04/20/14 Mitch Earleywine

Dr. Mitch Earleywine re sex + weed, Nurse Mary Lynn Mathre re forthcoming Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, Steven Weiss re 420 tours from Houston to Denver, Ethan Nadelmann discusses weed and heroin on WBUR

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Guest: 
Mitch Earleywine
Organization: 
NORML
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Cultural Baggage / April 20, 2014

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: You know the news about marijuana, hell, the whole damn drug war is starting to unravel for these people in the DEA and the ONDCP. There was a great article recently that spoke of the benefit during sex of using cannabis and here to fill us in - he was quoted in the story – is Doctor Mitch Earleywine. How are you doing, Doc?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Having a great day, Dean. Good to hear your voice.

DEAN BECKER: As I indicated the nature, the propaganda of this drug war is starting to unravel and one of the ways is the benefits of cannabis – maybe not necessarily just for medical use, so to speak – is becoming more obvious and is given a lot of endorsement these days. Am I right?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Indeed. We are seeing a lot more touting of the benefits both medicinal and spiritual, if you will, and genuine consciousness raising. It’s a delight to see these kind of things get the coverage that used to be devoted to specifically all the myths that were associated with cannabis – crazy things about gateway and aggression and ridiculous stuff like that.

DEAN BECKER: This story...help me out here...where was that published talking about the use of cannabis during sex.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I was contacted by New Yorker Magazine where I’ve never been before and it did show up on their web page. They elaborated on a number of case studies of individuals who were big advocates of cannabis during sex and also spoke to a number of emir aces myself – Lester Grinspoon and others. The clincher was we really don’t have a ton of data on this since the mid-1980s. The funding agencies, of course, haven’t been behind providing funds to make sure that this kind of research gets done so we’re relying primarily on people self-report.

What we see consistently both men and women say there is a lot of enhancements. Men claim that they seem to enjoy sex more and also last longer. Both genders report enhanced orgasms and a lot of folks say they are more giving and loving to their partners.

DEAN BECKER: As you say there’s not been a lot of studies done. I can throw in my anecdotal observation that “Eat a cookie. Wait an hour and one-half and Lord help you.” But I guess the point is, sir, that there are so many unknowns that should in a more just and open society be known. Am I right?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I think that’s only fair. This is one, too, as an aging population is going to be an issue that we pay attention to a lot despite the availability of Viagra and things like that I think the negative side effects of some of those pharmaceuticals are really something to keep in mind when you are talking about that.

I also feel like part of why marijuana works is that it has an impact on attention and just the amount of time you are willing to devote to the act and to each other. It’s funny how we can turn that on and off ourselves without any kind of chemical enhancement but it’s nice to be reminded that that is there and I think it’s the kind of thing that could enhance all of our lives a little bit in this domain and it doesn’t have to be used every time but could be something that could mark a special event.

DEAN BECKER: We’re speaking with Dr. Mitch Earleywine.

Mitch, I see those stories - mostly prepared by Sanjay Gupta’s producer - but of these little kids that are 2,3 and 4-years-old with the hundreds of seizures per week and they take just a drop or two of the cannabis oil from the high CBD strains of marijuana and it doesn’t eliminate these seizures but it reduces them by well over 90%. Your thoughts there, sir. I mean the fact of the matter is who can stand against that?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Exactly. The thing is we’ve known this since the early 90s. We’ve had data suggesting that seizure responds well to cannabidiols from long ago. It saddens me that this has turned into a number of states only supporting CBD-type oils and not letting whole plant oils that include THC oil as well to get involved in their medical juices in their state but I do feel like it’s a step in the right direction and I’m grateful for Sanjay Gupta for popularizing that.

Once you see somebody have a seizure like that – especially a little kid – you realize how haunting and troubling that can be. If they don’t always eliminate they do cut down on the number and it’s just categorically better under the circumstances. I’d like to see folks open up to the fact that THC and THC alone seem to be responsible for the anti-nausea effects, the enhanced appetite and a lot of the other medical effects that need to be addressed as well.
So I am happy that CBD oils are available but I feel like it’s just a small step in a big direction.

DEAN BECKER: I hear that the comments from the parents and you see it in the videos that, “She’s beginning to recognize me. We’re beginning to see a glimpse in her eye...a recognition and a growth in their mental capacity...” because they just get beat up all day, every day...

