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Legal or Not? an interview with Dr. David Rettew about Marijuana

David Rettew, M.D., is a child psychiatrist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He is the author of Child Temperament: New Thinking about the Boundary between Traits and Illness  published by W. W. Norton in 2013. Dr. Rettew is the Training Director of the UVM Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship and the Director of the Pediatric Psychiatry Clinic at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

I came up with the idea of interviewing Dr. Rettew because of his article wrote on PsychologyToday.com, entitled ” Does Legalised Marijuana Result in More Teen Use?”. I consider it to be a very controversial topic, for which I felt the need to ask a specialised figure. Also, his twitter site is@Pedipsych if you have further questions regarding the subject.

(All the links you’ll need to find are at the end of the interview)

Q1: As a personal opinion, would you legalise marijuana? Why?

” This is a big discussion and debate in my home state of Vermont, in the U.S.A..  Personally, I am opposed to legalization, at least for now.  While I am quite sympathetic to the argument that adults should have the right to do what they want (as long as it does not harm others), I find the argument that legalized marijuana will result in overall improved health and well-being to be extremely weak and misleading, especially with marijuana already being decriminalized here.  We already have a tremendous problem with regard to substance abuse and mental illness and there is every indication that this will just get worse with legalization.  While I know I sound like a stodgy old killjoy, governments, in my view, need to approach this issue very slowly and carefully before making irreversible decisions that could have major consequences.”

Q2: Is there any dangerous consequence in long term use that people should be aware of?

 “Yes there are many.  While it is certainly true that many people can use marijuana without major health consequences, research studies indicate that long term use approximately doubles the risk of a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, results in decreased cognitive abilities, negatively affects brain development, and in pregnancy can hurt developing babies, among other things.  Contrary to what many people believe, people can also become addicted to marijuana.”

Q3: Keeping in mind that teenagers are indeed easily influenced into trying all sorts of things, usually what seems interesting and not permitted, do you really think they’d still be tempted to try since everybody could legally do it? 

 

“Absolutely.  There are published studies of surveys that indicate that more teenagers would try marijuana than do now if it were to become legal.  Alcohol is legal for adults and this legality does not dissuade teenagers from using alcohol or having problems with it.”

Q4: Could older people cope with this idea, that their children or grand kids might be trying or constantly using it? 

 “Older folks may be a little more flexible than people think.  We can adapt to changes in our society, even those which overall exert a negative effect.”

Q5: Who do you think would be for and who against? (besides smokers and non-smokers)

 “Obviously people who use marijuana right now are generally in favor of legalization and this is completely understandable that they would like to feel less like criminals while using it.  People who could gain financially from a large legal industry are also in favor, and unfortunately some of these folks don’t disclose this conflict of interest when stating their case.  On the other side, many medical groups voice concern about legalization, as they are the ones that tend to see and deal with the negative consequences of marijuana first hand.  Despite the pro-legalization lobby trying to claim that crime would be reduced with legal marijuana, most law enforcement groups find these claims unreliable and they generally oppose legalization as well.”

 Q6: Do you find any major differences regarding this topic,between USA and other countries of the world?

“This one is more difficult to answer given my experience only with the USA.  My sense, however, is that other countries have taken a more cautious and slow approach which makes a lot of sense to me.  The Netherlands, for example, has been experimenting with policy on this for many years.  The USA, on the other hand, seems to have this strange need to rush into making big policy changes all at once.  There also seems to be this odd peer pressure among the states, kind of the idea that “they are doing it so we have to as well”. “

Q7: How would you react when passing by a group of 14 year old children and they’d be smoking? 

 “I’d probably have the same reaction that I do now when I see a group of young teens smoking tobacco, which is to feel sad and sorry for them.  They probably wouldn’t want my pity, but I’d wish that they could have the ability to view what they were doing from the perspective of themselves as adults 30 years later.”

Q8: Besides recreational use, could it develop into other uses too? (because medical is already permitted)

 “The marijuana plant contains a huge number of different chemicals and it is certainly true that some of them could have medical uses.  One of those substances is called cannabidiol.  It is very important to remember, however, that isolating a single compound and testing it as a medicine is very different than smoking the entire plant and thinking it has medicinal properties.  I heard one researcher compare this to the idea of wanting to eat mold just because some strains have penicillin in it.”

