse toward legalization. McKee smoked cannabis, she told The Seattle Times, to assuage muscle spasms, migraines, and epilepsy from head and back injuries. She shared her pot with patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, and...

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On Reading Ed Herman’s Obituary

By Fred Gardner Economist Ed Herman, who opposed imperialism in all its aspects, died earlier this month at the age of 92. A professor at the Wharton School of Business, Herman published extensively and was never blacklisted; but as a public intellectual he was marginalized. This is from the obit by Sam Roberts in the November 21 New York Times: Dr. Herman was primarily responsible for the manifesto “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), which he wrote with Professor Chomsky. It concluded that “market forces, internalized assumptions and self-censorship” motivate newspapers and television networks to...

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Ranking the Sycophants

Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle got an idea for his Thanksgiving Day column when Draymond Green told a Harvard audience that the word “owner” rubbed him and many other people the wrong way. Green was giving out some good p.r. advice, but Ostler evidently thought he was being uppity, trespassing on his realm (words and politics). The page-wide photo above Ostler’s column  shows Warriors’ co-owner Joe Lacob explaining basketball —or is it horseback riding?— to Stephen Curry, who displays affectionate appreciation. Ostler describes the Warriors as “Lacob’s machine,” adding “No other team in sports has more heart and intelligence...

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Acetaminophen

From a case report by Lisa Sanders, MD, in the November 19 New York Times Magazine: “Acetaminophen is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Half of all patients with liver failure, and one-fifth of all patients who need a liver transplant, sustained their injury using this common over-the-counter medication. “When acetaminophen passes through the liver, some of the drug is broken down into toxic chemicals. A healthy liver can dispose of these dangerous components. But the liver needs nutrients to do this, and because she was so sick, this woman wasn’t taking in...

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Did Cannabis Kill the Baby?

Constance McLaughlin-Miley, PharmD,  forwarded this story from the Daily Mail November 19: “First ever fatal marijuana overdose reported in Colorado.” Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, responds: This is the most information that I’ve seen so far of this news splash. The death occurred at least two years ago.  Though a 7.8 ng/ml level of THC was revealed, I question which cannabinoids are being lumped here —11-OH THC, THC-COOH— and whether any other drugs may have been found in his plasma. The seizure activity is particularly concerning as well as aspiration (tried to vomit) and other complications.  There is also sudden death...

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Correspondence 11/21/17

From Manan Travedi, MD, of the National Physicians Alliance: Just a few days ago President Trump nominated pharmaceutical executive, Alex Azar, to be the next Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. We believe Mr. Azar’s deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry disqualify him from being an independent voice for our nation’s health care system. Moreover, his previous work in the public sector show that he has no inclination to improve upon the gains we have made in the Affordable Care Act and further efforts to achieve truly universal health care. Drug corporations already have undue influence over...

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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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