MITCH EARLEYWINE: People misunderstand. I think they think a seizure is just a mild interruption in your day but when you are having hundreds a day the brain is literally seizing up, if you will, so the development is definitely impaired and the opportunities for learning are just markedly less because so much time is devoted to basically having a seizure.

It’s astounding how particularly if we can catch kids really young with this they can have categorically different life.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Earleywine we, by that I mean us long-term reformers, feel pretty good these days that marijuana, in particular, is being recognized for its benefit, that politicians are beginning to walk away from their jihad but the fact of the matter is the federal government still clings to the ancient hysteria and beliefs and puts forward from my perspective lies every day of the week. Your thought there, sir?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s an addiction in itself in there is a whole lot of money that gets generated by enforcing this kind of drug war-related law. A dear friend of mine was busted just yesterday and burned basically 28 hours of law enforcement time, has lost over $1,000 of his own money just to get out on bail and have no doubt is going to burn a whole lot of hours of his life and a lot of law enforcement and judicial time and it’s just sad because we could obviously have those officers devoting that time to battling realistic and difficult times like rape and murder and terrorism and all these other really serious offences.

I think, in part, because of the way the drug prohibition works law enforcement people can take property under these circumstances and anything that is going to generate money for them, of course, they are going to have a hard time letting go of.

DEAN BECKER: I can’t help but draw some parallels to continental United States back when the Brits were taxing us and taking our stuff and otherwise usurping our basic rights. There is a parallel there, isn’t there?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s sad but true. I often think about the Boston Tea Party and some of the steps that those guys took and how we might take comparable steps in saying, “Listen, this is no longer fair and we’re about to take serious action in order to make sure that we have access to a plant that doesn’t really cause any harm.”

DEAN BECKER: If you will please tell them what your latest work is, where your focus is at.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Right now we’ve been running two lines of work. One of the vaporizer which is a gizmo that heats cannabis to a fine mist containing cannabinoids and no other materials come out. That’s a great opportunity to minimize any respiratory difficulties that might be associated with long-term cannabis use.

My new grad student is a big fan of craving. Craving is allegedly part of the new addiction definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. What she’s finding is, in fact, you can get folks to crave cannabis even if they’ve only used once if you provide the appropriate queues. We’re just sort of taking a little dig at the American Psychiatric Association’s definition that way because it seems ridiculous to define something as problematic if, in fact, somebody could have it happen after using cannabis only once.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, we’ve been speaking with Dr. Mitch Earleywine.

Mitch, please share a website or two where folks can learn more.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Right now I’m Chair of the Executive Board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. You can go to http://norml.org and see some of my work as well as a lot of my colleagues.

My book, “Understanding Marijuana” is available at your local brick and mortar bookstores or at http://amazon.com

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

[sound of creaking mattress]

Dizziness, nausea, chest pain, numbness, tingling, ringing in your ears, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath with pain spreading to arm and shoulders, loss of vision, painful penis...

Time’s up: The answer – from Phizer, Inc. Viagra for erectile dysfunction.

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MARY LYNN MATHRE: My name is Mary Lynn Mathre. I’m a registered nurse, president and co-founder of Patients Out of Time. We’re a national non-profit, educational charity dedicated to educating health care professionals and the public about the therapeutic use of cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: Mary Lynn, the evidence that this need for change is becoming more obvious, more glaring, respected, endorsed, supported by more and more people all across this country. Am I right?

MARY LYNN MATHRE: Yes. I clearly think that just the fact that Dr. Sanjay Gupta has had two specials as a well-known physician among many Americans to come out and say that he did not support patients. He did not think that this was medicine and then he went and looked at the science. I think that had a huge effect on the public as well as, we all know, the growing states that are making decisions for medical cannabis. It’s kind of hard to ignore it anymore.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, more and more politicians are...well, they don’t want to be left in the dust. They want to get on the right side of this issue, correct?

