“Rick Doblin has done a lot for the field, but he is more of a populist,” Grob says. “We need careful and controlled scientific studies showing the efficacy of these drugs so funding can continue.” Broader awareness of these sorts of end-of-life psychedelic studies could be good for everyone, the researchers say. “If insurance companies knew about our outcomes, they might get a lot more interested in what we’re doing here.” Griffiths continued: “When you make people less afraid to die, then they’re less likely to cling to life at a huge cost to society. After having such a transcendent experience, individuals with terminal illness often show a markedly reduced fear of dying and no longer feel the need to aggressively pursue every last medical intervention available. Instead they become more interested in the quality of their remaining life as well as the quality of their death.” – How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death, by Lauren Slater
It’s the 21st century, but enlightenment is a long way away.
We were better off and on the launching pad to a higher plain back in the 1960s. Even Richard Nixon believed in national health care and that was over 4 decades ago.
You’ve got to wonder when America will ever grow up. Watching the current bottom-feeder generation of politicians, it doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon.
Candidate Obama promised to keep a hands off policy on medical marijuana outlets. His alter ego, Pres. Obama, has done the opposite.
From Rolling Stone in February 2012, Obama’s War on Pot:
…Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multiagency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush’s record for medical-marijuana busts. “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “He’s gone from first to worst.”
It’s not all that surprising, but is just another example of the untrustworthy nature of politicians, Barack Obama just being the latest among them.
There is no medical reason to keep marijuana out of the hands of the sick or dying.
What this is about is money.
There isn’t a national politician today who will man the line against moneyed interests on behalf of we the people. Neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would dare, both of whom are fueled by the same elite few who control the levers of financial power.
The same reason Pres. Obama did a back room deal with big Pharma, as well as private insurance companies, on health care. It comes down to the issue of no vision, no courage, no larger concept of health care beyond 20th century medicine that is stuck in antiquated means of treating symptoms, while never going beyond, which should include offering a better quality of living for the sick.
I talked about my own journey through an athletic injury recently for Zocalo Public Square, when I utilized a trio of alternative therapies to navigate stratospheric pain, with acupuncture finally showing me the way up and out. None of the alternative avenues were covered by health insurance.
“Sugar Blues” was written decades ago, yet it was some sort of scandal that “60 Minutes” recently did a report that sugar kills. This is not news. We’re stuck on stupid where our own health is concerned, because people won’t even accept that much of it depends on our own lifestyle, behavior and actions.
Doctors aren’t trained on nutrition and prevention, because there’s no money in it. Women face the same challenges with doctors at mid-life, with bio-identical hormones a mystery to most doctors, while being out of reach for many and not covered by insurance. But they offer a sparkling way through the toughest life gateway a girl faces, which threatens her very sexual nature. It’s not a coincidence that marriages falter when women are going through the thunder road hormone journey, while men are desperately clinging to their flagging machismo. Men face similar struggles, but as easy as it is for them to get Viagra, testosterone cremes are equally available.
However, these life chapters are separate from life threatening illnesses or terminal diagnoses.
The first step out of this hamster wheel is medical marijuana. But people actually still believe marijuana is a gateway drug, with infotainment cable shows parroting popular anecdotes made for people who are scared of their own shadows. Gateway drug hocus-pocus is the most preposterously ignorant assumption the uninformed weed trackers have today.
Remember when Rep. Ron Paul was made a laughing stock for his comment on heroin? He was on to something about personal liberties and drugs, with legalization and regulation the answer, even if heroin isn’t the most effective example, unless you’re recovering from invasive surgery and you’re in the hospital and need to mask the post-op pain. We need someone with the courage of Ron Paul, but who also has the integrity of a liberal to acknowledge libertarianism in the modern age also requires a government safety net, because of the corrupt nature of the global economy and concentrated wealth. Someone who is equally respectful that women’s individual liberties cannot be abridged by either ideology, religiosity or out of convenience.
Grob and his colleagues are part of a resurgence of scientific interest in the healing power of psychedelics. Michael Mithoefer, for instance, has shown that MDMA is an effective treatment for severe P.T.S.D. Halpern has examined case studies of people with cluster headaches who took LSD and reported their symptoms greatly diminished. And psychedelics have been recently examined as treatment for alcoholism and other addictions.
Despite the promise of these investigations, Grob and other end-of-life researchers are careful about the image they cultivate, distancing themselves as much as possible from the 1960s, when psychedelics were embraced by many and used in a host of controversial studies, most famously the psilocybin project run by Timothy Leary. Grob described the rampant drug use that characterized the ’60s as “out of control” and said of his and others’ current research, “We are trying to stay under the radar. We want to be anti-Leary.” Halpern agreed. “We are serious sober scientists,” he told me.
Being “anti-Leary” is always the first step, because if you aren’t take seriously the game is over. As an anti-Leary libertarian, though his philosophy is misogynistic, that’s one thing Ron Paul offered that scared so many zombie Republicans and Democrats, though he remains naive that a safety net in the modern era isn’t foundational to a humane society.
Time Magazine did a story on ecstasy back in 2000, with a section tucked into it that pointed to the same types of properties the Times article is pointing to today.
Sue Stevens, the woman who took it in 1997 with her husband Shane–he has since died of kidney cancer–learned about the drug from a mutual friend of hers and Doblin’s. She believes e helped Shane find the right attitude to fight his illness, and she helps Doblin advocate for limited legal use. Soon his association will help fund the first approved study of MDMA in psychotherapy, involving 30 victims of rape in Spain diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. In this country, the FDA has approved only one study. In 1995 Dr. Charles Grob, a ucla psychiatrist, used it as a pain reliever for end-stage cancer patients. In the first phase of the study, he concluded the drug is safe if used in controlled situations under careful monitoring.
Raves, dance clubs and the drinking crowd have taken the healing properties of drugs like ecstasy and MDMA, even marijuana, out of the health equation and put the marketing in the hands of establishment fogies, big Pharma, the government and politicians who don’t care about quality of life for people in the throes of dealing with their own mental crises, and even their very mortality. These same people hounded Dr. Kervorkian through the end of his life, even if all he was doing is helping adults manage their own passing, the most personal of decisions.
The story in the Times is important. It talks about alternative medicine and healing when dealing with the most humbling moments of our life.
When you look at our politics, however, whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, as well as the people elected to Congress, there’s absolutely no evidence that an enlightenment epiphany is on the horizon. There is no one with the ethical fortitude to speak for people facing life-shattering illnesses or their own mortality, helping them get options beyond the conventional, which offer no relief in the process of healing or death, let alone a quality of life that allows a person to go out with dignity and grace, with a little laughter on the side.