Q9: Which institution of the country do you think would disagree the most? and which one would be the most affected? 

 “Again, I think the medical and law enforcement groups are voicing the most concern about legal marijuana because they are the ones who see the negative consequences of it every day.  When you evaluate psychotic patients in emergency departments, respond to a fatal accident on a road, or deal with an increasing homeless and crime problem in a neighborhood, it gives you pause.”

Q10: Do you consider this to be the open gate of being able to give people what they enjoy or the little opened door of Pandora’s ?

 I do worry quite a bit about things getting worse and not being able to reverse some of the decisions we made.  I’m not apocalyptic about legalized marijuana, but I do see it having a very negative effect overall on overall public health.  I’m particularly concerned about the effects of big multibillion dollar cannabis industries and their advertising budgets.  People have spent so much money and energy trying to get people to quit smoking tobacco or better yet not to start in the first place.  We are finally seeing the benefits of this enormous effort and my concern is that we are now going to have to start this process all over again with marijuana. “

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  1. I was very fascinated to see this topic discussed from the more opposing side of the legalization of marijuana. The article was very well spoken and understandable. It opened my eyes more towards the legalization of marijuana. But of course, it’s still beneficial for those who need it for medical purposes. I’ve done a bit of secondary research myself before on the topic of medical marijuana, as I was inspired by someone I had once met who smoked as a relief of their bipolar disorder; however it wasn’t used as actual medical marijuana. Their reasoning was because they didn’t like the side effects from their medication for bipolar disorder, influencing them to stop their medication and resort to marijuana. That had made me wonder if it was a good or a bad thing as I have learned it can be a common thing for people with disorders to choose to stop their medication.
    I found questions two and seven to be very interesting by seeing the health risks and to also bring up almost of a comparison of seeing kids smoking tobacco to marijuana. I have heard of cannabis use disorder though, so that could be a reason as to why it may be opposed. But like tobacco and alcohol, those things have negativities towards health as well and those things are legal in the United States. I know how their destructive sides have been brought to attention and there has been a decrease in tobacco use today, but there are people who still chose to smoke tobacco. I’ve always felt that marijuana has less damaging effects than tobacco and alcohol. But perhaps bringing more awareness to the fact that non-medical marijuana may have its own risks (such as driving while high) could be of help.
    I personally hope to see more research in the use of medical marijuana as I feel it could bring a much wider understanding of this topic.

  2. Being an American, this is a topic I am interested in because it is an issue that was recently voted on in my state, but also a concern I share as a future nurse. I agree with Dr. Rettew that we need to make this decision as a country slowly and carefully. Its a complicated topic.

    The subtopic I would like to hear Dr. Rettew talk about, because I feel his views on marijuana usage were clearly stated and well put in this article, is if we do not legalize marijuana, what is the best course of action? Do we continue to criminalize smoking it in every situation? Should we adopt a more rehabilitative approach? Do we need stricter policies? What would that look like? If we legalize marijuana, what is the best way to help ensure that teenagers, specifically, don’t turn to smoking it?

    I understand there are many health concerns and possibility of addiction. Even though it is not legal in my state currently, there are still lots of teenagers who smoke it. How can we better combat this issue, regardless of the outcome?

    Based on my information, its a very real possibility that the US could legalize marijuana. I think the most important thing to do right now is prepare for every possibility, including all the pros and the cons of every outcome. And by far the underlying issue is how to help everyone understand the safety risks involved and how to discourage adolescents from smoking it.

  3. This is a very interesting topic. One that has plagued us for years past and years to come. It would appear that this professional is on the opposite side of the spectrum, in regards to legalization. I think it would have been interesting to have a dual interview to gain the perspective of each side and have a bit of a debate. What’s more provoking than strong, professional debate? I was going to touch on the idea of “doing things we know we aren’t supposed to” but I am glad that perspective was added. We often times only do things we know aren’t legal, but we can attempt to get away with. I would like to comment on the “older folks” question. In today’s society, we find that older adults are having difficulty adapting to the changes that are occurring every day. Computers, technology, cell phones, etc. Can we really expect older adults to change views on this matter? This was a generation that fought hard to make marijuana illegal, so what would make them change their mind, and suddenly go with the flow? This article also seems to have healthcare in mind. This would appear to be a perspective of those that want to continue making it illegal because it could potentially create competition for big tobacco. Would it not make sense to make it legal and still impose restrictions on it, like smoking and drinking? You can still keep the 18 years old restrictions on marijuana and still be able to regulate it.

