04/29/16 David Bearman

Dr. David Bearman & Dr. Ethan Russo at Cannabis Conf., Mathew Wilhelm, Destiny Young of San Antonio NORML

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Friday, April 29, 2016
Guest: 
David Bearman
Organization: 
Doctor
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

APRIL 29, 2016

TRANSCRIPT

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

DR. G. ALAN ROBISON: It is not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: 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.

All right, we've got a great show lined up for you, most of it is going to come from my visit to Baltimore, where I attended the Patients Out of Time conference. It's a gathering of scientists and doctors from around the world to talk about the science, the medicine, that is the cannabis plant.

DAVID BEARMAN, MD: I'm Dr. Dave Bearman, I'm a physician from Goleta, California. I'm the executive vice president of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Bearman, it seems that in the last few years, maybe in the last year or two, things have been booming, so to speak. The science is being recognized, government agents are beginning to lean a little the other direction. We're making progress, are we not?

DAVID BEARMAN: We are making progress. It's pretty remarkable. I've seen it in California, there's been a slow, gradual thaw, and I think, and you're right, in the last 18 to 24 months, we're beginning to have more of a flood than a thaw. I just gave a grand round presentation at the hospital in Santa Barbara, and it was well received. Not to say that there weren't some physicians who are still skeptical, but the skepticism is getting less, and I think that the federal government looking at rescheduling, you know, the DEA doing that, Sativex is likely to be approved, you know, sometime in the next 12 months or so. The research with Epidiolex, all of these things are beneficial, and I also think that we're seeing the older generation that, you know, sort of drank the kool-aid, so to speak, is dying off, and that the people that are in charge, many of them were teenagers and college students in the '60s, and they're not afraid of cannabis, and they're willing to have somewhat more open mind.

And I think also, we're very ethnocentric here in the United States, and in Europe, you're seeing more and more serious research that's being done, and I think it's the Europeans that are pushing the envelope, even more than we are here in the United States.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and then certainly we do have the push coming from Uruguay and other South American countries who are re-evaluating, re-focusing their concepts as well. Right?

DAVID BEARMAN: One of the things that I was excited about, is I was invited to speak twice in Australia and once in Costa Rica last year. And in Australia, the prime minister favors legalization of medical marijuana, the country's answer to Rush Limbaugh, a guy named Alan Jones, very big supporter for medicinal cannabis. The governors of several of the states in Australia, they have a legalization, federal legalization bill that was submitted by the head of the Green Party, who is a physician, and it was co-sponsored by two people from the two major political parties in Australia. And it's a foregone conclusion that the federal government in Australia will approve medicinal cannabis. The state of Victoria already approved medicinal cannabis. So, in fact, the United States is definitely running behind.

And you mentioned, you know, you've got Uruguay, and Portugal, you have Czechoslovakia [sic], all of these countries have experimented with changing their regulations and decreasing the criminal penalties on the use of psychoactive drugs, including cannabis. And this makes all kinds of sense. I mean, if you have cancer, we don't throw you in jail, so if you have a substance abuse problem, we don't throw you in jail. If you are addicted to coffee, we don't throw you in jail.

I mean, basically, this has been a tool to marginalize discriminated against groups, and Black Lives Matter, Hispanic lives matter, and these drug laws have been used for generations to marginalize them. Recognize this, that if it weren't for our drug laws, George W. Bush never would have been elected president of the United States, because in fact Al Gore won the state of Florida, and there were 40 or 50,000 felons who were felons because of the drug laws that couldn't vote in Florida, and the majority of them were black, and Gore got far more black votes than Bush did. So, you know, the Iraq War is due to the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we're speaking with Dr. David Bearman. Dr. Bearman, look, I live in Texas. You know, it's one of the more --

DAVID BEARMAN: My condolences.

DEAN BECKER: I thank you for those condolences. But, it's beginning to shift even there. Even my district attorney has started to realize that it's not exactly what it's all cracked up to be, that there are some changes necessary. She doesn't say what they should be, but she knows we need to make changes. And I think that's, if I dare say, affecting the conscience of many elected officials around the country, that they're part of this ongoing decades old jihad, with no real logical basis, no reason for existence. Your thought there, sir.

