Cultural Baggage July 18, 2010
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!”
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.
Michael Krawitz: Years ago, I wasn’t even allowed to discuss medical marijuana when I would talk to VA officials on the phone. They would cut you off, mid-sentence and say, “No, you can’t talk about marijuana to a federal official” and now for them to say, “Hey, we’re Ok with a veteran using medical marijuana as long as they’re following the rules and they have a doctor’s order outside the VA”.
That really is a remarkable change and I think, it will be seen by many as very symbolic.
Dean Becker: That was Michael Krawitz, Executive Director for Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access. We’ll have more from him and the New York Times in this regard later.
But next, we hear from Len Richmond.
Len Richmond: The reason I am on this show is I made a film called, What if Cannabis Cured Cancer, it’s I think, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m actually a comedy writer. I wrote for the BBC. I lived in England eighteen years and wrote sitcoms.
I did mange to have a bit of a, of kind of a. little mascot that was in every one of my sitcoms. They all smoked marijuana. I had at least one character who smoked marijuana in all my sitsoms. See, I could get away with that in England because they’re kind of much more open to wanting to be a little bit shocked and shook up a little bit.
Dean Becker: Lem, I want to say this. You know America needs their own shaking up, if you will. The truth about the potential uses of marijuana is just spreading all across the country. All kinds of columns and pundits and reports from scientific journals, etc.
Len Richmond: Yes, I know it is. Something is happening.
Dean Becker: Something is happening. We have to find a way to better understand all the potential of medical marijuana. Your movie talks about the various studies that have been undertaken, the studies that have been ignored and the studies that need to be done to better prove the efficacy of this as a medicine.
Len Richmond: Oh my God, yes. I just attended a conference in Toronto. Not actually a conference, it was an expo. It was the Treating Yourself Medical Marijuana Expo.
The Treating Yourself Marijuana Expo showed What if Cannabis Cured Cancer and it was kind of big business there. The companies catering to people wanting growing marijuana, wanting seeds, paraphernalia, just anything, it was enormous.
These companies looked really big. They had salesmen all wearing the same little outfits. It’s like you go to Circuit City or Costco or something. I was quite impressed by that. I was impressed by this underground economy. When it does come out, you realize how incredibly big it is.
One of the things I am going to be toying around with on my next film on cannabis is what would the world be like if everyone was high? How would that change things? Well, I saw what that would be like.
At, the expo we had 30,000 people and as far as I could tell, everybody was high. It was the warmest, most relaxed, just the sweetest atmosphere. One thing I noticed was when you walk by people, whether it was at some of the lectures or films or in the exhibition hall and people would look at you with kind of warm, warm eyes.
You get these kind of like, little smiles in the eyes and everybody would kind of acknowledge everybody. I know that’s kind of partly because we’re outlaws and when we all get together there’s kind of a certain kind of contact we make with each other.
I made friends instantly with people. We’d just sit down and have coffee and talk for hours. Every day I would wake up at the hotel and just couldn’t wait to get down to the exhibition hall and see what adventures the day would bring.
They gave me ten or twelve grams of different marijuana to try for their Cannabis Cup thing. So, I arrived I got this welcome pack with little packets called, A, B, C. They didn’t give you the names of them you just had to vote for A, B or C, for tasting the best, smelling the best, it was like a Cannabis Cup thing.
Well, this stuff was strong, that after three days there I only’d got through, I think, E and G. It confirmed what a wonderful world it would be if everyone was high because I couldn’t wait to get back to the exhibition hall in this warm, friendly atmosphere.
Dean Becker: We are speaking with Len Richmond. He’s producer of a brand new film, What If Cannabis Cured Cancer. Now Len, you were talking about that Treating Yourself Expo, that was in Toronto, correct?
Len Richmond: That’s right.
Dean Becker: The fact of the matter is Toronto, as I best understand it, has a lot of similarities, similar to San Francisco or perhaps even Amsterdam. Your response?
