National and Global Health Challenges: The Drug Abuse Problem
An Extraordinary Video Exchange on the Topic of Addiction Between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute of Drug Abuse
Significant insights can be gleaned from this discussion of the ways in which drug use and addiction affect the functioning of the brain and decision-making. As both Dr. Volkow and the Dalai Lama acknowledge, the person caught up in drug-taking behavior surrenders his or her “agency”, and his or her initiative and willpower along with his or her judgment and ability to make sound judgments. Dr. Volkow and the Dalai Lama also talk about ways of undoing and reversing addiction. This can be done by ceasing the use of drugs and reconnecting the decision-making part of the brain with the rest of the brain. Brain scans of what a healthy functioning brain is like are also presented during the videotaped exchange.
The effect of participating in healthy activities, such as serving others and showing concern for others, and engaging in meaningful activity can reconnect the disconnected parts of the brain. When an addicted individual is able to begin to overcome his or her addiction, the brain begins to show a return to a healthy functioning state. Of course, there will be some who have done irreparable damage to the functioning of the brain and their mental health, these individuals may not be able to fully recover.
See https://media.dalailama.com/2013-10-28-MindandLifeXXVII/2013-10-30-MindandLifeXXVII-english-video-day3-am-hq.mp4 for the video which takes place on the morning of Day 3 of the workshop on addiction.
For related information on the spiritual harm of marijuana and psychedelics, click below.
Keys to a Drug-Free Society
Drug abuse prevention, education and early intervention are the keys to a drug-free society. Are you aware of the fact that the societal costs of legalizing marijuana are so great, that no amount of tax revenues could offset those costs? Indeed, taxing marijuana only ensures that cartels and black marketers will have a continuing advantage over "legally" dispensed marijuana. It is easy for them to undercut the prices and even sell everything from cocaine to meth to heroin at lower prices than "legal" dispensaries.
Are you unaware of the fact that marijuana use impairs both semen and eggs? The effects on the endocrine and reproductive systems are significant, so much so that the progeny of users, male and/or female users, have lower birth weights and shorter gestation periods than those infants whose parents were not marijuana users. Chromosomal damage has been known for decades. See the 1984 NIDA Monograph on Marijuana and Its Effects on the Endocrine and Reproductive Systems. See https://archives.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/monograph44.pdf.
Also see research published by Dr. Stuart Reece on Marijuana Use and Arteriopathy, Teratogenicity, and Genotoxicity.
A BRIEF MESSAGE TO ALL THOSE IN ROLES OF PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY
It is extremely important for all those in positions of public responsibility to study the research literature and relevant studies and journalistic accounts of the devastating consequences that the use of marijuana is having on society. Great efforts need now to be directed to helping all listening understand the effects of marijuana and the way in which its use and legalization have fueled the opioid and fentanyl crisis. Education, information, understanding, early intervention, counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation are all needed now.
Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.
September 7, 2023
December 5, 2014 Presentation by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. at the Dupont Summit in Washington, D.C.
Marijuana Legalization: A Man-Made Public Health Disaster Currently Unfolding in Two States in the U.S.
An Excerpt from the October 30, 2014 Testimony by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. on the
“Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” before Joint Committees of the Council of the District of Columbia:
Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Committee on Finance and Revenue
“Many feel that those in lower socioeconomic groups have been unjustly targeted even with the minimal penalties that now exist with decriminalization in D.C. There is a very easy way to remedy this. What you need to do is simply follow the lead of other jurisdictions throughout the country that provide drug court services and others in place of incarceration and in lieu of prosecution approaches to dealing with drug use. For instance, in Maryland, users are being given the option of going into counseling, treatment, or rehab, thereby avoiding penalties, avoiding adjudication, and avoiding a record. Simple. Please rescind efforts to legalize marijuana and try to help those caught up in drug-taking. Please help the rising generation to grow into drug-free adults who have not diminished their willpower, motivation, their intellect, and who have not impaired their mental and physical well-being. How can we hope to maintain a free and thriving society, and how can we hope to maintain a viable representative democracy dependent on an educated citizenry, if you take unconstitutional steps, that in effect, spread the use of the last thing any sane society needs and underdeveloped societies are currently shunning: an instantaneous intoxicant with psychoactive properties that so deleteriously affect the weakest, the youngest, and the oldest in our community while impacting the economy through the loss of productivity and loss of viable tourism trade? Please do not continue to follow this path that will turn a beautiful historic treasure of a city that should honor the legacy of the Founders of the nation and the nation’s heroes and great leaders into a Denver or an Amsterdam and contribute to the problems of its youth and its elderly, its mentally ill, its developmentally disabled, its homeless population, its unemployed, its underserved, its former users, its current users, its naïve experimenters, and so many others who are being and will be immediately harmed by the spread of the use of marijuana.”
