02/12/08 - Robert Melameade

Doctor Robert Melameade describes the endocanabinoid system and the ways that cannabis affects the human body + Doug McVay with Drug War Facts about opium in Afghanistan

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Guest: 
Robert Melameade
Download: Audio icon COL_021208.mp3
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The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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Dean Becker: Welcome. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m glad you could be with us. Today we’re going to have, via the telephone, Dr. Robert Melameade. A scientist. A professor. A gentleman whose looked deeply into the situation regarding cannabis, medical marijuana.

I want to announce something here: I used to own the world’s record for the smallest marijuana bust...this happened while I was in the Air Force...where they kind of scraped a match box I thought was empty and came up with 0.023 grams. But I just learned that there was a Brit who was busted in Dubai for 0.003 grams. Now, that’s an amount that’s too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Well, I guess, let’s go ahead and bring in our guest, Dr. Robert Melameade.

Dr. Melameade: Hello there. Nice to be here. Thank you.

Dean Becker: Thank you Dr. Melameade. It, to me, borders on insanity. I do this PSA sometimes ‘that this pot is so good that when I smoke it the government freaks out.’

Dr. Melameade: (laughter) I think it certainly is insanity, not ‘borders on.’ When you think of the people that have been harmed and the lies that have been the foundation for that harm, it’s mind boggling.

Dean Becker: It is indeed. Some 800,000 approximate people busted last year for possession mostly. A few of them, I guess, had more than the misdemeanor amount. But it just goes on and on. More than 10 million people have been slammed behind bars for having this rather innocuous drug, right?

Dr. Melameade: And in addition, all the property that was stolen by the government, the so-called government, which really turns out to be, kind of, the federal mafia.

Dean Becker: Well, I’ve been trying to find ways to compare it to the Inquisition. There’s many parallels there, a lot of threats and vindication if you’ll just tell us about your friends who practice this "witchcraft", right?

Dr. Melameade: Which is always so shocking because who wasn’t brought up where you don’t tattle-tail? You know, kind of fundamental principles of moral decency that you’re brought up with as a kid, the government manages to undo through threats and intimidation.

Dean Becker: Yes, and as I understand it, there have been over-the-years so many studies, I think a hundred and twenty plus in the last ten years that talk about the positive, or at least the non-dangerous, aspects of marijuana and yet the government goons travel the country and talking about ‘there is no legitimate use, there is no positive studies.’ How can they ignore that truth for so long? Is it just the American people allow this to continue?

Dr. Melameade: Well, there’s so much more studies than what you indicated, because what you now have to include is not studies specifically on marijuana but studies on a broader topic known as the endocannabinoid system. Because marijuana has the effects that it has just because it happens that that plant uniquely has the ability to touch on the way our bodies function. And we function by producing these marijuana-like compounds called endocannabinoids, ‘cannabis from within,’ and those cannabinoids literally regulate everything in our bodies.

So when they first legalized medical marijuana in California the government out there and law enforcement were freaking out...’old people are going to be using it for headaches and for this and for that and for everything...’ well you know what? It works for all of those things because that endocannabinoid system is so pervasive and so controlling in our body of so many aspects of, not only our lives, but how we interact with others.

And I think a little story regarding that is probably the key in my mind to understanding how this insanity has been able to perpetuate for so long. And I’d be happy to go into that if you’d like.

Dean Becker: Please do.

Dr. Melameade: (laughter) Alright, so one of the things that is regulated by the endocannabinoid system...first let me just say that our immune system, our digestive system, our cardiovascular system, our nervous system, our excretory system, our reproductive system, all organized entities like that are in fact balanced, which we call homeostasis, by our endocannabinoid system.

So imbalances are what our illnesses are. And in many cases those illnesses are now recognized to, in part, be manifest as cannabinoid deficiencies, things like migraines, multiple sclerosis, and in varieties of illnesses are imbalances that can best be corrected by imitating how the body tries to do it and the body does it through cannabinoids.

But to go further now and try and explain insanity. One of the things that our endocannabinoid system regulates, as indicated by mouse models, we have to put in that qualifier, is what we call open-mindedness. So if you think about what open-mindedness is, it’s the ability to take in new information and change your old ideas. That seems pretty straightforward.

So there is in fact a mouse model for being able to effectively rewire. And what it’s based on is that you can make mice today, with modern biotechnology, that are lacking a particular gene. So the gene that we’re interested in seeing the effects when it’s missing is what’s know as the CB1 receptor.

