Text of Dr. Mitch Earleywine Interview on NPR 

Text of Dr. Mitch Earleywine Interview on NPR 
Posted by CN Staff on November 10, 2002 at 19:46:48 PT
Hosted By Liane Hansen
Source: National Public Radio 
Liane Hansen…  In the election this past Tuesday a number of Marijuana law reform measures were on the ballots, all were defeated. Federal Drug Czar John Walters called it, "A stunning victory of common sense over pro drug propaganda." "While I am up to the challenge," responded Robert Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project, "I say we fight." Marijuana has been a hot button political issue for a while, and a lot of rhetorical smoke continues to be blown by both sides of the debate. 
Dr. Mitch Earleywine has taken the analytical approach. In his new book Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence he examines all the available research. His conclusion, is that the drug is more complex than the Eco-friendly miracle substance the hemp advocates claim or the dreaded evil weed of the prohibitionists. Its history goes back thousands of years and Dr. Earleywine says that the way that its been used hasn't changed all that much over time.Dr. Earleywine…  It all started in 2737 BC when the drug was used more, uh taken orally rather than smoked but at least in the last few hundred years people have been smoking cannabis very much in the same ways they do it now. However, some of the new harm reduction techniques have developed in order to avoid lung damage. Such as using a vaporizer and things like that, have changed the way people smoke cannabis just in the last few years. And these are sort-of gizmos, if you will, that will heat up cannabis in a way that it doesn't actually smoke but it will provide canabinoids in a vapor and will allow people to get the drugs effects without exposing them to dangerous tars and carcinogens.Liane Hansen…  The subtitle of your book is A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. First of all, what is that new look? Did you look at new studies that have been done new evidence or are you taking a fresh look at older studies?Dr. Earleywine…  I looked at everything all the way from the 1600's up to 2002. And to tell the truth there were a few new things that have come out particularly things that were counter to what we all may have learned in health class in junior high. Things like marijuana's impact on aggression, which seems to be non-existent. The idea that marijuana causes A-motivational Syndrome, which the data also doesn't support.Liane Hansen…  What is A-motivational Syndrome?Dr. Earleywine…  A-motivational Syndrome was this notion that you would somehow smoke cannabis and suddenly not want to do anything for society not want to contribute not want to hold a job and be incapable of setting goals and obtaining them. In both education and in occupational domains the data just don't seem to support this. For example, college students who smoke cannabis get grades that are comparable to college students who do not. Cannabis users seem to earn as much money and pay the same amount of taxes. Those sorts of things all seem to kind of defy the idea of A-motivational Syndrome. Liane Hansen…  One of the other arguments put forth is the fact that for decades that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder substances, cocaine, heroin, even some of the designer drugs that are around now. What's your take on that? Dr. Earleywine…  I grew up learning the exact same thing and I looked very carefully at those data and devoted a whole chapter to that issue. And as it turns out, 76 million Americans have tried marijuana but we have fewer than say 6 million Americans addicted to drugs like heroin. So it doesn't seem to be much of a gateway under those circumstances. In addition, your chances of tying a drug like heroin if you have tried marijuana are less than 1 in 300. So it doesn't seem to fit the notion that using cannabis suddenly turns you into some kind of ravenous craver of other drugs. Some of the recent work in an effort to prevent "drug" problems has kind of backfired because we're teaching our children that marijuana is a gateway drug then in fact it is counter to their experiences and the experiences of their peers. And then they don't believe anything else we say. So if I go into a class and say hey, "Marijuana is going to make you do heroin." Well they all know marijuana users who don't use heroin and then every single thing that comes out of my mouth after that they are not even going to listen too. And so I feel like in some ways the gateway, the aggression, the impact on motivation as we try to keep battling about these things we are loosing our credibility with our youth. And then when I have to talk about a drug that really is dangerous like MDMA they don't pay attention to me and they don't listen. Liane Hansen…  MDMA is Ecstasy? Dr. Earleywine…  MDMA is Ecstasy correct. Liane Hansen…  What about the idea that marijuana affects thought and memory? The old joke is if you remember the 60's, well you weren't there, It's been a point of disagreement. The evidence that you have looked at what does that indicate?Dr. Earleywine…  During intoxication, while people are high, essentially there are definitely some deficits in short memory. So it