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Cannabis as an addiction treatment

Cannabis as an addiction treatment

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When Dr. Joseph Morgan worked in addiction medicine, his clinic wouldn’t even admit patients if their primary substance was cannabis. Years later, he developed a treatment protocol to treat opioid addicts with cannabis.

CBD will reduce cravings, whether it’s for cigarettes, whether it’s for heroin or cocaine. THC has impacts on the endogenous opioid system to get the body to release its own opioids,” Dr. Morgan said in an interview on The Cannabis Enigma podcast. “There’s a lot of benefits for using cannabis and THC to treat opioid addiction.”

Dr. Joseph Morgan
Dr. Joseph Morgan

Dr. Morgan has brought cannabis research to a host of unexpected and fascinating areas — including as a possible treatment for chemical warfare exposure. He also found a way to conduct cannabis research that bypasses the impossible restrictions imposed by federal cannabis prohibition in the United States.

Delta-9-THC, the main psychoactive component is actually legal, if it is synthetic,” he explained. Using legal versions of the chemical components of cannabis, he reconstructs the plant’s active ingredients in order to study its effects in rodents — and himself.

“I also had it prescribed to me as compound pharmacy, starting with dronabinol. The pharmacist wanted to see all the certificates of analysis, and I gave him the original stock bottles…and he said he would be able to do that. And so, I have basically a legal cannabis mimic prescribed to me as a liquid.

Dr. Morgan also explained how one of more notorious side effects of cannabis can actually be a positive aspect for some medical patients.

“Short-term memory loss is a negative property when you’re having a conversation — you forget what you’re talking about — but when it helps you to forget about pain, forget about thinking about pain, and especially in the setting of endometriosis, it’s a very positive property,” he said.

Dr. Joseph Morgan will be speaking at the CannX Conference on October 26-28, 2020.

In the second segment of the episode, Associate Policy Coordinator of Americans for Safe Access, Andrew Coon, discusses the hurdles pediatric cannabis patients and their families face in schools. With so many states declaring the areas around schools “drug free zones,” it makes it very difficult for pediatric cannabis patients to administer their medicine during school hours — a problem that most other medications do not pose.

Edited and mixed by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. Produced by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Matan Weil. Music by Desca. The Cannabis Enigma podcast is a co-production of The Cannigma and Americans for Safe Access.

Full, unedited transcript:

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Dr. Joseph Morgan, thank you so much for being with us today.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: My pleasure.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: So, let’s start from the beginning, how did you get into cannabis medicine? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: That’s a great question. I would say, I got into it as a awkward teenager who found my anxiety relieved, and I could really appreciate music, and I would go to live concerts as well as relax with cannabis. And it’s something that I never forgot even though I walked away from it, for many, many years, when it became a career-busting, career ending, if you were busted, especially as I was going through medicine. Always fascinated with psychoactive drugs, including in medical school, a lot of interest in psychiatry. And I ended up practicing Drug and Alcohol Rehab Medicine, and I kinda noticed that cannabis was never really a serious issue for people compared to the hard drugs and alcohol that brought them in for inpatient treatment.

In fact, we wouldn’t even admit patients who were just heavy cannabis users or addicted to cannabis. Make a long story short, I was interested in drugs for protection from chemical war nerve agents, and I couldn’t get the medicines that I wanted, so I came to Israel about 15 years ago, and people were asking me for medical cannabis consults, and I said, “I don’t really know a whole lot about it. Let me research it and I’ll get back to you.” As I researched cannabis, it became clear to me that the pharmacological properties of the plant were very beneficial against the toxic properties of chemical war nerve agents, like VX, Sarin, cyclosarin, Tabun, and so-called nerve gases. The ones that have been used by many people in the Middle East to murder people, as well as by a cult in Tokyo.