    To the author, this is a very well done article. You gained perspective on a very hot button topic and brought light to the issues that surround it. I would like to suggest, again, bringing a debate style to this type of topic. This read a bit negative towards legalization, almost as if it were a paid answer to this issue. If you allow other perspectives to come into play, you can allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. Thank you for allowing me to read this perspective and see it from a different viewpoint. I worked for a medical company that was on the side of legalization, so I have seen it from the other side. It helped to see this side too!

  4. Question 8 is so important. I think the legalization of marijuana will open doors to researching this incredibly versatile and useful plant. I find it off putting that everyone is focused on smoking it rather than creating goods from it when it has so many uses. I hope that the legalization of the plant will not only allow for more research into how the plant affects humans both negatively and positively, but also how we can use hemp to replace some of the more harmful and wasteful products that we use.

  5. This article introduces and interesting take on being opposed to marijuana legalization, which is rather different than most marijuana-oriented articles being written now. A plethora of them are pro-legalization, and it was intriguing to see the other side of the argument. Dr. Rettew’s opinion is well-based and thorough, but I would like to see him state specific, scientific evidence or citations to studies that claim that marijuana usage can heighten the chances of obtaining mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. According to http://www.drugpolicy.org, “There is no compelling evidence that marijuana causes some psychiatric disorders in otherwise healthy individuals. Most tellingly, rates of schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses have remained flat even during periods of time when marijuana use rates have increased.”
    I am somewhat unsure of his mentioning that marijuana would lessen crime rates. Again, according to http://www.drugpolicy.org, in 2015, 643,121 individuals were arrested for crimes associated with marijuana. The total of drug-related arrests in the U.S in 2015 was 1,488,707. Nearly half of the drug-related arrests were due to marijuana alone, and 574,641 of them were for marijuana possession alone. Whether Dr. Rettew’s sources of law enforcement feel that marijuana legalization would have little effect on crime rates are based on law enforcement in states such as his home state, Vermont, or not is unseen. I feel that there is a color of bias on Dr. Rettew’s part, and a lack of research on his part as well.
    However, the technical aspects of the article are very well-grounded and the questions the author posed are very intelligent and thorough, but rather long winded and the article should be written in a hard news format, rather than in a more narrative twist on a feature story. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  6. Thanks for everyone’s comments. I know this website is seen more by a European than American audience and I can’t help but notice the contrast between the generally thoughtful and respectful comments here compared to what I typically receive. Even most of the people who disagreed with me did so in a civil way. Wish we could have more of this at home!

  7. Putting the content aside, the writing style is very off-putting. The title would be better as “To Legalize or Not” since “legal or Not?” gives the impression that the article discusses whether marijuana is legal, not whether it should be legal.

    The phrasing of the questions could also be better. Some examples are listed below with re-write suggestions:

    Q3: Keeping in mind that teenagers are indeed easily influenced into trying all sorts of things, usually what seems interesting and not permitted, do you really think they’d still be tempted to try since
    REWRITE: Do you think the temptation of smoking marijuana comes from the thrill of doing something forbidden or illegal? If so, do you think the legalization would dissuade teenagers from trying it?

    Q4: Could older people cope with this idea, that their children or grand kids might be trying or constantly using it?
    REWRITE: What reaction would you anticipate from older generations seeing marijuana used so openly and extensively/widely?

    Q5: Who do you think would be for and who against? (besides smokers and non-smokers)
    REWRITE: Other than smokers vs. nonsmokers, what groups would support or oppose legalization?

    Q7: How would you react when passing by a group of 14 year old children and they’d be smoking?
    REWRITE: What would be your reaction if you saw young teenagers on the street smoking pot?

    Q10: Do you consider this to be the open gate of being able to give people what they enjoy or the little opened door of Pandora’s ?
    REWRITE: Would you consider legalization appeasing the people’s choice or opening Pandora’s box?