DAVID BEARMAN: Well, I think that we've been helped a lot by these parents who recognize that, when their kids have epilepsy, that cannabis is effective in reducing substantially people that have intractable seizures, and by the way, we've known this since 1949. The first research on this was done by Ramsey and Davis in 1947, and their article, reporting their research, came out in 1949, and they said we should do some more research on this with non-institutionalized patients. They had looked at some kids with cerebral palsy who had intractable seizures, and sure enough, 65 years later we did that research.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Well, it hurts my conscience, I'll say that, just that --

DAVID BEARMAN: Well, you asked the question about conscience, and I think that you're beginning to get more politicians that are being serious about this. The sad thing is, is that the Republicans have a very wide dichotomy between the libertarian wing, who recognize very much the wrongness of the laws and the benefits from cannabis, and the other wing of the Republican party, I would call it the fascist wing rather than the conservative wing because they really don't have true conservative principles.

And, we're not helped at all by the Democrats, I mean, Hillary Clinton still wants to keep the laws against marijuana, and, you know, she's likely to get the Democratic nomination, which is sad, but the fact of the matter is, is that she represents the establishment wing of the Democratic Party, and you put that together with the, not really conservative part of the Republican Party because they believe in more government, not less government, and they have the votes to prevent making the kind of changes that we need to have. And the American people, and mothers and fathers of kids with seizures or kids with cancer, or kids with other serious conditions that have been shown to respond to cannabis, need to keep speaking up so that they can save their children.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, Dr. David Bearman. Dr. Bearman, is there a website you might want to recommend, some closing thoughts.

DAVID BEARMAN: Oh, well, I do. You can certainly check my website, DavidBearmanMD.com, Bearman is spelled B as in Boy, E A R M A N. You might also check the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, which is AACMSite.org, that's AACMSite.org. And, I urge all of you to go out and buy my book so I can send my kids to school, it's Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools: How Greed And Discrimination Led To A Dysfunctional Drug Policy And How To Fix It. But, just go online and look for Drugs Are Not The Devil's Tools and you'll find it. It's a 550 page book that goes into the history of drug laws and how they've been used to marginalize discriminated against groups, and it also goes into the history of the laws regarding cannabis, and how we're reforming those drug laws and how cannabis has medicinal value, talks about the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoids that are found in cannabis and the therapeutic value that they have.

And I certainly urge all of your listeners, and particularly the listeners in Texas, to let their legislators know and if you have a child that has autism, or Asperger's, or social anxiety, or epilepsy, let your legislators know that this is a safer drug than the prescription drugs that they're currently getting, and it's as effective or in many cases more effective.

VOICE: Okeh, let's say drug prohibition does support terrorism.

DEAN BECKER: And murder.

VOICE: And murder.

DEAN BECKER: Torture.

VOICE: And torture.

DEAN BECKER: Corruption. Bribery.

VOICE: And, whatever.

DEAN BECKER: What's your point?

VOICE: Change the law.

DEAN BECKER: I got you. Make it cheap. More available. Everywhere. Like soda, or cheesy puffs.

VOICE: Exactly.

DEAN BECKER: Cocaine at the playground. Crack stands at the laundromat. Heroin at the mini-mart. Like that?

VOICE: Face it, old man. That's what we've got now.

DEAN BECKER: Please. Visit the website of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP.cc.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Confusion, skin rash, agitation, nervousness, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, nausea, hallucinations. Time's up! The answer: Mylanta AR, or Pepcid AC. Two more FDA-approved products.

We're here in Baltimore, Maryland, beautiful day. Attending the Patients Out of Time conference, I'm glad to be sitting here with a man with great expertise in regards to the cannabis plant and cannabis medicines, Dr. Ethan Russo, once again. Hello, sir, welcome to Cultural Baggage.