I contacted Raffy Mechoulam with some of my very specific ideas, which would include cannabinoids are useful against seizures, nerve agents, induced seizures. Nerve gases cause bronchospasm and caused the lungs to fill with fluid, cannabis causes dry mouth, which is unwanted in a recreational user, but dry mouth and dry eyes and dryer lungs would be very much, very beneficial in the setting of chemical war and nerve agents. And there are many other properties. I eventually put this theme together as God’s plant versus man’s toxins. So that’s how I got into cannabis. I have a patent issued in Israel and pending in the US, in Canada and in the EU for cannabis against chemical war nerve agents, and along the way, I figured out how to make cannabis legal, taking it outside of Schedule I in the United States, and how to study the entourage effects. I presented this at the International Cannabinoid Research Society several years ago, and I was surprised that regulators around the world thought I had a great workaround, the illegal nature of cannabis, and I got a lot of compliments from Israeli scientists who I presented my work to in private, including Lumír Hanuš, who thought I had come up with a really important way to study cannabinoid system and entourage effects, and I’ll be happy to share that with you in a couple of minutes.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Yeah, sure. What does it mean to make it legal, to take it out of the Schedule I category? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Okay, well, cannabis has a lot of interesting components, THC, Delta-9-THC, the main psychoactive component is actually legal, if it is synthetic under the name dronabinol, and if it comes in capsules that are diluted in sesame oil, it’s in Schedule III with a brand name Marinol in the United States, and it’s also available as a liquid in Schedule II. Dronabinol is also in Schedule I if it’s outside of those formulations. So for my THC, I began with Marinol capsules, dronabinol capsules, and extracted the THC inside of the… With the sesame oil, calling it 9 and a half milligrams per 10 milligram capsule, allowing for loss. There’s also a much more potent THC-like drug available in the United States and many other countries, the generic name is Nabilone, the brand name in the US is Cesamet, so that could be another source of THC.=

Now, for cannabidiol, I had several options. One is hemp extract, and in my research, I specified in the protocol, the only allowable contaminants of the hemp extract is up to 99% CBD or CBG or CBC. I was able to find a source of 99.9% CBD, a powder, that was a hemp extract. That was my hemp extract not scheduled. Today, I could use Epidiolex, which is GW Pharmaceuticals’ FDA-approved CBD. And I also use some other sources of CBD in my earlier experiments with rats to get packed. Now, for the terpenes, I used a combination of synthetic terpenes that were made by Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemical, that were also kosher-certified and were food grade. These have FDA or Food and Drug Administration status of, “As generally recognized as safe.” And I used one terpene limonene was derived from citrus peels, and that was 99%. That was a natural terpene.

Now in my patent that’s already been issued, I have combinations of five to seven terpenes, which would include pinene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, terpinolene and there’s one that’ll come… And myrcene, of course. And all of these are in ratios that are both found and not found in nature, same thing with the cannabinoids, CBD and THC ratios found and not found in nature, and same thing with the terpenes, and I did some very specific ratios in my rat studies. So that’s how I… If I can use the word, found a legal way of taking the major medicinal chemicals in the cannabis plant and sourcing them from non-illegal methods or sources, or in other words, sourcing each of them completely legally. And all of the terpenes were assayed, and then I sent out my mixtures to a lab called The Workshop on the West Coast, and they were able to confirm that the mixtures of cannabinoids and terpenes that I had made and administered to rats did in fact match what was assayed.

For example, one of my terpenes was assayed at 80%, there were some minor terpenes that also showed up, and these were some of the other 20% in that particular synthetic terpene. So that’s in summary, legally sourcing THC and CBD and legally sourcing terpenes, checking on the assays of them, and then putting them together in ratios found and not found in nature, and administering them to rats in a toxicology study. And then I did one other thing. I also had it prescribed to me as compound pharmacy, starting with dronabinol. The pharmacist wanted to see all the certificates of analysis, and I gave him the original stock bottles from the Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals, and he said he would be able to do that. And so, I have basically legal cannabis mimic prescribed to me as a liquid. That’s some of my background work on how to make cannabis legal, patent pending, patent issued in Israel.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: It’s such a almost bizarre metaphor for the laws and everything surrounding cannabis that you can reconstruct it, and it’s legal, but a plant that is natural and abundant around the world is illegal.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Yes, and that’s one of the enigmas of it. And that’s why regulators said to me at the International Cannabinoid Society, “Great workaround.” Part of it is in my research and in my scientific presentations. I talk about how cannabis is regulated like heroin, but I figured out a way how to basically recreate its medicinal components in DEA Schedule III. And I have legal review, Institutional Review Board review, and they came up with, yes, the most restricted chemical is dronabinol in Schedule III and it’s FDA approved. So we’ll do the rat studies and the toxicology lab as Schedule III studies, not Schedule I.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: It actually reminds me a little bit of how heroin is illegal, and yet oxycodone is passed out far too commonly from a synthetic or pharmaceutically constructed standpoint. I wanna actually go there. Prior to COVID, the opioid epidemic was one of the biggest public health crisis in the United States, and we hear more and more people talking about cannabis as something that could help fight that either by… As an alternative pain killer. You mentioned that you worked in addictive medicine or addiction medicine. The law treats them the same. As somebody specializing and working with people in recovery and addicts, where do you… What’s your thoughts when you see those two, heroin or opioids, and cannabis in the same category, or treated the same way legally? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Well, I often pointed out they’re both in Schedule I, yet, opioids in the United States kill about 75,000 people a year, and cannabis kills zero. It doesn’t make any sense from a scientific toxicological viewpoint. In fact, I actually wrote a book chapter called Cannabis, a Bio-Spiritual Remedy for Addiction, and it’s chapter 16 in the textbook, Cannabis as Medicine, which was edited by Betty Wedman-St Louis and published by CRC Press in 2020. In the chapter that I wrote on cannabis and addiction, I go through the history where in the 1890s, the medical literature described weaning opioid and cocaine addicts off of those drugs with tinctures of cannabis. Same is also true for alcoholics. This is described in one case and 13 doses of a tincture of cannabis were sufficient to wean an American Navy surgeon who had been injecting morphine twice a day for quite a while.

