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Opioids kill One Way; Cannabis Kills in Another Way

By John Dossett, MD, South Londonderry Township, Pennsylvania, originally published in Penn-Live on July 16, 2017, as one of the top five editorials of the week.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that between 30,000 and 40,000 Americans are dying each year from opioid overdoses. Most of these are not suicides but, are the consequences of people using “stuff” which is profoundly more potent than they imagined.  From our local communities, to the state, and federal government levels, we are alarmed and we should be.

Parallel to the “opioid epidemic” is the “cannabis epidemic” which is going unnoticed and unreported. We see weekly hype about so called “medical marijuana,” but, little about the tragic consequences of cannabis overdoses.

Why? One reason is that opioid overdoses kill and cannabis takes the lives of its victims in a less dramatic way.  Cannabis-induced psychosis robs the victims of their meaningful life.

The proverb says, “There are many ways to lose one’s life and dying is just one of them.”

The parallel to opioids is that the “weed” of today has been hybridized (genetically engineered) to be 5 – 6 times more potent than the weed of 20 years ago (4% THC compared to 19% THC).  In addition, the contemporary delivery systems (example- vaping) increase the amount of THC getting to the brain. These unexpectedly high “doses” of today may include manic psychosis and schizophrenia like symptoms. The victim didn’t understand what she/he was getting. What was expected to be a few hours of pleasure has become a life-changing psychosis.

I predict that our fascination with “medical marijuana” will only accelerate this tragic epidemic of THC-induced psychosis.

If there is to be a place for “medical marijuana,” give it to the FDA where it can be studied by legitimate scientists who are not funded by the producers, distributors and charlatan practitioners. Clearly, the profits are huge and the costs to human lives are huge.

There may be a few serious conditions in which a small amount of cannabis helps to relieve suffering. Example: End stage cancer. Responsible physicians will use it wisely and compassionately just as they do with opioids.

The tragic hidden problem is aided by a very small number of “charlatan physicians” who will sell their souls to the callous industry. For a fee and without being seen, cannabis users can receive a “certificate of need.” This document allows the user to go into a retail cannabis dispensary and purchase whatever he/she wants from a large inventory of cannabis products.
Said again, opioids kill by suppressing respiration. Cannabinoids ruin lives by inducing psychosis.  Both are tragic.

Dr. Dossett is a pediatrician in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Foodies, Don’t be Fooled if Michael Pollan Writes About Psychedelics

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Foodies who admire Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma include parents opposed to marijuana and its manipulation into an increasingly potent, dangerous drug.

Pollan is writing a book about possible medical applications for psychedelics, which would fit nicely into an agenda promoted by the Drug Policy Alliance, MAPS and Erowid.  Surreptitiously, these pro-drug lobbyists and groups are trying to legalize all drugs. If they get popular writers on board, it will be so much easier.

Psychedelic drugs lead to altered consciousness, changes in heart rate and hallucinations.  In some regards, marijuana is a psychedelic, but not in the same way that LSD, MDMA and others.

MAPS pushes pot as treatment for PTSD, even though an important study from Yale suggests that pot worsens PTSD in veterans.  Bad psychiatric treatments are nothing new.  At one time, the public also believed in lobotomies as a treatment for mental illness.

Drug Policy Alliance uses “social justice” reasons to push for legalization of all drugs, first through decriminalization.*  The social justice angle isn’t a good argument, because drug dealers, legal and illegal, target minorities and poor communities.  Dig a little deeper and social justice appears to be the excuse, not the true reason the DPA argues for drug legalization.

Psychedelics, Alternative Reality and Psychosis

Drug advocates are promoting many psychedelics as medicine: psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy) and ketamine.  Psychiatrists of the ’50s and ’60s experimented with these drugs as psychiatric treatments. The most famous one, Scottish Psychiatrist R.D. Laing, experimented with LSD to treat some patients.  Although he had genuine empathy towards the patients, Laing’s methods and those of his followers are often considered worse than failure.  (Psychiatrist Isidora Ranjit-Singh explains: Laing “didn’t understand the interaction between illicit substances such as LSD and cannabis and mental health: illicit drugs are a contributory factor in psychosis. LSD is an awful drug that can result in seemingly psychotic flashbacks which can continue after the patient has stopped using it.”)

As long as we do not know the cause of many psychological issues, using psychedelics is like playing with fire.  Emil Kraepelin, father of modern Psychiatry, maintained that catatonia and schizophrenia wouldn’t be solved until we know their cause.  It doesn’t always boil down to genetics.  When the root cause of a mental issue is trauma, there are successful therapeutic models and we don’t need new experimental drugs.

