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It’s Time to Address the Marijuana Issue

The substance abuse epidemic is so incredibly destructive to the well-being of our society – to our children, our adolescents, as well as adults. While we are going to great lengths to curtail cigarettes and nicotine, we are legalizing marijuana which is far more destructive. Read More

I have no problem with

I have no problem with keeping marijuana from children. But as an adult, it is my body, and if I want to smoke, drink or take drugs, I really don't think anyone else gets to have a vote. If you don't like it, don't use it. But don't inflict your morality on me about what I get to do to my body with your laws.

I don't disagree that it is

I don't disagree that it is not my business what you chose to put into you body. But that doesn't alter a discussion about the actuality of the drug and its effects. And society's sanction is a relevant issue. However, I don't view this as a moral issue.

Let's throw out the baby with

Let's throw out the baby with the bath water. It's not like the FDA isn't approving new more dangerous drugs every year. An all natural non toxic alternative is more than needed.

Prohibition only makes matters worse

I totally agree with you with regard to the damaging effects of marijuana. But the issue is legal prohibition, which has enriched criminals around the globe , led to the incarceration of millions and stimulated street crimes to fund the trade. And yet, prohibition has not been demonstrated to prevent usage by any amount. Better we treat drug usage as a medical and unwanted social problem. Cigarette usage is steadily declining from education and a rising social stigma. That's a model that works.

Thanks for your thoughtful

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I'm certainly well aware of the prohibition issue. But its complicated and I don't have the answer. But it sends the wrong message to sanction marijuana. And I think it is a bad idea for the government to get tax money from drugs. This makes the government functionally the dealer. It might well be better to let the criminals be the dealer. They will find a way to profit anyway. I feel the same way about lotteries and gambling, sponsored by the government, knowing the horrendous gambling issues that this creates. Once you've treated addicts and see the damage, it changes you. Its not good for the goverment to promote such harm.

Dear Dr.

" But it sends the wrong message to sanction marijuana."

Ummm...we shouldn't look to the law for what is good/right/wrong. The law is selectively enforced, for starters...and much of the law has been brought to us via the forces of "special interests". If something is legal...that doesn't make it good/bad or right/wrong. For example, it is legal for me to huff gasoline out of my can in the garage...but the law isn't implying that I should do it.

"And I think it is a bad idea for the government to get tax money from drugs."

So you don't think the Pharmecuetical companies should be taxed? How about alcohol? Should we drop the tax on alcohol?

My advice to you is to smoke some weed and maybe you'll gain a new perspective...

Drug use to alter consciousness is not always bad

I wouldn't treat drug usage as exclusively a medical and social problem. The use of drugs to alter consciousness is nothing new. It has been a feature of human life in all places on the earth and in all ages of history.

Back in 1972, Wells wrote "It is my belief that the desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate, normal drive analogous to hunger or the sexual drive. Note that I do not say "desire to alter consciousness by means of chemical agents." Drugs are merely one means of satisfying this drive; there are many others."

This is a very one sided

This is a very one sided article - I really think you need to expand your research on cannabis - perhaps a 1hr video on you tube called Run from the Cure by Rick Simpson might enlighten you to a few, of many, beneficial properties of cannabis. To have a proper discussion of the drug and it's effects perhaps you should also consider the vast proportions of people that benefit from this drug in varying ways.

I would say that for the most

I would say that for the most part the wonderful and alleged beneficial properties of cannabis are fundamentally phony and put out there by the marijuana lobby in the service of promoting legalization. The truth is people smoke grass to get high. And if that weren't the case you wouldn't hear one word about any other beneficial properties of marijuana.

So true! Phoney they are,

So true! Phoney they are, these activists. Always conflating medical and legal issues ...


I weep for humanity....

"The truth is people smoke grass to get high."
The truth is, there are bigger problems then Marijuana. If you're passion happens to be drug effects on the brain, may I be so bold to suggest other areas that could use the help.

I believe marijuana should just be left alone. If only for the fact that the deaths (0), ER related visits, and just dumb human acts are lower, then alcohol, illegal or legal drugs. It has such a lesser impact on the brain and THE body then anything else you can bring to me.
As well as the benefits it can bring to the users.