The use of cannabis to treat addiction is not something new. In those days, there weren’t really great assays for what were the medical components, but my basic protocol and what I wrote about in the chapter is CBD will reduce cravings, whether it’s for cigarettes, whether it’s for heroin or cocaine. THC has impacts on the endogenous opioid system to get the body to release its own opioids like endorphins and enkephalins, which will help with withdrawal. The cannabinoid receptor and the mu-opioid receptor co-localized, meaning that they’re next to each other, activation of one activates the other. There’s a lot of benefits for using cannabis and THC to treat opioid addiction. Several studies have shown that heroin addicts who have access to cannabis and who use cannabis, inject less often in a statistically significant way. Some of the research was published in Canada, other in the United States, and some rat work was done actually in Greece. Cannabis can be used to wean and it can also help with cravings. And then I wanna go in a little bit deeper.

There’s very specific genetics of addiction, and that genetics of addiction was worked out by Dr. Kenneth Blum, who’s also my co-author in the book chapter. He has identified 22 genes that are involved in addiction, and these genes have impacts in the brain reward cascade. Basically, addicts just don’t feel right, they don’t have enough dopamine in the brain reward cascade, and the substances that they use, whether they’re cocaine, heroin, food, stimulate dopamine release and help them feel right. Ultimately, they down-regulate their systems and have a lot of toxic impacts from their substance and feel worse and worse, but at least in a short term, they release dopamine, it helps them feel good. While cannabis can do some of the same thing, and of course, with far less harm. So then, it becomes a question of harm reduction.

In general, my protocol for opioid addiction is conventional drugs can be used, but in addition, CBD should be available as much as a person wants. Same thing with cannabis containing THC, ultimately, they should go for more THC to a mixture of THC and CBD, and then ideally to mostly CBD, unless there are specific medical indications for THC. For example, insomnia, lack of sleep, or pain would be medical indications for the THC and cannabis. And in addition to cannabis, other things that give us pleasure would include sex, music, hugging, yoga, exercise, really good nutrition. Those are some of the things in the protocol that are in the chapter Cannabis, a Bio-Spiritual Remedy for Addiction.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: There are a few treatment centers that have described themselves as cannabis-inclusive that I’ve seen pop up over the past few years, but from what I know about most addiction treatment and recovery programs and communities, the use of other substances is highly frowned upon, is that beginning to change or do you think it could? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Well, this is sort of like the cannabis and heroin question. Because if people are going to be weaned from heroin to methadone, it’s a Schedule I opioid. Suboxone or buprenorphine is a Schedule I opioid, so… I’m sorry, those are Schedule II. Heroin Schedule and methadone is Schedule II. So if you’re weaning from one opioid to another opioid, these are still controlled substances. Yes, they’re FDA-approved, but they’re still mood-altering substances. When I was practicing drug and alcohol medicine, we would put people on heavy doses of tranquillizers like Valium or Serax to help them withdraw. We would give them sleeping pills so they could sleep.

