06/14/09 - Joel Hochman

Dr. Joel Hochman, Exec. Dir. of National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain + Charles Lynch gets 1 year & 1 day for dispensing cannabis + Phil Smith on California's fall into the abyss

Century of Lies
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Joel Hochman
National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain
Download: Audio icon COL_061409.mp3


Century of Lies, June 14, 2009

It’s possible to stop five hundred million drug users,
To prevent ten million peasants from growing opium,
To stop a million sellers, from making billions every year.
To win the drug war, we must believe.

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.

Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m glad you could be with us today. We have a special guest with us in-studio, Dr. Joel Hochman. He’s the director of the National Foundations for the Treatment of Pain. Welcome Dr. Hochman.

Dr. Joel Hochman: Thank you, Dean. Nice to be here again.

Dean Becker: Yes, Sir. If you will, tell us about your work experience?

Dr. Joel Hochman: The National Foundation is an organization of about five thousand dues’ paying, intractable pain patients and my job is to make sure that no legitimate pain patient is denied adequate and effective medical care. My job also, is to try to make sure that there are enough physician educated, knowledgeable and brave and courageous enough to take on the responsibilities of caring for those patients.

The data seems to indicate that there’re about anywhere from fifty to seventy million people in the United States alone, about one out of every five, who suffers chronic or intractable pain. So, we’re not talking about a small problem.

Dean Becker: No, Sir. It’s a third of the Nations’ adult population approximately and, you mentioned physicians’ courageous enough to prescribe the necessary medications and that’s becoming more of a rarity because of government constraints. Am I right?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, we had hoped, with the new administration, we would see a sea change in policy and attitudes and I think that eventually we will. I know that this was on the list of priorities in D.C., but it’s certainly farther down the list than the economy and nuclear weapons in Iran and things of that nature.

The short answer: Yes, Sir. There is a growing problem. It has not gotten better. It has gotten worse. Five/Six years ago, there were about thirty-five thousand doctors in the United States who would be brave enough to prescribe to these patients and that number has been reduced to probably no more than about five thousand, at this point.

The foundation estimates that we need one hundred thousand doctor, minimum, to adequately and effectively take care of the patients who need their medical treatment, so we’re way behind. I personally, in my practice; the foundation try’s to guarantee; we try to find doctors all over the country. We have a long list of six hundred doctors, or more, to whom we try to refer these patients when they contact us out of desperation, ’Look, if I can’t find some help for my pain, I’m going to kill myself,’ is not unusual.

So, we try to find the patients doctors’ who will accept the care and we make the commitment, if we cannot find someone that is that kind of a ’urgent’ terminal situation, then they can come to Houston to the clinic here, and we‘ll take care of them. So it is a crisis situation. Has not gotten better.

Dean Becker: Sir, you get a chance to attend numerous conferences and seminars, many times involving governmental agencies and I have a little clip here, from our new Drug Czar, talking about how he sees this situation.

US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske: “Trying to do away with the ’war’ metaphor. War means, usually, war on people and it limits your tools, because most people think the only way we fight a war, is with force. Well, the addiction problem, the drug problem in this country, is much more complex than forty year metaphor for ‘war on drugs’.”

Dean Becker: Dr. Hochman, I hear in that a glimmer; a possibility of something better and yet until they pull the plug on the prison industrial machine, it’s just mouthing some phrase. Is it not?

Dr. Joel Hochman: I’m a relentless optimist, so I will take Mr. Kerlikowske at his word, but I believe that there is a glimmer of rationality in this whole approach, to the issue of drugs. The issue of drugs is a very complex issue. You’re talking about teenage, adolescent experimentation. You’re talking about the symptomatic use of medications, that are appropriate. You’re talking about addictive disorders and, by the way, the instances of addictive disorders has not changed for seventy-five years in this country, so that’s a whole separate issue in itself.

I do believe that there is an opening, but it’s a real problem getting a sea change in attitudes and policies, because it’s been going in the same direction for so long, with this war on drugs.

Dean Becker: I know you were recently at a seminar dealing with pharmaceuticals and the prescription of pain relievers and here’s one more little clip from Gil Kerlikowske.