As for schizophrenia, marijuana is the one known trigger which can lead to this condition of permanent psychosis.

Psychedelics Study is Chance to Learn from Past Mistakes

Movers and shakers behind “medical” marijuana use the term “compassion” as a marketing scheme.  To avoid FDA scrutiny, they devised a scam, recorded on videotapes, to bring about full legalization.  Perhaps they’re pushing new “medicinal” uses for hallucinogenic drugs  for similar reasons.

Ethan Nadelmann, formerly executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, explained the underlying plan on Reddit.   “Michael Pollan’s forthcoming book on psychedelics and medicine will take media interest to yet another level. The more people know about this, the faster psychedelics will be legally accepted as medicines.”  Nadelmann engages his followers with wishful thinking.  In a TED talk, he said: “Our desire to alter our consciousness may be as fundamental as our desire for food, companionship, and sex.”

When Pollan has spoken to the press, he mentions psychedelics as  “palliative” care in people facing the end of life.  It sounds familiar, because the pot lobbyists initially promoted medical marijuana for end-of-life care.  In reality, it’s mostly young men with pain who use “medical” marijuana, not the cancer and AIDs patients for whom it was intended.  More recently pot advocates promote it to treat psychiatric disorders.

If hallucinogens can be used help in controlled settings, would those who become “caregivers” practice snake oil medicine? Would they set up they type of shams that plague “medical” marijuana?  Again the public could be tricked, since everyone has compassion for the terminally ill.

There are strong ethical reasons not to endorse psychedelics, or to give so much power to psychiatrists and gurus. It would entail knowingly utilizing drugs that can make certain people worse.  Furthermore, it would put incredible power into the hands of “caregivers”  and psychiatrists. If teens get the idea that a drug is “medicinal,” they will think it safe to use –by anyone on any occasion.

When the US Government Has been “Right”

Although the US government gave some bad dietary advice over the past decades, it has revised some of the mistakes.  Diet dictocrats now recommend eating eggs, the right kind of fats and fewer grains. Americans are eating better because they listened to critics such as Michael Pollan and many others.

The US government’s historical evaluation of and classification of marijuana in 1970 was never wrong.   Judges and the FDA have consistently rejected the reclassification of marijuana.

 

Pollan didn’t really discuss the negative consequences of marijuana while writing an earlier book, The Botany of Desire. Hopefully, he has read the recent information about marijuana as a trigger for psychosis, which is plentiful.  Many new academic studies have been published since his book came out in 2001.

Too often, therapies used in psychiatry are not as effective as people initially believe.   We need take a skeptical view of psychedelics, also. While Nadelmann wants the book to bring acceptance to psychedelics, Pollan has given interviews which don’t suggest that goal.  His book sounds more informational than promotional.

Drug advocates wish to normalize drug use in order to capitalize on it.  By using drugs, they hope to bypass the hard work it takes to obtain true spiritual growth. Modern America is not comparable to the ancient, ritualistic and shamanistic cultures that traditionally used psychedelics.  We need our food to keep us alive, but we don’t need intoxicating, hallucinogenic drugs to sustain us.

* Drug Policy Alliance recently put out a paper on decriminalizing all drugs, a first step towards legalization.  This group often talks about Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs while suggesting the country has legalized which is false.  Portugal does drug assessments and treatment, which DPA does not want.   Please fight against the current attempt to legalize marijuana — through the backdoor.

I Can Stay Sober Amidst a Mountain of Marijuana

By Sherry     After smoking marijuana for 13 years I was able to quit, by the grace of God, on July 15, 1987 and have remained 100% sober since that day. When I got sober it wasn’t popular, because it seemed like everyone I knew, including my relatives, were getting high daily. They were nasty about it and asked me when I was going to stop going to “those stupid meetings.”

However, society, in general, was encouraging to people trying to get and stay sober. At least — back then — it was considered self-destructive to use drugs, smoke marijuana, drink alcohol and take pills. (Sherry wrote of the events leading up to the choice of sobriety in a testimony two years ago.)  Today we live in a different country that has fallen prey to the lobbying of Big Marijuana.

