02/03/17 David Bearman

David Bearman M.D., Co-founder of American Academy of Cannabinoid medicine, author of new book: Drugs Are Not The Devils Tools - How Discrimination and Greed Created a Dysfunctional Drug Policy and How It Can be Fixed

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, February 3, 2017
David Bearman



FEBRUARY 3, 2017


DEAN BECKER: Has it come time for a revolution? Here to kick start things with "All Along the Watchtower" is Mister Bob Dylan.

BOB DYLAN: [music] "There must be some way out of here, " said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

DEAN BECKER: You are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network. I am Dean Becker, your host. Let's get to it.

Our guest today is a leader in the field of cannabinoid medicine, and is a co-founder of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. He's on the board of Americans for Safe Access, and he's on the advisory board for Patients Out of Time. I want to welcome my guest, Doctor David Bearman. Hello, sir.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Hey, how you doing? Nice to be here.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, Doctor Bearman, we've been friends for, I think, over a decade now. I consider us to be fairly like-minded. You have a brand new book coming out here soon: Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools. How --

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Absolutely. It is a update of a book by the same title that was out in two volumes, and we've now updated some of the data in it, and condensed a little bit, make it a little easier to carry around, and the point of the book is to point out problems that we've had for not just ten years, not just a hundred years, but for thousands of years in using prohibition and using drug laws to marginalize discriminated against people, and it points out the tremendous cost of that policy and the fact that it not only hasn't worked, but it has helped destroy the Constitution of this country, it stood in the way of doing cancer research, it has been responsible for our reliance on foreign oil, mainly consequences of the drug laws in this country on our quality of life, our way of life, and it's really unbelievable.

I think that anybody who is a concerned American citizen would enjoy the history and enjoy understanding not only how we got where we're at, but why we need to move on and how we can move on.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Doctor Bearman, yeah, I mean, you have included, as you said, the history, the medical evaluations, and situations, the law enforcement perspectives, the social involvement, the propaganda, and the hysteria as well, have you not?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: I certainly have. I mean, the -- it's sad, that people are scared away by science and by facts and by the truth, and when you take a look at the history regarding hemp and cannabis, the truth is amazing, you know. What is it, that old saying? The truth will set you free. Well, that -- nothing is more true than looking at the truth about cannabis and hemp.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly right, sir. The focus you bring to drugs, I mean, you're talking about tobacco in there, you're talking about heroin, cocaine, all of them, really, to how they've impacted our society and how we've been distorted and turned the wrong direction.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Yes, and that has actually, at least for this country, has gotten worse and worse over the last hundred years. I mean, until the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, pretty much anything went, and as far as problems, there really weren't any substantial problems. I mean, yeah, you had your drunks, and you did have some people that were habituated to opiates, but what we've done by prohibition, first with alcohol and then with opiates, and then with cannabis, is take a potentially minor, or at least not major, health problem, and turned it into a major social problem that has had incredibly pernicious effects on our government.

DEAN BECKER: Yes. Doctor Bearman, I see the -- I don't know how to put it, just this belief system that we've got now, it's a quasi-religion, this belief in the drug war. You don't need any substance to continue believing. Would you agree with that thought?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: I couldn't agree with it more, which is why there's a chapter in my book on drugs and religion. I mean, what's really ironic is that psychoactive drugs are the basis for all modern religions, and the reason that I say that is, we owe many of our core beliefs to the Zoroastrians, and the Zoroastrians passed them on to the Jews, who passed them on to Christians.

What core beliefs am I talking about? I'm talking about god, the devil, heaven, hell, and the last judgment. Those were all concepts that came from the Zoroastrians, and the Zororastrian spiritual leaders, in order to get their spiritual insight, had consumed soma, which entheographers have been arguing about for at least a couple of hundred years as to what soma was.

A lot of people like to think that it was the Amanita muscaria mushroom, the white speckled, red topped mushroom. Others say, look, it could have been any psychoactive substances that grew near where people of that religion lived in any great numbers, and I'm inclined to believe that that's the case. So they had these visions, and these were some concepts that they came up with, somewhere along the sixth or seventh century before Christ. So they've been around for a long time, and then you have these belief systems that are not based on science, but are based on faith, and I guess it's faith and misinformation.