ETHAN RUSSO, MD: Good morning, and thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Russo, I'm kind of flying in, flying out, but you've had your ear to the ground, your eye on the ball. What's happening of late in regards to the cannabis plant, medicines, and people's understanding of that medicine?

ETHAN RUSSO: Well, you know, along with all the political developments, we've had a large number of developments on the research front, and I think the big news of late is the cognizance of elements of cannabis beyond THC, particularly the new focus on cannabidiol and the wide variety of conditions that it can treat, along with the entire entourage of other components of cannabis, specifically the terpinoids, and that was the subject of my lecture here yesterday.

DEAN BECKER: And, if you would, fill me in. I've always found it interesting. The terpinoids, it's the fragrance, the smell, it's the, in some ways, the essence of the plant, is it not?

ETHAN RUSSO: It sure is, and, you know, until recently, when cannabidiol strains, or chemovars, as they should be called, have become available, if there were differences between different kinds of cannabis, as patients have always maintained, it basically all of them were high THC preparations until recently. And so the distinctions between one and another would be due to the terpinoid content, and the kinds of modifications that it would produce in the effects that a person got from the cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I'm an old hippie, been almost 50 years since I began smoking cannabis, and I find it, well perhaps ironic, so many people like the high THC, you know, the more exotic, newer strains, but for me, the Mexican type strains, the, even maybe the lower end strains, seem to affect me, my body, in the way that I anticipate, or I guess, you know, hope to be influenced by cannabis, more than the high, the mental high. What's your thought in that regard, sir?

ETHAN RUSSO: Well, I feel -- I hear the same thing from other people of our vintage, let's say. It's not just a nostalgia for the old time cannabis, but it really was quite different. What has happened is a byproduct of prohibition. It's sort of analogous to what happened with alcohol during alcohol prohibition, in that although there was beer around, because it was a clandestine activity, there was a premium on having the highest potency material, and that was bathtub gin or moonshine, because you'd have the most alcohol and the volume, you had to carry this stuff, and avoid detection.

The same thing has happened in cannabis culture. There has been a premium on high THC, to the exclusion of everything else. And along with that, there've been some other trends that have not necessarily been advantageous to the consumer. What I mean is, modern cannabis strains, particularly in the recreational market, tend to be very heavy on a terpinoid component called mercine, which is very sedating. I call it the couchlock factor in cannabis, and certainly it's a matter of taste. There's some people that like that. It may be the way it helps them relax the best, or it might help with sleep. But, for people who may be used to cannabis as it was a few decades back, more often then there was some low or moderate amount of THC, there was a different blend of terpinoids, and often a person could find a strain that allowed them to treat their symptoms but still function. And that is the real goal in using cannabis medicinally, is to treat the symptoms but not necessarily to get really high.

Obviously, some people want that, and that's an easily achievable goal these days, with the varieties of cannabis available. But things are different than they used to be.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. I find that, you know, there's all these new, I haven't tried them all but I hear about them, there's the dab, and, I don't know, all the various extracts. The golden globes, there's all these new means of extracting the essences from the plant, I suppose. And, I guess what, it's greatest benefit is it allows you to carry a mighty amount in a small package, to get you through your day. Your thought in that regard.

ETHAN RUSSO: Yeah, that's sure true, and again, it's analogous to the bathtub gin. What we've ended up with in dabs is often a preparation that can be 75 percent or more THC. Generally speaking, though, there's some important issues associated with this. There's often close to total loss of the terpinoids from some of these processes, so it's straight THC, which is a problematic drug on its own. It has a very narrow therapeutic index, which is to say that there isn't a broad range between the dose that produces the desired effect and that that produces serious side effects, particularly with dabs and the uninitiated.