And that’s the receptor that’s most involved with getting high. Our brains are loaded with it. And in this one particular example they took what we call ‘knock out’ mice that don’t have that receptor and they put them in a water maze. So mice don’t like water and they swim around and they freak out and eventually they find that there’s a platform...so once they’ve accomplished that they learn the direct route to the platform.

And you can take normal mice, scientifically known as ‘wild type’ mice. You can take ‘wild type’ mice or these CB1 ‘knock out’ mice and you put them in to this water maze and they both will learn where the platform is and directly go to that because that’s the quickest way to get out of the water.

Now if you change the position of that platform to a new place, so essentially they have to relearn the maze. They put both mice in, they freak out because the platform isn’t where it used to be and then they start searching and exploring as they learn the maze again. The ‘wild type’ mice do that very effectively, you take them out, you put them back into the maze and they go right to the new position. They’ve relearned.

You do that with the CB1 ‘knock out’ mice and they only go back to the old position. They’re not able to rewire. They’re not able to learn. And I believe the human equivalent of that is what we call open-mindedness. And pretty much everybody who’s consumed cannabis knows that it tends to make you open-minded.

So, here we have this situation where cannabinoids are regulating everything in the human body and we have this mouse model for a particular behavior.

Well, what is inevitably true is that in our population, in all populations, you’re going to have people who are more or less endowed in cannabinoid activity with respect to a particular functionality, be it how it modulates your blood pressure or how it helps prevent auto-immune diseases or how it helps reverse arteriosclerosis or how it helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease and some people are going to be deficient in particular areas.

So what’s inevitably true, in my mind, is that there are going to be people who are lacking cannabinoids with the result, the consequences, that they are not open-minded.

Now that has a lot of implications because people who are not open-minded don’t particularly like to look into the future because the future means you have to learn new things and they don’t have the biochemical equipment to effectively do that. So those people tend to look backwards in time.

Well, there are consequences to that. If you have a group of people who are looking backwards in time they’re going to tend to agree with one another because they’re looking at what’s already happened, whereas people who tend to be forward looking people, they’re going to, at best, agree to disagree because nobody knows what the future holds and everybody has a different vision and being open-minded they don’t want to necessarily say, well, ‘my vision is correct’...you know, let’s work together and see what the future holds.

Well, the implications of these two, cannabinoid endowed versus cannabinoid deficient, people are very profound because by the deficient people looking backwards and agreeing with one another, it is my belief that they are going to naturally tend to gain power and therefore and get in government.

So what I think has happened is we have cannabinoid deficient people who are narrow minded, close minded, running the government and making laws that essentially are attacking those people who have different genetics, those people who are genetically predisposed to open mindedness and being creative and embracing the unknowns of the future.

So I think that’s my explanation for this whole insane war that goes on and on with cannabis. And you can trace the same kind of thinking back to things like racism, people who are afraid of things that are different because, again, that requires embracing change.

Dean Becker: Yes, and I think about it like this, that those deficient folks are unwilling to examine all these hundreds of studies that are coming forward.…

Dr. Melameade: Thousands of studies.

Dean Becker: ...thousands of studies. It just doesn’t fit their mold. They’re unwilling to even look at it, right?

Dr. Melameade: Yeah. If they do look at it they can’t quite accept it, because it means accepting essentially something that they are not wired to be able to do.. They have to change their minds. And you’ll find some that can because it’s not an absolute, we’re not, for the most part, dealing with a ‘knock out’ mouse equivalent although I must say George Bush seems to pretty much of a ‘knock out’ mouse.

Dean Becker: (laughter)

Dr. Melameade: I think between all the alcohol and cocaine that he did he probably fried some of those neurons in there and now is functionally a ‘knock out’ mouse. (laughter)

Dean Becker: I can’t disagree with that one. Now, there are these stories, these rumors, and I’ll just call them flat-out propaganda, that seem to recycle every few months, six months to a year, that marijuana causes cancer. The latest one that that I saw indicated that using marijuana causes gum disease. It’s like if they run out of bullets in one type gun, they’re going to switch to another caliber...