November 3, 2014 Presentation by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. for
The George Washington University Seminar on Reflexive Systems: Viewing Marijuana Use and Policy from a Public Health Perspective
The Illegality of Legalizing Marijuana Use: An Open Plea to the President and All Other Sworn Federal, State, and Local Public Officials Concerning Marijuana Policies and Laws in the United States:
What Part of “I swear to take Care that Laws be faithfully executed” or “I swear to support and defend the Constitution” Do You Not Understand?
by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. , August 4, 2014
2014-08-04-The Illegality of Legalizing Marijuana Use.docx
Initially published by Family Security Matters.
Some Comments and Questions for Proponents of Marijuana Legalization by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. May 30, 2014
There is a public policy approach that can be taken to address the use and abuse of intoxicants and psychoactive substances, including marijuana, an approach that does not involve incarceration or a permanent record in the criminal justice system. The public policy approach can be taken in a way that advances the health of individuals and the public health of the nation. Undertaking such a public health approach can make it totally unnecessary and counterproductive to legalize marijuana. Individuals who are intoxicated as a result of using psychoactive substances and who are apprehended for public intoxication or driving under the influence can be remanded through the court system to “in lieu of prosecution” programs, including drug court-type programs. Such programs focus on education and information, and on counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation where needed. With the completion of such programs, records can be expunged. Numerous such approaches and policies are already in place in the U.S. and elsewhere.
As is evident from the experiments in Washington and Colorado, legalization contributes to the spreading use of marijuana among all age groups. Legalization has also increased the lucrative nature of the illicit sales trade since it is easy for those selling marijuana outside of the legal distribution system to undercut the prices of the legal distributors.
There has been testimony from illicit sellers to this effect. There has been an increase in DUIs and fatalities involving marijuana use since marijuana was legalized in two states.
- Do you think that it is possible to drive safely with any amount of marijuana in one’s system?
- Are you aware that increasing numbers of individuals of all ages have begun using marijuana as a result of the changes in the laws in Washington and Colorado? Are you aware of the increased demand for treatment by those using marijuana?
- Are you aware of the public health consequences of this and of the fact that no amount of tax revenue could possibly offset the public health consequences and costs to society?
- Are you aware that the use of marijuana has increased in adjacent states?
- Are you aware that THC has been shown to have idiosyncratic psychotomimetic effects in human subjects?
- Do you know about the research, including brain scans, showing anomalies in the brains of casual users? (April 16, 2014, Journal of Neuroscience posted at http://jn.sfn.org/press/April-16-2014-Issue/zns01614005529.pdf)?
- Do you know about the complementary research findings, that have also included brain scans of users, and that have been reported on over the past few years? These research findings show that marijuana affects the development and functioning of the brain and that the use of marijuana lowers the IQs of users whose brains are still developing. The brain is considered by many to be developing in individuals who are 25 years of age or younger. There are those in the scientific community who would put the age of the completion of brain development between 35 and 50. The age that one must be to purchase marijuana in Colorado is 21.
- Did you know that individuals who were high on marijuana have been involved in crimes of violence and in major accidents that have resulted in multiple deaths? Christopher Darden, attorney for the prosecution, is on record as having said that O.J. Simpson had marijuana in his system at the time of the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. There has also been a recent murder in Colorado involving an individual who was high on marijuana.
- Are you aware that a percentage of those using marijuana become addicted to it?
- Are you aware that smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco are both carcinogenic and impair the heart and respiratory system? Are you aware that there are recently reported cases of those using marijuana who have died of heart-related causes?
- Do you think that legislators or the public had any idea that they would be legalizing marijuana that could have a THC content of 85% or more? Are you aware of the much higher THC in today’s marijuana in contrast with the marijuana that was used prior to the ‘80s and the ‘90s?
- Do you foresee the involvement of the FDA in regulating the advertising claims made by marijuana distributors to recreational users? For instance, see the warnings included in the information provided by a distributor in Colorado of paranoia as a possible negative result of using a product that has a 17% THC content. (See http://eufloracolorado.com/Menu/jack-herer/). The same distributor is promoting medicinal uses for almost all of the products being offered to all of the customers of the business.
- Do you foresee lawsuits being brought on behalf of those harmed by marijuana use that would likely equal if not rival the lawsuits that were brought on behalf of those smokers harmed by tobacco? Do you think that such lawsuits would be likely to have an effect on the marijuana industry, “Big Marijuana”, that would be similar to the effect that lawsuits have had on “Big Tobacco”?
- Are you aware of the effect that marijuana smoke can have on innocent bystanders and on non-using family members of all ages? Are you aware of the civil liberties implications this has for bystanders, especially former users, the mentally ill, individuals who are infirm, and sensitive individuals and children?
- Are you aware that there is no way to extrapolate to the U.S. the experience that Portugal, a small predominantly Catholic country of around 10.6 million people, has had with its unique multidisciplinary assessment and rehabilitation of those engaged in drug-taking behavior? The closest thing to it in this country would be the remanding of users to drug court programs or other “in lieu of prosecution” approaches involving education, treatment, and rehabilitation. There is no comparison between what Portugal is doing and what is happening at the present time in Colorado.
- Are you aware of the voluminous research that exists on the full range of harmful mental and physical effects of marijuana? See the various lists of references in the articles and reports and lists of references posted on http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com. Especially see the “Open Letter to Those Who Believe that Marijuana Use is Harmless or Relatively Harmless to Themselves and Those in Their Surround”.
