cartel  (noun): A combination of separate firms to maintain prices above a competitive figure.  It seems inherent in the rich/poor system that the rich advance their interests by organizing cartels. The tendency is so strong that it overcomes the most earnest attempts at regulation.  Big Pharma—Merck, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline et al— that’s a transnational drug cartel.  Those banditos from Sinaloa might not be so desperate if “we” —led by Bill Clinton, who pushed through NAFTA— hadn’t wiped out so many small Mexican farmers.

character:  used in reference to athletes to mean “hasn’t been busted for pot and if he uses it, does so discreetly. Also,  hasn’t been busted for driving too fast or accused of assault by a woman or a man.” (Big guys often get attacked in bars by drunken smaller guys who think they have something to prove. When they defend themselves, unless they use restraint, they can hurt the aggressor.)  In July 2012 the general manager of the Golden State Warriors assured the fans that the team had drafted “character players.”  But could they rebound? 

compassionate (adj.) is a word that one cannot apply to one’s self or one’s business without appearing to be self-aggrandizing. Other people can say that you’re compassionate. You can’t.

compassionate use (adj +noun):  A self-congratulatory term that the Food and Drug Administration tagged onto a program that supplied a few severely ill U.S. citizens with marijuana as an “Investigational New Drug.”  Read the sad and sorry story here. The program was started under Jimmy Carter and ended abruptly by George H.W. Bush when people with AIDS began to apply en masse at the start of the ’90s.  Bay Area residents turned down by the federal “Compassionate Use” program were among the first members of Dennis Peron’s Cannabis Buyers Club in SF’s Castro District. Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use in California, was entitled “The Compassionate Use Act” with a tip of the hat —or, knowing Dennis et al, a thumbing of the nose— towards the feds.

corporate state (noun): A society in which government, labor and business all operate in the service of business. Archaic usage: fascism.

culture (noun)  derives from the art of growing plants. Its number-one meaning in the old Webster’s is “art or practice of cultivating; manner or method of cultivating; tillage.” A quote from Alexander Pope shows it in context:

   “We ought to blame the culture, not the soil.”

Culture also means “a particular state or stage of advancement in civilization or the characteristic features of such a state or stage.”  In the United States today the culture has “advanced” to a state of corruption.  It is maintained and imposed on us by the corporate media. Our so-called educational system plays a minor role.

A culture can’t get as corrupt as ours unless the language itself is corrupt and words lose their meaning. Words are tools with which we communicate.  A word with a clear meaning is a functional tool. A word with a vague or misleading meaning is like a chisel with a dull blade —less useful. If we, the people, intend to take power from the corporate elites, we have to have good tools.  The corporados don’t want us to have good tools. That’s why the culture promotes their misuse.

Many words are used to mean their actual opposite!  In the 1950s, the Black kids started saying “bad” to mean “good.” They got it way back then.

Dioecious  Bearing staminate and pistillate flowers (or pollen and seed cones of confiders) on different individuals of the same species.

Drug     This noun used to mean “a medicinal substance.” In our good-means-bad culture it usually refers to an illicit mood elevator, a substance subject to “abuse.”  Witness this headline on a story intended to burnish the reputation of Sonny Bono, the late Republican Congressman from Palm Springs: “Drugs, Alcohol, aren’t factors in Bono Death.”  The story was probably sent out by Sonny’s widow, who had already announced plans to run for his seat.

Sonny was on Valium and mepromate; but because the amount of each downer in his blood was “within the therapeutic range,” prescription pharmaceuticals were not  “a factor” in his skiing headfirst into a tree. So declared the Douglas County, Nevada Sheriff’s Office, and the media beamed the news to Sonny’s relieved constituency. But if Sonny had had marijuana or other illict drugs in his system, “drugs” for sure would have been deemed “factors in Bono death.” And Sonny might not have gotten into heaven.

eCB  The abbreviation for “endocannabinoid” used by medical and scientific journals. Why is the e (for the prefix “endo,” meaning “from within”) lower case while the CB (for “cannabinoid”) capitalized? We don’t understand the logic, but it’s the prevailing convention. (See “The Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System” by John McPartland in O’S upcoming issue.)

enzymes: “a subclass of proteins, enzymes are a necessity for living organisms. Some of them speed up (the technical term is catalyze) chemical reactions by bringing the reagents togethers; others act by breaking large molecules into smaller ones that can be absorbed. For example, amylases in our saliva break starches into sugars. Lipases, primarily produced in the pancreas, split fats into fatty acids, while pepsin, trypsin, and peptidases act in our stomachs to aid digestions. Each of these agents carries out a specific chemical function, a characteristic of enzymes.” —Gino Segre.

idiopathic: refers to medical conditions the causes of which, in the case (s) at hand, are unknown or not known with certainty.

INDs:   Physicians say “INDs,” not “IND treatment programs”  —just as they drop the word proposal when they speak of “writing a grant.”  Maybe this shows superior executive function and/or dependence on jargon. From the manufacturer’s POV, the logical acronym would be NDI, for New Drug Investigation. From the patient’s point of view it’s ET —Experimental Treatment. Which is why collecting data via an IND is not simply called a study. The patient’s need justifies FDA support, so it’s an Investigational New Drug treatment program, i.e., an IND…. Also, the IND is the New York City subway line on which you can take the ‘A’ train.

mindful: self-satisfied

nanny state: A soft euphemism for  police state. Blatantly anti-nanny —most nannies are women capable of loving and caring for richer people’s kids— and implicitly anti-woman. We want government to act in the interests of our health and well-being. What we object to is the punishment of individuals who, without doing harm to others, don’t follow the government’s directives.

narcotic   There are numerous modern definitions of “narcotic,” though they all refer back to their original source. Botanically and chemically, those pharmacologically active molecules produced naturally in the gooey resin of the Papaver somniferum plant –the opium poppy– are known collectively as “opiates. The “opioids” are a broader category that includes opiate-like compounds that we humans generate internally (endogenous opioids including endorphins, enkephalins, etc.), semi-synthetic opioids (like heroin, which is artificially synthesized from the opiate morphine, or oxycodone, which is artificially synthesized from the opiate thebaine), and fully synthetic opioids (like methadone). To repeat: opiates come naturally from only one botanical species, the Papaver somniferum. 