We have a lot of instances of panic reactions, or what's called the toxic psychosis, where basically somebody takes a short vacation from reality, but, you know, joking aside, it can be quite serious because it's a terrifying experience for the person and those around them. Fortunately, it's self-limited, it will go away after a few hours and usually responds to reassurance, but some of these people end up in the ER. Or, the other thing that happens, and this can be instantaneous, is somebody who isn't used to it, takes a single hit from a dab, and immediately loses consciousness. What's called orthostatic hypotension, basically their blood pressure drops, the body's natural reaction is to get the head and the heart on the same level and that means that they go horizontal, falling and often hurting themselves in the meantime, and again, there are many ER visits due to that.

I'd make it clear, dabbing is a recreational technique. It really has no place in the medical arena, because what people really need tends to be a low dose that treats their symptoms without the necessity of becoming high. So, I recognize that vape pens and dabbing is very popular, but, usually it's not very applicable to the medical patient.

DEAN BECKER: You know, in a couple of instances, one very specifically I can remember, I was -- I came into a hotel room at one of these conferences and the kids had the rig and the dab going on, and I took a hit, and 40 years of Marlboro was not too my advantage at that moment. I coughed, I damn near puked. An immediate high, and it just felt like too much too soon. Your thought there, sir.

ETHAN RUSSO: Right. Well, again, even an experienced person could have this kind of difficulty, because we're just talking about a huge escalation in dose. Additionally, it has to do with how fast it gets into the system. Inhalation of these vapors, or the smoke, is a very rapid way of getting it into the body, it's just as fast as an intravenous administration. Again, for medical use, more often we're talking about oral dosing, where it's slowly released into the blood and getting into the brain, and you avoid these rapid peaks that lead to the intoxication, and also the side effects. So, again, this is a situation where there are different ways of administering the medicine, the dosing is very important to what happens, and with dabbing, even somebody who is experienced isn't necessarily going to tolerate this sudden rush of high potency material.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, one hit was way too much for me that day.

ETHAN RUSSO: I understand.

DEAN BECKER: I want to ask you, in regards to what I have determined for me in my old age, and as I say, 40 years of Marlboros is not the best thing for you, kids, don't do that. Do not. But, I guess what I'm wanting to say, sir, is that I find that edibles are working quite well for me now. Minor amounts, maybe a couple times a day, just kind of mellows things out for me, it keeps me from my compulsion to think of alcohol, because that was my drug of destruction for decades, and it's, I think, my medical rationale for taking cannabis, and I think there are -- you don't have to have epilepsy, you don't have to have MS, there are many ways in which cannabis can help you get through your day, and to remain healthy. Your thought in that regard.

ETHAN RUSSO: Sure. Well, you know, edibles too can cause trouble. It's a matter of dosing, but, in terms of the contour of the effect, how slowly this happens, it is an advantage for the person who, for whatever reason, chooses to or needs to use cannabis on a regular basis. But, again, for the uninitiated, it may be that one confection bought at the dispensary may be too big a dose. So, people need to be very vigilant in that regard. But, certainly, there's a broad range of reasons that people choose to use cannabis, and merely relaxing and adjusting to life with less stress can be a valid reason for many people in our society.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we've been speaking with Dr. Ethan Russo. We're here at the Patients Out of Time conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Russo, any closing thoughts, a website? What would you like to share with the audience?

ETHAN RUSSO: Well, you know, I just would urge your listeners to get informed as best they can. There's plenty of good information online.

MATTHEW WILHELM: My name is Matthew Wilhelm, the food and beverage manager here at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel. I'm from Bel Air, Maryland, it's about 35 miles northeast of Baltimore. I'm 22 years old, currently a senior at Stratford University, Baltimore Campus, and I've been food and beverage manager for about a month, been at the hotel for about 7 months.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh. Now, you've been aware of this gathering, the Patients Out of Time crowd, that's who gathered here from around the country, and in fact around the world in a few cases, to talk about the benefits of medical marijuana. What has been your observation of these folks and their gathering?

