Waiting to Inhale:
This is from a press release by the Marijuana Policy Project:
The Marijuana Policy Project invites you to attend a screening of Waiting to Inhale, a feature-length documentary that provides a compelling and detailed look at medical marijuana.

Waiting to Inhale will be screened in Boston on Saturday, April 22, at 12:00 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre, and on Sunday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m. at the Somerville Theatre.

A panel discussion with film director Jed Riffe, noted scholar and author Dr. Lester Grinspoon, and Whitney Taylor, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts, will follow both screenings.

Funded in part by a grant from MPP, Waiting to Inhale features experts on both sides of the medical marijuana issue and intimate stories from critically ill patients seeking relief from their pain.

Waiting to Inhale has already played to critical acclaim, having won the 2005 CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Gold Special Jury "Remi" Award at the 38th Annual WorldFest-Houston, and the 2005 Best Documentary Film/Video at the New Jersey International Film Festival. Please visit for more information.

Please visit for more details about the screenings. Tickets can be purchased for $8.
I have not seen this film myself, so I may try to make it. This is also a nice chance to hear Lester Grinspoon, one of the pioneers of scholarship on intoxicants and the effects of drug prohibition.
What a brilliant title.
4.20.2006 4:08pm
While only tangentially relevent to the thread, the Boston Independant Film Fest is usually pretty good, esp at the Brattle and the Coolidge (less so in the Copley; I don't like seeing movies in a mall for some reason I can't understand).
4.20.2006 5:06pm
Thanks for the tip - I will try to make it.
4.20.2006 5:23pm
Guest poster (mail):
i assume it was no coincidence that you posted this today...
4.20.2006 6:52pm
Cold Warrior:

i assume it was no coincidence that you posted this today...

Yeah, apparently those ill effects of chemo always tend to show up on 4-20.
4.20.2006 7:07pm
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
I have three nephews and two nieces, all five of whom spent summers at my sister's in Canada and there learned the pot habit. My sister and her husband and two of their sons as well as my five nieces and nephews, children of three different aunts and uncles, have never recovered from their habit, still halucinate, and have difficulty making a living. None of the others who did not spend the summer(s) there have had any mental problems. Let's legalize pot and spread the joy around.
4.20.2006 7:42pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Robert, that sounds tragic, and marijuana is a serious thing, but medicinal marijuana is clearly enough a different issue. We don't "spread the joy" of oxycontin or morphine but we permit people who are in pain to take it because it helps. I don't see how pot is different. (This is aside from the broader self-determination issues).
4.20.2006 7:58pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
Robert F. Patterson's post seems to be all the drug warriors can come up with in terms of empirical evidence to support our stupid drug laws. Having just returned from a week-long trip to Amsterdam on Sunday, I am more convinced than ever that our drug laws are insane. I even saw a marijuana "coffee shop" right next to an elementary school and, somehow, society did not come crashing down.

Legalizing the medical uses of marijuana is the least we can do.

Allen Asch
4.20.2006 8:21pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Well said, Mike. We're dealing with people here who are begging to trade their daily misery for a halucination here and there. (And ditto on the broader self-determination issues).
4.20.2006 8:21pm
Guest poster (mail):
Mr. Patterson's post expresses the reason marijuana is still illegal: random, unverifiable anecdotes of terrifying mental illness used to conflate people who support marijuana legalization with people who support schizophrenia. I could just as well say I had 14 cousins and 16 nephews who got the "beer drinking habits" in summers in the cabin and are now unemployable and brain-damaged, and therefore all people who drink beer should go to prison; you would think I was strange, although in fact this scenario is probably more plausible than Mr. Patterson's scneario. Marijuana, LSD, and several other drugs are way safer than alcohol from short-term, long-term, and addiction standpoints; there are plenty of law review editors and appellate clerks who use them routinely, with no ill effect.
4.20.2006 8:52pm
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
There seems to me to be a huge diference in allowing the medicinal use of marijuana and in legalizing its use. I have been to Amsterdam too. THe very condition described is a pretty good argument against it. I am a Jamaican who grew up with ganga being a terrible evil. I have now lived to see it ruining my country.
4.20.2006 8:55pm
SenatorX (mail):
Mr. Patterson, with all due respect your comments are silly. You can hardly compare the dangers of pot to say meth. All "drugs" are not equivalent. I am sorry you are a Jamaican who was raised with all that baggage but if you were honest you would not attack pot as a core evil in your culture. For example some would rather consider rampant misogyny to be a larger issue. The holy "seed" and all that is just bull*hit.