is very difficult to learn new skills or to memorize material during intoxication. Generally though, long term users, even daily users don't show meaningful deficits in memory when they are not intoxicated. So we might find studies that show list learning tasks where people have to learn long lists of words. And cannabis users might do slightly worse than non-users if they are daily users for two years or more. But often the difference is say, half a word on average or one word on a long list.Liane Hansen…  You are on the Psychology faculty at the University of Southern California. You focus on personality and addictive behaviors and you are considered an expert on alcohol abuse. Is it possible, I mean it has been done but do you compare marijuana and alcohol use?Dr. Earleywine…  As it turns out alcohol has a lot more negative consequences than cannabis. So alcohol's impact on aggression is markedly worse, alcohol's impact on driving is markedly worse, alcohol's impact on brain function with daily use over time is markedly worse. So in many ways I have to conclude that alcohol is a drug that makes more people suffer more than marijuana does.Liane Hansen…  What do you consider the health risks then concerned with the use of marijuana?Dr. Earleywine…  The biggest health risk associated with cannabis use right now just all has to do with lung function and although there aren't any documented cases of lung cancer in people who have smoked cannabis and only cannabis not cigarettes. There do seem to be some small changes in the lungs of people who smoke long term say twenty years or more that suggest they might be at risk for developing lung cancer.Liane Hansen…  Much of the attention has been devoted to the medical use of marijuana particularly the political attention. Are there recent medical developments?Dr. Earleywine…  There are some superb research medical developments all supporting the idea that marijuana can help people who need to gain weight because of illnesses like cancer or HIV related wasting. I think the work on Multiple Sclerosis is extremely promising but again we only have a small number of cases. I am very optimistic about that work. The work on cannabis's impact on migraine headaches seems extremely promising so that people can intervene early on when they first experience some of the symptoms of migraine and seem to cut off a migraine completely. The work on glaucoma is not as promising not because marijuana doesn't seem to work it's just that there other drugs that seem to work better.Liane Hansen…  Marijuana has always been dangerous political terrain for decades. How effective do you think the current drug laws that deal with marijuana use are?Dr. Earleywine…  My apprehension about the current drug laws is that essentially by lumping marijuana in with the harder drugs, we connect them in the underground market. So people who go to someone to purchase cannabis end up getting exposed to drugs with more negative consequences like Ecstasy, like cocaine, like heroin. Whereas, if marijuana was separated from that, was decriminalized, or legalized or in another domain, suddenly people would be able to purchase this drug in a setting where perhaps, it wouldn't be connected to these harder drugs and they would be much less likely to be exposed to them.Liane Hansen…  Do you think that decriminalization is a good thing, a bad thing, or a little of both?Dr. Earleywine…  I think it is going to save law enforcement tons and tons of time money and effort. Right now in Australia two territories have essentially decriminalized. And the law enforcement officers really like this because they don't waste half a day taking somebody down to the court, getting them fingerprinted, getting them booked, getting them completes arrested only to find out later that the prosecuting attorney has decided that it is not worth prosecuting. Instead they whip out a ticket, take the cannabis and they are on their way.Liane Hansen…  What do you make of the recent commercials that connect the idea of buying a dime bag of marijuana to the killing of a young girl in Latin America?Dr. Earleywine…  Well I am looking forward to the commercials that equate gassing up your SUV to supporting Middle Eastern countries that harbor terrorism. The logic just doesn't follow as far as I am concerned. A lot of cannabis is grown here domestically so I think that clearly disputes the idea that somehow buying cannabis here is going to have an impact on any other nation. It is very much comparable to how things were handled in alcohol prohibition. So slowly but surely people will start to think about what is the cost to have these drug policies the way they are and what are the potential benefits of changing them. Lets make small steps and try each new policy and see how it turns out.Liane Hansen…  Closing comments plugging the book. Complete Title: Text of Dr. Mitch Earleywine Interview on NPR - Understand MarijuanaTranscribed by PatrickSource: National Public Radio (US)Host: Liane HansenPublished: November 10, 2002Copyright: 2002 National Public RadioWebsite: Marijuana - Mitch Earleywine Cannabis Archives
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Comment #4 posted by DdC on November 11, 2002 at 04:03:07 PT
Smoking in India and China...Any problems?