  8. First, I would like to point out the fact that the introduction was very nicely put together, the author mentioned everything that is important while keeping it short and compact.
    Now onto the actual interview. I liked the way Dr. Rettew didn’t take either side completely, it doesn’t happen often that we see someone who is personally against marijuana, aproaching this topic in a racional and objective manner – he suggested that we should think this topic through and react slowly and carefully rather than jump into making up new laws.
    I appreciate his protective thoughts about teens who might wish to use it more regularly if it becomes legal for recreational use. I think that putting links to several articles on this topic was actually crucial for this article since man readers, including myself, would shake their heads in denial (“how would it be possible for legalisation to result in increased abuse, the moment it gets illegal-it stops being interesting”, I thought to myself), but this added links made me think twice.

    Finally, the paragraph that I didn’t like was when Dr. mentioned negative health side effects. Health benefits are one of the strongest arguments “for” legalisation so I believe that, if he wanted to point out the negative sides, he should have stated a link or two to researches in his behalf.

  9. Although I can definitely understand both stand points of the argument, it is a very interesting topic because of its controversy. I do agree with the statement that the benefits of cannabidiol being a substance in marijuana is different from smoking the entire plant, but I couldn’t help but question his statement about the long term effects of it. He stated “studies said” but there are no actual sources cited below about this “study” per se. If it’s only long term effects that we’re so concerned about, what about all these other legal drugs that have long term effects for us? If we take antibiotics for an example, it is great and works great, but if you continue using it long term, we become immune to it, so it doesn’t work in our bodies, and we can’t fight off infections. In no way am I trying to discredit the writer because I think these were awesome questions and we did get answers. I did really enjoy this so great job making it interesting from the very beginning of the title to the end.

  10. You know we’d be having a whole different discussion if hemp wasn’t made illegal in favor of paper production. I think that since a majority of people do it and it isn’t hurting anybody but themselves; that it should be legalized. That’s one less thing law enforcement has to worry about and states like Colorado have actually seen crime go down and revenue go up. Dr. Retter makes valid points but I think it should be legalized.

  11. Controversial issues such as legalizing drugs will always have another side to the argument. Many people have always been pro-marijuana–not just legalizing it. While I do have my reservations about using it, I do think that if it were legalized, abuse may go down. Like David Rettew said, young people have a tendency to always drift towards what is deemed bad and indecent. Even though alcohol is legalized, the age restriction, while understandably placed, is what drives youth to seek out alcohol. I don’t think there will ever be something that can discourage that, but once marijuana becomes a common and normalized drug, I believe that the abuse/use rate will go down.

    I do appreciate that he addresses smoking marijuana. I’ve been told many times by users that it is less harmful (key words, less harmful) than smoking tobacco, and yet it is still harmful to the lungs. I hope people will begin to open their eyes that there’s no such thing as a miracle drug that is the end all cure all.

  12. A very fascinating article. As someone living in a state where the drug is currently illegal for recreational use, as well as working in a medical office that has just been licensed to prescribe marijuana pharmaceutically I find Dr. Rettew’s argument quite compelling. I do feel some further expansion on the effects of use of marijuana in the adolescent stage of development could be expanded upon after the mentioned concerns in questions 2 and 3 regarding the overall negative effects the drug can half and the implications of legalization on teenage usage. Some research showing possible ties to decreased IQ, changes in neuron connections and volume of grey matter when using marijuana whist the brain is still developing (APA 2015). Still a wonderful looking into the medical stance of such a hot button topic at the moment, and interesting read.

    (APA article on the topic http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain.aspx)

  13. This interview covers the anti-legalization argument very well. The questions were well constructed and Dr. Rettew answered them with thoughtful and effective logic. Overall it was a fantastic argument for one side of the argument. On this note it might be worth while to link an article explaining the pro legalization side of the argument. Furthermore, Governor John W. Hickenlooper was part of a commentary back in 2014 about experimenting with marijuana in Colorado. This article, “Experimenting with Pot: The State of Colorado’s Legalization of Marijuana” is an interesting read after looming over the Dr Rettew interview. It’s nice to see the juxtaposition of the argument and the situation in Colorado.