In any case the question isn't legalization but de-criminalization. Leaving all the other issues aside (the business of the "war on drugs"/min sentencing for soft drug offenders, etc...) don't you see that punishing people for satisfying a desire to escape from their surroundings is an immoral act? Drugs are a social problem not a criminal one. I think I could make an easy case that prohibition is a worse evil than the effects of the drug on the person. Drug laws aren't made because anyone CARES about the individuals. Let's get real.

Also what right does the state have to tell a citizen (adult if you want) what plant they can grow and what goes on in the privacy of their home between said plant and themselves? If the state wants to educate its citizens because it CARES fine. Anything after that is oppression.
4.20.2006 9:45pm
CTD (mail):
I don't know that there's any need to troll Mr. Patterson. He's voicing an argument that prohibitionists love to use, and it's certainly possible that some kids who were given pot at a young age became useless slackers later.

Since pot is also illegal in Canada, I don't know what the anecdote has to do with legalization in any event.

I also want to add, for ego reasons, that I played on the soundtrack for "Waiting To Inhale", and it's good to see the movie out in the world. Ironically, no one did tokes between takes.
4.21.2006 12:08am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
This may explain chronic pot use:

[pdf]Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency. This is from Neuroendocrinology Letters Nos.1/2, Feb-Apr Vol.25, 2004

Bottom line: PTSD is more common than most people believe and may explain a lot of drug use. And the fact that it seems to run in families can be explained by:

Genetics of Chronic Drug Use

Randy: is there any legal way to challenge the medical basis of the drug laws? Or is it a matter of educating citizens?
4.21.2006 1:52am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
We just haven't looked at the long term effects of marijuana usage. I will be the first to admit (yes, from personal experience decades ago), that occasional use for a short period of time probably has no lasting effect. Most everyone I know from college smoked it then, and most have had very successful careers, etc. since then.

But that doesn't address the long term effects of heavy use. The three people I know who have smoked heavily for a minimum of 25 years are all disfunctinal. They can't cope with people very well, nor are they very good at holding down jobs (mostly, I think, because of the former problem). They tend to take the normal give-and-take of a job very personally.

Another problem seems to be that, presumably because marijuana deadens their senses, they are all extremely sensitive to the environment, whether it be odors, noises, gases, and even, in one case, radio waves. For a long time, I just attributed it to pot induced paranoia. But this one guy has repeated shown himself to be right. For example, he is very sensitive to carbon monoxide build up. Twice now he has managed to prove that there really was a problem, and that others just put up with being a bit groggy, etc. When the problems were fixed, this guy felt better, and all those groggy people were more alert.

The problem though is that we live in a polluted environment, and a certain level of filtering or ignoring the problem helps us survive. They don't have this. Indeed, none of the three can wear clothes that have been washed with regular detergent. Rather, all must use the sensitive skin version.

If they could cope with society, I wouldn't be opposed to legalizing marijuana. But they can't, and I am one of those who ends up helping them survive, whether it be talking to them every night to get them through the next day, or loaning them money when they have lost yet another job.

And, yes, maybe it was because of these problems that they became addicted to marijuana (while most of us didn't), and not the other way around. But I would rather that those who are borderline here be pushed into not getting stoned.

Finally, this says nothing about medical marijuana. I am basically in favor of it there, with some minor limitations.
4.21.2006 1:56am
M. Simon (mail) (www):

BTW it seems that Ethan B. Russo is right up there with Mikurya (sp) and Raphael Mechoulam in the study of the effects of cannabis on the body and brain.

You might want to do some searches.
4.21.2006 1:58am
M. Simon (mail) (www):

It is genetic: under some circumstances the more sensitive survive. Under others they are at a disadvantage.

The prevalence of sensitivity in the population is about 20%. From my studies the sensitivity needs to be activated. Trauma of various levels seems to do the trick.

Is Addiction Real?

It also may be a function of borderline schizophrenia. Such folks have higher intelligence but are also more mentally unstable. Which is why we recognize that in many cases genius is very near insanity.

