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Pot Shots: Continuing Medical (Marijuana) Education
Given the cannabis-free curriculum provided by U.S. medical and nursing schools, "continuing education" is not the apt term, but more than 100 healthcare providers -including 40 MDs- will receive credit for attending a conference on cannabis therapeutics at Santa Barbara Community College April 7-8.
The event was organized by Al Byrne and Mary Lynn Mathre of Patients Out of Time, a Virginia-based advocacy group, with help from David Bearman, MD, and students from Santa Barbara's NORML chapter led by Loren Vazquez. Donald Abrams, MD, was instrumental in arranging CME credits through UC San Francisco. Continuing education units were arranged by the California Nurses Association for RNs and LVNs; the National Pharmacists Association for pharmacists; and Santa Barbara City College for family therapists and licensed clinical social workers.
George McMahon, Elvy Musikka, and Irv Rosenfeld, who get their cannabis through the federal government's "compassionate use" program, were videotaped opening their sealed cans to refute a claim made by Mahmoud ElSohly -the only grower licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration- that the cannabis he supplies to patients and researchers is free of sticks and seeds.
ElSohly recently testified in opposition to the granting of a DEA license to Lyle Craker, a botanist at UMass Amherst (and would-be competitor). Rick Doblin, PhD, orchestrated Craker's application in hopes of breaking the government's monopoly and making cannabis available to more researchers. Doblin told the Santa Barbara audience that he thought the administrative law judge who heard the arguments is inclined to recommend that Craker be licensed. If the judge's recommendation is positive, Doblin foresees a public campaign to pressure the DEA Administrator to grant the license.
Three speakers, including Al Byrne, discussed their use of cannabis to cope with post-traumatic stress. "That's what it is," said Byrne, "-not a disorder but a perfectly logical response to terrifying events." Byrne experienced unforgettable trauma when he was in the Navy -first a training accident in which he was seriously injured and seven men died, then combat in Vietnam.
Christopher Largen and Erin Hildebrandt were sexually molested in childhood. Largen, a writer from Denton, Texas, contrasted the punitive treatment of marijuana users in our society with the leniency shown sexual predators. Hildebrandt, who had been abused by a teacher in elementary school, runs a group called Parents Ending Prohibition based in Lafayette, Oregon. She pointed out the inherent creepiness of making schoolchildren pee in a cup, "even with the door closed or half closed." It breaks down the child's sense of personal sanctity and provides easy access for the potential predator.