US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske: “I think the overdose deaths and the use of pharmaceuticals, that’s of great concern to me.”

Dean Becker: Now again, the words are wonderful, but until they stop the black market; until they stop making it where people don’t know exactly what it is they’re buying; they don’t have the proper information, it’s dangerous. Is it not?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, the whole ‘supply side’ strategy of approaching drug issues; drug problems is, I think, a calamitous mistake. It’s never worked and it will never work. What we have to do is succeed on the ‘demand side‘. On the demand side, we need to, number one: Make every child, in the United States, knowledgeable and wise, about substances; drugs, particularly dangerous drugs or potentially dangerous combinations of drugs. I think that the so called National Prescriptive Drug threat that Kerlikowske was announcing in early April, is an exact example of the wrong direction to be going.

Being the kind of person that I am and the training I have, I went to his actual sources, data sources, that he cited in the press releases for that, and did a very detailed analysis and discovered that the data that they themselves cite as justification for their campaign; their ‘prescriptive drug threat’ campaign, simply the data does not support the claims that they’re making. There is not an epidemic of diversion in drug abuse.

If one assumes that all eight thousand plus overdose deaths in the United States last year were caused - all these were caused by prescriptive drugs, diverted, when there’s a great deal of doubt about the accuracy of that statement - then you still have to compare that to the fact that look, there were one hundred fifty billion doses of pain medications prescribed last year. So, what is the likely hood of someone killing themselves with a prescribed opioid? Eight thousand four hundred fifty-one over one hundred fifty billion. That is an infinitesimally insignificant probability.

So you’re not really talking about the whole picture of prescriptive drugs. What you should be talking about is that super small sub-set of kids who haven’t got enough sense to know what they’re doing, so they end up killing themselves. It’s not going to do the job of trying to restrict the availability of these drugs to the population, who have a legitimate need for medication.

What will help will be; is a; well, I put together a presentation. I was talking to Dr. Douglas Throckmorton who’s head of the FDA, in charge of this Risk Evaluation Management Strategy Proposal that they have. In response to a great deal of political pressure from hysterical parents, basically, they have proposed putting some very strict limitations and restrictions on who can prescribe and requiring all kinds of additional training, perhaps. Perhaps even some addition form of licensure and who knows what all may come out of this.

The idea was instead of doing that, we need to take a more common sense rational approach to the issues, for what they really are. We already have a problem with adequate availability of pain management. We talked about that a moment ago. To further restrict physicians in their availability of these prescribing substances is going to just cause an even greater crisis in the management of legitimate medical pain, in the United States.

Dean Becker: Will that not drive more people towards the black market and those, even greater unknown products?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, of course. Anybody who’s in pain, or has had pain for as long as five minutes, knows that the whole notion of learning to live with pain, is an oxymoron. It’s not possible and if anyone doubts that I‘ll be glad to demonstrate, with a simple device or two from the Martial Arts, that they cannot tolerate pain.

Nobody can tolerate pain. They have to do something to get out of it, so there’s alcohol. There’s street drugs, particularly heroin. There’re all kinds of things that people will do to try to get out of pain and that of course, the pain is not going to reduce itself. If we deny legitimate pain management, what’s going to happen to all of these people is very predictable. They’re going to do whatever they have to do and go wherever they have to go to try to do something about reducing their suffering.

Dean Becker: Yep. Once again, we’re speaking with Dr. Joel Hochman. He’s the Director of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. Glad to have him in-studio.

Dr. Hochman, there have been reports that it costs now, more than one hundred million dollars for the pharmaceutical house to bring a new product to market, which kind of forestalls many of the attempts to legitimize say, medical marijuana. Your thoughts on that?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, I think there’s some difference of data. I’ve heard as much as a half a billion dollars to bring a new pharmaceutical into the market. I know for a fact, with regard to cannabis and I prefer that term to marijuana which is pejorative; a political term, there are many derivatives of cannabis. First of all, there were over three hundred medications in the US Pharmacopeia prior to 1937 to the Marijuana Tax Act.

