So smoke some weed, dude. It’s great for nausea.
Now, back to the argument. Sullivan adds:
If that is the worst that can happen – fee-for-service medicine capturing yet another simple medication – I’m not so downcast.
This misses my point entirely. The issue I’m concerned with isn’t “fee-for-service medicine,” nor is it cannabis usage. (I’d like to see the weed legally sold, without any need for a medical recommendation, which is why I’ve been working with the Washington State Liquor Control Board to make that so in Washington.)
The issue is the abuse of medical authority. When a physician says “X is good for this patient’s health,” or “Y is bad for this patient’s health,” that statement gets, and deserves, substantial deference from the legal system. Health is a primary value, and physicians are the accredited experts on what conduces to health.
To choose an example not at random: When a physician says that an abortion is indicated to protect the health of a pregnant woman, everyone but Sarah Palin wants that statement to carry great legal weight. (That includes those who think that the woman’s desire to terminate her pregnancy ought to be sufficient in its own right, without bothering about what the doctor thinks.)
When some physicians abuse their authority by making statements about health – for example, cannabis recommendations – without any basis beyond the customer’s willingness to tell a fairy-tale and pay a fee, they weaken the claim of medical authorities to deference from the legal system. If you think that health is a primary value and that its defense from state and private power requires a class of accredited experts, that should give you, as it does me, a queasy feeling that cannabis can’t settle.
Footnote And yes, I feel the same way about expert-witnessing. The expert should be there to Say the Thing that Is as the expert honesty sees it, not to help someone win the case. If your honest testimony is helpful enough so that a party to a lawsuit wants to pay you for your time, go right ahead. But what you say on the stand should be as bound by your professional scholarly ethics as what you write in a journal or say in your classroom. You’re working for a lawyer, but that doesn’t give you a lawyer’s license to say and do anything in the name of “zealous advocacy;” you’re not there as an advocate, but as a truth-teller. If I ran a university, professors would lose tenure for offering b.s. expert testimony, just as they do for faking data in scholarly publications. And if I ran the court system, experts would work for the court rather than being hired guns for the two sides.