MATTHEW WILHELM: Well, I didn't really, I mean I knew about the group, of course, we'd talk about it as a hotel, but in talking to Jeanne and then talking to some of the doctors, I think what Patients Out of Time is doing is -- I wouldn't say, I mean, it is, it's interesting, it's revolutional for sure, it's kind of -- it has a stigma towards it, marijuana in general. But I think that there's a place for medical marijuana in people that need treatment. I think recreational is kind of on the line, but if it means that you can live your life for the amount of time that you may be either, it could cure whatever you have or it could treat you as you go on through it, I mean, I'm absolutely all for it, so. I'm still learning about what Patients Out of Time does. I think there's a lot of learning you get from doing it for 20 years, so I can't find about it in one weekend, but it's been interesting so far.

DEAN BECKER: Can I share with you my own personal story, and then to get your feedback on it? May Eighth, 1985, I quit drinking alcohol, which was for me very much a drug of destruction, I'll be honest. Since that point in time I've had no trouble with the police, no wrecks, no fights, no nothing. And I smoke about a gram of cannabis every day to kind of substitute, if you will.

MATTHEW WILHELM: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And I consider that a medical use, for my own situation. And I just want you to put that into your formula, and give me a response.

MATTHEW WILHELM: Well, as my mother would say, we're self-diagnosing, but at the same time, if it works for you, I don't see why, you know, why you should turn away from it, considering that alcohol, in my experience, has led to deaths of my friends, drinking and driving. I think it's apples and oranges, when you look at it, I don't think you can compare the two because, you know, medicinal, and even marijuana in general, has never been linked to beating your kids, or driving and getting in accidents. So, I think there's a thin line of, whether too much is too much, but, I mean, that's a conversation for a different story, but I think if you're able to move yourself into a new chapter of your life, then I think that's, I'm all for it. I think that could be the answer, rather than drinking yourself to the end of the bottle, so ...

DEAN BECKER: All around the country, people are starting to speak up about the need to change our marijuana laws and here in Texas, it's no different. Cities around the state are going to be holding rallies and events, many of them on May 7th. Here to talk about one such event that's going to happen in San Antonio, we have Destiny Young, of San Antonio NORML. Destiny, if you will, please, tell us about this event you guys are having in San Antone?

DESTINY YOUNG: Well, we, it's our second annual Global Marijuana March. Our first one for this chapter was last year. We had about three hundred people come out, but we're a very small chapter, so we've done a lot of outreach, and this year we're hoping to at least double that. And we're going to start from one of the most popular parks in San Antonio, go down one of the busiest streets during the busiest time, and hold a party, and a rally, with speakers and music.

Well, you are our keynote speaker. We're also going to have Zoe Russell from RAMP, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. I'll be speaking for NORML, San Antonio NORML, and we'll have Jamie Balagia, he's referred to as the 420 Dude in San Antonio, he's a lawyer there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and, you know, as I said at the beginning, folks around the country are starting to realize that we are the majority. By that, I mean those who want to tax and regulate marijuana. And it's okeh to stand up and speak up, isn't it?

DESTINY YOUNG: Yeah. Yeah, we do, we actually petitioned for this march with a First Amendment angle with the city, because we really want people to feel safe coming out and talking about things that they're passionate about.

DEAN BECKER: It's just time. We own the moral high ground, the medical high ground, the religious high ground, any way you want to look at this cannabis plant, we the people need to stand for our rights. Correct?

DESTINY YOUNG: That's true. We actually also kind of preach the -- educate the high ground, because there's so many people that are in the dark on this because they were just taught a different way, and they haven't heard enough conversation around them for them to switch.

DEAN BECKER: Well, all right. Once again, we're speaking with Destiny Young of San Antonio. Destiny, any closing thoughts you'd like to share, a website?

DESTINY YOUNG: Actually, our facebook is the most active right now, we are still working on the website. Just San Antonio NORML on facebook. And we do have some other events, on there are posted our monthly meetings on the third Thursday, and anybody really wanting to get involved in San Antonio can hit us up, because we do work with other organizations as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's about it for this week. I would urge you listeners to get involved with your local NORML chapter, with your local Law Enforcement Against Prohibition chapter, with those who are working to change these laws. And again, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.

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 dancin' on the edge of an abyss ....