Len Richmond: Oh yeah, it was very open. People were told, actually, they slipped little notes under our doors at the Intercontinental Hotel. So many people were smoking it in their rooms that actually, the hotel slipped these little threatening notes under the door that said, “$250 fine if you’re caught smoking in the room”.
So what people would do, they would just go out on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and there were CLUMPS of smokers. Like ten people here, five people here, twenty people there. The police were there. I don’t remember having any contact police at any point but they certainly saw everybody smoking up front and they couldn’t have cared less.
It felt freer. It felt like smoking dope was – Smoking dope, ha, that kind of ages me doesn’t it – consuming cannabis was kind of part of the college movement because they seem much more conscious of being in touch with the Earth up there. Even in a place like Toronto and it seemed like marijuana kind of fit in with that. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
Dean Becker: Now Len, let’s get to the content of the movie. There were various scientists and doctors, talking about medical marijuana and its potential to cure cancer. Now the fact of the matter is there haven’t been sufficient studies to say, definitely, that it does cure cancer but there are enough indications –
Len Richmond: Pretty damn close.
Dean Becker: – there are enough indications that it would seem to justify a pell-mell investigation and implementation of this for that use, am I correct?
Len Richmond: Actually Dean, I think it’s probably far beyond that. They’ve been investigating this for thirty-five years now. You’d never know it because you don’t hear about any of these things. I had to dig up a lot, there was a study done in 1974, where they were trying to prove that cannabis screwed up your immune system and this was financed by the National Institute on of Drug Abuse.
Well, they found the opposite. They found that, not only did it help your immune system, but it was apparently preventative and somewhat curative for three types of cancer, for leukemia, breast cancer and I think lung cancer. The study was immediately shut down because they weren’t getting the results that they wanted. They were getting the opposite.
We had to dig up this information and it was actually published in the National Journal of Cancer at the time but for some reason – gee, I wonder why – it was never pursued and they just let it die away. The evidence is incredibly strong.
Let me just tell you how I came to this. I made another film before What If Cannabis Cured Cancer called Everything Bad is Good and it was prompted by my mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided she hated doctors. She didn’t trust them. They weren’t going to touch her. She was going to cure herself. So she went on the internet and started investigating everything.
Finding that it may help if she goes on a raw food diet, became a vegan, detoxed herself and tried all of these herbs, particularly from South America. Well, she shrunk her tumor. It took a number of years but she did it. It never grew any larger and she finally shrunk it.
I thought she was nuts. All her kids were, all of us were going, “Mom, get to the doctor. You got to have chemotherapy and radiation. You’re going to die. You can’t do this on your own.” Well, we were wrong and that blew me away and changed my whole attitude toward the medical profession.
I made this film where I tracked down other people who have all been given death sentences by doctors for cancer, who all went to diet and herbs and healed themselves. Now, in the case of that film, they didn’t go to marijuana because nobody knows that marijuana is curative and preventive for cancer, particularly preventative.
So, these people tried other herbs that had anti-cancer effects. Marijuana is not the only one, it just happens to be the most amazing. They all cured themselves and they are all alive. I just decided that I wanted to investigate in this film THE herb cannabis and see its affect it on cancer.
I had no idea that the effects would be as positive as they are. I was very skeptical going in to this. I thought, well you know, I’ve been a stone all my life and wouldn’t it be wonderful? Wouldn’t that be a great thing to throw in the face of the establishment?
Not only is marijuana not harmful for you, you schmucks, you senators dying of brain cancer, you don’t have to be doing that, if you’d only opened you brains to the possibly that this herb could save your life and stop declaring war on the natural aromatic herb.
So, I started interviewing the doctors and finding articles they had done and read up on everything and I started being blown away.
I interviewed Jeffrey Hergenrather first, he’s a doctor in Sebastopol, near San Francisco, who’s actually treating patients with cannabis who have cancer, including brain cancer and he’s having amazing results.
He was the first one, who was willing to be interviewed. There were a lot of doctors who didn’t wan tot be interviewed. They were scared. He was the first brave one that came out. During that interview, he said something that I had never heard before, he said, “Well, if you smoke cannabis or not, you have marijuana in your body. You’re born with it”.
