09/25/19 Ethan Russo

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Ethan Russo
International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute

Dr. Ethan Russo Editorial "Cannabis and Pain" in Oxford Academic + Vincent Lopez "The cannons of truth are upon us" re cannabis.

Audio file



SEPTEMBER 25, 2019

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars who support the drug war, empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hello my friends. This is Dean Becker in studio this week. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a moment, we are gonna bring in our main guest for this week. He is a doctor who has been with us many times before, a man who has devoted his life to understanding the cannabis plant and its use in medicine, he had a recent editorial in the Oxford Academic its entitled, “Cannabis and Pain”. With that I want to bring in our guest – our good friend, Dr. Ethan Russo. Let’s see if I can get him on air right quick. Are you there Dr. Russo? Oh, that didn’t do it. Okay. Well this week, I do have with me a brand new assistant engineer. If you would go get Don and see if we can bring this up in time. If you are hearing me Dr. Russo, give us just a moment to figure out what in the heck we are supposed to do. I guess I can read a portion of this that really brought my attention to it. Most of it is over my head. I am not a medical doctor, though I do claim to be one from time to time. He is Director of Research and Development for ICCI, which is the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, which is based in Prague in the Czech Republic.

Dr. Russo, can you hear me now sir?


DEAN BECKER: Oh wonderful. Good deal. Thank you. I was just telling the folks how this a very prestigious locale for this editorial but please, if you would, give us kind of a quick summation of what you were presenting there, sir.

DR. RUSSO: Basically I was asked to comment on two articles in relation to cannabis and pain. One was a roundtable that took place a couple of years ago and I was really struck by the fact that the experts that they had on really weren’t talking about medical use of cannabis, but rather the dangers of cannabis used recreationally as they saw it. I think that there was a conflation of possible dangers of recreational cannabis use by smoking as compared to very different situation and using cannabis in much lower doses and usually orally to treat chronic pain.

DEAN BECKER: For what it’s worth this is kind of tied in to that – and perhaps not. I have been talking with my local district attorney and some prosecutors about the fact that if you have a pound of edibles it can be felony, that it can ruin your life basically. Here in Harris County and some of the major cities they are saying they are not going to treat it that way, they’re going to try to determine the actual amount of cannabis within the treat so to speak. As I told them probably on average it’s about a half a gram per edible dose, which is not a heck of a lot, right?

DR. RUSSO: Sure. Yeah. The other article that I was asked to comment in relation to was a study on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they had really done in-depth interviews with chronic pain patients who were using cannabis to find out how it helped them. No surprise to people that may have used it themselves, they noticed some very interesting things; that they were able to feel a sigh of relieve; that they were able to resume activities that they may have left behind many years; and that they were able to emotionally distance themselves from the pain. So that the cannabis, in some instances, actually reduced pain but in others just changed their outlook toward the pain.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, and I have heard that over the years- that it kind of negates the importance of the pain. Is that maybe a good way to put it?

DR. RUSSO: Sure. So where it is just not all encompassing that people can then turn back to activities that they may have previously avoided because the pain interfered with their ability to be there and experience the other aspects of their life beyond the pain itself.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. There is so much marijuana news these days, there really is. It’s breaking globally – Mexico is considering legalizing it, maybe legalizing all drugs – but their supreme court has given a ruling that they’re compelled to come up with a means to regulate for adult use and I think even bypassing medical and I guess the fear is diminishing. Even here in the United States, the Congress and the Senate are beginning to take up banking bills and look at it slightly different, are they not?

DR. RUSSO: Yeah. We’re seeing liberalization of policies throughout the world. Places you might not even imagine – even Thailand for that matter and state by state we are also seeing progress in this regard, but there is still a long way to go, and what is really needed is a change in legislation on the federal level.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Now Dr. Russo, I don’t know how often you get to hear my shows but typically I do a little segment called, “Name That Drug By Its Side Effects”, and you have contained within your editorial there in the Oxford Academic – I am going to read a bit of it – ‘therapeutic use of cannabis is different in its aim and methods in comparison to recreational use wherein the entire point is to create a “high” or intoxication that must be consumed that must be considered a side effect in pain treatment wherein the ideal result would be affective analgesia without alteration of consciousness or impairment’. I use the phrase, “Euphoria is a crime. We are all criminals”. I am wondering your thought in that regard. Is it necessary to have a means of delivery that doesn’t provide a little intoxication?