Dr. Melameade: Nothing is all good and nothing is all bad and what might be good for one person might be bad for another person. So, with respect to the cancer story, I find that one particularly offensive because there is significant amounts of peer-reviewed scientific literature that very clearly documents anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids in the plant, not just the THC, but non-psychoactive ones like cannabidiol which we are also not allowed to grow.

I mean you could grow hemp plants that wouldn’t get you high that would be very rich in cannabidiol that would have profound anti-cancer activities and that’s also illegal so you got to really wonder what’s going on with these people...but the cancer story is pretty impressive. Cannabinoids do have anti-cancer activity for breast cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, thyroid cancer, melanoma, skin cancers in general.

There’s just lots of data that pretty well shows that’s... including bowel cancer in addition. So the cancer story, I’m sure there are some people who...because things don’t always work the same. Some people for whom smoking marijuana might promote cancer.

But...I published an article years ago as to why that doesn’t seem to be real and that was followed up by an article, an epidemiological study that agreed a year later with my theoretical understanding...so we don’t really see cancer as being an issue for cannabis smokers, especially, in particular if they’re not smoking tobacco.

Tobacco does cause lung cancer, marijuana does not. It’s the way marijuana modulates the immune system, turns down the anti-inflammatory response whereas nicotine specifically winds up inhibiting a process called apoptosis, where cells die when they’re genetically damaged, which is a good thing because otherwise they become cancer cells.

So nicotine winds up essentially creating an environment where cancer cells arise and promotes that environment whereas cannabis tends to do the opposite. There was a nice study recently that showed how cannabis, through inhibiting a growth factor called epithelial growth factor, actually inhibits lung cancer.

So the cancer story is pretty clear. Now the gum story, there’s only been one publication and it’s not as clear. It’s very conceivable that it might have that effect and I’ll give you the rationale.

Your gums are an area where you have a lot of blood vessels and everybody knows that significant gum disease can lead to, for example, cardiovascular disease because it’s the same microbes, the same bacteria that you can find in the gum disease that can actually get into the blood stream through the gums and then anchor in the heart and cause inflammatory illnesses that result in heart disease.

So, because of the way cannabinoids modulate the immune system its conceivable that that effect might be occurring. It wasn’t a huge effect by the way, I think in the most dramatic example, they had an increased risk of 2.2 fold and that compared to, I think, it was something like a five or seven fold with tobacco smokers. So, it’s not a huge effect.

There may be an effect there and what was not taken into consideration in the study is the well known consequences of smoking marijuana: you get the munchies and you tend to like to eat sweet things.

So it may actually just be a secondary effect of people eating more sweets and then nodding out without brushing their teeth. We don’t know what’s behind it yet, but there may be something behind it and so what? Nothing is all good and nothing is all bad.

Dean Becker: There you go. It occurs to me, you were talking about the cancer risk, there was a major study done, I think now about a year ago, a year and a half ago, the results were released. It was by Dr. Donald Tashkin and he set out to find just how dangerous marijuana was...

Dr. Melameade: This was with respect to lung cancer epidemiology.

Dean Becker: ...and in the end he found no correlation and in fact some indications that it might help prevent cancer, right?

Dr. Melameade: Well, and again as I just mentioned, there are subsequent studies that show in animal models how cannabinoids actually seem to kill lung cancer cells.

Dean Becker: And again, how the corporate media ignores those studies...you know, they buy the latest feed I guess, you know the one, was it out of Australia, about lung cancer. They don’t talk about the Schaffer Report, they don’t talk about the Institute of Medicine Report, they don’t talk about the five federally supplied patients now for decades.

Dr. Melameade: Right.

Dean Becker: They just ignore that which contradicts their backward thinking, I guess.

Dr. Melameade: Well, what you can’t really appreciate unless you’re a scientist who specializes and looks at this all the time is how overwhelming the amount of research is now that is devoted to understanding cannabinoids and their effects because of their all pervasive nature.

I mean there are just so many interesting studies because what the cannabinoid system seems to do, and this is how I view it and how I put it simply to people, is I call it the ‘oil of life.’ And what it does is that it reduces the friction of life. And what is that friction? The friction is basically free radicals.

We all make free radicals because we eat and burn food. And those free radicals are very reactive and they essentially act like biochemical friction, they deteriorate the quality of our biochemistry and it is known that these free radicals are essentially what’s behind aging and behind a lot of age-related diseases.

So what are the age-related diseases? Cognitive disfunction like Alzheimer’s, auto-immune diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and cancers. And all of those illnesses are inhibited or can be treated with cannabinoids.