First and foremost it is a NATURALLY occurring Plant...(not a pill that has been processed and beaten in to existence.)

There are very beneficial compounds to marijuana! Such as cannabidiol (CBD), have safe prove effects on the body and the brain (like schizophrenia) I have to say I personally know it helps with nausea too!

This is a study done on CBD's effects on people with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)


I digress.

Not only do people like to blindly follow.
They are to f*cking lazy to check their facts....

Dr. Berezin, it's been two

Dr. Berezin, it's been two years since you made that comment. Are you ready to retract it now, assuming you are staying informed and up to date on the many emerging medicinal uses of marijuana?

Your quote: "people smoke grass to get high" ... is so Nixon-era

What about those who eat it? Is that to get high too? The children with Dravet's or other forms of epilepsy who now have the hope of a normal life. Please tell me you've updated your opionion. What do you say to Dr. Sanjay Gupta documentary on the medical uses of cannabis?

I support on this article

This article is so very true - i have seen a large increase in unconscious decisions from the affects of THC.

There is a reason why it is tested for use at mining sites, high risk jobs etc. The fact remains - it affects a concious decision and the proof and research is there.
Try smoking weed and then apply for a job at mine site or oil and gas company.
Let me know how it goes....

Thanks Robert, great article.


Are you a shill for the pharmaceutical industry or the shill that wrote this article.

Your quote doesn't make any sense:

"I have seen a large increase in unconscious decisions from the affects of THC"

No one ever said to get high and apply for a job operating heavy machinery ! Even Benedryl warnings advise against that.

You are strongly biased and/or ignorant. You and Dr. Berezin both.

Seemingly scientific but nothing more than Reefer Maddness

"We need to oppose the use of marijuana, not foster it."

Well, WE don't need to do anything. It is a personal choice that would be avaible for all to make in a free society where liberty is the rule. I agree with the Doc. that marijuana use isn't going to help people with mental/behavioral issues...but it may not hurt them either. What marijuana does do for those people is provide them with a temporary escape...which in my opinion is not a bad thing. Is it ideal? No, but we don't live in an ideal world.

The truth is if you abuse any substance with frequency...there will be negative impacts on your life. So, it is all about moderation and intent. There are many very successful individuals with high levels of life satisfaction that enjoy marijuana on a regular it is all about the individual...not the drug. Don't like marijuana? Don't ingest it! Simple.

Good news is that all of these folks who are anit-weed are generally older generations and will die-off in my lifetime so we (as a society) can progress beyond the reefer maddness (propoganda) and into an era of truth based on science and real life experience.

I personally just disagree with a good portion of this article...

Too many things to disagree with. One thing I would like to say, contrary to the articles position I believe legalization is the way to go. When considering young people teenagers school is probably one of the first places where they will come in contact with marijuana as well as other drugs - regardless of the schooling system weed is everywhere.
By legalizing, age laws are put into place the weed is carefully inspected for pesticides mold, percentage of THC and CBD is displayed on the product ..becomes more scientific and in theory should make things better in the long run. People drink and turn into lunatics, and alcohol is available all year round. No to mention taxation. And the whole marijuana leads to "destructive alteration on consciousness" I don't know about all that, Eddie suffers from anxiety when sober but when he smokes he becomes narcissistic, better than being terrified of the world .. what I'm saying is that by no means is marijuana perfect but its better than alot of things.