DR. RUSSO: There are different ways that this can be approached. I am not gonna say that euphoria is a bad thing. I will point out that for the FDA, euphoria is considered a side effect but when we are talking about chronic pain usually the person is gonna be best off trying to dose cannabis orally. This is gonna provide a smoother contour and a longer lasting pain relief with dosing perhaps two or three times a day. When cannabis is inhaled even by smoking or vaporization, it’s necessary to dose repeatedly, sometimes every two to four hours and this is more apt to produce intoxication which beyond euphoria could include things like anxiety or paranoia if the dose of THC is too high. Again, for most people with chronic pain it’s vastly preferable to use an oral form of administration without peaks and valleys of activity and with the ability to dose much less frequently.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. I can see where that would be a great benefit. I am also thinking this – we have this situation – you mentioned vaporization. We do have these cartridges I guess you call them. Little cigarette looking things that lots of people are smoking whether it be tobacco, CBD, or THC – the cannabis products and we are running in to problems. It’s killing some people. Let’s talk about that situation please, Dr. Russo.

DR. RUSSO: Right. Well it is a complicated situation. First these vape pens are really a misnomer. Most of these are using a heating element that gets red hot within a second or two of pressing a button – that is not vaporization. That is just another form of burning but the problem here seems to be from black market products with additives to them that are toxic to the lungs. This seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon and as far as I can tell so far these problems have not been associated with products that are sold in state licensed dispensaries. My recommendation to people is first of all, that they consider oral dosing if they have a medical problem. Beyond that they should consider getting a larger vaporizer, not a vape pen – with a unit that will use for example, warmed air with a controllable temperature that actually will boil off the cannabinoids and terpenoids that are providing pain relief but without burning them in a way that is going to create toxic byproducts. Additionally, they should know their source. They should only buy from hopefully state licensed facilities where the ingredients are clear with not flavorings or additives that come from other sources. When these products are only derived from cannabis without these additions the much less likely they are to have any kind of lung irritation let alone the kind of severe pneumonia syndromes that are being reported by the media.

DEAN BECKER: As I understand it I think we are up to eight and perhaps nine deaths reported in the recent couple of weeks from these cartridge vaporization things and if I understand you right – recently Storz & Bickel sent me an example of their product, the Volcano Hybrid. It is what I think you are speaking of with the adjustable temperature and the ability to not burn the product as you inhale it. Right?

DR. RUSSO: Right. I am glad you mentioned that. Those particular products are accepted as medical devices in Canada and Germany due to the product manufacturer and their safety controls.


DR. RUSSO: Again, it matters what’s put in it. So in that instance only pure cannabis products would be utilized and preferably at a low temperature which is going to help avoid the possibility of problems. I would just add here, Dean, that I really see this problem with the cases of Lipoid Pneumonia that are causing these fatalities. These are a byproduct of prohibition. If we had a legal and regulated market we wouldn’t be seeing these problems because we would then have safe preparations in use and safe regulated devices with the ability to prevent these kinds of issues.

DEAN BECKER. Yes sir. I think you are well aware of the phrase I use then, “because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag and to please be careful” because it is the main complicator of many of the harms of drug war is actually caused by prohibition itself. Would you agree with that thought sir?

DR. RUSSO: I would.

DEAN BECKER: The discussion is opening more widely at the federal level. It’s certainly more widely discussed and potentials happening. I think Oklahoma in particular. I don’t know if you are aware – they have I think the best medical law there ever was that you just tell the doctor I think marijuana might help me and he will write a recommendation. I guess what I am leading to here is that the more open we are the better we can control the supposed controlled substances because it isn’t working so far. We haven’t controlled one substance yet, have we?

DR. RUSSO: Not very capably; no.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Russo, coming back to your article here in the Oxford Academic. I guess the point is sir, you have the years in grade – the decades in grade learning this subject and it comes back to this, when Oklahoma or even Texas and states around the country – when it comes time to change their laws they always call for another study as if the ones that have been done over the decades – as of what they have done in Israel is not sufficient, as if the knowledge that is already gathered is not enough to sway their opinion. Let’s talk about that situation, please?

