Marijuana is NOT Medicine? Clarification Please!

By: Terrie Best, Campaign Manager
Stop Operation Green Rx
August, 12, 2009

I’m sure the doctors at University of California at San Diego’s (UCSD) Center for Medical Cannabis Studies (CMCS) would be amused to hear San Diego narcotics officers’ decree that marijuana is not medicine in as much as CMCS is paid by federal funds to find new and better ways to treat patients with it. The CMCS, a department of UCSD, perhaps the largest employer in San Diego, is housed near the Hillcrest UCSD Medical Center in the heart of Mission Hills. Its mission is to conduct high quality scientific studies intended to ascertain the general medical safety and efficacy of cannabis and cannabis products and examine alternative forms of cannabis administration. This is accomplished through focused controlled clinical trials, observational studies and randomized trials, which the center publishes and subjects to rigorous peer-review. I checked and the doctors who run this place are no slouches. The review panel alone reads like the Board of Directors at The University Club. They’re all MD’s and all are from prestigious medical schools – certainly weightier than a cop with an outdated opinion. These sorts could review for any medical journal they want to and probably they do. They are writers of textbooks and sworn to do no harm. So, if they say cannabis has medical value why do you suppose law enforcement in our town including the DA, insist that “marijuana is not medicine?” I’m not making this up, that is a direct quote from a training handout supervising narcotics officer, Conrado DeCastro – the so called mastermind of Operation Green Rx (Google it!)- pointed to when asked on the stand recently about his training and qualifications on the subject. Short of a conspiracy theory, I’m baffled why cops take such a hard line, and anybody who voted for the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 should be baffled if not outraged as well.

No matter what side of the issue you’re on, isn’t it time to find the common ground and begin to explore how we can implement the law in ways the pro-compassion voters as well as the DA, law enforcement and our local soccer mom’s can live with? With thriving research centers like the CMCS, isn’t the debate whether cannabis is medicine officially over? Wasn’t it over when we voted that it was appropriate for folks to use cannabis in treatment of medical symptoms? If anybody is still haggling over the issue of medicine, they are part of the problem. Clearly, it is time for San Diego law enforcement to invest in training around the issue of cannabis as medicine. So what keeps them from it? I wish I knew and it seems to be the million dollar question. The alternative, allowing police to use their opinions to decide which laws they will enforce, is far scary to me than any cannabis collective in my neighborhood. Wouldn’t that mean that if my local officer thought my botox injections where unsafe, I could be arrested? How about whether gay men should be protected from hate crimes? How can we pass the Compassionate Use Act and then sit back and let the DA decide for us what is and isn’t medicine and what laws will be enforce? Excuse me … be right back, I gotta go ask my local border patrol agent for advice on my health care policy. Be the change, People!

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