    All in all, great interview, great argument and it provided alot of of good information with the extra readings included.

  14. Dr. Retter has definitely helped me see the other side of this argument by shining light on the harmful and addictive effects of marijuana. But on the other hand, doesn’t completely restricting something always have a negative impact on the society? When alcohol was (and is in some countries) not legalised for adults, the ABUSE was much more than it is as opposed to now where the USE might be more extensive. Isn’t awareness of a substance rather than complete prohibition always better in terms of addition and abuse?
    Just my point of view.

  15. Dr. Rettew does have a point regarding the addictive qualities that marijuana does provide, as my sister, who is a daily consumer, goes through minor withdrawal effects if she’s gone a while without consumption. In my opinion, we can’t deny the medical qualities that medical-specific marijuana has. I went to high school with a girl who participated in the test group for the Charlotte’s Web strain of medical marijuana, and she showed researchers that under the treatment of the strain, her daily seizure count reduced dramatically, so much so that she was able to transition from homeschooling to a regular, more traditional school experience. Legalization can bring upon exploitation by companies, especially the pharmaceutical companies, that is something we can’t deny. One of my bigger questions are: what is your take on strains that have a higher CBD content than THC content? Do you think its a placebo effect type of situation?

    We also need to acknowledge that our local communities also benefit from marijuana, even if its an indirect benefit. The high taxes imposed on marijuana go towards local governments to fund road repairs, parks and recreation maintenance, and other locally funded plans. In the higher state government, these taxes go towards giving more funding for schools and higher education, without mentioning all the other programs that benefit lower income families as well.

    Just a little food for thought

  16. My perception on legalization of marijuana has been at a standstill for awhile, with the belief that it could make the American economy better but this interview has definitely dissuaded me from that thought. Yes, legalizing weed would mean there would be more jobs for Americans who seek employment, and weed would be taxed which means more money for the government to pay off its debts. But that could be the same for any drug if it was legalized and I see that now. I have been exposed to information pertaining to both positive and negative attributes of cannabis but the good always outweighed the bad for me. I also think my reasoning has a lot to do with who I am: being 19, I hang out with a lot of other teens who are just as ignorant about weed. As I age and become more mature I resonate a lot with what Dr. Rettew says in his answers.

    This interview has also shed a lot of light on the medical field and the police enforcement who all oppose weed because they see the adverse effects everyday. They have a reason to hate it so much because they see it first- hand when dealing with.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. The questions were intelligent and the answers were mostly opinion based but thought provoking. I also learned important information in a concise format which is always pleasant.

  17. My thoughts: Q1
    I partially agree with Dr. Rettew here, though, full disclosure, I am a long time cannabis user, at first, recreationally, but now, I am a M.M. Patient here in Massachusetts.

    Let’s break it down,
    “… there is every indication that this will just get worse with legalization.”

    I would love for him to back up this statement. What indications? EVERY indication that it would make things worse? This seems like a weak statement. I understand though that this answer was posed as a personal opinion, and not a fact based scientific study, so I can’t come down on him too hard. But if and when the scientific research can be done, I simply have to disagree with the idea that its legalization will make an overall negative impact on Mental Health or our society as a whole.

    “While I know I sound like a stodgy old killjoy, governments, in my view, need to approach this issue very slowly and carefully before making irreversible decisions that could have major consequences.”

    Here however, I do agree. More studies must be done, and patience is a virtue. To legalize any substance without understanding its true nature, outside of biases and willful ignorance, is foolish. Allowing states to decide, and removing the criminality associated with its use at a federal level is key. Should it be 100% Legalized across the entire country, as of right now, no, probably not. More time and research is needed.

    Allow the states to decide to decriminalize, or legalize entirely. Allow Universities and Clinicians to perform scientific studies. Keep the Federal Gov. from abusing it’s power, and coming after users of Cannabis, medical or recreational. After these concessions can be met, we simply cannot know, and should not make blanket legislation, dictating its illegality.

    My thoughts: Q2:
    “…long term use approximately doubles the risk of a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, results in decreased cognitive abilities, negatively affects brain development, and in pregnancy can hurt developing babies, among other things. Contrary to what many people believe, people can also become addicted to marijuana.”

