Josh Harkinson

Josh Harkinson

Reporter

Born in Texas and based in San Francisco, Josh covers tech, labor, drug policy, and the environment. PGP public key.

Get my RSS |

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the ouster of Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Roseberg after he flatly rejected the idea that smoking marijuana could have medical benefits. "What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it's not," Rosenberg said during a press briefing earlier this month. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine—that is a joke."

In response, a Change.org petition with more than 106,000 signatures is calling upon President Barack Obama to "fire Chuck Rosenberg and appoint a new DEA administrator who will respect science, medicine, patients, and voters."

Rosenberg is clearly wrong, yet it's not entirely inaccurate to call medical marijuana a joke—in California at least.

Roseberg need not look far to find reputable studies documenting the medical value of marijuana, even in its whole-plant, smoked form. As Vox's German Lopez points out, a comprehensive review in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that pot can effectively treat chronic pain and muscle spasticity.

Still, it's not entirely inaccurate to call medical marijuana a joke—at least in California, the state with the nation's most lax medical marijuana law. When I visited a "marijuana doctor" in San Francisco a few years ago, it took me less than 15 minutes to get a pot card for—wait for it—"writer's cramp." Meanwhile, my wife waited for days before being denied a pot recommendation from our HMO, Kaiser Permanente, despite suffering from a flare-up of actual arthritis. While she sat at home popping Advils, I headed to the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, where my card got me into a "patient consumption area" staffed by busty women in tight-fitting nurse outfits and a dispensary worker with a nametag that read, "Dr. Herb Smoker, MD."

But that sort of irony wasn't what Rosenberg was talking about. He seems to believe that because marijuana is popular as a recreational drug, it can't  also be real medicine. Clearly, Dr. Herb Smoker isn't the only medical professional who disagrees.

Tue Jun. 15, 2010 3:28 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 15, 2010 1:59 PM EDT
Mon Jun. 14, 2010 8:16 PM EDT
Thu Jun. 3, 2010 4:09 PM EDT
Thu Jun. 3, 2010 9:34 AM EDT
Wed Jun. 2, 2010 4:27 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 1, 2010 1:00 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 1, 2010 9:28 AM EDT
Fri May. 28, 2010 4:13 PM EDT
Fri May. 28, 2010 1:57 PM EDT
Wed May. 26, 2010 6:11 PM EDT
Wed May. 26, 2010 2:13 PM EDT
Wed May. 26, 2010 1:26 PM EDT
Tue May. 25, 2010 1:49 PM EDT
Fri May. 21, 2010 4:58 PM EDT
Wed May. 19, 2010 7:18 PM EDT
Thu Apr. 29, 2010 8:30 AM EDT
Wed Apr. 28, 2010 9:15 AM EDT
Tue Apr. 27, 2010 8:15 AM EDT
Fri Apr. 9, 2010 1:37 PM EDT
Tue Mar. 23, 2010 6:32 PM EDT
Fri Mar. 19, 2010 1:46 PM EDT
Mon Mar. 15, 2010 5:43 PM EDT
Tue Feb. 16, 2010 4:41 PM EST
Tue Feb. 16, 2010 11:46 AM EST
Fri Feb. 12, 2010 7:28 AM EST
Fri Feb. 5, 2010 8:00 AM EST
Tue Jan. 12, 2010 4:04 PM EST
Thu Jan. 7, 2010 3:28 PM EST
Wed Jan. 6, 2010 7:08 AM EST
Tue Dec. 22, 2009 8:50 PM EST
Mon Dec. 14, 2009 6:12 PM EST
Mon Dec. 7, 2009 4:00 PM EST
Wed Nov. 25, 2009 5:14 PM EST
Wed Nov. 25, 2009 1:11 PM EST
Mon Nov. 23, 2009 2:13 PM EST
Thu Nov. 19, 2009 8:00 AM EST
Mon Nov. 9, 2009 8:00 AM EST
Mon Oct. 26, 2009 2:14 PM EDT
Fri Oct. 23, 2009 5:21 PM EDT
Thu Oct. 22, 2009 2:03 PM EDT