Medical Blow: The Next Step to Pain ManagementScene Magazine on June 1, 2011 with 0 Comments
The proliferation of medical marijuana across Colorado brings up some important questions. How should we control access to the drug? How should we distribute it? Should it be taxed? Did I really eat seven Pop Tarts last night?
Indeed, now that medical marijuana has become such a large and thriving portion of Colorado’s economy, at least a few of these questions are beginning to come from medical cocaine advocates, who are appropriately asking, “When is it our turn?”
It seems that, in the excitement over legalizing medical marijuana, the whole medical cocaine debate has been all but forgotten by pop culture. One can, however, still find vocal advocates in the sanctuary of strip-club bathrooms, foreboding alleyways and the isolating, rock-bottom pits of addiction.
These sniffly-yet-steadfast few claim a wide range of medical applications for cocaine, including physiological, psychological and social applications the medical industry refuses to recognize. They say cocaine gives you energy and takes away discomfort. It can combat fatigue, erase hunger, ease facial-tattoo pains and conquer fears of public nudity in only one or ten simple doses.
The opponents of medical cocaine generally appear in the form of addiction specialists, medical professionals and functional members of society. These critics cite the myriad adverse effects cocaine use can cause: heart disease, heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, convulsions, nausea, blurred vision, chest pain, fever, muscle spasms, coma and enjoying Nicholas Cage’s later films.
In cocaine’s defense, this list already does sound a lot like a prescription drug commercial, where the side effects are much worse than what is being treated. You’ve seen them a million times – the rolling fields of daisies complete with gay polo matches and exuberant middle-class folks discovering for the first time that herpes can be traded for unspecified rashes and oily discharge.
Although medical cocaine may vicariously cause herpes, its own advertising would be far more epic.
Much like marijuana, however, the broad and various claims for cocaine’s medical application make the drug a hard sell to critics. A person can point to Prozac and say, “That’s for depression,” or point to Viagra and say “Erectile Dysfunction.” We all know that Ambien is for insomniacs, and that barbiturates were invented to kill beat poets and wayward blues musicians.
But, when it comes to drugs like marijuana or cocaine – drugs that have a strong psychoactive component – critics make the assumption that patients are just trying to get high. The reality is, as far as medical cocaine is concerned, this would hardly be true more than 100 percent of the time.
But can’t we just pretend? Can’t we give cocaine a special medical status like the one we’ve given medical marijuana? It could have its own clinics, its own dispensaries, its own crack team of doctors who prescribe it at every whim. Surely, no one would abuse such a system.
Thankfully, I think we can all agree that medical marijuana is well enough controlled that at least ten percent of cardholders have a legitimate medical concern. Surely, the other 90 percent are diligently using the drug for its passive benefits – the way one takes low-dose aspirin to protect against heart attacks, or drinks a glass of red wine every day to thwart the ills of sobriety. In the end, medical marijuana may be so effective a cure that it can be prescribed for anything. It may be so ahead of its time that it can be used before a sickness is even present.
So can’t the medical marijuana system be used for other drugs like cocaine? Can’t we awkwardly frame cocaine as having legitimate medical applications, and then mock those applications by marketing it for recreational use? Can’t we undermine its legitimacy as a medication by never letting it manifest as more than a good way to spend a Thursday night? Can’t we admit that we really just wanted to get high?
This is why the system works for marijuana, but would never work for drugs like cocaine. Because, even though society still stupidly clings to the notion that marijuana and cocaine are somehow similar, the fact is that cocaine is an addicting, hardcore street drug, and marijuana is, well – marijuana. Overall, you’re probably much safer smoking a joint than using most drugs, whether they’re prescription or illegal. Hence, the fallout from a “medical” industry created to serve mostly recreational users, in the end, turns out being about as severe as a hellish case of the munchies.