Posts Tagged ‘regulation’

Uncle Sam reluctant to let Mari Juana cure PTSD

November 16, 2011 1 comment

When you are sick, do you prefer to take one medication that dampens or significantly relieves your symptoms, or take one medication per symptom? Pepto-Bismol for example relieves headache, nausea, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea (YEA Pepto-Bismol!). Now would you rather take Pepto-Bismol or one medication for headache, one for nausea, one for indigestion, etc.? (Also which is more cost effective.) I would rather have Pepto-Bismol personally because it is one substance, with multiple applications, that has a short set list of side effects that can be controlled. Now I want you to imagine that you are an Iraq War veteran who was sent home because you endured a IED attack that left you with only a segment of your right arm, and numerous years of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I am fairly certain that if any of us were being shot at several times a day, and in audible range of large explosions we would have a quite a few persistent nightmares. This is the life that Sgt. Ryan Begin, as well as an estimated 37% of this generation’s vets, lived for six years before he received his authorization card last March to smoke medical marijuana. However, it wasn’t until Begin reached the bottom before anyone considered the possibility that the 80+ pills a day he was taking was causing him further psychological distress due to the extended list of side effects. He obviously slipped into a long period of drug abuse, overdoses, arrests which landed him in mental institutions on several occasions.

Now Begin has eliminated his dependence on each of the 80+ drugs he was on, and replaced them with four to five joints a day. “Using marijuana balances me out,” he says. “It takes those peaks and valleys of PTSD and it softens them. It makes my life manageable.” If all it takes is a little THC to subtle his PTSD, why won’t the government even allow preliminary studies as to the effectiveness of the drug on PTSD sufferers.

The article provides two of the many flimsy reasons why the government officials of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shut down the first study proposed to analyze and research marijuana’s effects on PTSD— Before I state the reason, I must add that NIDA runs the only source of marijuana for medical studies (makes things a little harder, don’t you think). Firstly, they state that there are too many health, safety and property issues that would arise from allowing patients to smoke outside medical facilities. Second, (when they realized that there were numerous ways around the first statement) they went straight for Dr. Sue Sisley, who was the chief researcher on the study. The officials simply said that Dr. Sisley was too inexperienced in treating PTSD patients and therefore should not perform such a study.

I’m no expert, but if health concerns are an issue for medical facilities, which don’t want their other patients exposed to the marijuana smoke, why not build a room with a window and a large vent. Just as simply, if experience is an issue, why not just let Dr. Sue work with a researcher who is experienced; or two, or three. I think there are many solutions to these bogus arguments presented by the officials at NIDA and I do believe that medical marijuana should be at least tested to evaluate its effects on PTSD patients. Currently, without any research ever done, how can NIDA know what the effect of marijuana will be?


In my mind medical marijuana should be tested to say the least. If its chemicals relieve stress, anxiety, nightmares, and even some of the other debilitating symptoms of PTSD, why won’t officials approve it? What are your thoughts?


The Dark Side of a Giant

October 15, 2011 2 comments

Scientific research continues to expand human knowledge on many subjects, and some argue that the rate at which science is unveiling new techniques may outpace the ability of businesses and individuals to property utilize the new technologies developed. In order to counter this, in many cases emerging techniques or ideas are ‘rushed’ to the foreground and produced on a massive quantity without adequate research into its environmental, social, or ethical impact.

This concern sparked controversy in the early 2000s in Europe against an American agricultural biotechnological corporation Monsanto. Monsanto has caught media attention for its unethical lobbying practices (link to amount spent on lobbying), aggressive retainer of lawyers, and conglomerate seeding practices.

Before becoming an agricultural company, Monsanto has its debut with testing nuclear weapons during the Manhattan project. In addition to their research in producing bioengineered seeds, Monsanto is also known for producing Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), being a widespread producer of PCBs (Coolants banned in 1979 for extreme toxicity and being damaging persistent organic pollutants), and for the production and use of the highly controversial (and later discovered, contaminated) Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War as an agent of herbicidal warfare.

To recap, the company whose crops will be eaten by millions of Americans every year has been involved in nearly every major environmental scandal not involving oil in the 20th century. If that wasn’t enough, there have been countless allegations of corruption, conspiracy, and nearly militant propagation of company territory.

Small farming operations are being edged out by Monsanto by legal means, as their patent over their genetically modified seeds allows them to sue any farmer found using their seeds. Unfortunately, because of the potency of the seeds, they are often being spread to contaminate other fields, whereupon the owner can be taken to court for infringing on Monsanto’s patent.

Recently, a USDA study was done on Roundup (the chemical glyphosate, the main herbicide produced by Monsanto and spread over thousands of acres of farmland. Although the USDA hasn’t updated its pesticide usage figures since 2007, estimates suggest almost double the glyphosate use in 2008 than in 2005. Although the chemical is described as being inert, when combined with other ‘inert’ substances in the ground and in preparation of the herbicide, severely toxic reactions can occur.

Further, the study suggested that the use of Roundup actually decreased soil health on a long-term basis. Even if the herbicide was safe in and of itself, ‘superweeds’ are a large concern.  As herbicides become more and more powerful, the evolution of weeds is supercharged, producing more virulent varieties that can overcome the herbicide, devastating fields in the absence of herbicide—wreaking havoc on organic farms (more on that later).

The media needs to be more involved in publicizing the activities of this and other companies who constantly violate the rights of other business owners. Through contamination and litigation, Monsanto is attempting to monopolize the food supply of the United States. Are we to bear witness to the rebirth of America’s agriculture in the Industry’s vision?

Has regulation slowed Scientific Progress.

September 18, 2011 5 comments

As we read and went over in class, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, I kept thinking about how all of the scientists conducted their research until, various laws and such came about which made their practices illegal. And so I thought about the question: Has increased regulations throughout the years led to a decrease in scientific progress? and was wondering what everyone thought about it. I for one think believe that it has hindered research and progress in many ways. If you think about it, most of the major medical discoveries of our time occurred way before most of our current regulations were introduced. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, there are references to doctors in injecting patients with cancer and syphilis without warning them. The Tuskegee institute injected healthy black men with Syphilis to study the effects of the disease. Dr. Southam injected patients (without their knowledge) directly with HeLa cells to test if patients could catch cancer from them. The HeLa cells, which the book is about, were taken without her knowledge but have lead to incredible discoveries such as the cure for polio, gene mapping, chemotherapy, and new cancer drugs. Had the current regulations been around in the time when Henrietta was being treated, all of these studies would never of happened but we wouldn’t have half of the medical discoveries that we do today. The case is strong to say that regulation slows progress, but there’s a point when we tradeoff human rights for scientific progress, and without regulation we would all unknowingly be lab rats. But is it worth trading our basic human rights to save thousands of lives?