MARY LYNN MATHRE: Exactly. I think more and more legislatures are actually losing elections over this issue or going to see themselves lose elections because the people really get it. The physicians are going to find pretty soon that patients are going to go elsewhere if they don’t open up to the therapeutic value of cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: In that regard we talk about the evidence becoming more and more overwhelming and your organization, Patients Out of Time, has been very instrumental in providing that education and providing that impetus. You have a conference coming forward in the not too distant future here. Let’s talk about that.

MARY LYNN MATHRE: I’d be glad to. This May 8th through the 10th Patients Out of Time jointly with the University of California School of Medicine will present the 8th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. This is a biannual series and we’ve been doing this since 2000.

Our 8th one will be in Portland, Oregon. Another supporter for this conference will be the College of Natural Medicine. We’re really pleased about that. The theme for this year’s conference will be “The Endocannabinoid System and Age-related Illnesses.” We want to focus on the fact that in Oregon, specifically, and elsewhere but in Oregon their average patient is in the mid-50s. I’m one of them. The Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age.

Having knowledge about the endocannabinoid system and how it helps keep us in balance is very important as we get older. We want to focus on a lot of the diseases whether it be cancer, chronic pain, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s, different things like that. We want to highlight that and show how cannabis can be helpful.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve seen the stories (as you mentioned earlier with Dr. Gupta) mainly dealing with the young kids with the epileptic seizures and other such maladies but it’s not just for one age group as you indicate. The seniors benefit from this and are able to have more productive and active lives through the use of cannabis, right?

MARY LYNN MATHRE: Exactly. A previous conference we had was more or less “Use through the lifespan” because we wanted to highlight how important this was from birth to the end of life. So for this one we’re focusing more on the end of life but, again, we want all the listeners to understand humans (all animals, pretty much all living creatures except insects) have an endocannabinoid system. We make chemicals, molecules, cannabinoids similar to the phytocannabinoids (the cannabinoids made in this plant). These molecules work in a signaling system that literally governs everything in our body.

If we keep that healthy it keeps all these different physiological processes that go on day in and day out, over and over in balance no matter what we face. It’s a vital system. It’s a huge discovery and it’s a shame that it still isn’t taught in most medical schools. As far as we know Temple University in Philadelphia is the only one that actually works it into its curriculum.

DEAN BECKER: We are blessed in that the information is coming forward. More and more doctors are beginning to speak up. Good gosh, just yesterday I think it was the New Jersey Prosecutors Union which came out in favor of legalizing cannabis. Times are changing are they not?

MARY LYNN MATHRE: Yeah. It is good to see. I think the “snowball” is growing and it’s just getting too big to stop. The drug warriors...hopefully some of those last ones will get it and say “uncle” and let the truth come out.

DEAN BECKER: One more time tell us about this forthcoming conference, the details, how people can get involved.

MARY LYNN MATHRE: We want everybody to go to http://www.medicalcannabis.com. All the information about the conference – the agenda, the speakers...we have speakers coming from Israel, Jamaica, Spain, Canada as well as the United States. All the information about the speakers, the agenda will be on there.

We’ve got pre-conference workshops specifically for nurses, a basic Cannabis 101 for physicians, a basic Cannabis 101 for lawyers. Those three professions can certainly come and get a baseline on the information on Thursday, May 8th.

Full proceedings of the conference are on Friday and Saturday. They are all plenary sessions. We present research from around the world - the latest research to help people understand about the endocannabinoid system and cannabis.

That’s http://medicalcannabis.com – all the information is there.

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STEVEN WEISS: My name is Doctor Steven Weiss. We are going to open up a tour agency specifically to take people to Colorado and Washington State.

DEAN BECKER: Where are you based?

STEVEN WEISS: We are based in Houston.

DEAN BECKER: Do you think there’s a enough interest in Houston for such an endeavor?

STEVEN WEISS: Absolutely. I think there are a great number of people in the Houston metropolitan area that are advocates for the legalization of marijuana – at least medical marijuana in Texas.

Let’s face it. In Colorado they’ve legalized marijuana so they’ve gone beyond just medical marijuana. There a number of people up there who have gone through the ropes in terms of determining what needed to be done, how to get it done and we’re going to be taking people to Rocky Mountain High Tours specifically right now to Denver so that people can get educated on how to ...not only in terms of using marijuana but the different aspects of what marijuana can be used for.

