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Comment Archives: stories: Currents: Feature

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

After Vietnam, the pentagon and the military/industrial/congressional lobby figured out that if you tied the warriors to the war, then any dissenters could be branded "not supporting our troops". This was very prevalent in the Iraq debacle.

We betrayed our veterans by asking them to lay down their lives and well-being so that some old white men could feel powerful, so some oil people could feel wealthier, and defense contractors could show some big quarterly profits to the stockholders. The idea that after destroying Iraq's infrastructure we would somehow be welcomed as liberators and democracy would flourish was ludicrous at best. Oddly George H.W.Bush was a pragmatist who knew an invasion of Iraq would be a disaster and he avoided it. Now we all suffer with our vets as the echo chamber spins what a great idea it all was in spite of the results, everything bad being attributed to the succeeding president.

War and recession have defined our country since 1789 when we had a recession following the revolutionary war.

We wouldn't be squabbling about healthcare, education and employment today if we could break this cycle. The beginning of this debate is what I hope comes from all this, for our vets and future generations

It took a long while before we could say Vietnam was a colossal mistake, I wonder how long this one will take.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by NJYD on 07/21/2014 at 11:01 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

A modern example of that grand old American tradition "railroading" to get rid of someone who is liable to do a scientific study and come up with the truth. In a Gaussian distribution of people half of the distribution is below average, sadly in Arizona many of them seem to become Republican legislators.
As a veteran, I would like to see the VA do a scientific study on the high incidence of suicide among American military back from the war. Do you think that many of these people have realized and are filled with disgust at the con job that the government did to convince them that they were protecting their nation when that reality is dubious at best.
Just asking.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Henry J. on 07/20/2014 at 5:36 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

CR
Unbiased science is both rare and commendable but requires zero interference from AZ polls and U of A molls, which is what this story is really about, not about impartial science.

If we were talking about a private company with closely held religious beliefs, like say Hobby Lobby, then you are absolutely right CR, best move along.

But this is a taxpayer funded land grant university. If a hack in Phoenix took money from a Pharma PAC, called the sea-hag and told her to kill it and she complied, that's a public matter that needs the light of day shone on it brightly. Senators can resign, be impeached or recalled. University presidents serve at the behest of the Board of Regents, and can be fired, albeit with a hefty golden parachute, smaller used parachutes for her cronies; we can split hairs about Dr. Sisley after the actors in this play about the arrogance of power are replaced with public servants not beholden to dark money

Vets, no one on here is talking about you;do not let this one go, when Uncle Sugar sang "Johnny get your gun", you got your gun and fought, fight for this: Let no brother-in-arms suffer a day longer, broach no interference from any quarter, the public is behind you

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by NJYD on 07/18/2014 at 10:51 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Jonathan, we may be approaching this challenge differently.

Here's a first-hand story about "who owns the grant." I was a researcher at a company when I conceived a new project and wrote a NIH SBIR grant to get funding. It was entirely my baby, and it was the project I dreamed about. Just when the NIH funded it, fate intervened. The top management at the company changed and the new management had no interest in my research. By NIH rules, the grant was not mine -- grants are only awarded to organizations, not to PIs. The company couldn't give it to me even if they cared to, but I did convince them to give it back to the NIH. Then I went to a new company, submitted the same project again, and won it a second time. In the end, I was in a better situation than in the beginning.

Even Steve Jobs got booted out of his own company, Apple Computer. It was very painful, but he said in hindsight it was good for him. He didn't sue, get into a big public fight, etc. Instead, he put his energy into exploring new possibilities that he otherwise would not have explored, and those became critically important. I can understand that. I hope you and Dr. Sisley do, too.

The lesser point is: the grant does not belong to the PI even when the PI has put their whole heart into the project.

The bigger point is: if you can keep your head on straight even when things blow up in your face then you could still end up well -- maybe even better than you dreamed. But metaphorically, you have to stop pounding on the door that has closed and decide to look for another door that is open.

You may deeply appreciate how Dr. Sisley has fought to take this project from idea to reality. So why not see if she can continue to be the one who fights for it, but in a different role? Be creative! Or you could just keep pounding on the door that is closed, because you feel a "great injustice" is being done when in reality that university is solidly within their rights.

