by Siegfried Othmer | December 8th, 2004

The issue of the states’ authority to regulate medical usage of marijuana is currently before the Supreme Court, at a time when the chief architect for the reconstruction of a viable body of “states’ rights” is at home recuperating from surgery. What delicious ironies abound when those on the Court most strongly bent in favor of regulating individual behavior are also those who would carve out an appropriate domain for the exercise of discretion by individual states.

Joseph Russoniello, former US Attorney for Northern California and a Republican, recently took the rather aggrandizing position that even home-grown marijuana can be targeted by the Federal regulators through the interstate commerce clause. Growing marijuana is simply a substitute for buying it, and hence constitutes economic activity subject to regulation, he suggested. “It doesn’t have to have a direct impact on interstate commerce. To the extent that she is using this marijuana which she is growing herself she is not buying cannabis that is available in the drug market.” This argument would make even growing rutabagas in one’s garden part of interstate commerce, or doing neurofeedback in the privacy of one’s home. The mind races on: Home cooking deprives restaurants of business, and is therefore part of interstate commerce also. And the raising of children displaces the need for childcare workers, who are part of interstate commerce…. This kind of thinking needs to be nipped in the bud….

I raise the issue here only because it has been clear to us for quite some time that marijuana plays a distinct and unambiguous medical role in many lives. We see numerous patients who use marijuana regularly to modulate arousal, to tame anxiety, to stabilize the brain against instabilities such as seizures or bipolar disorder, or to deal with pain or nausea. Successful neurofeedback usually means that these folks are able to give up their marijuana use after some time, and they are usually quite happy to do so. One person came in angry at herself for having used marijuana after the point where she no longer needed it. It was an isolated indiscretion. Such behavior convinces us that the primary issue here is the medical need rather than physiological dependency or, heaven forbid, the pursuit of euphoria.

Granted, those who use marijuana recreationally are less likely to raise it as an issue in our sessions, so we may not get to see the whole picture. Sometimes the person will first raise the issue of marijuana well into the training. Is this because they are rethinking their recreational use, or because this is the earliest moment at which they felt safe to bring up the topic? No doubt we are seeing adolescents who don’t care to ever share that detail about their lives with us, so we might not know whether recreational use declines as well. Our sense of it is that the self-regulation training leads to less drug utilization across the board, even recreational use. That is what people report, at least those who are willing to share that information.

Interestingly, we just had a person come in with a number of addiction issues: compulsive over-eating; alcohol abuse; and cigarette consumption. Surprisingly, the tobacco issue was the first to resolve; the alcohol was second; and we are still wrestling with the eating disorder.

The Los Angeles Times Magazine just featured an article by Vince Beiser on the growing utilization of ibogaine to break addictions to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and pain medications–and even cigarettes. It is seen as an addiction disrupter, in that it temporarily nullifies the addict’s cravings for the drugs so that detox can be undergone less painfully, and the person can get on with the rest of the treatment program. The drug gives people a few weeks of opportunity to get themselves sorted out.

There is an apparent down-side, however: hours of “staggering hallucinations,” which take place while the person appears to be asleep. These may indeed have a very disturbing quality to them, but they strike me by and large as being very similar to the transformative experiences reported from alpha-theta training. Indeed, many people report that they gained profound insights into their past, and into their addictions, through these hallucinatory dreams. Others say it was worse than an acid trip for them.

The drug has been around since the middle of the last century, where it was used as a stimulant in France. It was banned in the US in 1970, so that now people have to hie themselves down to Mexico or other parts in order to partake of the ibogaine “therapy.” Researchers are getting interested in ibogaine, despite the fact that it comes with such a questionable pedigree and “scrofulous image.” “This isn’t a medicine developed by white-coated scientists; its anti-addictive properties were discovered by a junkie, and some of its promoters are folks who may of more interest to the attorney general than the surgeon general.”

Ibogaine derivatives are being sought that retain the drug-blocking effect but shed the hallucinatory potential. It is understandable that the FDA would not look favorably on the marketing of hallucinogens, but those of us with experience with alpha-theta training probably realize that something significant would be lost. This all sounds so much like the earlier research with LSD, where better than 50% recoveries were reported with single-shot LSD sessions imbedded in a full addictions treatment program. Chances are that the risks of bad outcomes with ibogaine will derail its official recognition.

But the positive experiences with both LSD and ibogaine support our own findings that addiction recovery can be enhanced by “deep-state” work. Ironically we hold the answer to the FDAs concern about drug safety and about the hallucinogenic potential of the LSD/ibogaine approach to addiction. But we are still operating in different universes.

One Response to “Marijuana”

  1. David says:

    I wrestled in my alcoholism for years. It’s tough to get clean!

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