Guest: 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 whether marijuana has any medical benefits, and the problem with medical marijuana laws.
Health Professional Radio – Medical Marijuana Legalization
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. We’ve been hearing in the news a lot about the legalization of marijuana. Washington State, the nation’s capital has now legalize marijuana. But According to survey the potency of marijuana has increased steadily. In 2009, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 10% compared to around 4% in the 1980’s. Our guest in studio today is Dr. Ed Gogek, he is a Psychiatrist who works with addicts and alcoholics in a number of scenarios, jails, prisons and also in homeless clinics. He is also the Author of “Marijuana Debunked: A Handbook for Parents, Pundits and Politicians who want to know the case against legalization.” And he’s here in studio today with us to discuss some of the marijuana laws, whether or not marijuana actually has any medical benefits and the problems with these medical marijuana laws. How are you doing today Dr. Gogek?
Dr. Ed Gogek: Hi Neal, it’s good to be here.
N: Thank you so much. As the author of Marijuana Debunked, why should we not legalize marijuana? I mean the nation’s capital has legalized marijuana.
G: Right. The main reason simply is teenage use where we know is that it’s really harmful to the teenage brain which is still developing. There’s a lot of research that’s come out lately. And people who smoke pot as teenagers are in the biggest study is that heavy users actually lower their IQ. People who smoke heavily as a teenager and continue to smoke, actually even if they quit as adults, they do not return to normal and their IQ can drop as much as 8 points.
N: Eight points.
G: And 8 points is a lot. I mean that’s a difference between a white-collar job and a food service job, between getting into a really good school or struggling in school. It’s a very big difference.
N: Now above and beyond that, when we’re talking about these drop in IQ among teenagers, I mean when you’re a teenager that most important thing is that driver’s license. You know everybody says “Well driving while high isn’t nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.” Is that another piece of misinformation that we’ve been fed?
G: Well that’s like saying getting kicked in the hind end isn’t as bad as being poked in the eye with a stick and that may be true, but still harmful.
G: The state of Washington, the year that they legalized marijuana, the number of traffic fatalities where the driver tested positive for THC doubled. It’s really pretty significant. And that’s the path, the best research at the…they did big a meta-analysis and looked at the best studies on driving and they found that people who drive stoned have about twice the rate of a serious or fatal accident.
N: Is this the same reason that you would be more prone to have an accident under the influence of alcohol? We’re talking motor skills and perceptions?
G: It’s different, the worse ones are the people who drink and smoke pot at the same time. Now a lot of people do that.
N: Uh huh.
G: Because they affect the person in different ways. And the marijuana users are in such denial about this. You look on the internet, there’s all these people saying that they’re safer, they drive slowly, they insisted the research isn’t true, they cherry pick certain studies. And most teenagers who smoke marijuana believes that they drive just as safer and the research says that is absolutely not true.
N: It’s already bad enough teenagers think they can drive better than adults just because they’re teenagers and you add marijuana to the mix and you’ve got this huge false sense of driving expertise.
G: It’s definitely a harmful drug. It’s about the equivalent of being moderately drunk as far as… and the thing is what it does they insisted they drive safer. But what it does it decreases their ability to respond to sudden changes and that’s where a lot of accidents occur.
N: Okay. So once again, it’s the motor skills and the reaction time.
N: If these studies are available to the pro-marijuana camp, aren’t they also available to the con-marijuana camp? And if so, why do we keep seeing states legalizing and talking about first this medical marijuana?
G: Well the reason is basically this is a money thing. There is probably no better example of the malevolent influence of money and politics than what’s going on with marijuana. They like to tell that to my right wing friends who think that this is just the left wing issue.
N: Uh huh.
G: Yeah, the whole money and politics, I go “No it’s not.” That’s what this is coming from. There’s basically just a handful of billionaires who originally funded this. Now it’s being funded as a marijuana industry from all these local marijuana dispensaries and growers. But originally it just started with George Soros, Peter Lewis, John Sperling basically three billionaires, who funded most of the original initiatives and they just way outspent the other side.
N: Are we finding out that they were interested in starting farms or cultivation facilities? Is that what was going on or they just simply saw it as a way of changing the laws? I mean why if it’s so harmful just because you’re a billionaire, why legalize it?
G: They’re marijuana users.
N: Ah, okay that’s the deal.
G: Here’s the thing, now George Soros will not say how frequently he use marijuana how often, Peter Lewis and John Sperling were regular marijuana users up to the end of their lives. So we know that.
G: But I know this, I was a heavy pot smoker in my late teen years. There is this line from the book, the Childs Garden of Grass and it said “Grass smokers are the world’s greatest proselytizers.” and we really are. When I smoked pot, I was in a debating class, all I wanted is to debate was the legalization of marijuana.