There are people who I’m sure know how to grow marijuana but they are the legal aspects that are necessary in making it legal in Texas. By bringing groups of people up to the Colorado area, taking them on tours of different farms where marijuana is being grown, the different strains of marijuana are being grown will help in educating people so we can legalize it here in Texas.

DEAN BECKER: Now this is, I think, a worthy endeavor. If folks want to learn more about your tour point them where they need to go.

STEVEN WEISS: They can call me at (281) 701-6263. We have a website that is being worked on right now. It is http://rockymountainhightours.net. Our email address is rockymountainhightours420@gmail.com.

DEAN BECKER: You’re going to be handing each one of these tourists a copy of my new book, “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public” and I thank you for that, sir.

STEVEN WEISS: You are quite welcome. We will do that plus we’ll be getting out things so that people can be educated. It’s not just a matter of going up to Colorado to “get high”. It’s a matter of learning the business aspects and the legal aspects of what the people in Colorado have done to make it legal.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy WBUR.

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HOST: It’s here and now and as Robin said a moment ago we’ve heard from many listeners this week who are unhappy with what they describe as one-sided coverage of marijuana. Some felt our story on a study linking casual pot use with brain abnormalities was alarmist. According to one listener – “A total buzzkill.”

Let’s bring in a leading voice from the pro-decriminalization side of the debate, Ethan Nadelmann. He is founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance which campaigns to end the War on Drugs. He joins us from New York City. Ethan, welcome.

ETHAN NADELMANN: It’s good to be on.

HOST: You’ve heard some of our coverage. What do you think of it? Are we being alarmists?

ETHAN NADELMANN: NPR i would say is better than most media outlets but, yes, you are being alarmists. I think that NPR like other outlets sometimes plays into the inevitable biases in covering scientific coverage on drug use.

For example, when multiple studies show no negative consequences from using a drug those are not news. When one study which has not been replicated, involving a very small sample does show negative impact it becomes news. That’s problematic.

HOST: But what about this week’s series which has been focused on kids using marijuana? Does it change in your view what the media can cover and what they should be asking when it comes to younger people rather than adults?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Obviously one needs to cover the issues of adolescent marijuana use differently than adult use or medical use or elderly use or what have you. I think that is obviously important but it’s also important in covering the issues of adolescent use to be realistic and honest and accurate, to be careful in how one describes causal relationships.

When you go out and interview a student who says, “I can buy marijuana everywhere” but fail to point out that teenagers have been saying that for 40 years and, therefore, that teenager’s comment is not a result of Colorado legalizing marijuana I think that is a mistake.

When you point out a study that talks about brain changes in young people but fail to point out that that study has not been replicated or that a person who uses 2 joints per day is described as a casual user I think that’s a mistake.

I think there is a lot of work to be done in providing more accurate coverage of adolescent marijuana use and of the scientific literature.

HOST: We should say that groups and organizations including the National Institutes of Health say that marijuana is addictive. They say “Contrary to common belief marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggests that about 9% of users become addicted to marijuana. This number increases among those who start young.”

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, I’m sure that’s right but isn’t it worth asking “Isn’t everything addictive?” What else is addictive no more than a 9% rate? Are you comparing this to a whole range of other widely used substances or to beer or to coffee or to anything like that? Or to other sorts of activities? So put that number in perspective.

Secondly, ask what’s meant by addictive. Often times the government studies define a person who’s addicted as a teenager who uses any marijuana at all notwithstanding the fact that they will likely be successful in every regard and that their drug use may cause no harm whatsoever.

Also ask the question to what extent is it a problem that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Mental Health failed to fund studies looking at the beneficial uses of marijuana, don’t encourage studies that might show no significant negative impact from marijuana. Those sorts of biases and political influences - I haven’t seen the coverage of those sorts of stories.

HOST: One of the things that you have said is that there are people out there who are using this drug casually and they’re not “out” about it, if you will. Nobody knows that they are and that changes people’s perceptions because they don’t know that their friends are using it or whatever.

ETHAN NADELMANN: It’s not so much friends. It’s more the older generation. I think that the younger generation (by younger generation I now mean 16 to more or less 50 or 60) is more or less ignoring and writing off the reports that are now done about marijuana simply because it does not square with their own personal experience.