Let me just say in response

Let me just say in response to Peter, Jennifer, AnnonmousnotOkaywiththis, and Chris – Obviously I’m not surprised that people who smoke weed will disagree with this article. As I said, I am not addressing the social issues here. Marijuana affects consciousness and the brain of all who partake. I used Eddie as an example, one illustration. It is certainly my opinion that neither marijuana nor other drugs are conducive to fostering a life of authenticity, fulfillment, and love. This is what my psychiatric practice is all about. No drug is constructive in this pursuit. And for sure I see the negative and illusory effects of marijuana in my practice all the time. If that sounds radical then so be it. You certainly have Big Pharma as bedfellows. They just support different drugs.
Also do not be naïve. Sanctioning drugs and increasing its availability greatly magnifies its use by children. The brain alterations are very destructive to children. They need to be protected from this. I understand that you think getting high is just fun and no big deal. And a different opinion is just idiotic like “Reefer Madness”. Children are subject to marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines, never mind the hard drugs. I hold my profession responsible for a lot of this. Don’t worry, I’m fully aware of the availability and usage of drugs in our schools as it is, and I find this enormously troubling. We don’t need to add to this. We need to protect our children.
I fully agree that its not my business what you put into your body. If you come to me as a patient that would be different. However you justify your drug use is fine with me. But that does not alter the effects it actually has. Just because there are issues with alcohol, does not mean that therefore we should add to the pharmacopeia, and sanction its use. And it is even more corrupting for the government to profit off of drugs, like this is a good thing. I’m also not naïve about the corruption of government for that matter. But I don’t agree that extending it is constructive.

It’s hard feel the blisters, without really walking in another’s shoes.

My daughter developed febrile seizures at the age of 2. During the first episode, I thought she was dying. The febrile events morphed into a Partial Complex seizure disorder with presenting symptoms that could vary, changed with age and were often hard to catch. Once in seizure the only confirming clue was her inability to focus her eyes. As a responsible parent I informed friends’ parents, camps, school, etc. There were many times we faced hurdles because of fear, lack of education and even ineptitude. I had a very difficult time making the decision to put her medication because of the possible side effects on my young child, who also had physical challenges from mild Cerebral Palsy. Most notably, the possibility of delays in learning. Her neurologist worked very closely with us and listened to our concerns. We tried several alternative therapies to no avail, eventually resorting to a mono-therapy anticonvulsant. After two years on medication her seizures began to slow, but she still had one to two breakthrough episodes per year. Four-and-a-half years ago we documented her last seizure to date and are now discussing, with her input, weaning off medication. Removing this crutch is as gut-wrenching as beginning it was. And still, I consider our family extraordinary lucky!

On February 20, 2014, The Epilepsy Foundation officially agreed with you, Dr. Robert Berezin, M.D, that ‘It’s Time to Address the Marijuana Issue’

"The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now -- not in five years or ten years.”

As “every seizure is a possible opportunity lost to live, learn, and grow. The Epilepsy Foundation believes that an end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code. Our current situation as an epilepsy community is not acceptable. Families looking to access medical marijuana as a treatment are facing terrible decisions. One parent may move across the country to live with a child to seek this treatment. Other families may uproot entirely, including leaving their job, to move where they can access CBD oil.”

I’m seeing this played out in my state of Kentucky as we fight for the right to even have legal medical marijuana put up to vote. And although I’m not personally in need for my child in this situation, I’ve been there.

Perhaps I’m meant to stand up and educate others for this cause... You see, I’ve only scratched the surface of my personal experience. I continue to watch one of my dearest friends fight the effects Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. She has been an unsuccessful patient and participant in multiple alternative therapies and clinical drug trials over the past twenty years. She has been prescribed Tetrahydrocannabinol, but the pill brings little or no relief to her tremors and symptoms. She has tried smoking marijuana twice, with very promising results. She would like to be able to work with her team of doctors, who have suggested the use of medical marijuana. However, she lives in Florida, has a family and is uncomfortable illegally obtaining the only medication that has proven beneficial.

I understand the views from members psychological community in relation to their patients compromising treatment by self-medicating with marijuana. I suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder and Adult ADHD. In addition, I have two accompanying auto-immune disorders. Unfortunately, I was misdiagnosed for over ten years with Rheumatoid Arthritis and treated with low dose chemotherapy drugs, steroids, and opiates, among others, due to the fact that nothing ever seemed to relieve my symptoms. Eventually, I spiraled into a severe depression. Once I found doctors and a psychologist more interested in my well being than the dollars coming through the door, I began a slow recovery. I also educated myself beyond the doctors office and a diagnosis. Turns out, I’m hyper-flexible and needed to be exercising and building muscle to support my joints. It is my educated opinion, that had I been smoking marijuana to relieve the pain for those ten years, I’d have done less damage to my body and brain than I did taking all the pharmaceuticals that were ‘legally’ sanctioned for my consumption.