On a different topic: you asked if I wish for Dr. Sisley to be replaced by someone more aligned with my own beliefs. I wouldn't want this research project to be about my beliefs, your beliefs, Dr. Sisley's beliefs, or anyone's beliefs. The whole basis of science is to dispense with beliefs and just observe impartially. That helps make a study's results more trustworthy.

Especially when a project is so controversial, it needs two things: (a) an impartial research team including PI, and (b) an administrative team that will vigorously fight the project's battles.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Career Researcher on 07/18/2014 at 9:42 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Career Researcher.... when someone devotes 4 years of their life to get the necessary Federal agency approvals to perform the research, they own the study - plain and simple. MAPS stands behind Dr. Sisley, and has communicated their intentions to UofA.

I think that you would be better off debating the results of the study and identifying any bias in the resulting data, than to continue to advocate for Dr. Sisley's replacement.

You choose to hide behind the anonymity of the internet, as is your right. However, everyone reading your comments will begin to question your own intentions and bias. Do you wish for Dr. Sisley to be replaced by someone more aligned with your own beliefs?

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Jonathan Starrett on 07/18/2014 at 10:46 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

It sounds like there are two main responses to my comments: those that defend Sue Sisley as a person, and those that defend the marijuana study's design.

I agree that Sue Sisley should be highly praised for her advocacy activities. She is a very valuable person in the world, and I salute her. I wish there were more people who cared as much as she does for those who suffer. I hope she continues to receive both recognition and financial support for her advocacy.

I also think this marijuana study should be done. However, the public's passions do run very high regarding this drug (Some of those comments above are really caustic! Mellow out!). For the sake of keeping the study as far as possible above reproach, it is important that the PI of the study not have invested herself either for or against the drug. Don't we all want to see the most reliable outcomes that can possibly be obtained, knowing that any study already has enough faults?

Why are the PI's opinions relevant? Doesn't this study's design safeguard the integrity of the results? I wish it could, but my own experience has taught me that:

(1) We never have perfect knowledge and control. The research team's understanding and "control" in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is always partial, never complete. To be honest, they should be called randomized partially-controlled trials. To make matters worse, the more controls we try to impose then the less the experiment conforms to real drug use. So we strike a compromise: we try to impose enough controls to reduce the worst of the confounding factors but not so many controls that the situation becomes both unbearable for the participants and too far removed from ordinary living situations. By the way, the controls we do implement are not perfect either.

(2) There are always ways in which the researchers are consciously or unconsciously affecting the details of how the study is designed and performed. Incomplete understanding among the researchers about the nature of the drug and how it is used in real life when all the research controls are removed, and assumptions and details -- these are often hidden behind brief statements of great experimental designs as researchers try to convince funding, administrative and regulatory agencies that their study is the best that can be done and deserves to be approved!

When people believe that RCT designs including blinding are some kind of magic immunization against mistaken or misleading results, they are being very naive. I am sorry. We researchers do not do perfect research, we just do our best effort. In the final analysis, it become a matter of trust. That is why the opinions of the PI are of great importance.

If real change regarding marijuana use is going to take place, it can only happen on the basis of trust among a variety of individuals and organizations. How is that trust going to be built where there is currently much distrust?

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Career Researcher on 07/18/2014 at 10:19 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Senator Kimberly Yee runs Arizona and marijuana is her #1 target.....she had the UA researcher fired

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Immortal Illumined on 07/18/2014 at 7:20 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Print version misidentifies the woman (Sisley) featured in the page 11 photo as UA President Hart ... how does this happen? Smoke on the water, fire in the sky?

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by freybaby on 07/17/2014 at 9:06 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Um, is it just me or does it seem like this was written using the MicroSoft Windows Phone's "Voice to Text" function? I'm curious now to get the paper addition and find all the same typos. Reminds me of the time I contacted CNN about the rampant simple errors in stories. The response I got was that they get stories off the "wire" and just run them. I suggested they run stories through some kind of MicroSoft Word grammar/spellcheck before posting.

Other than that this was a fascinating read. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Not a Rancho Snob on 07/17/2014 at 4:51 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Career Researcher, although its not clear what a "career researcher" is or does, at least not to me; I suspect a quick check of your IP address will show this spin-doctoring came from the senate or the University

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by NJYD on 07/17/2014 at 1:24 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Career Researcher.... its called a hypothesis. The purpose of research and the scientific method is to test hypothesis put forth at the start of a study. I have confidence that an FDA-approved, triple-blind study would be more about collecting and interpreting data, not drawing conclusions that are not supported by that data.

