At the Society of Cannabis Clinicians meeting Sept. 21, Dale Gieringer of California NORML directed the doctors’ attention to a ballot measure to which he is strongly opposed —and they are, too, after hearing about it. Proposition 46 would require California physicians employed by hospitals to be tested for cannabis metabolites. Hanya Barth, MD, said, “First they’ll come for the doctors at hospitals, then they’ll come for us.” (Dr. Barth’s parents were holocaust survivors, and her comment echoed a famous warning by Pastor Niemoller about the Nazis.)
We, the people, are being bombarded by deceitful ads claiming that Prop 46 would prevent doctors from abusing prescription drugs —but prescription drugs would not become off-limits, only “illicit” ones.
The ads state that policemen and others are subject to random drug testing and therefore doctors should be, too. O’Shaughnessy’s states that policemen and others in the workforce should not be subject to drug testing unless and until evidence of impairment exists. The practice of peeing in a cup is degrading and perverse, the results are often inaccurate.
Moreover, the tests are insensitive to the most abused drug: alcohol.
The hidden goal of Prop 46, which is funded by personal-injury lawyers, is to raise the cap on medical malpractice awards from $250,000 to $1.1 million.
The most frequently seen ad features Dr. Stephen Loyd of Tennessee —an odd choice to be spokesman for a California state initiative— drawling:
“I’m a doctor of internal medicine with something terrible to admit. I’ve treated thousands of patients, risked their lives, while high on prescription drugs. I was an addict. I’m recovered now. But an estimated 500,000 medical professionals are still out there abusing drugs or alcohol. Police, airline pilots, bus drivers, they’re randomly tested for drugs and alcohol, but not us doctors. You can change that. Vote yes on Proposition 46. Your lives are in our hands.”
The yes-on-46 ads warn that 500,000 healthcare providers are drug abusers.
The following analysis is from the Sacramento Bee:
“The initiative’s proponents are presenting just one of the measure’s three prongs: random drug and alcohol testing. Omitted from the ad are provisions of the measure that would more than quadruple the limit on medical malpractice damages – its backers’ primary objective – and require doctors to consult a prescription drug database before prescribing certain drugs.
“The 500,000 number cited in the ad is a stretch in more ways than one. First, it’s a national, not state, figure that relies on a federal report that found 103,000 health care practitioners abused illicit drugs and that 400,000 reported alcohol dependence or abuse. While the numbers include registered nurses and home-health aides, the random drug and alcohol testing mandated by the initiative requires only hospitals to screen affiliated physicians.”
Prohibition in Colorado
Colorado physicians who use cannabis as medicine with the approval of another doctor —in other words, legally— are drug tested and barred from issuing cannabis approvals if cannabinoid metabolites are found in their urine. This ominous news was reported at the SCC meeting by Steve Robinson, MD, who had recently returned from a conference in Denver.