I went, “Huh?”
They’re not even teaching this in medical schools but we have something called the endocannabinoid system. Not only are human being born with it, every mammal, every living creature on this planet outside of crustaceans, insects and of course plants, are born with an endocannabinoid system.
They call it “endocannabinoid” because it so closely resembles the cannabinoids of marijuana. That when you smoke marijuana and you bring the chemicals of marijuana into your body, it hooks up with your endocannabinoid system, which is a series of chemicals and neurotransmitters in your body.
It’s like a key in a lock and they work together. The endocannabinoid system it helps us. It increases appetite. It helps us eat. It helps us sleep. It relaxes us. It helps us forget. People don’t realize, it’s sometimes very important to forget. The memory loss when you smoke marijuana actually has a useful purpose, it keeps you in the moment and it protects.
It’s anti-tumor. It’s a tumor regulator. It’s a mood regulator. It can make you euphoric or if the endocannabinoids are blocked it can make you depressed. When you smoke marijuana it stimulates you endocannabinoid system and all the benefits, that you have, that are built in to your body, are made stronger.
One of the things that Robert Melamine came up with as this lecture at the Treating Yourself Expo, which I found fascinating. He said the world is divided into two kinds of people: the endocannabinoid deprived and endocannabinoid endowed.
He says certain people do not have endocannabinoids in their body and they tend to have more heart problems because endocannabinoids protect your heart, this is possibly because they are born with not enough endocannabinoids or they don’t get enough endocannabinoids from mother’s milk because, that’s one of the ways we get endocannabinoids is through breast-feeding.
Then there’s the endocannabinoid endowed and they have a lot of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoids are also anti-aging agents. So, we tend to look younger. We tend to be healthier and we tend to smoke a lot of cannabis. I know this is just pissing off the government. This is just not the information they want out there.
This information that I have accumulated for What If Cannabis Cured Cancer. By the way, I do want to say that it’s now available. You can get it on Amazon and you can go to my website, lenrichmondfilms.com. I’m feeling quite militant about getting the secret out.
Dean Becker: Well, Len, let me throw this at you. This past week, we have one hour on the local access channel and I aired a couple of clips out of What If Cannabis Cured Cancer and we got great response from the viewers and a few calls and e-mails later, talking about how powerful this was.
It’s the best explanation I have seen thus far. It has the words of perhaps a dozen doctors, scientists and other experts in this field and it’s been recognized, just in the past few days or so by Dr. Andrew Weil.
Len Richmond: I wanted to get some quotes for the cover of the film because I needed to legitimize this. Everybody, you know, people are so skeptical. I dare not call the film “Cannabis Cures Cancer” in spite of the fact that I truly believe it does because the government would come after me.
I managed to get the film to Andrew Weil through some wonderful people at Patients Out of Time who knew him. He finally looked at the film and he kind of flipped over it. He said, “Oh my God. I didn’t know this information” and coming from someone like Andrew Weil who is so big into alternative medicine. This was an education for him. He said, “Doctors just don’t know this.” So on his website today, he has a question:
“Marijuana for cancer? I know that marijuana can help with nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy but recently I’ve heard about the use of marijuana to treat cancer. Is that true?”
And his answer is: “You’re quite right! Exciting new research suggests that the cannabinoids found in marijuana may have a primary role in cancer treatment and prevention.”
This is huge for Dr. Andrew Weil to come out and actually commit himself to say this. It presents compelling evidence that our current policy in cannabis is counter productive and foolish.
What I want – my boyfriend works at UCLA and deals with doctors there a lot and they are not the smartest people. I hate to say it. They’re people who can memorize things and get a lot of free treats from pharmaceutical companies and do as they’re told.
I still want to stand in front of the medical department of UCLA and when the students come out, I want to give them a free copy of my movie. Getting it into the hands of the people who are going to be the future.