DR. RUSSO: Well it always seems that it’s never quite enough. The situation we have in the USA is there is only one true cannabis based drug that’s FDA approved, and that is Epidiolex which is a 98% pure preparation of Cannabodial and that is used for treating severe epilepsy associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet Syndromes. In 30 other countries there is another cannabis based medicine called Satavex which is a spray in the mouth. Some of the medicine is absorbed that way and some is swallowed and that has roughly equal amounts of THC and Cannabodial. Unfortunately that is not yet FDA approved. We also have synthetic form of THC called Marinol. It has actually been on the market in the U.S. since 1985 but it’s had very little impact because THC alone is a very poorly tolerated drug. It’s very hard for people to find a dose that will provide relief from pain or nausea without producing a lot of side effects. So it is a situation where patients find that herbal cannabis works a lot better for them because it doesn’t contain one ingredient, but a variety of ingredients that work in synergy – that boosts, benefits and reduces side effects.

DEAN BECKER: Alright folks, once again we have been speaking with Dr. Ethan Russo. He had a great article, I urge you to check it out. Please go to oxfordacademic.com and look up the editorial by Dr. Russo entitled, Cannabis and Pain.

Dr. Russo your mention of Epidiolex and Satavex – they are both products of GW Pharmaceuticals. I had the great privilege of interviewing Dr. Geoffrey Gize some years back in that regard and I even had the chance – I had a doctor who wrote me a prescription for Marinol and I found it to be basically useless and way, way expensive – way more expensive than cannabis itself.

Dr. Russo, any closing thoughts you would like to share with the audience please.

DR. RUSSO: I would urge people to keep an open mind. Read the real scientific literature about cannabis as medicine and hopefully we will see progress toward legal regulated markets that will maximize the chances that people get relief of the pain or other problems and with the greatest degree of safety.

DEAN BECKER: Alright. Dr. Russo, thank you very much. Folks we are gonna take a little break here. We’ll be right back.

It’s time to play Name That Drug by Its Side Effects. Blistering or peeling skin; swelling of eyelids, throat, and lips; blurred vision and yellowing of eyes; black tarry stools; vomit that looks like coffee grounds. Times Up! The answer: Celebrex.

I am the Reverend Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network standing in the river of reform, baptizing drug warriors to the unvarnished truth. Drugtruth.net

VINCENT LOPEZ: What the question comes down to is is Texas ready for medical marijuana. As Texans I believe we’ve been ready for quite some time. It would have passed years ago but with no open ballot initiative we are bound to a different set of legislative processes but we know who we need to educate, who we need to be talking to, and the conversation that needs to be happening. We know the voice of patients and we shall be silent no more.

It’s hard not to turn away from the fact that one day, my own physical mobility will cease to exist and that I will not be able to self-medicate. This in turn will fall on to my caregiver which happens to be my mother. Therefore, she needs to have protection and I fight to see that she has it.

It’s never good living in fear for fear is a sickness that can keep us from facing reality and that can inhibit us from looking beyond ourselves that can blind us of our own true courage. In stepping out of the cannabis closet, I had always been familiar with the feelings of fear and intimidation but nothing compared to the weight I was carrying by not coming out – by not saying anything – by living life in secret.

No longer could I live in silence knowing I had an answer in cannabis for the painful muscle spasms, the stiffness and contortion I endure, the loss of appetite and sleep. If there is an answer in cannabis than I shall not stay silent. This is my body and how I choose to alleviate the pains of my body is solely up to me. When it comes to the rights of medical cannabis patients in the state of Texas, it is imperative that we do not make the previous mistakes made by other states. It is imperative that we secure our right and freedom of choice to medicate as we choose, with what we choose.

Too many rely on what our own physician’s tell us over that of our own mind and perception so let’s remember there is no better moderator of our bodies than ourselves. We need to stay focused to the sole objective that not only fuels our purpose but also fuels the trial and truth that we all embody.

War is a malignant disease, an idiocies, a prison and the pain it causes is beyond telling or meaning and being a patient of Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a deteriorating muscle disease – I know first-hand about the consumption disease and disability and the long term detrimental effects it can have on the mind and on the spirit. It’s a battle within itself contending with a terminal disease – a dragon that will never leave your side that will always be a part of you. This kind of trial can be a whisper in the ear reminding you of your difficulty and all that you should fear. That your only purpose in life is to simply wait to die. If you can relate than you know the darkness of the dragon that lurks within and though these dragons may consume our bodies they also know the bravery and courage embedded in us to keep fighting back harder than ever before. I simply say that there is no man or no law greater than the eternal confrontation of what we are having to endure. What can any man or law do to me that this affliction hasn’t done to me already and while for some there is a cure, there are others where there is no turning back. Where there are no irreversible changes to be had. Let’s understand that cannabis is not a cure for my condition but an alleviator of my own choice. There is not much more I can do to stop the continual progression of this disease. My muscles will continue to deteriorate, my mobility will continue to suffer and my pain will continue to increase.

