The Marijuana Misinformation Machine [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Ed_Gogek_Marijuana_Misinformation_MachineGuest: Dr. Ed Gogek
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Ed Gogek, MD is a Psychiatrist who works with addicts & alcoholics, in jails, prisons and homeless clinics. He is the author of “Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization.”

Segment overview: Dr. Ed Gogek, MD, author of the book, Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization, talks about why legalization is a political issue instead of a public health issue.


Health Professional Radio – Marijuana Misinformation

Neal Howard: Hello you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. Welcome, I am your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. Long term studies of high school students show a pattern of drug use that most young people who used other drugs have tried marijuana, alcohol or tobacco first. We’ve all heard about cigarettes being a gateway drug and we’ve heard that marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, it’s not harmful and if alcohol is legal why not marijuana? Our guest in studio today is Dr. Ed Gogek, Psychiatrist who works with addicts and alcoholics in jails, prisons and also in homeless clinics. He’s also the Author of “Marijuana Debunked: A Handbook for Parents, Pundits and Politicians who want to know the case against legalization.” How are you doing today Ed?

Dr. Ed Gogek: Good to be here. Thanks Neal.

N: Marijuana – we hear it on many politicians’ platform as they’re trying to get elected. We hear in the mainstream media states legalizing it for recreational use or for medical purposes. As a psychiatrist and an author, the author of Marijuana Debunked, everything that I’m hearing about marijuana is positive as far as pain management, glaucoma, everything from PTSD to menstrual cramps. What are your thoughts on it when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, is it a political issue or is it a public health issue?

G: Well I see it as a public health issue because it’s a harmful drug, it is very harmful for teenagers. We need to keep teenagers away from this drug and the best way is to keep it strictly illegal. You know the Scandinavian countries, it’s very interesting – I wrote something about this because I was rather irked with … Sanders for this because he keeps talking about how we should be like the Scandinavian countries. Scandinavian countries have some of the strictest marijuana laws in the world. And it’s because they realize that anytime they loosen the laws or decriminalize, use went up and teenage use went up.

N: Okay.

G: So in Sweden and Norway together with this UNICEF study showed teenage use was 5%. There are really strict laws – no medical marijuana, no decriminalization. In the United States it’s 22%, Canada 28%. But we have really lose laws, lots of medical marijuana laws and that is the problem. What I said is you don’t legalize it, FDA would never approve a drug that a huge side effect. Well teenage use is a huge side effect there are a relative handful of people who are helped medically by marijuana. And most of them – I’ll be honest I don’t believe – I think they might believe it but I really think that it’s their substance abuse talking, there are some people who are very genuinely helped. But you know Solidamide helps people and every now and then somebody says “We should really have Solidamide for the people at helps and will prevent pregnant women from having it.” And the FDA says “No because we will not goanna prevent them from pregnant women from getting it.” It’s the same as marijuana, if they legalize it for the small number of people who are helped by it medically and you had end up with a huge side effect. We’ve got almost 4 million teenagers using on a regular basis in this country.

N: Thinking about the legalization of marijuana, I think about cocaine being legal for medical use and all sorts of other substances that are now illegal. Is marijuana going through the same process and just winning sort of like alcohol did?

G: Well what’s going on with marijuana is there’s a lot of money behind it.

N: Uh huh.

G: And marijuana users are absolutely convinced that the drug was harmless. And they’re, like I said they’re the world’s greatest proselytizers – they really are and they really push it. So marijuana is really getting pushed, that’s what’s going on there. Alcohol argument is kind of strange, because alcohol is probably the best example of why we don’t want to legalize another addictive drug.

N: Okay.

G: It causes a huge amount of harm. And what I’m seeing people is there are, the thing that alcohol is this kind of two parts to it. One is they’re socially used, there millions of people who just drink for taste or drink for a very mild social effect. But most alcoholic in the country is consumed by alcoholics and binge drinkers who drink to get drunk. And if everybody who drank, drunk only to get drunk we would still have prohibition. We never would have been … into prohibition. It’s kind of funny that it’s people who are rare and occasional users are the reasons that it was appealed.