Aerial view shows how illegal pot growers clear areas and cut down trees in mountains of northern California. This view is in Lake County

Now I am surrounded, living in Northern California, by marijuana smokers. I can smell it on the streets, on the customers that walk in to my store, and even driving on the freeway! Who would have dreamed that we were going to end up living in a society in which marijuana would be king? Our business, a highly successful retail store, really took a hit during the Recession. We haven’t returned to the kind of sales we once enjoyed, but the marijuana growers are doing great. Regular farmers are now beginning to plant marijuana, rather than their traditional crops, and the marijuana advocates are jumping for joy. I can’t help but wonder what people would think (sober people, that is) to see workers drive in to my store from state, county, city, and utility jobs reeking of marijuana at 7 in the morning?

It was Tempting to Get into the Pot Business

My brother-in-law offered us $5,000 a year if we would get medical marijuana cards and allow him to grow pot on our property up in the mountains. This was back during the worst years of the Recession. His offer was tempting, since we couldn’t make money selling normal, productive products. But we turned him down. I told my husband, “Your mother would roll over in her grave if she knew you participated in this.” Although it was legal to get a medical marijuana card, legal to grow 6 plants a year, and legal to smoke it, it isn’t legal to batch it together and sell marijuana on the black market. We have relatives who are buying cars, motorcycles, property, having their homes remodeled – all from the proceeds of selling marijuana – while we struggle to make a legitimate living.

I have to keep my focus on what matters to me today: helping other women in their recovery from marijuana addiction and alcoholism. It is daunting, because so many women who are trying to get sober today end up going back out on marijuana, unable to stay 100% sober. They have been sold a bill of goods about how marijuana is harmless and, in fact, medicinal and good for us! Marijuana has become so ingrained in our society that people don’t even view it as a mind- altering drug.  So if they have some clean time from methamphetamine, heroin, alcohol, or pills, they will accept a marijuana joint if someone offers it to them. The next thing they know they are off to the races with their drug of choice, fueled by marijuana. It is terribly sad.

Here’s to Staying Sober and the Sober Life

Life is still difficult in sobriety, but there’s hope. Every day leading a sober life expands that hope.

The women’s recovery meeting I started in January is now thriving and the women in that group are feeling stronger, more capable of maintaining a continuous sobriety. It’s tenuous, since they are so surrounded by the big pot cloud hanging over California. But there is an answer. You CAN stop smoking it. There is a life out there to live outside of a haze. God helped me get and stay sober. It wasn’t me – it was Him. I did the footwork and God did the rest. He took my impossible situation and He guided me into recovery and through the last 30 years – all the credit goes to Him. Life is so much more beautiful when it is viewed through a lens of sobriety. I don’t miss getting loaded one bit.

It is nice to drive around in my car and never have to worry that I might get pulled over with marijuana roaches in my ashtray. It is nice to be able to have a full, rich relationship with my husband and not have our marriage ruled by the getting, growing, smoking, and the repetitive pattern of marijuana addiction.

It is REALLY, REALLY wonderful beyond description to have an adult daughter that I raised without marijuana and other mind-altering substances in her life. She turned out to be what we in the program call a “normie.” My infant granddaughter is being raised in a household with no substances and I don’t have to worry about her parents, because they are lucid, responsible and in love. I have the ups and downs of any life, but I am better able to handle it. Yes, a life lived in reality is a miracle and a beautiful thing – and I thank God for it. I raise my glass of spring water in a toast! “Here’s to another 30 years of sober life!”

Editor’s Note: You can read Sherry’s first testimony which describes the events leading up to her desire to get sober, and Part 2 which describes the sober life.

 

Letter to the Editor: Prohibition Works

Pamela McColl, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia.  This letter, “Prohibition Works,” was first published in The Province, June 28, 2017.

In 1978, 10.7 per cent of U.S. high school students smoked cannabis every day. Survey data shows that marijuana use peaked in 1979 and was followed by a period of dramatic decline until 1992, when the rate of high school students who smoked pot daily dropped below two per cent.

Between 1979 and 1991, a huge prevention campaign in North America coincided with the dramatic decrease in drug use. Parents, teachers, police, youth leaders, social workers, churches and the children themselves all got involved. It worked. Users fell from 23 million to 14 million, cannabis and cocaine use halved and daily pot use dropped by 75 per cent.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that prohibition works either doesn’t know, or doesn’t remember, the rise and fall of drug use in the 1980s, and what it took to turn kids off the use of drugs.

Editor’s Note: Another success story was getting rid of Quaaludes, a scourge on American youth at the same time. By 1984, the DEA successfully stopped the worldwide production of Quaaludes.