Marijuana was not made illegal, they imposed a tax upon it. If you didn’t pay your tax, that was illegal. But there were more than three hundred seventy official medications prior to 1937 that contained Cannabis. So for someone to argue seventy years later that it has no medical justification, is hilarious. I mean, it’s like 2+2=6, because ‘the government says so‘. I was scientifically trained. It’s 2+2=4.

So, my view on that whole argument is, it’s another irrational tabloid thinking, politically motivated issue that has nothing to do with science. It has nothing to do with medicine and Canada, I think the Canadian equivalent of the FDA, has recently, in the last several years, approved a half a dozen cannabis derived substances as legitimate medications, which you can obtain by prescription. The treatment of choice for chemotherapy nausea is still THC.

Dean Becker: Just a couple of days ago a gentleman we’ve had on the show a couple of times, Mr. Charles Lynch, went before Judge Wu and was sentenced for providing medical marijuana out there in California.

Charles Lynch: “We asked for a new trial again and the judge denied it right there on the spot and then he went through all the charges and everything and there’s more arguments about the mandatory minimums and everything and then finally, he said that he couldn’t get around the one year mandatory minimum, for the minor’s charge.

He did find a way around the five year mandatory minimum though and applied the safety valve to me. He decided that I wasn’t the leader/organizer and I’m not the Pueblo Escobar of medical marijuana, so he applied the safety valve and dropped the five year mandatory minimum and I got sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison.

The extra one day was, because if you’re sentenced over a year, you can actually get out for good behavior, if you go through this drug treatment program and stuff. My attorney’s asked for bail, pending appeal and the judge granted that also. So I walked out of the court room, not totally free man but at least semi-free.

I’m not going to be incarcerated anytime soon and the judge said he’s going to draw up his decision in paper, so everyone can understand why he applied the safety valve. The prosecutor, he was all pretty upset. I’ve never seen anybody so ------ off at somebody who didn’t get five years prison sentence.

So, yeah. I’m out on bail, pending appeal.

Dean Becker: To show your support, please visit Charles’ web site at friendsofccl.com

Once again, we’re visiting with Dr. Joel Hochman. Dr. Hochman, when I talked to Charles yesterday, he said he had just returned from the THC Convention in California, which featured some forty-seven dispensaries displaying their hundreds of types of marijuana. They were selling hemp products and seeds and all kinds of things and it does make you wonder why this one gentleman was singled out. Your thoughts?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, I can see both sides of the issue, which is what a scientist is trained to do. On the judges side, the judge has to enforce the law. He has to respect the law. He cannot disregard the law. He has to do the best job he can within the confines of the law because that’s what a judge’s job is. His job is not to change the law or make law. That’s a legislative task.

I see Mr. Lynch’s point of view. He’s involved in compassionate care and people who desperately need medications including, I suppose, derivatives of Cannabis. It’s not a rational issue. It is an issue of ‘value’ judgments. It is an issue of change in society’s policies and views. It is an issue of personality, of identity.

My view is at the bottom and I wrote a book about this in 1973 called, “Marijuana and Social Evolution”, published by Prentice-Hall and it was the synopsis of our findings of five years of research with the random representative sample of ten percent of the student body entering UCLA and followed for five years.

What we concluded at the end of the study was that the issue really had to do with altered states of consciousness and how people react to that experience and that was directly related to the identity, the psychology of identity of the people involved in the controversy.

There are basically three kinds of people, as far as identity is concerned. There are what we call Eagle Foreclosure, Eagle Moratorium and Eagle Attainment. Over forty percent of the population, this is all a concept developed by a professor at UCLA, some many years ago.

Eagle Foreclosure, if you ask the subject a variety of questions in which he’s asked to decide what he believes; what his beliefs are, the Eagle Foreclosure person gets angry at these questions. They eventually get frustrated and say, ‘Why are you asking me all of these questions? I believe what my Daddy told me, or the church taught me or whomever, whatever authority figure and you’re asking me these questions. You must be some kind of a communist or a pervert or a terrorist or something.’ They really were upset by choice making. That’s forty some-odd percent of the population.