“Before Maryland Legalizes Marijuana It Should Consider This: Pot is Linked to Psychosis”
Op-ed by Christine L. Miller, Ph.D. (Excerpts)
APRIL 18, 2019, Baltimore Sun
As Maryland legislators appointed to the “Cannabis Workgroup” begin their study of the pros and cons of marijuana legalization, they should pay particular attention to the mental health risks of this drug. Unfortunately, they may not have heard much about the epidemiology of psychosis associated with marijuana use, since relevant U.S. expertise lags behind Western Europe, Canada, and a couple of countries in the southern hemisphere.
Epidemiological studies are observational, not interventional, so our slow entry into the field has nothing to do with the illegal status of marijuana. Instead, I would point to our lack of centralized health care, which would otherwise facilitate the collection of data on large populations — data pertaining to health status, history of health-related habits, and key demographics. Another factor is how biomedical research here is tightly coupled to the pharmaceutical industry, a sector less interested in environmental factors that cause disease than in developing blockbuster drugs.
From the perspective of many of us who have researched the causes of psychosis in the laboratory or in clinical settings, the book by journalist Alex Berenson Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence provides an important wake-up call for America. The former New York Times business reporter wrote it after his psychiatrist's wife suggested he learn more about the topic. But it’s a lone voice of caution on the national stage. While Medical associations in the U.S. have issued position papers citing the harms of marijuana, these documents are largely buried in their websites out of view.
Here’s what you should know: Researchers looking for a dose-response correlation found that the heavier the marijuana use, and the more potent the product, the more likely a psychotic outcome like schizophrenia. Daily use of potencies considered moderate by current U.S. standards increases risk 4- to 5-fold.......
The causal link between marijuana use and the development of psychosis is quite simply the most well-replicated, high-impact finding in schizophrenia research today. Given current use rates and the strong potency of the drug available, marijuana use it stands to be responsible for a larger proportion of schizophrenia cases than any other established factor. Who may be at risk cannot be reliably predicted? The time is long overdue for the surgeon general and American neuroscientists and psychiatrists, along with their universities and professional societies, to inform the public and for journalists to pay heed.
About the author: Christine L. Miller, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a neuroscientist and author of The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Statement on The End of Drug Abuse
The tidal wave of drug abuse and its aftermath will eventually end. The end to the scourge will come when more and more thoughtful, feeling human beings come forward, contribute to a critical mass of public wisdom and opinion, and effectively turn the tide. Many individuals have allowed themselves to be blinded to current realities. Many have allowed themselves to be conned and dehumanized. Some have succumbed to sheer greed, not caring or oblivious to human and societal costs. When they become aware of what is going on, they will no longer give in to groupthink, social pressure, and denial. There is then a hope that human values will overtake the magical thinking and ignorance of proponents and users and that the materialistic values of those who are promoting the societally destructive efforts of “Big Marijuana” will give way to reason and human values. The challenge is to help coalesce the efforts of two forces: those who at their core realize what devastation this enchantment with altered states of mind has wrought and those who are not enticed by the promise of material gain and who are neither uncaring nor in denial concerning the cost of the destruction of all human and societal values, potentials, and goals. Not only is the mental health of millions of human beings at stake, the very gene pool is in jeopardy.
A Message to Local, State, and Federal Officials Who Do Not As Yet Understand that Marijuana is Harmful Mentally and Physically and Who Support Its Legalization, Use, and Commercialization
Today’s marijuana is exponentially higher in its THC content than the marijuana of preceding decades. Many of the results of older research studies have been “cherry-picked by proponents of marijuana use and have in effect served to propagandize impressionable individuals who have not read, studied, or understood the research concerning the full extent of the harmful effects of marijuana.
Today’s users are sadly more “out of it” than stoners and users of decades ago. For instance, they cannot begin to answer a variant of the question that I would ask you:
What would it take for you to decide not to use marijuana or not to promote or support its use?
Indeed, I asked that question of hundreds of users who were standing in line to pick up free seeds in Washington, DC in March of 2015. Those who deigned to answer showed they had ceased to use any reason concerning their decision to use. They also revealed that they knew nothing of the tens of thousands of studies in the refereed journal literature. To me, the Harris-Isbell study is the most decisive. Isbell and his associates established in 1967 (Psychopharmacologia) that Delta-9 THC, the active principle of marijuana, has idiosyncratic psychotomimetic effects on healthy human subjects. That means that even the relatively low dose used in the experiment triggered unpredictable psychotic effects in normal human subjects.
Do you really want people of any age, particularly those with developing brains, playing Russian Roulette with their mental and psychological health, as well as their physical health and reproductive well-being?
Are you aware that the human brain is developing from the fetal stage through age 25 to 29, if not later? The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to impairment as a result of both marijuana use or exposure to its use. The harmful effects include teratogenic, arteriopathic, and genotoxic effects. The harmful effects on fertility and reproductive health including the health of progeny born to users should be of concern to us all.