by David Downs
The federal government's designated pot doctor has crafted pot suppositories for stoners to insert rectally, Legalization Nation has learned. The surprising fact appears in Dr. Julie Holland's new non-fiction paperback The Pot Book: A Complete Guide To Cannabis coming out this month on Park Street Press. Dr. Holland is a psychiatrist specializing in drugs and the brain, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, and author of Ecstasy: The Complete Guide. She spent three years researching The Pot Book, a hefty 551-page primer on the risks and rewards of the plant, written in conjunction with 52 doctors, academics, writers and thinkers including Michael Pollan, Neal Pollack, and Douglas Rushkoff.
Inside The Pot Book, Holland describes how the federal government has four, little-known medical cannabis patients and a pot doctor who grows weed in the country's one legal farm. The government's pot doctor Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly Ph.D. has patents out on drug testing methods, as well some interesting ideas about how to administer the drug: anally.
“Somehow he thought it would be a little easier,”Holland says. “I'm like 'Really?' It's kind of funny. You can't make this stuff up. He thinks it's the delivery way of the future. I don't know what his thinking is.”
Dr. ElSohly states in the book that rectal pot poppers mitigate dosage variability problems associated with eating pot.
“It’s an excellent preparation, a good product, but because it is a suppository, some people have a really hard time accepting it as a delivery system, although it is pharmaceutically acceptable and it’s been around for years,” ElSohly tells Holland in the book. “But it’s still not out there yet. The pharmaceutical company has it, and hopefully they’ll approve it before too long.”
ElSohly added: “It would be for the exact same indications that THC is good for. Right now it’s only approved for the nausea and vomiting of cancer patients and appetite stimulation in AIDS patients. But there are other indications that THC might be really useful for, things like glaucoma, pain—both neuropathy and arthritic pain—and in terms of a preoperative analgesic or antidepressant. There are just so many indications.”
Holland says ElSohly's THC suppositories are just another mixed message coming from the federal government. The U.S. government treats the medicinal herb as a schedule 1 drug, reserved for substances with no known medical value and a high potential for abuse. Yet the government gives away pot for medical use, owns a pot farm, and has a patent on the use of pot as something called a “neuroprotectant”.
“It's this idea that it protects brain cells if you have a stroke. It's a medical application,” Holland says.
Furthermore, the federal government is blocking research that shows any benefits from the plant. Holland says the Food and Drug Administration is normally responsible for approving drug research, but pot is different. Cannabis has to get extra approval from a group called the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA. NIDA's mission is to hype the risks of using cannabis, and they won't approve drug research looking for benefits in pot.
“NIDA's agenda is to find out all the bad things that you can about drugs and none of the good things,” Holland says. “They don't have an agenda that encompasses any sort of therapeutic research. There's all these hoops to jump through and NIDA plays all these games.
“There's all this great research happening in every country but ours, and our country is being obstinate about accepting international data, and our government still has the balls to say that it's not a medicine and it needs to be in schedule 1.”
Holland has a private practice in Manhattan, and is the former attending psychiatrist in the Psych ER at Bellevue Hospital from 1996 to 2005. Her experiences led her to write the best-selling Weekends at Bellevue, which is being adapted for television. Holland says she wasn't a specialist in the plant before she started The Pot Book, but as a doctor she can't condone the government's treatment of the drug or its users anymore.
“Everybody who looks at cannabis even the tiniest bit quickly learns it doesn't belong in schedule 1, and if I may digress, what does meet criteria for schedule 1 is cigarettes and alcohol, things that aren't scheduled. These are drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for addiction. I have huge issues with the way we schedule drugs in this country.”
Holland endorses Proposition 19 in California and similar efforts elsewhere.
“The most significant harm associated with smoking cannabis is being arrested. Things that can happen include losing your job, losing your kid, your student scholarships, your student loan money. There's a lot of bad things that can happen to you because of our drug policy, not because of the drug. There's this great Jimmy Carter quote that basically says, 'If the consequences of enforcing a drug law are creating more harms than the drug itself, it needs to be changed.'”
Changing drug policy has become similar to the gay rights movement of the '70s, she says.
“Did you see Milk? Harvey Milk said, 'You have to out yourself. People have to understand that they are in and among homosexuals.' And I think it's the same way that pot smokers have to out themselves. So we can reach a tipping point where people realize that people who have jobs and have families and pay taxes are also pot smokers. It's not like this fringe, it's people all over America.”