N: Well when we’re talking about the rare and occasional user, are these laws are being pushed through by people who are destitute, by people that are poor, by pot heads – the traditional pot heads. Who are these folks that have the bank roll to make these moves? The nation’s capital has legalized marijuana. How does that happen if it’s such a dangerous drug at least as dangerous as alcohol?

G: The money is coming from initially from a handful of billionaires who are very pro-marijuana. And that’s really was George Soros, who’s really bank rolled the largest part of this. And he formed groups from all over the, policy alliance is basically funded by him. Marijuana policy project was basically funded by Peter Lewis, who was a billionaire who smoked marijuana regularly.

N: Uh huh.

G: And that money has made all the difference. The pot smokers themselves will never ever get any of this passed. If weren’t for Peter Lewis and George Soros we would, I don’t think we would have a single medical marijuana or legalization law in this country. They spend a lot of money and they advertise heavily in the States for every referendum. And now they’re getting politicians on their side. It’s kind of crazy, I’ve been communicating with this one, this funny because I’m very liberal and he’ very conservative.

N: Uh huh.

G: State legislator in Pennsylvania and his just amazed all this legislators who were just so… it’s so important. And the demand is not coming from patients, it is not coming from doctors, it is not coming from the medical communities. The demand is coming from people who want to legalize marijuana because they want to use it to get high. That’s where the advance is coming from.

N: The main question is, is it addictive? I mean is this something that you can say “You know what I tried it, I don’t like it I smoke to 4 years and now I decide I want to quit.” Is that something you can’t do or is it just as addictive as nicotine or cocaine?

G: Well that’s not as addictive as nicotine or cocaine. Those about 30% of all people who use get addicted. It’s closer to alcohol, it’s that 9% of all people use marijuana get addicted. The thing is, with these other drugs and the news media is supplying for this because the news media is been extremely partisan pro-marijuana. With the other drugs people will say nobody says “Oh I tried alcohol and it didn’t harm me, so why do we make such a fuzz about it?” Nobody says “Oh I tried cocaine and it didn’t hurt me so it should be legal.”

N: Uh huh.

G: But people say that about marijuana. And they cut marijuana a break but they don’t cut any other drug. You know this, there are millions of people in this countries who smoked a few cigarette in their teenage years and didn’t get addicted, but nobody believes that that make cigarettes safe. Whereas marijuana people seemed to say that, or say “Well I tried it, or I know somebody who tried it, he is okay.” And so yeah 9% of all people who try marijuana get addicted.

N: Uh huh.

G: People who start in their teenage years have a higher rate because everybody does anything the teen years, people who smoked heavily have a higher rate. So people who are heavily smoking teenagers, about a third of them get addicted to marijuana. And I’ve treated people and the things that the problem that they have is that it doesn’t make them, well it does mess up their lives, their relationships are worse, their family members complain, their spouses complain, they’re always short of money because marijuana is expensive, they’re always making people wait before they go places. And what they find is their life just ends up centered around marijuana. So they’re into sports, they drop the sports, they were good students, they’re no longer such good students. They’re just not interested in anything except for the marijuana and that’s what happens there.

N: What about the folks that say “Well our prisons are so full of people who got busted with a joints, why don’t we just legalize it and clear it? And make room for the real criminals.”


G: Let me just stop you right there.

N: Okay.