The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Which is why prohibition will not stand. Once there is more understanding of the brain we will understand "addiction". It is not caused by drugs. Drugs are a symptom. Not a cause.
4.21.2006 2:07am
Guest poster (mail):
Mr. Hayden,

I find it incomprehensible that you argue that because some people misuse a substance, everyone should go to jail for its illegal use. You argue that because people who smoke pot for 25 years "cannot cope" with society, then I personally should go to prison if I smoke a joint.

This argument certainly applies to fatty foods; if you drink milkshakes several times a day for 25 years, you will have trouble walking around and have serious health problems. It clearly applies to alcohol and cigarettes. It applies to gambling, and even to downhill skiing -- some people downhill ski dangerously and break every bone in their body. I would venture that downhill skiing is far more dangerous if you do it every day for 25 years than marijuana.

Banning something that is fun for most people because a tiny number of people do it is at best irrational and at worst fascistic. Worse yet, the government persists in banning basic research into the health effects of these drugs and spreading misinformation. I think the word is out among many people with regard to marijuana that the government's assertions are factually incorrect. But with regard to a drug like LSD, which is safer than aspirin and provides its users with extraordinarily fulfilling experiences (a fact people seem to ignore when weighing the benefits of drug realization), the majority of people still think that legalizing it is ridiculous, largely because they believe the mythology of flashbacks, staring at the sun, etc. etc. Judging from my own experiences as well as my view of the scientific data, given the choice between banning cigarettes and banning LSD, it would be far more rational to ban cigarettes.
4.21.2006 2:10am
"Another problem seems to be that, presumably because marijuana deadens their senses, they are all extremely sensitive to the environment, whether it be odors, noises, gases, and even, in one case, radio waves."

Wouldn't that suggest that marijuana heightens their senses? If the marijuana user is able to consciously detect a poison in the environment that is actually harming other people -- the carbon monoxide in your story -- then it sounds like it would actually be highly useful to have a few potheads around the place!

Indeed, your story is consistent with the notion that marijuana lets people become conscious of sensory inputs (in this case, irritations and poisons) that would otherwise be subconscious. You note that the other workers in the office were affected by monoxide ("groggy") but did not consciously notice it, and that their condition did improve once the pothead pointed it out.

Consider: Everyone is harmed by the monoxide, but only the pothead is --

1. aware that a harm is taking place
2. capable of ascribing the harm to its cause (monoxide poisoning)
3. willing to expend the effort to get something done about it!

These attributes are important skills in a workplace. Indeed, they could reasonably be described as virtues -- certainly not flaws. They may sometimes be irritating or annoying to the person who holds them. But to the others who benefit -- the workers formerly being poisoned, who are now free of the poison -- the pothead's heightened awareness is a huge advantage.

Support your local potheads. Their fucked-up senses might save your life.
4.21.2006 4:36am
M. Simon (mail) (www):

At this point we have no idea if it is causation (pot increases sensitivity) or correlation (sensitives smoke pot to cut down on the "noise").
4.21.2006 8:05am
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
When I read some of the replies to my remarks, I can't help but say: What's the use? I did not bring "baggage" from Jamaica. I was the Foreign Editor of The Daily Gleaner for many years. THis is the largest, oldest and most respected English newspaper in the Caribbean area. I have advanced degrees from three universities, including Harvard. If a writer knows nothing about Jamaica he/she should say just that. Knowing something about Jamaica I assure you that it is the drug trade that has ruined not only the economy, but the social life and the morality of the island as a whole--NOT MISOGYNY, whatever that silly remark may mean. As to the idea that "Canada has nothing to do with the question because pot is illegal there;" this remark allows me to apply the old classical Virgilian quote: Ab uno disce omnes. My sister and her husband, hippie artists of the time, sheltered American Vietnam draft-dodgers at their art plant, situated in a remote part of Canada. The rest you can figure out for yourself.
4.21.2006 11:44am
SenatorX (mail):
Ok then, sticking to the medical marijuana issue: I work in Oncology clinics for a living. I am IT who is a senior troubleshooter for around 3,000 centers worldwide. I show up on site and stand around fixing interfaces and networks like a chump while sick people go through the business of being treated. It's horrible and I suggest anyone that thinks it's moral to prevent these people from taking any drug that makes them FEEL better follow some of them around for a DAY. Personally I can hardly imagine what it must be like to be nauseous day after day on a chemo plan. I HATE being nauseous and I rather expect it sucks the enjoyment of anything else right out of you. Empathy alone should push even the most fearful of "slippery slopes" over the edge to allowing these people whatever they need. So what if a subset of "fakers" gets access to legal pot? Cry me a river.