If in accepting this fact where I am awakened and inspired to the bigger picture and responsibility that extends beyond my own life and on to future generations to come. When I first got involved I was only thinking the legality of a medicine that had become significantly beneficial for me in regards to the symptoms of Becker Muscular Dystrophy. I don’t know where I was and what my eyes and heart would see not just within myself but within many others. Let it be known that the cannons of truth are upon you when a child is suffering with disease and or disability and seeing the system that is waiting for them – in seeing the amount of distress the bureaucratic process can bring on to an already difficult, painful, and desperate situation. The cannons of truth are upon you when families are jumping on to the Texas Exodus to Colorado, having no other alternative due to the illegality of medical cannabis here in Texas. The cannons of truth are upon you when a child is incapable of even having a voice or the ability of full on expression. The cannons of truth are upon you when the medicinal properties of cannabis can bring a child out of that darkness – out of that epileptic catatonic state.

There is not greater inspiration than looking in to the eyes of a child. It invokes an irreplaceable feeling that truly reminds us all of the sacrifice we must all make for them. I’d gladly give my life four times over to be the voice for them. No real legalization can exist unless it protects the rights of all, therefore, we need to keep with the knowledge that each word of what we express has its own power, time, and place. We must have an awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses and understanding of the process of legislation and we must always seek a higher aim than just momentary satisfaction. Keep in mind that our actions of today greatly affect the outcomes of tomorrow. We cannot ascend beyond the entrapment and binding clutches of isolation, desolation, and fear if we allow the repercussions they inflict on us. It’s about facing that dragon eye to eye and conquering the ultimate chess game from within. It’s not about turning away out of fear or denial, it’s about becoming something you thought you never could be and taking to heart that which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. It’s how we wield our inner strength that enables us to confront our demons so courageously and without fear. Let me say, if Jesus were here today He wouldn’t sway and neither should we. Go to the ones who have been separated from their families due to this ridiculous drug war. Go to the ones who have been forgotten, neglected, abused and misunderstood. Go to the ones tormented, lost, and left behind. Go to the one consciously unaware of their true potential on the knowledge and nature of medicinal truth.

How much longer shall we suffer these injustices – the wretchedness and consumption of disease? How much longer shall we allow these mighty mountains of desperation to exist and suffer the depravities of our own mental silence? We win this journey by being that book of knowledge, by being that magician, and by being that machine and really, by simply making ourselves immortal. Thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Okay. I didn’t get to introduce him quite right, that was Vincent Lopez. He was speaking at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy there at Rice University. Sadly Vincent passed away a few years back. His muscular dystrophy took his life but he stood boldly – as bold as any man I ever met – certainly in the state of Texas to speak for his rights, to acquire the medicine that he deserved. Quite a guy, Mr. Vincent Lopez.

I want to read from the Declaration of Evident Truth:

This third millennium offers a fresh perspective on life, the future, liberty and truth itself.

On this day, I pledge to uphold all valid and reasonable laws of the United States government, the individual States thereof and all laws of the city and county where I may live; except for those laws which have been shown by modern science, logic and understanding to be unfounded, based on lies and which were designed to vilify and persecute a segment of our society for the benefit of another, prohibitionist segment. This prohibition now extends to the use of certain drugs. These prohibitions specifically deny the use of the cannabis plant, for which I now make an exception to my allegiance to these aforementioned laws.

Modern science and common sense have shown that the laws against cannabis use are based not on fact but rather are quite simply tools of oppression. The oppression is becoming more obvious as each day passes. Governments of Mexico, Central and South America, Canada, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and other countries have seen the folly that is a result of the failed U.S. policy on cannabis that now approaches a century of abuse. Many of these countries have changed or are changing their laws in regard to cannabis possession; only their fear of losing U.S. preferential treatment or the breaking of international treaties forced on them by the U.S. government prevents the complete reversal of their cannabis laws.

DEAN BECKER: Well we are about out of time here, all I can say friends is that you own the moral high ground. If you know the truth of this matter you can help make a difference and I am hoping that you will soon do so. As Vincent Lopez indicated, the cannons of truth are upon us all and again I remind you because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.