And I think that part of the religious fervor in the anti-drug community is because they believe that their belief system is good for them, and therefore, everybody else ought to do it, and that it certainly attacks their belief system if somebody can have a spiritual experience from drugs. No, we should have a spiritual experience from reading this book, or from listening to this preacher, or this rabbi, or this imam. And the fact of the matter is, is that spirituality should belong to each one of us individually. If we want to collectively have certain rituals and join a religion, that to me is a different situation. That really is social, and community. Spirituality is something that each individual has to discover for themselves, and I think that people who are strongly wedded to organized religion are very fearful of that concept.

I think that gets reflected in their views on marijuana. I mean, how can you have Senator Sessions say that bad people use cannabis, when cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants? When it's in every pharmacopeia going back to 2637 BCE. It's absurd, and it shows an appalling lack of understanding of history, and an even more appalling lack of understanding of the appreciation of the medicinal and economic value of cannabis and hemp.

DEAN BECKER: Yes. Doctor Bearman, I want to -- I've got a quote I picked up from your book, quote, "Reefer makes darkies think they're better than white men." End quote. That's from our first drug czar. The modern era began with this lying weasel named Harry J. Anslinger. He posted his thoughts nationally through the Hearst newspapers. That's where it all fell apart, isn't it?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Well, one of the reasons I wrote my book is that the craziness regarding marijuana stands on a foundation of thousands of years of using drug laws to marginalize people. And the original witch hunts were all about drugs. The witches sin was making people feel better through the use of herbs, and that was considered heretical, sacrilege, because the priests were supposed to heal people through faith, not through drugs. And the drugs were considered a tool of the devil.

So we had that around for a long time, and as a matter of fact, the Pope, in the fifteenth century, characterized cannabis as a tool of the devil, and the reason he did so was because of its medical value. And, you know, then we get into this country, which basically was founded on alcohol, and people drank alcohol morning, noon, and night here, gallons of it, and it was only after the Revolutionary War that we started to get the temperance movement, which then morphed into prohibition because of hostility towards Irish and other immigrants, Irish, German.

Then we switched our attention to opiates, because of the Chinese, and only when cannabis started to be introduced in this country in any amount whatsoever, which was in the late 1890s and early 1900s, did we turn our attention to cannabis. So, the rules and laws as they apply to cannabis trace their roots very deep into the history of the United States, if not the history of the world.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I hear the news coming out of Chicago. They're having record numbers of deaths, numbers of deaths that would put the death toll back under Al Capone's Chicago to shame. And yet we can't seem to recognize the cause, the root of this violence. Your thought in that regard, Doctor Bearman.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Yeah. One of the things that we've done, of course, not just Chicago, but even I think more appalling is the ten to twenty thousand deaths a year that occur in Mexico because of the drug cartels, and of course the government of Mexico has wanted to legalize drugs in Mexico, to help decrease the appalling toll that they have there. And this is what I was alluding to earlier, when I suggested that we created a problem where none existed, because the easiest way to stop -- well, let me say that would certainly stop the 20,000 deaths a year in Mexico. Now, the question then becomes one of how close to Detroit in the dynamic is Chicago?

I remember years ago, 40 years ago, I was a consultant for a beltway consulting firm, and they hired a bunch of us, about 25 of us, to go out and evaluate various drug treatment programs in the country. And one of these other experts was a guy who ran a drug treatment program in Pontiac, Michigan, and he had been a police officer in Detroit for six years. And he said, you know, if you want to see 50 black guys dead in Detroit in a week, just cut off the supply of heroin. He said, it's not the heroin abusers that are killing each other, it's the dealers that are killing each other because there's so much money to be made, and they're trying to get, you know, if there's a limited amount of heroin, they're trying to get ahold of it so they can get rich.

And, of course, the fact of the matter is, is that until 1914, you could go in any drug store in the United States and get all the heroin that you wanted, without a prescription. And in 1914, by the way, the people who had the biggest problem with habituation to opiates were middle aged women who were using Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, which was laudanum, tincture of opium, for the relief of women's unmentionable ills, and the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act was aimed at the Chinese, and their use of smoking opium represented less than a quarter of the total amount of opium use in this country, 75 percent went for those women with arthritis and menopause, and that sort of thing.