So, the drug and alcohol rehab centers are still using controlled substances, as long as they’re FDA-approved. So I’d like to point out pharmacologically and scientifically, there’s no such thing as if it’s FDA-approved, it’s safe, if it’s not FDA-approved, it’s not safe. What is it? The minute a substance becomes FDA-approved, it’s magically safe? And I like to say Dronabinol is in Schedule I. The minute it goes into a sesame seed oil containing gelatin capsule, it pharmacologically transforms itself into somehow being safe? And a minute before it was in Schedule I and not safe? So I think that, also with a lot of drug and alcohol, a lot of them are for-profit facilities. They’re just there to bilk insurance. I don’t have high regards for them, having practiced in them, although the one I practiced was quite ethical. I practiced in Eagleville Hospital in Eagle, Pennsylvania, but I’ve been at others where magically when the insurance runs out, the person is ready for discharge and not a day before. And magically, patients who come in for detox, if they don’t have good insurance, they’re just not… They just somehow don’t qualify for rehab.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: So I think there’s a lot of very unethical behavior in the drug and alcohol rehab industry, and moreover, I ask this question, how many people who own or have stakes in drug and alcohol rehab industry really wanna have success? How many of them want 100% of their patients or 90% of their patients to never ever come back for detox or rehab? My God, 80% of facilities would be closed in the next couple of years. So, I think that there’s a level of dishonesty and lack of ethics, because current drug and alcohol treatment, outside the volunteer non-profit 12-step programs have somewhere between 50% to 90% recidivism, which means 50% to 90% of the people who come out of their rehabs go back to using an addictive substance and qualify for rehab again. When I was practicing medicine, we would limit a patient to once every 90 days, and I saw some of them like clockwork, every 90 days they came in.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: I have so many more questions on that, but I’m gonna move to a different topic.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Okay.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: In a few states, including Pennsylvania, where you work, there’s a requirement that pharmacists be in medical cannabis dispensaries, and you actually teach pharmacists about medical cannabis. What do you think the benefit of involving a medical professional like a pharmacist at that level is, and is that something we should sort of aspire to either specifically in that way or differently to apply more across the board, across the country, across the world? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: That’s a great question, and it doesn’t have a simple answer, so I’d like to address the nuances. If you have a young, healthy person or even an older, healthy person who wants to use small amounts of cannabis for anxiety, for sex enhancement, for insomnia, or for pain, and they’re not on other medications, and they don’t have issues with other substances, and they don’t have other systemic diseases, or very mild diseases like seasonal allergies, they don’t need a pharmacist. However, Pennsylvania has a medical program with serious medical conditions, and many of the medical patients are over the age of 60, have complex medical problems and are on multiple medications. And in that setting, I think a pharmacist can be very helpful to look for drug-drug interactions and to help recommend doses and types of cannabis, and by types, I don’t mean specific strains. That’s actually illegal under federal law, but rather ratios of cannabinoids, different types of cannabis.

So for example, a person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or with asthma should not be getting flower to smoke from a medical dispensary. They have already got lung disease. Somebody, obviously a pharmacist, and even a budtender should know, for this person, recommend tinctures, drops under the tongue, something transdermal, anything other than smoking, suppositories, any… A buccal patch that you put in the mouth, anything other than smoking. Also to watch one of the doses. Now, there can be drug-drug interactions with cannabis, and this is particularly in area where a pharmacist could be very helpful so as to prevent patients from getting too dizzy, having problems with their heart rhythm, having blood pressure elevations, having blood pressure declines, having impairments, and potentially falling. So, I do think that there is a role for a pharmacist in medical dispensaries, particularly with complex and more fragile patients. I think that it’s a good idea that all dispensaries have a pharmacist available. And I think it would be very ethical that budtenders be trained, if they see a fragile patient and how to screen for a fragile patient, they refer that person, that customer to a pharmacist or a physician or somebody else who’s very health-knowledgeable to help them make the safest and the wisest choice.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: How can people best choose the type of cannabis to use? The main paradigm or framework that we see out there these days is indica sativa, and I had Dr. Ethan Russo on the last episode, and we talked a little bit about how that’s kind of a false… It doesn’t mean anything these days. And we know that terpenes and other minor cannabinoids can have a great effect on both the experiential and medicinal effects that cannabis can have. But there’s very few tools out there that actually allow somebody to make an informed decision about that. How much information actually is there, even if it was accessible, that people could make those kind of choices in a smart and informed way that would help them? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Well, Ethan Russo is, in my opinion, one of the greatest cannabis physicians in the world. And he wrote a great… He’s written so much, but one of the articles that I go back to again and again was on Entourage Effects that he published in a British Journal of Pharmacology in February 2011. And he talks about the different terpenes and the different cannabinoids and how they interact with each other. So I think that there’s a lot of literature already out there, that certain types of cannabis are more elevating, certain are more sedating. So I agree the terms indica and sativa hybrid, they don’t mean much anymore. I’m sure Ethan covered this in great detail. Does it just refer to the shape of the leaf, the effects? So I like describing cannabis by its properties, as well as by what the person is seeking. So, are you looking for sedation to go to sleep? Then you want CBN and THC and myrcene and linalool. Are you looking for stimulation? Then you want CBD, a little THC, limonene, terpinolene. And you’ll find what works for you by using other terpenes.

