7th July 2017: Peak body looks likely to double down on its anti-pot stance
Remember where you saw it first.
There’s one cartload of monkeys it seems you can’t turn your back on for more than five minutes without them getting up to all kinds of disagreeable mischief.
We refer to that fractious bunch over at ANZCA / FPM the peak body representing this country’s pain specialists. Long-time loathers of cannabis and among the most powerful pressure groups lobbying against the use of the drug, the organisation has, it appears, outdone itself recently having announced a forum to discuss a ‘Medical Cannabis Strategy’ – described as ‘imperative’ so as to provide ‘leadership within the space.’
Normally, when an outfit like this says it’s throwing a shindig to look at the issue it’s tempting to see it as progress – but if such an enterprise has got ANZCA’s name on it, chances are it’s a whole other ball-game.
This is, after all, a body that at every turn has decried and demonised cannabis with it’s shrill and increasingly eccentric and unreasonable-looking insistence that ‘calls for the liberalisation of the availability of cannabinoids as medicines are based more on anecdote than on sound clinical science and practice.’
It does not, it says,’support off-label or non-approved prescription of cannabinoid products,‘ nor ‘endorse the use of cannabinoids in chronic non-cancer pain until such time as a clear therapeutic role for them is identified in the scientific literature,’ according to a document called ‘PM10’ its rather emphatic position statement.
It does however receive considerable funding from a number of pharmaceutical companies whose names are writ large in the pain game, mostly the makers of opioid narcotics such as Pfizer and Mundipharma (a.k.a Purdue who make OxyContin) both of whom have in the past paid massive fines for their crimes in relation, essentially, to drug-pushing.
The ANZCA/FPM ‘forum’ is planned for next month and was announced on page four of a recent ‘Dean’s communiqué‘ circulated among members and also available online.
‘Further to political and regulatory developments, as well as in response to requests from Fellows for guidance, it has become imperative for FPM to provide leadership in the space,’ the ‘communiqué’ says, reiterating the organisation’s ‘current position’ which it claims is ‘consistent with the current scientific consensus.’
‘The gap between the current evidence and community (and political) perception of benefit is now big enough to demand a ‘harm minimization’ approach that will allow Fellows on the clinical frontline to manage these expectations as well as pursue potential clinical research,‘ it goes on.
All of which looks very much as if ANZCA is planning to double down on its highly antagonistic stance toward the herb – ‘harm reduction’ here unlikely to mean actually prescribing such medicine for those of its patients who could probably benefit most from its use.
From all this it seems as though ANZCA has overlooked this year’s big news from the US National Academy of Sciences which, for all its faults, found ‘there is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.’
Or the fact that in US States where weed has been legalised a staggering drop in deaths from and prescriptions for opioid drugs has been noted.
Or could it be it’s because of this last point – a fact that’s scaring the life out of ANZCA paymasters like Mundipharma – that the organisation is so fiercely opposed?