Not that there was anything wrong with that, I mean, we still prescribe Tylenol Number Three, which has codeine in it, for treatment of menstrual cramps, so not much has changed except we're throwing people in prison for something that you could have walked into any drug store, any saloon, any grocery store in the United States, along about 1910 or 1915, and there you would have found it.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, we've been speaking with Doctor David Bearman, author of a great new book, coming on the shelves here soon, Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools. The subtitle, How Discrimination And Greed Created A Dysfunctional Drug Policy And How It Can Be Fixed.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, unconsciousness, coma, tolerance, addiction, respiratory arrest, and death. Time's up! This drug 80 times stronger than morphine and heroin is available via Schedule Two prescription: Fentanyl, for major pain.

The DEA's the joker,
The FDA's a joke.
The joke is on the USA
So why not take a toke?

Again, folks, we're speaking with Doctor David Bearman. He's the author of Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools. Doctor Bearman, this is a huge book, so much information. I want to kind of jump forward a little bit here. You talk about many of the organizations involved. You bring forward many points about those organizations against drug reform and those in favor of drug reform. Do you want to talk about some of those groups, please?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: This is the problem with DARE. DARE was a program in which actually divert, really, resources, criminal justice resources, away from criminal justice, into an area which they know very little about, and that is education. And studies have been done that have shown that students who have been exposed to the DARE program are more likely to use drugs than people that haven't. And the reason for that is, is that there is too much misinformation, and why should we expect the police to know anything about the science related to drugs? That's not their area of expertise, and having them go into the schools with the idea that they're going to scare kids, it just gives children a disrespect for authority, and it makes them question all information that they get about drugs. So that's the DARE thing.

And then, you had a number of these organizations that are really religious offshoots, and it's a way for people who don't believe in the Constitution that are in our Congress to send money to a religious organization in opposition really to the Constitutional restrictions for the separation of church and state. One such organization would be Parents For A Drug-Free America, and their name really says it all in terms of the absurdity. I can hardly think of an American that doesn't use some drug, whether it's aspirin or cold tablets or tobacco or alcohol, there's -- or coffee, or tea. Drugs are ubiquitous to the United States, and in fact, the United States was really formed on drugs.

One of the reasons that the British crown sent colonists over here was to grow hemp, and to grow hemp for sails, and yardage, and of course the triangular trade, which involved slaves, and molasses, and sugar, and alcohol, was important to the economic development of the United States. The growing of tobacco was a critical element in terms of the economic foundation of this country. And it goes on and on, in terms of the role that drugs have played in this country.

In the mid part of the 19th century, the British were getting beat up by the Quakers in terms of their opium trade between India and China, and, you know, it was considered to be immoral, so what some of the British who were involved in that trade did is, they cut in a middleman, starting with the Charles Russell Company of Boston, Massachusetts. So, the Russells were cousins to the Bushes, and the Bushes eventually built their own clipper ships for transporting opium from India to China, and let's be bipartisan about this, the Forbes family, in the same thing as John Forbes Kerry, John Kerry's family, they also transported opium, and of course, it wasn't illegal. I'm not saying it was illegal, but I am saying that there is a lot of hypocrisy in American history when it comes to drugs and when it comes to talking about drugs.

We have created a problem that we need to fix. I mean, we are spending somewhere in excess of $25 billion a year that we are willing to talk about to enforce federal drug laws. Just federal drug laws, not local and state drug laws, which is where the vast majority of the money is spent. And then the thing that is terribly upsetting to me is that we have known since 1974 that cannabis and cannabinoids can kill cancer cells, in lots of different types of cancer, and yet this government, both Republican and Democratic administrations, have blocked research on the beneficial effects of cannabis and cannabinoids.

I mean, it boggles the mind, and, you go back to this thing about being against cannabis as a religion, and I think that helps explain some of the irrationality that's involved in the thinking. It's not based on science, it's not based on history, it's based on the unsubstantiated beliefs and propaganda.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed it is. I want to jump forward to the Nixon era. There was a major study done, Marihuana: Signal of Misunderstanding. And it was given to Nixon, it was given to the US Congress, it basically said we've overdone it, and we've got to stop arresting so many people for doing so little, yet Nixon threw it in the trash can, and the Congress ignored it. And it's kind of been the same scenario ever since, hasn't it?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: That's true. A really good video on that era, viewers -- your listeners would do well to view is called Medicinal Cannabis And Its Impact On Your Health. And it has several good historical clips in there. One of the clips is Nixon declaring the war on drugs, and the other clip is that of former Governor Shaffer of Pennsylvania, who was a moderate Republican and was the chairman of the Nixon marijuana commission, calling for the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana. It's a very powerful piece of film, and really, I think that you would enjoy it, and your listeners would enjoy it.