So we essentially have an anti-aging drug that has been outlawed.

Dean Becker: Yeah. And, well, it’s amazing to me...I mean the good folks up in Colorado have been talking about ‘marijuana’s safer than alcohol.’ And they’ve been gaining some traction.

Dr. Melameade: It passed in Denver.

Dean Becker: Yes, and the fact is, what I’m wanting to get to here is that we’ve been fed this propaganda for so long and it’s, I don’t know if it’s genetic but it’s certainly a societal framework within which we go forward.

I truly believe most people out there want to stop arresting people for marijuana possessions at least and yet they’re unwilling to speak that truth even if they’re forward looking.

Dr. Melameade: Well, there’s a lot of intimidation. You risk your livelihood in many situations. I’m going up for tenure right now and I feel that if I don’t get it it’s because a lot of people don’t particularly like my vocal...my vocalizing the science and the consequences of the science of cannabis.

So there are people who are threatened in many different ways by this, people have their kids taken away, medical users in Colorado here have had their kids taken away for months while they fought it, legal medical users and now they’ve got lawsuits so what we need to do is, we’ve got to be able to stand up and we’ve got to attack the machine that’s trying to incarcerate us and rob us and destroy our families.

I mean that everything America should stand for is lost in this drug war. One of the things that just really blows my mind, I mean why do we have the black market, why are people using cannabis? Because they want to and the reason they succeed and why that black market thrives is because capitalism works.

So why is that governments, our government, which is essentially a capitalistic government, denies the very power and the will of the people? Both freedom and capitalism are the bases of our country and both of those foundational concepts are denied and destroyed by the drug warriors and supported by people who are allegedly conservatives.

Where in the Constitution does it say that they have the right to do this? What kind of insanity do they have.…legal manipulations that are used to continue to perpetuate this insanity? If you remember the case, I think it was Angel Raich, where they tried to say that the Federal Government doesn’t have a right to make these laws within the States.

And it went to the Supreme Court and what the Supreme Court referred to was a 1940-something decision where a farmer was trying to grow wheat for his family and he was not allowed to grow wheat because it was something that was regulated under a quota system and therefore he would interfere with the price structure between States.

So this was the BS that they used to justify continued illegality on a Federal level and interference within the State despite the 10th Amendment and States’ rights...its all based on this ‘commerce clause’ and the insanity of that is, if you extend the logic, what they essentially are saying is that this Federal government has the right to protect the price of this black market drug. In other words they’re protecting the price to the dealers. (laughter)

Dean Becker: Exactly. There was even, I recall reading the transcript from that proceeding at the Supreme Court and there was someone in there who stated that the government works hard to ensure the black market. And it’s...

Dr. Melameade: It’s actually now, don’t we have a right to challenge them legally because they are now coconspirators?

Dean Becker: Exactly. I use the phrase that those who support this drug war are the best friends that the terrorists, the cartels, and the violent gangs could ever hope for.

Dr. Melameade: Absolutely. But never-the-less, that means we should have a right to challenge them on that, because if we were doing something that promoted that activity we would be charged with conspiracy and potentially sent to jail for the rest of our lives.

And yet here, they’re robbing out tax money to defeat the foundations of the country, meaning democracy...people voted in California, people voted in Colorado...how comes this commerce clause takes precedence over the most basic principle of democracy, called voting?

How do we have the nerve to send troops to Iraq in an effort to promote democracy when it’s that same government that’s destroying democracy in this country? And when soldiers come back and are wounded and are going to face a lifetime of chronic pain management, the Veterans’ Administration says “Here, take narcotics.

We’re going to make you into a narcotics addict” but don’t dare use cannabis which is really, should be the drug of choice for chronic administration for pain, for those for whom it works which is many.

Dean Becker: Indeed. Once again, we’ve been speaking with Dr. Robert Melameade. Robert, we’re going to have to go. I do appreciate you being with us today and enlightening us about the cannabinoid system.

Dr. Melameade. My pleasure. Thank you.

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Doug McVay: Nothing fails like excess. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently issued its early estimate of this year’s Afghanistan opium crop. According to UNODC Afghanistan’s opium crop is expected to decrease only slightly from last year’s record high. Last year farmers cultivated at least 193,000 hectares of opium poppies. That was a 28,000 hectare increase from the previous year’s total, 165,000 hectares.