So one of the things that I do is I offer people who consult with me what terpenes that they should add, how to get terpenes out of food. A lot of cannabis is ultimately individual, and a lot of cannabis should be done by ratio of THC to CBD. I did a clinical cannabis fellowship on the West Coast, and I learned basic ratio medicine, THC to CBD ratio and I always personalize it based on several factors. One is, what are the indications that a person is looking for help with? Second, what is their familiarity with cannabis? Third, what is their desire for or against psychoactive effect? If they don’t wanna get high, then we’re gonna minimize or cut out the THC. If they don’t mind getting high, then we can include THC, but customize some of the other cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as their doses. So that’s how I learned to practice cannabis medicine on the West Coast.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: You mentioned designing a cannabinoid and terpene treatment. You’re gonna be speaking at the CannX Conference in… Well, it’s online, in a few weeks. I think giving a talk on patenting cannabis medicines and products. I wanted to ask you, how does intellectual property in the medical realm differ or how is it similar to other pharmaceutical products and research, particularly considering the regulatory and legal restrictions? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: That’s a great question. There’s so many aspects of your question, Michael. [chuckle] Synthetic THC is legal. A novel chemical like nabilone is legal and patentable. The plant itself, you can’t patent the plant. Now, GW Pharma does have patents on its plants because they have brilliant patent lawyers, and found the way to also patent their compositions. And I may be wrong, and I’m not a patent lawyer, and I want to apologize and say I might be wrong right now, I claim to have no expertise on GW’s patents. But my patent came because my brilliant patent lawyer stressed ratios found and not found in nature and putting together something that doesn’t exist in nature. Synthetic terpenes don’t exist in nature.

So, using the building blocks, I was able to get the patent. And then I also did one other thing for a patent, I made a molecule that combined THC with atropine, and I made another molecule that combined CBD with atropine in a single molecule, and that was a completely novel… Those are completely novel chemical compounds. So, I think that my mixtures are better, and I have not given these compounds to rats. I wanted to do it, or taken them myself, but I wanted to do it first with what I call the legal work around and part… So I hope I answered your question, and I’m gonna answer one other way. 600 discussions, novel discussions have been had with the FDA about making plant-based medicines. Two have resulted in approved drugs. 598 didn’t get there. The FDA has made it almost impossible to have botanical-approved medicines. So, what can I say? That’s where my methods lend themselves to potentially hundreds of different drugs for hundreds of different indications, and what I learned in doing this has also landed me some consulting positions, which I’m very, very grateful for, and now that I just retired from the pharmaceutical industry two weeks ago, I’m really looking forward to pursuing in much greater detail. And I’m gonna go over some of the patent methods with the details at the CannX Conference on October 26th, the Cann10 Conference.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Is that process or the approach that you took something that has existed in other pharmaceutical research where either medicinal properties or chemical elements were found in plants, but then isolated and created synthetically? 

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Yes, and that’s a very different thing, because historically, medicines were botanical. The word drug comes from the Dutch word for dried herb or drought. So historically, one of the first drugs in the United States came from coal tar, the first pain reliever. Coal tar, the dregs of petroleum, and I don’t know if it’s a natural source, it’s naturally occurring. And then acetanilide, which was a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory in the 1800s was the first drug. So historically, a lot of drugs were found because pharmaceutical companies moved from isolating plants and drying herbs to single active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs. So, modern pharmaceutical industry is single API, single active pharmaceutical ingredient. There are a couple of… Maybe several common drugs that have two active pharmaceutical ingredients, trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, for urinary tract infections under the brand name Bactrim, sulbactam and amoxicillin for example for infections. Augmentin is another one. Clavulanic acid and amoxicillin, a pill for infections.