In addition, wouldn't the study be peer reviewed so that it is not merely Dr. Sisley's conclusions, but a consensus of the scientific community?

10 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Jonathan Starrett on 07/17/2014 at 12:19 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Career Researcher... it was going to be a randomized, triple blind study. No matter what she or anyone else might WANT the results to be, they would simply be working with data. And although I am NOT a career researcher I believe in the world of science we would all agree that Tylenol is "safe," yet Tylenol poisoning has caused more than 1,500 accidental deaths. Can Career Researcher perhaps tell me how many people in history have died from cannabis poisoning? Since there is no FDA approval for cannabis yet I will defer to the doctors, who take the oath of "first do no harm," along with the historical data to agree with any person who deems cannabis safe.

17 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by porchsong on 07/17/2014 at 9:30 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

To the brave Career Researcher who wouldn't leave their name: you are a liar. Putting aside the fact that you aren't ethical enough to sign your name to the claims made and the overwhelming anecdotal evidence which exists, your omission of the fact that there have been dozens of studies made to date of the link between marijuana and relief of PTSD symptoms (which can be found by simply Googling: Marijuana PTSD studies) places you firmly in the prevaricator column. Go sell your lies to those still uneducated enough to believe them.

13 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by RJFletcher on 07/17/2014 at 8:58 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

When I first heard of this decision as well as Hart's drastic funding slash of AZPM and other recent questionable choices, I have to wonder what Hart's Strategic Plan really is.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by blissinfinite on 07/17/2014 at 8:07 AM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

In regards to marijuana everyone has a bias.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Robert Bender on 07/16/2014 at 9:52 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Excellent work Ms. Herreras, but I beg to differ, Big Pharma bought our senators and the UofA for the reasons stated, they can't make profits from plants. The fact that our state legislature is populated by wack-jobs is just a smokescreen, this is not about Red vs. Blue, its about green and I don't mean plants either.

18 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by NJYD on 07/16/2014 at 9:36 PM

Re: “Reefer Research Madness

Sue Sisley sounds like a passionate and highly dedicated advocate for veterans. That's been highlighted quite thoroughly in this article.

When someone has that much conviction that a drug is safe and effective BEFORE THE RESEARCH IS EVEN DONE, then that person should not be allowed anywhere near the planned research study. They certainly should NEVER be allowed to run the research study.

She has the backing of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. This is like having the backing of a pharmaceutical company who wants their drug approved. Such backing does not remove the taint of bias in research — it increases it.

The best path for marijuana research is to get a very unbiased and very expert researcher in charge of the study — someone who will even-handedly report both the favorable and the unfavorable results from the study.

It may be that the best outcome for both Sue Sisley and for veterans is that she continue her passionate and highly dedicated advocacy of causes that benefit veterans. I hope she does that!!! Veterans deserve all our support!!!!!! And the world needs passionate people like Sue Sisley as advocates. But I would not trust ANY researcher to do research on a drug that they have already decided is safe and effective.

This whole issue is not about Sue Sisley at UA. It is about who can be trusted to do unbiased research at any university, especially on a controversial drug.

(Career researcher for more than 30 years, name withheld)

5 likes, 28 dislikes
Posted by Career Researcher on 07/16/2014 at 9:25 PM

Re: “Not Up the Creek...Yet

It's tragic that Tucson Electric Power is fighting solar, which uses very little water. Instead, they run coal plants on groundwater.

TEP is 95% fossil fuels. There are no words.

Posted by Nancy on 07/16/2014 at 7:37 AM

Re: “The Saga of Three Points

If the sherrif is that bad, why don't the people vote him out?

Posted by sq on 07/14/2014 at 9:38 AM

Re: “America's Worst Politicians

Feel better? My, that was a lot to get off your chest, wasn't it? Now, you have to ask yourself, are the residents of Tucson stupid enough to believe all that bile you just burped up? C'mon, guys. Not everything you just yipped up is all that ONE SIDED?? Is it? No more than Watergate was, and you know it. You guys are the Sultans of Slant.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by frank McLaury on 07/11/2014 at 9:56 PM

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