G: What I wanted to talk about. And pot smokers are, they’re kind of rabbit about this. They’re just relentless on it, they’re absolutely certain it should be legal, they will argue it no matter what, you tell them, you show them where their argument is wrong and they just drop that and pick up another argument and run with it. And that’s part, so we’re up against that sort of attitude from a lot of pot smokers in this country. And now there is industry that wants to make money, and industries that want to make money are not the most reliable folks around …
N: Is all of the support for legalization coming from actual pot smokers or as you say is there the money involved?
G: It’s kind of a couple things. A lot of them comes from marijuana users, now it’s coming from people who want to make money. It’s become politically it’s become a huge liberal cause. I’m actually a liberal-democrat. And I’ve been going around speaking to democratic groups and the hostility is just amazing. And it’s also a bit libertarian cause, not all libertarians a lot of libertarians think the idea is crazy. But there’ quite a few libertarians who just it’s their ideological belief that drugs are an adult choice even though most people starts as a teenager – they stick with that one. So there is a lot of things coming together on this. But it’s not coming, the general population is uneasy about it. When they do these surveys, they like to say “Oh most people are in favor of it.” But when they as more specifically most people are saying “Well we think it’s gonna happen but we’re uncomfortable with it.”
N: Ah, so we don’t see any way to avoid the flow so we’re just gonna go with it. Now you’re the author of the book Marijuana Debunked: A Handbook for Parents, Pundits, and Politicians who want to know the case against legalization. Just how much benefit does your book talk about marijuana having, is there any benefit at all? Because what I’m hearing it sounds like there is no benefit and it’s just a smoke screen?
G: It’s pretty much way, way over sold. It should not be approved. The reason for approving a drug is it has a benefit, it has very little side effects, or if it does have side effect the benefit way out weights the side effects. So marijuana doesn’t pass that test. Most of the things that’s been sold for benefit or oversold. For example they push glaucoma for the longest time based on very preliminary research that showed, yes marijuana does lower intraocular pressure.
G: Well they’ve since found that it lowers very briefly and then it strikes back up. And then so ophthalmologists are now saying “No this is probably a harmful drug, people with glaucoma absolutely should not use it.” They’re still writing it into laws. Pennsylvania right now is fighting over a law and they’ve got glaucoma as an indication even though the ophthalmologists are telling their patients not to use it. The big one now is PTSD and there is an addiction psychiatrist did a research that just got published. And what he found is marijuana makes PTSD worse. There is no evidence that it helps PTSD. What’s going on is PTSD is a disorder where a huge percentage of people have substance abuse problems.
G: Substance abusers always think addictive drug helps them. I mean I see people who think “Oh alcohols is one thing that calms me down” or and I’ve heard this. I see a lot of patients that tell me marijuana is the only thing that help them. But when they quit smoking marijuana the problem that they felt they’re using pot for went away. So you’re giving an addictive drug to somebody who has a substance abuse problem, they will very often tell…
N: Of course.
G: The research on PTSD shows that it increase violence and that it increases the PTSD symptoms. And other places approving it for PTSD. And that’s in Arizona they just approved for PTSD. The research says it’s harmful they shouldn’t do it.
N: Now Dr. Gogek as we wrap up the segment, why don’t you tell our listeners, give them something very powerful yet brief that they can transmit to one of their patients, or the parent of a teenage patient or anyone who’s considering whether or not they’re going to be a user? Whether or not they’re going to be on board as far as legalization is concerned especially when it comes to the importance of the effects on the teenage brain.
G: I’ve talked about that a lot, you want to encourage individuals not to use it. But overwhelmingly legalization is going to increase use. Every time we legalize any drug, it does increase use. And we found countries in Europe where it’s decriminalized have much higher rates of teenage use. Well that’s why I say legalization is a public health issue and fortunately some of the medical groups – the pediatricians, the child psychiatrists, the addiction doctors, have spoken out against this, the main thing medical people should really be doing is speaking out a bit more publicly and saying that “We are against legalization.” Because this whole medical marijuana thing it was invented by marijuana lobby, doctors never asked for it, patient groups never asked for it, that’s not who it came from. And the thing is we’ve been fighting the medical marijuana, things the physician groups have not been speaking out against it. And it is probably the most important prevention you can do is to prevent these laws from happening because once you have these laws, use goes up.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio today talking with psychiatrist Dr. Ed Gogek. He has worked with addicts and alcoholic in jails, prisons and homeless clinics. And he’s also the author of Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization.” And we’ve been here talking about whether or not medical marijuana actually has any medical benefit. It’s been great having you here with us today Doctor.
G: Thank you.
N: Thank you much. Transcript and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.com and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.