I think the greater harm is done with the older generation of people who may not know people or don’t think they know people who are using marijuana and they are, therefore, most susceptible to being misled by these studies.

I sometimes say 50 years ago everybody in America knew a homosexual. They just didn’t know they knew a homosexual and, therefore, their image of who was a homosexual was shaped by dramatic media imagery or their fears of the most outrageous people. Now everybody in America knows a homosexual or gay person and they are ordinary people and, therefore, the extremes or the most dramatic or the most fearful don’t represent the typical image.

Similarly everybody in America up to age 100 knows people who use marijuana but most of them don’t know they know somebody who uses marijuana therefore their image of the adolescent marijuana user is he one getting in trouble in school, the one misusing it, the one being reckless. The marijuana user who is 17 or 18 doing perfectly well in school, no the sports teams, going on to a good college – they don’t know about that because that youngster is being responsible and they are hiding what they do both from the media and from older people.

HOST: Ethan, do you have children?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Yes, I do.

HOST: Do you smoke in front of them?

ETHAN NADELMANN: I’ve made an agreement with my daughter (who is now 25) that we won’t talk about our own personal experience with this but what I can say is that throughout I’ve talked to my daughter about marijuana the same way I would about alcohol and other substances.

I’ve talked to her about the relative risks and dangers, what the responsible and irresponsible use means with alcohol or other drugs. I let her know that if she started smoking cigarettes I would kill her.

I think what’s happened is a whole generation of parents - most of whom smoked marijuana when they were younger, most of whom had friends who smoked marijuana, many of whom still do – there is a much more honest dialogue that is going on between adolescents and their parents. I think that’s leading to a much healthier environment.

HOST: Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigns to end the War on Drugs.

Ethan, thanks so much for joining us.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Thank you, Jeremy.

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy NBC.

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RICHARD NIXON: America’s “Public Enemy Number 1” in the United States is drug abuse.

REPORTER: American drug culture is always in flux. A decade ago, even 2 years ago, marijuana was banned and heroin was an out of sight small problem. Now, marijuana is sold like beer and heroin is ravaging a wider, younger and more suburban crowd.

But, hold on a minute. Haven’t we seen this episode before?

REPORTER2: Heroin has come to small towns all across the country heroin is now plentiful.

REPORTER: In the late 1960s reformers launched a massive push for the acceptance of marijuana. They ended up with a heroin plague and the War on Drugs. Now that pot is legal in 2 states attitudes seem to be relaxing. The question is could history repeat itself?

RICHARD NIXON: In order to fight and defeat this enemy it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.

REPORTER: Weed wasn’t even federally illegal when Richard Nixon took office in January of 1969. More than 12 million Americans have puffed the one-time “devil weed” and the heroic defenders launched an all-out attack on state pot laws nationwide.

This was no fringe campaign. The head of the Food and Drug Administration supported softer pot laws. Change seemed to be in the air.

ACTIVIST: We got to get all this dope to fill a 20-foot joint.

REPORTER: Instead, the exact opposite happened and for a simple reason – heroin. As marijuana acceptance spread heroin pushed out of the ghetto and into white suburbia and the armed forces. Use doubled, overdoses soared and San Francisco health workers declared 1970 “the year of the middleclass junkie”.

Teen overdoses tripled in New York City. More than 80% of the new mainliners – just like today – they were white. Suddenly the politics changed. Congress banned marijuana outright in 1970 when it passed the Controlled Substances Act. The drug was tagged Schedule I – a narcotic with no medical value – just like heroin.

We know how that turned out. It allowed President Nixon to treat numerable middleclass concerns – crime, race riots, braless women, dirty-haired kids – as one single addressable issue – drug abuse.

He called it “the modern curse of youth – the problem of narcotics”. Even after his own blue ribbon commission declared that pot was not a health risk and recommended that it be decriminalized Nixon defended his ban on marijuana.

RICHARD NIXON: I shall continue to oppose efforts to legalize marijuana.

REPORTER: More than 40 years later as heroin once again is sweeping the suburbs it’s easy to imagine a republican candidate saying those same words today.

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DEAN BECKER: Friends, the drug war is ending slow, bloody and ugly. The main reason it is so slow is your lack of courage, your inability to speak what you know to be true.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org