They’re not teaching students at medical universities now that we have endocannabinoid system. It’s been about fifteen years now since the medical evidence has been open overwhelmingly about our endocannabinoid system. The medical schools are not teaching this, so they don’t know don’t know the affects that marijuana have on the body in positive ways.
At the conference they’re talking about it as a treatment, not only for diabetes, glaucoma and all the other things you’ve already heard about but the vets coming back for Iraq, how effective marijuana is in easing the psychological pain and in treating alcoholics.
I know AA says. “Oh, you can’t do marijuana. It’s just another illegal drug” and stuff but they were presenting evidence at the conference that it was an effective treatment for alcoholism. It can keep you away from alcohol because it calms you down.
Dean Becker: Well, let me just throw my two cents into that. On May 8th of this year, I celebrated 25 years without a drink of alcohol and I owe that longevity to the use of medical marijuana.
It’s a forgone conclusion. The government would much prefer me to be out drinking and driving and causing accidents and getting into fights and all the things I used to do, until I quit using alcohol.
We’ve got just a couple of minutes left. I want to turn it over to you to once again, tell folks where they can access this movie.
Len Richmond: If you go to the website lenrichmond.com, youll see lots of information on What is Cannabis Cured Cancer as well as my earlier films and Everything Bad Is Good which deals with herbs that can treat you successfully when you have cancer. It’s on Amazon. When you go on my website, you can see the trailer.
It’s information that I think will change your life. It certainly has changed mine. Now, instead of reaching for pharmaceutical drugs, now my first thought is, “Hmmm. Is this an ailment that marijuana could help with?” and I do what to say one thing about that. It isn’t just a matter of smoking a joint, although it certainly helps.
But if you’re treating a serious disease, like cancer, that’s life threatening, you have to get massive amounts. I hope we have time for this, because one of the things brought up at the conference was fascinating.
Not everybody can tolerate being stoned all day long, every day. Particularly if you’re doing something like hash oil which is highly concentrated. The chemicals are highly concentrated and can actually do your health a lot of good, in treating cancer. But you’re going to be really screwed up all day long. It’s fine with me, I’m a writer. I can handle it but not everyone can do that.
They’re recommending now, eating the whole raw plant and putting it in a smoothie. You have to heat up the plant to bring out the psychoactive chemicals but you don’t have to heat up the plant to have the chemicals that will be treating cancer and other ailments in the raw leaf.
So people who don’t wan to get stoned all the time, they might consider just making smoothies, apparently it tastes terrible but making smoothies or juicing the raw leaf and getting the benefits without the psychoactive effect.
Cannabis came to us from somewhere or something. I don’t know. It seems almost magical to me. It’s a drug that can heal mentally and psychically and spiritually and I know of nothing else on the planet like that.
So, if you want to check out my movie, What is Cannabis Cured Cancer, I think it may change your life. I changed mine.
(game show music)
It’s time to play, Name that Drug by its Side Effects.
Nausea, photophobia, phonophobia, gastrointestinal events including bleeding, ulcers, perforation of the stomach or intestines, thrombosis, myocardial infarctions, stoke, cerebral hemorrhage and death.
Time’s up. The answer from Glaxo Smith Kline: Treximet, for migraine headaches.
The following comes to us, courtesy of The New York Times:
“The Department of Veteran Affairs will formally allow patients treated at hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.”
“A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states”.
Here they are quoting one Michael Krawitz: “By creating a directive on medical marijuana, the V.A. ensures that throughout its vast hospital network, it will be well understood that legal medical marijuana use will not be the basis for the denial of services.”
This is Michael Krawitz:
Michael Krawitz: Executive Director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access. The VA has finally weighed in on medical marijuana. They have released to me a statement that, as they say, clarifies a policy that already exists. Although, no one really has had access to it, up until now.
The policy basically is that a veteran who uses medical marijuana, legally by state law, even if they are getting some sort of treatment at the VA, which may be a controlled substance, like a pain treatment. If they were to be drug tested at the VA as part of that treatment, they would not have their pain treatment taken away if they tested positive for using marijuana.
The use of marijuana that’s legal by state law would be acceptable to the VA in that circumstance.