Eagle Moratorium people that you ask them all of these relativistic value questions and they would say, ’Look, I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve tried a lot of things. I was into Zen. I was into the Catholic Church for awhile. I’ve been through all these experiences. I haven’t decided absolutely what it is that’s right for me. I’m trying such and so at this point. I’m not going to tell you what to do, I’m not sure myself what the answer is, but I’m looking. Good luck.’ They were ok. That’s another forty some-odd percent.

Less then eight percent of the population were Eagle Attainment and they would go through the same questions and they say, ‘Look, this is where I am. This is what I believe. It might not work for you. It may not work for me forever, but this is working for me now, in terms of my beliefs in values.’

This is what we’re struggling with, in all these drug issues. We’re dealing with the psychology of the individuals involved and there‘s lot‘s and lot‘s and lot‘s of people out there who don‘t want to deal with decision making. They’re not prepared for decision making. They’re uncomfortable with taking responsibility for themselves and making decisions and all these issues are issues that we are compelling them to make decisions. They don’t want to make decisions.

They want the law to make the decision. They don’t want the law to be questioned. They want their beliefs enforced upon other people, so they don’t have to make decisions and that ‘s the psychology of it. That’s what war is all about. You surrender individual responsibility and you do what you’re told.

Dean Becker: Right. OK, my friends. We’re speaking with Dr. Joel Hochman, the Executive Director for the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. Doctor, there are, I think, many dominos that are falling; that are beginning to indicate that this drug war might be nearing it’s end. I’m not so certain of that. I’ll believe it when I see it, but there’s something happening out in California and I want to share this little clip from Phil Smith, talking about what’s going on out there.

This is Phil Smith of the Drug War Chronicle for the Drug Truth Network.

Late last month, Schwarzenegger announced plans to slice eighty million dollars in funding for critical HIV / AIDS services, including totally eliminating general fund support for all state office of AIDS programs except the AIDS Drug Assistance program. Even that will lose 12.3 million dollars in general fund support.

The cuts would zero out state funding for Harm Reduction services through the state Aids Office as well as most of the HIV/ AIDS prevention funds that California cities use to provide grants for needle exchange programs. If the state does not provide funding, the burden will shift to counties and municipalities, which will not be able to make up the difference.

That means that Prop. 36 eligible offenders, in the near future, may receive neither jail sentences nor treatment. We could be looking at defecto if not dejor decriminalization of drug possession in California, just because we can’t afford to deal with it. There’s lots more drug policy news this week. Check it out online at www.stopthedrugwar.org.

Dean Becker: Dr. Hochman, we can’t really afford this drug war much longer, can we?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, it doesn’t appear that we can afford it. Forty thousand dollars a year to incarcerate someone in a prison. A million and an half people in federal prisons for non-violent drug related offences. I have one patient who’s husband is serving a five years sentence for selling one gram to a lady who was rolled over on him, she had been busted for selling, and five years for a gram of cocaine.

I mean, it’s another example of insanity, as far as I’m concerned, and hopefully economics will compel people to make rational decisions. What are the priorities in our society? What do we think are the most important things that the government should provide and then to follow those priorities and make our decisions accordingly, instead of on the basis of kind of religiosity; some kind of hysterical non-rational decision making.

Dean Becker: We hear so many people in government. They talk about they’re changing their stance, they’re changing their position, they’re changing the way this drug war works, where no longer will we arrest people, we’ll force them into treatment. But the truth be told, that the vast majority, ninety plus percent I think, of people who use, or abuse, these sometimes dangerous drugs, quit on their own and go on to lead lives without the involvement of government or a treatment agency. Is that a fair assumption?

Dr. Joel Hochman: Well, that’s certainly what we’ve discovered at the UCLA project. We discovered that the two groups that most frequently utilized Cannabis, were the very best students and the very worst students. At the end of five years, the very worst students dropped out or flunked out and the very best students had gone on to graduate with honors and eventually most of them gave up drugs because they simply weren’t that big a part of their life, to begin with.