    Again, I have to partially disagree with Dr. Rettew here. Only in that there simply has not been the time necessary, or studies of and clinical research done yet to truly understand Cannabis’ role in the development of Mental Disorders. I would have to wonder, does it increase the likelihood in people who already exhibit signs and symptoms of specific Psychopathy? Or does he mean to imply that it can be the cause of such disorders?

    I have personally been using Marijuana for well over 15 years. I was out of HS and finished my one year certificate program in ‘College” before I started to dabble. In Comparison, I started experimenting with Alcohol around 17. I was basically done with Alcohol by the time I turned 21, but continued to turn to Cannabis. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder as a young child, and was recently re-diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depressive and General Anxiety Disorders. But I honestly don’t feel Cannabis has had a negative effect on my mental state, in fact, after about 5 years of habitual use, I began to understand it’s medicinal benefits. It was no longer just a fun, recreational ‘toy’. But a new Tool in my toolbox of self-help and care. I continue to use M.M. on a daily to every other day basis, and I know for a fact, in my own personal experience…it absolutely is a medicine, in it’s entirety.

    “…results in decreased cognitive abilities, negatively affects brain development, and in pregnancy can hurt developing babies, among other things. Contrary to what many people believe, people can also become addicted to marijuana.”

    Here is where I can agree with Dr. Rettew. I do feel that if I had started using Cannabis any earlier in my life, it could have had a major impact on my development. I know plenty of folks who began smoking Cannabis much earlier, 11…12 years old. And I have to wonder, was that a good choice? I firmly believe that everyone is different, and effects will differ from person to person, but overall…do I feel Cannabis can have a negative impact on a developing mind, yes.

    But once into Adulthood, 21…25 years old, while some development may not be finished, the groundwork and foundations have been set. And at this point, the use of Cannabis should not be questioned. Alcohol is far worse, much more destructive, physically and emotionally and developmentally. I truly feel that a person who starts drinking at 11 is going to be in a much worse position to develop fully and ‘naturally’ versus a person who begins using Cannabis at the same age. However, as I stated earlier, the time and research just hasn’t been done, and until it has, there is no real way to be sure. But we CAN be quite certain in stating that Cannabis is a much safer alternative to its contemporaries.

    As to its addictive nature, I agree there is a mental or emotional dependence associated with regular use, but this is also the case with literally any chemical we imbibe. And it’s overall effects and benefits, to me, outweigh that outcome. I would rather be mentally dependent on Cannabis than Alcohol or Rx pills. If for some unforeseen reason, I must go without Cannabis for a few days, a week…a month. While I am not going to be super pleased about it, I won’t go into withdrawls, I wont spiral out of control. I just feel the typical downtrodden feelings of dealing with life through the filter of Anxiety and Depression. Suddenly stop taking your Antidepressants or stop drinking Alcohol at the same, habitual rate of a few drinks, every day or every other day, for 15 years and I guarantee that the resulting side effects and withdrawals would be unbearable, if not lethal.

    My Thoughts: Q3:
    Agreed, more people would try Cannabis if it were legal. Good. Fine.

    Better than raising yet another generation of people who depend on Alcohol or Hard Drugs to get through this Rollercoaster we call life and society. The REAL question is, why do we, a majority of human beings, feel the need to turn to Chemicals at all? What is going on in our Society and Cultures that make dealing with life, 100% sober, so unappealing? So overwhelming?

    Once we can address that much larger, overarching discussion, we can begin to work toward a less chemically dependent existence.

    However, it is my opinion, that until that time, Cannabis is the safest, most natural and effective means toward parsing out all the intricacies and complexities in the life of a person who can’t simply be sober 100% of the time.

    F.Y.I.: I am using the word ‘Sober’ here to indicate a mental state, clear of any and all outside chemicals or compounds. I would include things like being over caffeinated, or on an Rx as not being ‘sober’. I am not using it in the more simplistic ‘recreational’ definition of ‘Drunk vs Sober’. Just to clarify.

    My thoughts: Q5:
    “…Despite the pro-legalization lobby trying to claim that crime would be reduced with legal marijuana, most law enforcement groups find these claims unreliable and they generally oppose legalization as well.”