In 2005 the country produced only 104,000 hectares of opium poppy. The record high poppy crop in 2007 yielded an estimated 8,200 metric tons of opium, an estimated 93 percent of the world’s total demand for illicit opium that year.

As the U.N. drugs agency noted in its annual report, “Leaving aside 19th Century China that had a population at that time fifteen times larger than today’s Afghanistan, no other country in the world has ever produced narcotics on such a deadly scale.”

In return for this odious distinction Afghani traffickers and farmer-producers were estimated to have earned some $4 billion in 2007. That figure is equivalent to 53 percent of Afghanistan’s legal Gross Domestic Product.

The Fund for Peace maintains what’s called the failed states index. They rank 177 nations in order of their vulnerability to violent internal conflict and societal deterioration using twelve social, economic, political and military indicators. In 2007 Afghanistan ranked eighth. I don’t know whether or not to find that reassuring.

For the Drug Truth Network this is Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org.

http://drugwarfacts.org/

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Dean Becker: All this week on the 4:20 Drug War News we’re listing the top twenty most dangerous drugs as determined by the British Broadcasting Company. Number fourteen on the list is lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD.

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BBC Announcer: The next drug on the list was also a prescription drug, initially developed as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant in the 1930s. And then during a fifteen year period beginning in the 50s it was prescribed as a psychiatric treatment to over 40,000 patients worldwide.

(historic recording) More than half of them are suffering from a strange mental disease called schizophrenia.

BBC Announcer: At number fourteen is lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD. It is used by over 83,000 people in the U.K. and yet there have been no recent recorded deaths from its use. Dr. Ron Sanderson was one of the first people in the U.K. to use it in psychotherapy over 50 years ago.

Dr. Sanderson: LSD really has three effects on people: it has a gentle enhancement of what’s going on inside; it has some specific effect in raising forgotten memories, particularly traumatic memories; and, thirdly, it seems to allow people the facility to explore those. LSD did make an important contribution to what you might call the science of psychotherapy. (unintelligible)

(historic recording): The drug was administered in a drink of water given at the...

BBC Announcer: In the 1950s it was taken up by the Army who tested it on their troops to see if it could eventually be used in battle to incapacitate the enemy.

(historic recording): Twenty-five minutes later the first effects of the drug became apparent. The men began to relax and to giggle. After 35 minutes one of the radio operators had become incapable of using his set. But one hour and ten minutes after taking the drug, with one man climbing a tree to feed the birds, the troop commander gave up, admitting he could no longer control himself or his men.

BBC Announcer: But later that decade, when LSD leaked out into the recreational market, it panicked the establishment and was made an illegal class A drug.

(historic propaganda recording): People who have taken LSD have gone in through plate-glass windows. We have people who are inside with LSD coming out through plate-glass windows.

BBC Announcer: Many experts today believe the dangers of LSD are more fiction than fact.

Researcher: It’s physiologically non-toxic. No one has ever died from an overdose of LSD. It’s true, I think, one or two people in the 60s jumped out of windows but that’s become a myth which goes on flapping its wings through history.

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Dean Becker: We didn’t have enough room on the 4:20 reports to get all of them so on next week’s Century of Lies show we’ll give you the top twelve, number twelve is solvents, you know that stuff under your kitchen counter, and number eleven, marijuana.

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Dean Becker: Be sure to tune into next week’s Century of Lies for the “top twelve most dangerous drugs.” OK, and be sure to tune in this week’s Cultural Baggage when our guest will be Phillipe Lucas, he’s the director of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society. They grow top quality marijuana for the legal patients up there. He’s going to be reporting on a recent NGO conference put together by the United Nations up in Vancouver. We’ll have a few clips from that discussion there, as well.

I want to thank Dr. Robert Melameade for being our guest, for explaining the cannabinoid system to us and in this time of hysteria it’s good to get a voice of reason and understanding.

You folks are the real answer. When you get busy and do something this drug war will end. I want to remind you once again that there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, no medical data, no reason in fact for this drug war to exist We’ve been duped. The drug lords run both sides of this equation. So I’m asking you to please go to our other website which is End Prohibition dot Org.

http://endprohibition.org/

Do your part to help end this madness.

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition.

The Century of Lies. This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT Houston.

Transcript provided by Gee-Whiz Transcripts. Email: glenncg@zoominternet.net