It was a part of a phase of their life and that because they were intelligent rational people and made good decisions and learned how to make proper decisions, it just simply wasn’t important to them anymore and that’s how things went for them. Which is the way I think it goes for most people in our society and that’s the reason I put together this guidance for overdose victims and for their parents.

I felt that it was really important that instead of being hysterical, ‘Let’s get rid of drugs and fine the manufacturers and not let doctors prescribe and send doctors to prison who prescribe the medication that my kid stole out of my medicine cabinet and then killed them-self,’ I thought that it’d be important to give some kind of rational guidance to both the potential drug overdoser’s and their parents and I put that together.

The idea came to me from talking to Dr. Throckmorton who said he, ‘Certainly understood it was not rational to make public policy on the basis of the behavior of drug abusers, but on the other hand he had a thirteen year old and he’s concerned about his own child. I said, ’O.K. Douglas, let me see what I can come up with for you,’ and this is what I came up with. I sent it to him.

So this is my guidance for would-be overdose victims: If you were considering using a drug to change your mood; to get high; because your friends are doing it; in combination with other mind altering substances, particularly alcohol; to cope with stress; to escape; in a party situation; alone, with potential help unavailable; for the first time and you are unfamiliar with this drug, or at a dose higher than you are use to or you don’t know how strong it is; when you have health issues, that might affect your breathing or your ability to metabolize the drug; and for opiates, you don’t know about Naloxone and it’s not available anyway; than the possibility that you may kill yourself is very high.

Proceed at your own risk and do not blame the drug. You took it, it didn’t take you. Relax. If you kill yourself, your parents will blame the drug, not you and they will think about you everyday for the rest of their lives.

For the parents my advice, rational advice I think, is as follows. Do not pretend that your child will never be involved in drugs. Assume the drugs are everywhere and will always be available. Supply size strategies have never succeeded and will never succeed. Make sure that your kids are factually educated about every drug. If you misinform them or give them propaganda, your credibility and authority with them, is over.

Share your personal experience and knowledge with them. Do not be a know-it-all, because you don’t. Except the fact that they may be smarter and more knowledgeable about drugs than you. If you are going to keep medications in your home, keep them absolutely locked up. No exceptions. Do not except that they will not try to defeat the security. Be informed about the symptoms and signs of intoxication and / or overdose. Have an overdose plan. Know what to do, who to call and what to say. Do not blame the drugs. You kid took them, they didn’t take your kid.

Expect that your kids will experiment, you probably did. Make sure that they know what to expect and what to do if they get in trouble with a drug. Tell them you really love them, will miss them the rest of your life, if they kill themselves and you would really appreciate it if they didn’t. Don’t do anything to convince your child. It’s too risky, to tell you the truth. Give every child in your home a copy of my advice to them and discuss it with them.

Dean Becker: Very sound advice. My friends, we’ve been speaking with Dr. Joel Hochman, the Executive Director of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. Their website is www.paincare.org. Please check it out.

Please educate yourself. Please, protect your children. Talk the truth to them. Let them know how dangerous these drugs can be and how it’s necessary to proceed with caution, whatever they do.

Dr. Hochman, thank you so much for being with us. We’ve got just a couple little segments I want to share with the audience and we’re going to bring you back before this summer is over. There’s much more we need to talk about.

Dr. Joel Hochman: Thank you, Dean. It’s been a pleasure.

Dean Becker: Alright, Sir.

Hello. My name a Borat. I am back from Kasikstan, where my retarded brother Billo is now President. He learned how to make billions by growing flowers. Is great success.

Please don’t legalize drugs, or I will be execute.

Look, my friends, it’s really up to you to do your part, to educate yourself, protect yourself and your children. It’s obvious that we need to educate these politicians or just let them know, that we know that they know, and it’s time to change this madness; time to get back on track, re-direct our Nation towards a policy of sanity and comprehension of what’s before our eyes.

I remind you once again that there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data. There is no reason for this drug war to exist. We have indeed been duped. In my opinion, the drug lords run both sides of this equation. Do your part to end this madness. Visit our website. endprohibition.org

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: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org