G: That is a total lie, Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sander’s both said that… Washington Post gave them 3 and 4 Pinocchios they just basically said that is a lie. There is almost nobody in prison for possession of marijuana. So basically the marijuana lobby is pushed a bunch of lies. They pushed this whole belief that jails and prisons are full of innocent drug users – not true. I’m actually talked to patients a day and he told me he was in prison for possession of heroin and I go “Well they don’t lock people up for people possession of heroin, why that happen.” He said while I was selling it, are they couldn’t quite prove the sale so they locked me in. And that’s what’s going on. Almost everybody there pleaded down or something else is going on. There is virtually nobody in prison just for possession. Even if you look at the people who were there just for possession it’s a half 1% of the person population. Almost all the people and only about 20% of the people in prison are there from drug crimes, they are all dealers. And they’re almost all dealing hard drugs, not very little of that is marijuana. They’ve lied us about the arrest issue, they keep on about “Oh there is a half million arrest every year.” Yes it’s true but almost all those arrest occur when somebody is search, because they’ve been stop arrested for an entirely different reason. They’re rarely prosecuted almost never incarcerated, they talk, yeah, I told you about, they talked oh cartels are the, because it’s illegal. Actually in Colorado the black market is thriving, anytime you tax anything you’re gonna have black market the best way to get rid of cartel is to decrease use. And the best way to do that is actually to make it strictly illegal. There is a lot of misinformation about marijuana but the whole criminal thing is simply not true.

N: You’ve talked about a lot of misinformation surrounding marijuana and your recent case in point about that being incarceration issue. As the author of Marijuana Debunked, you’re not the only person who is against the legalization of marijuana. I mean there are people who have conducted these studies other than yourself. What was it that motivated you to write such a book?

G: Well part of it is I worked with the drug addicts and I know, I mean they’re liars that’s what they did. The number one symptoms of addiction isn’t really using the drug, it’s being dishonest about it, they lie others and they lie to themselves. And I just listen this whole movement, I go everything they’re saying is dishonest. So there’s that, there’s also my own teenage use that made me want to do it. Because I came to something to make up for it because I was one of these … proselytizers as a kid and so want to tell the other side.

N: What type of response have you received from your fellow healthcare providers?

G: Well very little. And I talk to people, like I said the certain groups, the pediatricians, the child psychiatrists, the addiction doctors who’ve taken the stand on this. Doctors tend to not want, they’re very supportive, they very much agree with it but they’re not so much taking a stand.

N: Uh huh.

G: The biggest problem actually is the news media. And there was a study done that’s called “the higher road” and somebody actually look at all of the news articles about medical marijuana for an entire year.

N: Uh huh.

G: And they found that they were 2 to 1 in favor. And when you looked at the news articles just in the run up to votes on medical marijuana there was 6 to 1 in favor. And the news media is very, very pro-marijuana. I’ve got something and so it’s very hard to get the stuff printed. Because all these examples, political just ran this article recently and this was about the millions of people in jail for marijuana charges. There have not been a million people sent to jails or prison in the United States of marijuana charges in its entire 240 year history.

N: (Laugh)

G: Katrina vanden Heuvel, who I read her all the time and I really like she said she wrote something in the Washington Post “that legalizing marijuana would drastically decrease the prison population.” Well no, first of all there is only about 400 people in prison for possession of marijuana, about 2% were selling marijuana, the 2% is … drastic decrease. They’re saying the news media does repeat it. I mean in my book about 30% of the book is devoted to news media, cause they have really pushed this. I do think if the press would actually tell both sides, this whole movement would stop.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been an absolutely pleasure talking in studio today talking with Dr. Ed Gogek, Psychiatrist who works with addicts and alcoholic in jails, prisons and homeless clinics. He’s also the author of “Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization.” As more and more states hop on board the legalization band wagon, Dr. Gogek is proponent of absolute abstinence and also of telling the truth about the actual effects of marijuana on the developing teenage brain, the myth of driving as a better driver while in the influence of marijuana. And also he’d like to see the media take a stand and take some responsibility for feeding us tons and tons of misinformation, especially when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. It’s been great having you here today with us Dr. Gogek.

G: Thank you Neal. It’s been really good.

N: Transcript and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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