Moving on from that FAKE concern we all know its really just about protecting the status quo of big pharma and big gov. The war on drugs is a lucrative business. For those worried about welfare support of pot users I suggest you research the welfare cost of expensive anti-nausea drugs in comparison to a weed.
4.21.2006 11:58am
SenatorX (mail):
Mr. Patterson, I may have sounded harsh but I assure you that I do respect you as I have read your comments on others posts before. I just think you are wrong in your analysis of this case. The misogyny comment was in reference to things I have experienced by coming into contact with that culture. I know how those men use pot and religion to basically make their women do EVERYTHING while they lay around getting high. Not using protection, not taking responsibility for the children they sire, not working in domestic environment, hatred of homosexuals, violence against women. I find it difficult to respect those behaviors especially with the religious excuses.

"Knowing something about Jamaica I assure you that it is the drug trade that has ruined not only the economy, but the social life and the morality of the island as a whole"

I think the key words here are "the drug trade". The prohibition creating the market which makes "the trade" a criminal activity. Competition over production and distribution and the greater profit in "drug trade" than say a job I think are more relevant than a focus on the user. No matter how I look at it I can't find any justification in punishing users.
4.21.2006 12:15pm
markm (mail):
"The three people I know who have smoked heavily for a minimum of 25 years are all disfunctinal." Anyone who has drank heavily for 25 years will be dysfunctional too, if not dead. (Alcohol is a poison, with a lethal dose not too far above the blood alcohol levels drunks often hit, whil there is no known lethal dose for marijuana.)

So people who overuse drugs of any sort, including marijuana and alcohol, for a long period are messed up. So what? Drugs don't grab hold of you and force you to take them. Anyone who chose to spend their life in a chemically-induced stupor had something very much wrong with them to begin with.
4.21.2006 1:31pm
CTD (mail):
Mr. Patterson, if I wanted to toss objective evidence out the window, I'd quote Virgil too.

Canada's laws did nothing to stop some softminded hippies from getting your young relatives high - so what are prohibitionist laws doing for you or anyone? Besides police departments who want to pad their budgets by confiscating property from unpopular minorities, that is.
4.21.2006 9:57pm
Anon Y. Mous (mail):
go back and read every study the government has done on marijuana since Nixon had the Schaeffer (sp?) commission study drugs in 1972. the drug war is more about the rejection of government by the hippies who were seen as anarchists and a threat to the country than any health or criminal issue.

Every one but the "monkey in the gasmask" study has come back recommending that the government legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana. go back to 1947 when the first senate hearings were taking place and read what the American Medical Association actually believed and what an aide to one senator (its been a while since i read the history but this is darn close) told the committee they believed. the AMA was NOT in support of treating cannibis as a drug or narcotic but this aide said they supported the prohibitionists view. go read that wanker Barry McCaffrey's own study the ONDCP did in 1998 and they came to the conclusion that marijuana was not a gateway drug and that it should be decriminalized. or the 1988 DEA study that came to the same conclusion.

this is not about marijuana or thc this is about control and the fact that there is a huge population of law enforement, rehab centers, and other people on the drug war side whose jobs and budgets rely on keeping american's ignorant of the actual physiological effects of marijuana.

There have been numerous studies from Spain, England, The US, Canada, jamaica and on and on that have all come to the same conclusion. Decriminalize! the study from spain actually had solid evidence that thc reduced the growth of brain tumors and helped surrounding tissue to "thrive." (their word not mine)

Prohibition didn't work in the 20's. Come on. Why would it work with something any idiot can grow with a lamp in a college dorm room and not with alcohol?

There is more money in pretending we are fighting a war on drugs than decriminalizing and focusing on real crime.

Remember: It is not illegal if we don't have a law against it! This is not a moral issue because you can't argue that alcohol or tobacco is a more moral intoxicant than THC.

if our goal is to stop the negatives that surround drug use like violence and robbery then i don't understand. murder and violence already have rules against them. robbery is robbery and has laws against it. why do we need to look at what caused the crime in the first place? is it more of a crime because a crack head robbed a liquor store to fund his habit or some one robbed the liquor store to pay rent?
4.22.2006 8:18pm