The mechanisms by which all of these external compounds affect our human condition are so named because of the drugs themselves —our bodies and brains have opioid receptors that receive their marching orders, if you will, from binding to EITHER endogenous (internal) opioids OR exogenous (external) opiates or opioids.  Mirroring the effects of the endogenous opioid peptides (the keys) and their receptors (the locks) that serve prominent roles in both natural pain transmission and reward mechanisms, in most animals the primary response to binding of an opioid receptor (same locks) with opiate compounds (different keys) is analgesia (pain alleviation), an increased feeling of well-being (euphoria) and somnolence (sleepiness).

The botanical name of Papaver somniferum means, literally, “sleep-bringing poppy.” The word “narcotic” derives from the ancient Greek ναρκῶ, narkō, (literally “I benumb”) and deescribes this sleep-inducing effect of the opiates. Therefore, to be precise, opiates are narcotic in their effect, and to put it most simply, opiates are narcotics. Calling non-opiate drugs “narcotic” just because they make you sleepy via some other mechanism is inaccurate. Go ahead and drink two (legal, regulated, non-opiate) shots of vodka and take two (legal, unregulated, non-opiate) capsules of Benadryl®, wait 30 minutes and then see how sleepy you are feeling. How would that level of sleepiness compare to the sleepiness brought on by the most potent Cannabis?

Our sloppy usage of words, coupled to corporate-state pressure to demonize and criminalize the Cannabis plant, has allows the “narcotic” label to be placed on medicinal marijuana. It enables prosecutors to define Cannabis as an addictive, dangerous substance which, by any legitimate scientific estimation, it is not. Marijuana is not a narcotic. Some strains of Cannabis (the Sativas) won’t even make you sleepy. Cannabis Indica might, but by a mechanism unlike that of Papaver somniferum.  Marijuana and the opiates and opioids have entirely different activities in the brain and body. Opioids and cannabinoids rely on entirely disparate, separate biological mechanisms of action.  Opiates affect entirely different endogenous receptor systems and have almost nothing in common with how cannabinoids exert their effects. —J.B.S.

objectivity  “a way of constructing an opinion for the reader without letting him know that you are.” —E.L. Doctorow

patient (noun) now commonly used to mean “a medical marijuana consumer.”   Back in the 20th century, patient generally defined a person’s a relationship to a doctor, as in “Mrs. Jones is a patient of Dr. Krull” or the medical condition with which they had been diagnosed — “spinal-injury patients,” “cancer patients,” etc.  But pharmacists served customers, not “patients.” And Dennis Peron did not describe patrons of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club as “patients.”  They were “club members” and “friends.”  (Many seriously ill people don’t want to be defined as “patients.”)

It was the second-wave of club operators —the men and women who replaced Dennis in the leadership of the medical marijuana movement— who pushed the word “patient” into popular usage.  It was jarring to hear some of these entrepreneurs refer to “our patients” or “my patients” as if their retail outlets were clinics and they themselves were therapists. But in many cases they were sincere, and they and their staffers treated people with empathetic concern and provided informed advice about the use of cannabis as medicine. And maybe thinking of people as “patients” bolstered their sense of responsibility.

police state  A society in which inequality is so extreme that it has to be enforced at gunpoint.

socialist  (noun) someone who thinks  “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” should be the guiding principle of society, so that people can “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” without going broke themselves.  Considered a term of profanity by 68% of the U.S. population and 95% of the major media owners.

spirit  (noun) The invisible essence of a person, place, or thing.

spiritual  (adjective) Pertaining to the spirit. Often used as a euphemism for religious by people concerned that the invisible essence of religion is superstition.

suck (verb): One of the most misused words in the English language, and derived from an anti-gay slur. People use it pejoratively, as a put-down, a synonym for “bad.” For example, when I told a friend I was getting the hang of WordPress, he said “WordPress sucks” —meaning I would run into problems building this site. Activist Mickey Martin writes, “Taxes suck, but…” How did sucking —an act we engage in pleasurably at birth and pleasurably as adults— take on a negative connotation?

Before the gay liberation movement made America a little more tolerant and respectful, “cocksucker” was a very harsh putdown. Over time, a less graphic variant of the put-down was to say “you suck”  or “that sucks.”  To this day the topsy-turvy usage applies.  Next time someone says “he sucks” or “that sucks,” remember to add, “and not very well.”

they  The corporados. The power elite. The owners of the means of production and distribution. The bosses. As in “It looks like they’re beating the drums for an invasion of Venezuela.”

TK  An abbreviation for “to come” used by journalists filing stories with missing elements that they intend to provide.  For example: “When Al Gore was the Democratic candidate in 2000, he told a reporter in New Hampshire EXACT QUOTE TK. What Barack Obama actually said on the campaign trail in 2008 was QUOTE TK…”

we:  The most misused word in the language, it implies that the American people have common interests in situations wherein only a few have a vested interest. As in “We decided to invade Iraq in 2003 because…”