Category Archives: Editorial

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.

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.

Press Needs to be More Honest about Marijuana

Parents Opposed to Pot calls on the Press to be more transparent in reporting the dangers and damage of marijuana.

Shortly after the Times Square incident, in which the driver was high on marijuana, German Lopez of Vox wrote an article calling for more attention to be focused on drunk driving.   One 18-year-old woman died and 22 more people were injured on May 18.  It was a terrifying incident, and the driver acted like a madman.  He was later sorry for the incident.  (Photo above is from CNN)

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt correctly reported that the driver admitted to smoking marijuana before driving.

Toxicology reports said the driver tested negative for alcohol, but positive for drugs.  Some news sources suggested he was high on marijuana laced with PCP.  Other news sources said he “smoked” something, “synthetic marijuana” or K2 Spice, or just PCP.

When there are psychotic rants and when “demons” or “voices” tell a person to do it, it’s more often drugged than drunken behavior.  Marijuana, particularly the super strong strains available today, is a drug likely to do that to someone.

Vox later corrected the story to say drugs, not alcohol caused the accident.  Vox never admitted that that marijuana was the drug.  When will there be a follow-up article, listing a litany of problems caused by driving under the influence of marijuana or drugs?  MRC reports that German Lopez has written more than 30 articles in favor of marijuana.

The website Lopez works for, Vox, puts up strange video with simplistic statements about marijuana.  However, it starts with the supposition that Congress had no business making marijuana a Schedule I drug.  Narrator Ezra Klein uses the slick film compare marijuana to alcohol.  Yes, alcohol is dangerous and brings out anger and can cause toxic overdose. But the risky behaviors from pot are very different.

Vox should remove this video from the Internet and apologize for posting misleading information. There are certainly people who will drive impaired after having seen the video.   The severe mental health risks of using marijuana for a short period of time are not a parallel with alcohol use.

Other Cases of Marijuana Psychosis

About five years ago, a man was eating the face of a homeless man in Florida.  Reporters thought the man was under the influence of Bath Salts.   However, tests showed that he only had marijuana in his system.

On May 9, a man high on marijuana was going 100 mph and killed another man in Nevada.  The driver denies that he was responsible but says car was taken over by demons.

Also in Nevada, Lekeisha Holloway, a woman from Oregon who drove into a crowd in Las Vegas, was high on marijuana at the time.

Impairment by marijuana is much more likely to bring out the crazy, psychotic rants like happened on Times Square or in the MAX train in Portland.   Impairment by pot also caused one of the most dangerous train crashes in American history in 1988.   Fourteen people died when both the Conrail engineer and his brakeman were stoned.

Press Ignores Truth

Why does much of the Press, including Voxdotcom, think that wisdom from past experience is irrelevant?  If some Vox and other news sources don’t stop the exaggerations about pot, they will lose all credibility for reporting on other issues.

Ariana Huffington was made part of the Honorary Board of Drug Policy Alliance, a reason that news service publishes many pro-pot articles.  Readers need to be skeptical of anything that Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post writes about marijuana, as he is very biased.  He used to work for the Brookings Institution which gave up its independent stance in order to take money from Peter Lewis.  Lewis’ money was earmarked to support legalization of marijuana.

It could be that newspapers are hoping that marijuana businesses could bring in new sources of advertising money and boost their bottom lines.  However, there’s recent news that The Cannabist at the Denver Post had to lay off its ad sales staff.

Why is there such fear in bringing up the truth about marijuana which can lead to psychosis in some individuals?  Reactions to marijuana vary from person to person. They also vary from how much, how strong the pot is and how young the person is when they start using the drug.  Today’s pot is extremely strong and people who tolerated pot 30 years ago may have great difficulty withstanding the pot of today.