I know that smoking marijuana is disruptive to my psychological disorders. It makes me scattered and limits my ability to focus. However, when an unyielding migraine headache has me laid out, I also know smoking marijuana will, for the majority of my migraines, abate the pain and allow me to function. As a responsible, educated adult I should be able to choose this option, with the consent of my doctor, as an alternative to the concoctions being pushed by big pharma.

I always remind people that I

I always remind people that I am a doctor first, a blogger second. I cannot address your clinical situation or your daughter's. So I will accept your characterization. There are some, and by the way, very few, clinical conditions that actually can be helped by the active chemicals in marijuana. Keep in mind that 99 and 44/100% of medical claims are phony and have been used as a pretense to get high or to push for legalization of marijuana. Notice the medical-marijuana facilities in California. Its a joke.
I certainly don't object to legitimate and controlled usage of constructive drugs.

Benefits of Cannabis

Dear Dr. Berezin,

I believe in time you will be a bit more open minded to the benefits of CBD and/or marijuana. Utah, the most conservative State in the US just legalized CBD extract for patients with a specific type of epilepsy and as well for Utah universities to legally conduct research.

Did you not watch all of CNN's reports By Dr. Sanjay Gupta? See this link to the article titled Why I Changed My Mind on Weed Dr. Gupta has come 180 degrees over the course of his reports.

I have hope that sometime soon, research will show CBD benefits for autism, of which my middle daughter suffers. I have friends who suffer from anxiety and take Xanax as needed and SSRIs to cope. Their anxiety and anxiety attacks are sometimes so debilitating.

There are hundreds of varieties and strains of cannabis. See One can choose the strain that most fits the needs of the individual. These and specific qualities are ranked by users. It is not the most scientific determination, but neither is a medical practitioner's determination when choosing fluoxetine over lithium or adding lamotrigine or attempting to treat bipolar mania with risperidone. There are general results from FDA studies but then it comes back to reports from patients on how well they feared on each attempted regimen.

Sadly the promotion of these pharma drugs are pushed and promoted by greedy corporations and salesmen. There has been and continues to be wining and dining, NBA/NHL tickets and the like for physicians helping out their buddy pharma reps.

Cannabis is showing promise more and more. Like anything, it can be over used, but not likely to cause death with an overdose like many other pharma drugs.

Seriously? Robert? Blame the

Seriously? Robert? Blame the marijuana?

That is so passé.

Wisdom of Frank Zappa: Drugs are not bad. They're just chemical compounds. The problem comes in when people who take drugs, treat them like a license to behave like assholes.

Seriously. Robert.

How many people have

How many people have you met that smoke marijuana? Because I left another comment on your other article, stating that research has indicated that 25.8 million people smoke pot every year. For one man (or sure, a handful of others) to then say that the majority get anxiety directly from it is ridiculous, other than the minor paranoia some get simply because it is an illegal drug and if caught they are penalized and/or sent to jail. Fact is 25.8 million pot smokers aren't all going to therapy, you can't base a massive population like that off of the many (but relatively few) patients you and others who share your view have seen.

We know people will never stop using drugs, including the legal ones. That is unrealistic, although ideal. What we can do is give them a statistically safer option instead of the insanely dangerous other options. That's really what is comes down to for me.

And maybe the government shouldn't be making money from drugs, but knock knock, they already do, and from much more dangerous ones. Plus, I would rather the money go to the government than shady and sometimes violent drug dealers.

As a sidenote, the 25.8 million number I believe is from 2002, and marijuana has become much more popular with every year, so I think it's realistic to say that number is now higher (although I may be wrong).

And I hate to sound like a psychotic activist, but I have just looked deeper and deeper into the studies and searched for the truth, and this has been my conclusion. I respect you and think mental diversity is one of the most essential parts of humanity, but I have to disagree with you here and ask you to do further and diversified but reliable research, not just based off of your personal experience with clients and some studies.

You are the only Lobbyist here

Who pays you to write this obsolete tripe? The Pharma Lobby that gives you all expense paid junkets to Hawaii ?

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Robert Berezin, M.D., is the author of Psychotherapy of Character. He taught psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School for thirty years.


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