    To remove Cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 federally banned substances would literally decrease the associated ‘Crime’ rate. As in, it is not a Crime to imbibe, no one gets arrested for its use or possession…less ‘crime’. Literally. It’s not that the pro-legalization people are “trying to claim” a benefit…the benefits should be obvious and self evident.

    With that being said, most Law Enforcement Agencies are bought and paid for. Their “facts and figures” are and should be regarded as biased and one-sided. They are in the business of keeping the Prison Industrial Complex full to the brim with ‘criminals’. There is a clear conflict of interest here in this statement. And it is the perpetuation of these antiquated mindsets that have kept us in the dark ages when it comes to Cannabis. Enough is enough.

    My thoughts: Q6:
    “This one is more difficult to answer given my experience only with the USA. My sense, however, is that other countries have taken a more cautious and slow approach which makes a lot of sense to me.”

    Dr. Rettew is either unaware, or purposefully misrepresenting the reality. Portugal decriminalized all Drugs in 2001. Granted, this wasn’t done over night, and perhaps he is right, it may have been a slow, more cautious approach. And there is nothing wrong with that, only fools rush in. On that we agree…however, this legislation is unprecedented! It is a major move toward acceptance and understanding, instead of trying to rule with an iron fist. (which has been shown, time and time again, throughout history, to be short sighted, violent, and ineffectual to the say the least, if not actually causing more damage to the society it is being used in.)

    Here is a Vice article discussing Portugal’s groundbreaking approach, and its overall effects, almost 2 decades later.

    https://news.vice.com/article/ungass-portugal-what-happened-after-decriminalization-drugs-weed-to-heroin

    My thoughts: Q8:
    “The marijuana plant contains a huge number of different chemicals and it is certainly true that some of them could have medical uses. One of those substances is called cannabidiol. It is very important to remember, however, that isolating a single compound and testing it as a medicine is very different than smoking the entire plant and thinking it has medicinal properties.”

    Perhaps this is true, but correct me if I am wrong, isn’t this precisely what Big Pharma has been doing for decades? They looked to nature to find naturally occurring compounds and chemicals, isolated them from their constituents and then synthesized and concentrated them down into powder and Pill forms. Have you SEEN or been at all aware of the current Opioid Epidemic ravaging our country? Our Planet?? And what happens when the availability of such drugs is no longer what it was, based on your doctor no longer refilling Rx’s or other circumstances? People turn to the Black Market, find underground distributors of the readily available, and arguably, more natural form of said compounds. Heroine is directly produced from the sap of the Poppy plant. Now, I personally don’t think Heroine is great, I have never tried it, and have no interest in doing so. But I do find it interesting that regardless of how ‘precise’ or ‘pure’ a Rx Pill can be, folks still return to nature when they have nowhere else to turn.

    Honestly, it is my opinion that it is the balance and interplay of Cannabis’ THC, CBD and other chemical constituents that make it as effective as it is. It isn’t just…100% THC, or CBD, they work in concert, with each other, but also within our brains.

    My thoughts: Q10:
    “I’m particularly concerned about the effects of big multibillion dollar cannabis industries and their advertising budgets. People have spent so much money and energy trying to get people to quit smoking tobacco or better yet not to start in the first place. We are finally seeing the benefits of this enormous effort and my concern is that we are now going to have to start this process all over again with marijuana. “

    I can absolutely understand where Dr. Rettew is coming from here. There are so many unknowns surrounding this topic, that action without thought of consequence could be detrimental to our society and species. Again, patience here is key. More research is needed, to be sure.

    However, to insist that no action should be taken, no changes implemented, in the here and now, is perhaps equally detrimental. We have plenty of Anecdotal Evidence that Cannabis is, overall, a fairly benign plant. It’s effects on the mind and easing of psychological stress or disorders of its users is immediate, and has no major side effects. You cannot Overdose, and the withdrawal symptoms are mild in comparison to Alcohol and Rx’s. We know it can be mentally or emotionally addictive, but, in the end, a dependence on Cannabis is a far better possible outcome, than the almost assured self destruction that is associated with Alcoholism or the use of Hard Drugs.

    Overall, I would say this is a great interview! I appreciate the opening and expanding dialogue surrounding Cannabis and its uses and efficacy in both the Medicinal and Recreational aspects.