So modern FDA approved medicines have moved to single APIs. Herbal medicine, including cannabis, has hundreds of APIs, active pharmaceutical ingredients, so to get it FDA-approved, you have to do some level of toxicology and safety studies on each of the chemical constituents. So I got around it, I’m just doing THC and CBD. The THC is already FDA-approved, the CBD is sort of this nebulous hemp extract where now it’s FDA-approved. Epidiolex, the terpenes, they’re already generally recognized as safe. So I’m going back to putting it together in creative ways that had never been done before for these active ingredients, five to seven common terpenes in the cannabis plant, and the two major cannabinoids in ratios found and not found in nature, from synthetic and more natural sources. So that’s how I did my work.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: I know that part of your medical training came in gynecology, and one of the most exciting fields of cannabis research, some of which is being done by Lumír Hanuš, here in Jerusalem, is on cannabis as a treatment for endometriosis. I was wondering if you know anything about why this might be one of the few things that could work there and where the research stands, but also we hear anecdotally from women who use cannabis to treat menstrual pain and other symptoms, and that’s something that it’s been used for for centuries we know. Women’s healthcare is oftentimes not talked about enough for as much as a lot of the other issues. I guess, I just wanna hear your thoughts.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Well, thank you. I haven’t looked at this in any depth, but I’ll give you my general impressions. Endometriosis is a very painful condition and cannabis helps with pain, period. Menstrual cramps are spasms of the uterus and cannabis helps with muscle spasm, it helps relax muscle spasm, so that works right there. Endometriosis has some aspects of a cancer, not in the malignant sense, but in the sense, tissue goes to where it shouldn’t be going, like the lining of the endometrium goes to other places in the female pelvis and it’s activated during the menstrual cycle. So just as cannabis has some anti-tumor activities, it’s possible that those same general anti-tumor properties may impact the endometrial deposits.

Now, I’m just gonna speculate because of my ignorance now, so all of these are possible, but there are also maybe issues with a barren cannabinoid receptors or abnormalities in the very localized endocannabinoid system that cannabis or its constituents are helping to regulate in endometriosis. And also endometriosis, the pain is associated with some stigma, with some anxiety, with some embarrassment, with some social isolation from painful cramps, so cannabis can help with that anxiety. It could also help with some of the sleep issues, endometriosis is associated with painful sexual intercourse called dyspareunia, and cannabis can help with painful sexual intercourse. It could also help with forgetting. The short-term memory loss is a negative property when you’re having a conversation, you forget what you’re talking about, but when it helps you to forget about pain, forget about thinking about pain, and especially in the setting of endometriosis, it’s a very positive property.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Well, that’s fascinating. Especially, the short-term memory loss being an asset, whereas, it’s usually looked at as a negative side effect. That’s really interesting.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Yeah. And I also wanna talk about how my work impacts Entourage Effects, because Lumír Hanuš thought this was one of the most interesting aspects of my work. One thing I’m sure, in the early 1960s as many people know I selected THC and gave 10 milligrams of pure THC to people in a piece of cake in his living room. But what I’ve done is figured out just based on my methods, take dronabinol, take one terpene, what could this impact versus dronabinol? I actually vaped dronabinol, that was prescribed to me, Marinol prescribed to me. I vaped it in a temperature-sensitive vaporizer and then I added one terpene at a time based on the boiling point of that terpene to study the impact of dronabinol plus one terpene at a time of my seven terpenes. And then I did two. And then I did three. And based on the effects that it had on me, how much does it dry my mouth and some other properties that I talked about with medical patients, that’s how I figured out some formulas to study in the lab with rats against chemical war nerve agents. So for example, I found that dronabinol could get me high, but then when I vaped myrcene or even smelled myrcene, it immediately changed it from a head high to a much more cerebrally functional body relaxation.