Smoking in India and China...Any problems?The thousands of years of toking a hookah full of opium?Or ganja toked in chiloms by millions?Organic tobacco by Native Americans, Turk's and Egyptians?Is cannabis an expectorant?Does it open small vessels in the lungs as it does the brain?Are 400,000 chemical cigarette smokers dying needlessly each year by not mixing the deadly toxins added to the commercial brand cigarettes, with ganja?Are thousands dying from Asthma when ganja is the only known remedy to stop a full blown attack?Are people not treated for brain tumors because no research has been released on ganja reducing their size since it was censored in 74?Are x presidents not treated for Altzheimers do to the side effects of Nancy Saying NO!Are Parkinson patients and MS spasms forced on barbiturates and toxic addictions to save the children?Are cancer patients dying for the Gipper, for the sake of the terrorwar on Americans using ganja?Does the Church still practice medicine, perpetuating the war on ganja?Do the politicians spend a lot of time looking for a medicinal use of ganja? None? None ever found by the Supremes and their staff? The entire Congress never got curious? or No One? Not the I.O.M. or Doctors? Not one? The Senate just sits there along with the Executives in the Long Branch. None found? Has ganja ever been found to inter-react with other Pharmaceuticals? Does alcohol?Has ganja ever killed by overdose? Has aspirin? Alcohol? Pharmaceuticals? Pesticides? Herbicides? Nuclear radiation? Crude Oil? Meat or Milk?
***$$$***No Medical Value***$$$***
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Comment #3 posted by DdC on November 10, 2002 at 23:17:41 PT
Isn't it nice when Science finally catches up! ¶8)
I'll overlook the "smoking" crack for the SUV tradeoff. I believe they're still comparing chemical cigarettes and not giving credit to the expectorant properties or the opening of the smaller airways using ganja. "We still don't have a victim" Duh! But hey at least this guy ain't plucking chicken feathers and tossing them into the wind for answers like science fiction does. Andy Weil and the Costa Ricans decided long ago A-Motivation was a cause of heavy toking not caused by heavy toking. Lazy people like to get stoned, Really? Duh again! The easy stepping stone besides the 80 million tried and didn't know they were addicted or that they should have stepped onto hardrugs. Is that hardrugs are only 150 years old while ganja was toked before Jesus. How did they step onto what wasn't invented. The same analysis could prove ganja leads to stolen aouto parts. Except most ganja growers and dealers don't steal. Reality is coming round...Totally blew every crack from the cop/stop fascist protecting the rackets in Nevada. But basically says whats been said over and over since the Indian Hemp Commission. No its not addictive, no its not a stepping stone, no its not worse than tobacco or alcohol. And yes you do have to choose the proper time to toke. But if you don't its not the end of the world. By letting ganja go we automatically free the hemp and medicinal. Even if we pass a medicinal bill, hemp won't be legal. Hemp can protect our health more than ganja replacing the deadly fossil fools and chemicals and sawdust food. Good article though. They're learning at least...DdCCosta Rica Says...
Cannabis is safe...
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 10, 2002 at 21:45:59 PT
Sample Chapter in PDF Format
Understanding Marijuana -- A New Look at the Scientific EvidenceSample Chapter:
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Comment #1 posted by CorvallisEric on November 10, 2002 at 21:29:55 PT
Sudden spike in book's popularity? Sales Rank: 178 (a couple minutes before posting this)If you happen to search for him on Amazon, use only his last name, since they can't seem to tell Mitch from Mitchell.I wasn't feeling too well this morning but hearing this fixed me in record time. The SUV comment sent my spirit through the roof.
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