    I do not agree 100% with Dr. Rettew, but I appreciate his honesty and willingness to dive a little deeper.

    In the end, time will reveal reality. Open Minds, Open dialogue and Scientific Study will only help to get us there sooner.

    -Josh

  18. I enjoyed reading this interview. On both sides of the debate of legalization, uninformed people spread inaccurate claims and hysteria. I’m no professional in psychology, and Dr. Rettew made fine points about prolonged use and psychological effects, but I feel he could have been pressed more on societal questions (I’m coming from a sociological perspective). Marijuana is still criminalized in a majority of the states and people are put into prison to minor drug offences. Marijuana also has a strong presence as a black market item due to it being illegal in many areas, influencing gang activity and violence. Hearing Dr. Rettew respond to questions like these with his knowledge on the various psychological effects from studies he mentioned would have been intriguing. Still, a fine interview!

  19. This article was extremely interesting, especially to someone who also has a vested interest in the legalization of marijuana here in the U.S. I thought this interview was cohesive and easy to follow. Some tips I could give would be to include some links to studies to make this interview either more credible or it may discredit Dr. Rettew, it’s all down to the facts. In your intro it says no where that he is a scientist and can actually prove those negative effects of marijuana so you should provide links to studies that disprove or back up this point. I think it would be beneficial and interesting to the reader. He also specifically mentions that there are studies that indicate the negative effects of long term use and that contrary to popular belief people can get addicted to marijuana, it would be awesome to provide links to these studies because it is in fact contradicting common knowledge.
    Overall this was an awesome interview and while I don’t agree with a lot of Dr. Rettew’s sentiments, I still found it interesting and it’s prompted me to do more research on my own.

  20. I enjoyed reading the opinion of someone who’s not extreme about his opinions, but rather embracing of each extreme’s points. This really made me think about the other side of legalization. A question that was left unanswered was, why doesn’t the government invest in research to be more sure about the effects of marijuana use, whether it would be like the tobacco ordeal or if it’s worth the shot?

    (typo in the introduction, “…because of his article wrote on PsychologyToday.com” take out the “wrote”)

    • The reason the Federal Government doesn’t or won’t invest time, money and effort into the research of Cannabis, is because they are far too invested in the Criminalizing of the users of said plant. There is simply too much money to be made by keeping non-violent offenders locked up behind bars. And yes…Money is all the motivation necessary for humans to be horrible.

  21. I agree that the U.S. is rushing into things and we should better model our drug laws after the Netherlands instead of rushing into things. Dutch society benefited immensely from legalization.
    Currently I am living in a country with some of the strictest drug laws in the world. From my perspective, it seems like these laws push people towards alcohol (as that is readily available here). All the research seems to indicate that alcohol is more dangerous, disruptive, and addictive than marijuana.
    This article didn’t change my opinion, but it did help me understand the other sides perspective. Thank you for sharing.

    • Yes, 100%.

      Alcohol, somehow…just, over time…over the centuries, became accepted. But the reality of the situation is, cannabis has been used for thousands of years as well. I would even venture to say that Cannabis was used well before we learned to ferment and control the production of Alcohol. Yet, Cannabis is demonized, while Alcohol is still permitted. Politics…counter-intuitive and harmful politics.

      Enough is enough.

  22. I think this article makes valid and well thought out points about marijuana but its like what you said, in the end we’d have to start over trying to make people stop using marijuana just like the smoking issue and that got me thinking, who’s to say another controversial substance arises like smoking and marijuana, what then? The U.S is dealing with a debt so large that the government doesn’t have time to play this game anymore. One way to prevent more money wasted in advertisement over and over again (not saying the anti-smoking advertisements aren’t working because they are) we could find a solution that could please marijuana users and non users altogether and I think millennials are the first step.

  23. Dr. Rettew has a very insightful point of view. Before reading this, I only knew the positives to legalization as it should be the user’s responsibility. However, Dr. Rettew does bring up a good point about how the legalization can be exploited by companies. Great interview and Dr. Rettew’s points were very interesting.

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The Stigma around Mental Health

Legal or Not? an interview with Dr. David Rettew about Marijuana