Image by Tak Toyoshima
Last week, marijuana patients and advocates had a lot to be thankful for in the way of positive coverage in major Boston media outlets, namely in the Boston Herald and on “Chronicle” on WCVB. In the Herald, reporter Chris Villani wrote two stories, both of which covered news that DigBoston and my WEMF Radio show, “The Young Jurks,” reported last spring, like that legendary sportscaster Bob Lobel is using marijuana to treat his back and knee pain, and that some doctors in Mass are using cannabis to reduce opiate overdoses.
Predictably, the Herald gave our stories no credit at all. In this case, however, we are thrilled to be ripped off, and to see “Chronicle” also feature Lobel and other patients and advocates. Among them were Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of Uplifting Health and Wellness in Natick, who told the Herald, “What we are seeing is that, in follow-up visits, patients have decreased and even eliminated their opioids.”
All that aside, it hasn’t been all good news for marijuana in the Boston media. On the day after their Lobel and opioid suite, the Herald Staff unearthed yet another one of their ignorant oped tirades against medical cannabis. Meanwhile, over at the Lowell Sun, the rather unlettered Todd Feathers amplified rhetoric that quacks from the Massachusetts Medical Society are pushing. Among his gripes: “Most medical-pot permits [are] issued for undisclosed conditions,” while “90% of Massachusetts recipients don’t have one of the 8 allowable diagnosed diseases.”
In the Sun piece, the author (and the two doctors who are quoted in the story) omit the fact that most of the estimated 40 million Americans suffering from daily chronic pain are, like myself, suffering from back pain, a condition that is not listed but that is still allowed under the law. Because of said omission, the writer and his clown docs are suggesting that people like me are faking illnesses to obtain our prescriptions, or at least that’s what they want the average lowly, uneducated reader to believe.
You might ask yourself: How do doctors omit medical facts? My guess is it’s because they have agendas. In reality though, other common causes of chronic pain that medical marijuana can help include arthritis and fibromyalgia, neither of which is listed in the Mass classification system. People with those ailments must be faking it as well, and the same goes for those with PTSD, seizures, anorexia, anxiety disorders, ALS, lupus, lyme disease, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy.
None of this is mentioned in the Sun, nor is the extensive relative analysis published by the Journal of the American Medical Association that indicates a 25 percent drop in opiate overdoses in states that allow medical marijuana. Instead we get this guy: “[The high number of undisclosed conditions] raises cause for concern about certifiers appreciating and adhering to the regulatory requirements developed by the Department of Public Health.” His name is Dr. Dennis Dimitri, and he’s the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, which is waging a discriminatory campaign against medical marijuana patients. The MMS gameplan seems clear: create fear among doctors and their supervisors, give subtle threats regarding regulatory licensing issues, and finally, tell the media that nobody will recommend non-addictive and non-toxic substances to help address the opiate epidemic that traditional doctors helped create.
Since the prohibitionists are hitting on multiple fronts, there’s also last week’s appalling Boston Globe opinion column from Dr. Sushrut Jangi. Titled “Can we please stop pretending marijuana is harmless?”, the piece claims young people are getting “addicted” with an “epidemic level of pot use.” No mention here, either, about the reduction of opiate use in medical states.
When I reached out to Jangi on Facebook for a comment, he responded by blocking me. Interestingly, he’s a former editorial fellow at the New England Journal of Medicine, which is published by the Mass Medical Society. If you see your doc reading an issue of this rag, you should probably find yourself a second opinion.