So I found that with dronabinol, myrcene vaped or smelled, helped change from too much psycho-active… No, I don’t wanna say, from too much, but helped bring down the level of psycho-activity or stonedness to more of a body relaxation. So using my methods, the constituents of cannabis say, “Cannabinoids could be studied with each other or with one terpene at a time.” And people can certainly use terpenes that are isolated from cannabis if they want, or from plants if they want. But this is a way of more scientifically studying the entourage effects and seeing if there can be, if you will, a commonality of findings of Entourage Effects versus very individual effects and I don’t think it’s gonna be an all or one. I think that we will be able to make generalizations as more and more if this is studied, along the methods that I have outlined.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: I have to go back to the chemical warfare agents thing because it’s fascinating. Has any of this been… Sorry. Has any of the… Wow. [chuckle] Has any of this research progressed to clinical trials, if that’s even possible with these agents or have been tried on a…

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Oh, you’re making me smile because I presented my research to the United States Army Medical Countermeasures Systems at Fort Detrick, Maryland, the center of chemical warfare and anti-chemical warfare research in the United States and I also discussed it with the Pikud HaOref, the Home Front Command in Israel. And I can tell you that you cannot obtain chemical war agents to study with rats even in an accredited toxicology lab. There are only about 14 labs in the non-Communist world that can study chemical war nerve agents and they do not give it to people because it’s considered unethical. So, in the United States, for example, there is a drug called pyridostigmine bromide and it was also used in Israel during the Gulf War, which is given prophylactically to soldiers if they expect the chemical war nerve gas called Soman. And I could get into the science a tiny bit, but certain chemical warfare agents completely paralyze the acetylcholinesterase receptor and it cannot be resuscitated by giving resuscitational drugs like pralidoxime. You have a couple of minutes to give pralidoxime to get the nerve agent off the acetylcholinesterase receptor. So, Soman is one of those that very rapidly ages the receptor, ruins it, and so pyridostigmine bromide was approved on the basis of studies in two species of primates.

So, my drugs can be studied for chemical warfare using two species of primates, but there are only just over a dozen labs in the world, mostly military, if not wholly military or government research labs. There’s one in Israel, Israel Institute for Biological Science in Ness Ziona, that could do the research. Fort Detrick could do the research, but they wanted me to go to National Institutes of Health and do earlier work with proxy agents for nerve gases. And I did some with an injectional drug called DFP, in rats, but it’s not the same. I’m very interested in gases, not injection nerve agents. Most chemical war agents are gases. Only VX and Russian VX and cyclosarin are liquids, and even cyclosarin dissipates fairly fast. So the bulk of the problems are going to be gases because those terrorists or countries that drop nerve agents want them to dissipate really fast so they don’t have evidence, and these are the gases. And these gases, their main toxicity is through the lungs. Two inhalations and you cannot breathe and you’re dead in less than 15 minutes without getting the resuscitational agents in probably six minutes or less. So, it’s very important to study them with gases. Obviously, as a civilian and even as a university-affiliated scientist do not have access to gases. If there’s anybody with connections to any biological agent research labs, chemical war research labs, please contact me.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Well, a part of me is very glad to hear that nobody’s handing out chemical weapons, but I hope you get to test this out.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Thank you. I need the help of a government. But what I have learned from this is that, the same classes that the chemical… Of toxins that organophosphates and carbamates are in are also used as pesticides. And tens of thousands of people die every year from pesticide poisoning, primarily in the Third World where these cheap pesticides are still in use. Actually, even in Iran, of all places. A lot in India. So, my methods have applications to developing drugs that could be used to save people’s lives primarily in the Third World. Now in countries like the Western countries, exterminators have a lot of toxicity and even some of the pesticides, and soldiers have toxicity after they’ve been exposed even if they get over the chemical war nerve agent because they got atropine or pralidoxime or similar drugs within time and they survived the acute chemical war nerve gas. But several weeks later, many of them are gonna develop organophosphate-induced delayed neurotoxicity. This has no treatment. It means they’re going to have muscle weakness. They’re going to have chronic anxiety. They’re going to have some memory problems. They’re going to have behavioral problems, and I believe that the drugs that I have designed can help prevent this.

Now this can be studied in a model, the hen, the chicken. It needs only about six weeks of study because chickens, hens, are very susceptible. I don’t have the money to do this study, but this could be a study that could be done with proxies and ideally, with proxies, a drug can be very rapidly developed that gets FDA approval that could be used in military medicine and civilian medicine to prevent and treat organophosphate-induced delayed neurotoxicity, OPIDN, which has no treatment currently.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Dr. Morgan, I have so many more questions but we’re out of time, so I think we’ll just have to say that I have to have you back on.

Dr. Joseph Morgan: Thanks.

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