Dean Becker: What this means is that there are hundreds of thousands of people utilizing veterans administration for all kinds of maladies, including now tens of thousands of our brave men and women who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for our Iraq and Afghani wars. It’s a massive change for a lot of people, right?
Michael Krawitz: Well, like I said, the VA is trying to say that this has been the policy all along but for most people it’s going to seem like a very new change. Indeed, there is no record of any written policy up until now, despite what the VA is saying.
Dean Becker: Well, has this been a case of just individuals, individual doctors, individual hospitals developing their own, if you will, drug warrior stance in this regard?
Michael Krawitz: In a way, but I think it’s more systematic than that. What I think has happened is there is a lot of wishful thinking at the top but nothing really written down. So what did come out of the top levels of the VA over the last ten years, let’s say have been a lot of memos and directives dealing with illegal drugs.
Just loosely mentioning marijuana without ever sending a memo through clarifying how they should treat a legal medical marijuana patent therefore leading or misleading doctors into believing that there was no policy and implying that they should treat marijuana users in the same callous way that they would treat a crack user or a crystal methamphetamine user, etc.
Dean Becker: Well, Michael, here’s hoping that the exposure that comes from this will bring a little more common sense in their future evaluations as well, not just in the VA but the whole medical community. What’s your thought?
Michael Krawitz: Absolutely, I think this lays to rest a common misunderstanding amongst doctors. That is doctors have been lead to misunderstand that a patient who is using pain treatments should be cut of from paint treatment if they were to be seen using medical marijuana.
In other words, doctors felt like it was somehow against the rules or against the law for them to prescribe some sort of controlled substance if they know that patent is also using legal medical marijuana.
I think this letter lays that to rest. There is no federal policy. There is no federal rule. There is no federal law that would require a doctor to mistreat a patient in that way. There just isn’t and probably never will be.
Dean Becker: Alright, Michael, if you would please, share your website.
Michael Krawitz: The website for Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access is veternsformedicalmarijuana.org
Dean Becker: Next, we hear from Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. As I understand it, the Drug Czar and many of his minions tour the country talking about the overwhelming number of emergency room visits from those using marijuana. Your response on that, please?
Paul Armentano: Well, there’s a study, that was just published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, investigators in the study, really for the first time looked at a national sampling of individuals who go to emergency departments.
They evaluated how often these individuals who seek emergency treatment services have either used certain illicit substances over the course of their lifetime or have used illicit substances in the hours or days prior to seeking emergency room treatment. They really wanted to test this long held prohibitionist myth, that claims that drug use and marijuana use in particular is driving people to seek emergency room treatment.
So they evaluated a report that already exists, tracking this data in over 43,000 people nationally and when they evaluated this data and assessed these people’s rates of illicit drug use. What they found was that marijuana use and people that used marijuana over the course of their lives, very rarely actually went to the emergency room to seek treatment for some adverse result of the marijuana use.
In fact out of all the substances that were studied, people who use marijuana had the lowest prevalence of seeking emergency room treatment services. I believe it was under 2% of the individuals who had any sort of lifetime use of marijuana and reported seeking emergency room treatment because they believed to be suffering from adverse reactions to marijuana. In most cases the adverse reaction would, of course, be a panic attack and these people would simply stay in the emergency room for a couple of hours until the effects of the drug wore off and then they would go home.
Obviously, there are potential risk factors. Yet, this is arguably a reason why marijuana ought to be legalized and regulated. We don’t regulate alcohol, for instance because alcohol is harmless.
It’s just the opposite, we regulate it and impose age restrictions because we recognize that that it can temporarily alter behavior and have the potential for harm. That same principal applies to marijuana, even though we’re all aware that marijuana does not poses anywhere near the potential harms or risks of alcohol.
Dean Becker: Well, that’s about all we have time for. Please turn in to the Century of Lies program, which follows next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations.
Our guest will be Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow - Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. We’ll also here from Mason Tvert for Safer Choice and his daring to dare DARE.
As always as I remind you once again 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.
Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.
Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.