In 1988, by the way, there was a rescheduling hearing before the DEA's Chief Administrative Law Judge, that went on for two years, and he recommended rescheduling cannabis to Schedule Two. In his finding of fact, he said cannabis was one of the safest therapeutic agents known to man. The final decision on whether to accept or reject an administrative law judge's recommendation lies with the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Drug Enforcement Administration was a creation of Richard Nixon, because he did not like the attitudes of the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, so he created the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and together with the DEA, they formed a one-two punch that is an impressive barrier to doing meaningful research on the medicinal research on the medicinal value of cannabis.

And, something that people should remember about Nixon is that he was vengeful, and he was a, kind of a street fighter politician, and two of his major political oppositional groups were African Americans and student anti-war activists.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Doctor Bearman, you and I have a couple of friends, US citizens, that are provided with free marijuana, big tin cans full of pre-rolled joints that are provided every three or four weeks, directly from our US government. Am I correct, sir?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: You are correct. We are growing a half acre of marijuana at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Mississippi.

DEAN BECKER: And, every month our friend, Irv Rosenfeld, gets a tin from the US government, which he can smoke legally, which he can travel with anywhere, which is recognized.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: He's one of four people in the United States who can use marijuana. The rest of the people who are using it are breaking the law, and the people who are supplying it to them are breaking the law, and that law is the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and that law was declared unconstitutional by three of the four most conservative members of the Supreme Court back about ten years ago, but three isn't enough, you've got to have five.

DEAN BECKER: Another classic example of hypocrisy, in the US government. One of our former drug czars, I think her name was Andrea Barthwell, she was an adamant prohibitionist, marijuana is bad. Once she left office, she went to work for a British firm, GW Pharmaceuticals, which sells a product, Sativex, which is made directly from actual, real cannabis. It's outrageous.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Right. Now, what that is, is a continuation of the strange position we have in this country of, what's in a name, maybe even alternative facts, because in the early part of the 20th century, we had the interesting phenomenon of doctors writing two or three million prescriptions a year containing cannabis, of there being forty patent medicines on the market that you could walk into any drug store and get without a prescription available containing cannabis, yet marijuana was illegal. Cannabis wasn't. Marijuana was.

But we, I guess, depended on what you're calling it. Now, what Andrea Barthwell said, when asked about the obvious inconsistency in her position, was, because the product that GW Pharmaceuticals made was standardized, it wasn't the same as unstandardized American cannabis, so, their cannabis wasn't cannabis. I mean, you really have to be crazy to try and follow this non-logic that is trying to be passed off as logic.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. No, I've had the occasion to speak with one of the National Institute on Drug Abuse scientists, Doctor Donald Tashkin, and, you have some quotes from him in your book, too, talking about the fact they've done intensive studies of cannabis use, long term use, and found no incidence of lung cancer whatsoever. The hypocrisy's outrageous, sir.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Well, what happened is, when he came out with those findings, the National Institute on Drug Abuse tried to bury them, and tried to distort them, and tried to say that a study that was only one seventh its size had actually had exactly the same findings in New Zealand disproved it, when in fact it proved it.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Doctor Bearman. Once again, Doctor Bearman's author of Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools. He's a medical marijuana doctor out there in California. Doctor Bearman, I thank you for being with us. Any closing thoughts you'd like to share?

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: Well, I think it's important to be politically active now, more so than ever. Try to educate your physicians, have them, you know, take a look at medicinal cannabis and its impact on your health, and I want to put in a plug for the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. If you have any doctors out there, check out our website, and contact us, we'd love to hear from you.

DEAN BECKER: Ladies and gentleman, this is The Abolitionist Moment.

Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it. It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it. It’s left a trail of graft and slime, it don’t prohibit worth a dime, it’s filled out land with vice and crime. Nevertheless, we’re for it. Franklin Adams, 1931.

All right, to close out the show, I want to share with you the annual Colorado government report on marijuana related health concerns. They report that, for adults and adolescents, past month marijuana use has not changed since legalization, either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users. They also state, based on the most comprehensive data available, past month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average. They state, marijuana exposure calls to the Poison Center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0 to 8 years.

They state, the overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015. 2016 data's not yet available. And they state, the estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is not statistically different from the national average.

If there's one actual reason the drug war continues, it is the fear of drug users to say what they know to be true. And again, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.