NIH Blowing Smoke on Medical Cannabis?

Christian Bogner, MD
Cannabinoid Signaling Research
Plant-Based Nutrition,
Cornell University

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. Surprisingly, for the past half-century, the NIH has paid Israeli researchers millions of dollars to study the effects of the medical cannabis. What has been the return on investment for that long-standing partnership? The American people have the right to know, right?

We live in a pivotal time in the cannabis revolution, under the gavel of Jeff Sessions, our Attorney General. His personal vendetta against the plant is so biased and aggressive, it almost seems surreal. Not only did he say that “Good people don’t smoke Marijuana“. Sessions goes on:

“I mean, we need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized. It ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger. Lives will be impacted. Families will be broken up. Children will be damaged because of the difficulties their parents have, and people may be psychologically impacted the rest of their lives with marijuana.”

Chuck Rosenberg, head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) thinks that “Medical cannabis is a joke.”

When there is 2.3 million patients in the US relying on the plant as their medicine (legally) [20], we need the best evidence there is to warn about dangers, but also teach about the benefits! Just recently I witnessed a child with an active seizure receive an intranasal spray that was cannabis based. The seizure stopped within seconds. Medical cannabis is not a joke. There have been tremendous gains in understanding the medicinal properties of this plant in all of its divine molecular artistry. As of this year, several pharmaceutical “cannabis-like” synthetic drugs—all in the name of patents—have been approved with more than a half dozen to follow. And yet, the actual plant remains highly illegal from a federal vista.

Take Insys Therapeutics, for example. A pharmaceutical company that was one of the chief financial backers of the opposition to marijuana legalization in Arizona recently, received preliminary approval from the FDA for Syndros, a synthetic marijuana drug.

This begs the question:

Are pharmaceutical companies exploiting the federal healthcare agencies?

Although making some cash from a plant behind our backs sounds extraneous, the societal impact is shocking. The FDA’s classification of cannabis on the Controlled Substance Act and the enforcement of cannabis violations by the DEA are having a devastating ripple effect on the entire system. Recently, the Human Rights Watch reported that, “on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession [12].” Law enforcement agencies report more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined. Sadly, a black adult is 2.5 times more likely to get arrested than a white adult for drug possession, despite similar usage rates. The ones suffering the most are families in poor communities of color.

Let’s shed some light on modern federal prohibition tactics. It’s time for solid counter-arguments on why it’s long overdue to take the U.S. healthcare medical industrial complex and treatment of disease in a new direction.

Dr. Tom Price recently took the post of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overseeing the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), among other healthcare agencies in the CDC, NIH and FDA. One goal of this article is to encourage the restructuring of these departments and end prohibition, which is far more detrimental to society than the one on alcohol in the 1920s. Chuck Rosenberg (DEA) and Sessions (AG) are seasoned attorneys with no medical background. Who advises these gentlemen is Dr. Volkow, head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

According to the National Institute of Health,

The mission of NIDA is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health.

In October 1992, NIDA became part of the National Institutes of Health and United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Nora Volkow – Director – NIDA

Since 2003, Dr. Nora Volkow has been the director of NIDA. Dr. Volkow is the great granddaughter of Leon Trotsky, who was a Marxist revolutionary, Soviet politician and the founder and commander of the Red Army. He was an irreconcilable atheist. For some Trotsky was a hero; for others he was outright ruthless. Trotsky believed that

“We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life.”

These core human believes are often carried through generations. Dr. Volkow obviously had no influence on her grandfather’s actions. Thus, let’s disregard any religious beliefs and focus on what we have at hand.

Born and raised in Mexico—where Leon Trotsky was assassinated in 1940—Dr. Volkow earned her medical degree from the National University of Mexico, immigrated to the United States, and then completed a psychiatry residency in New York City.

The Opioid Disaster

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 exceeded 59,000 people, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. When we look at some hard statistics from the National Institute of Health, we can conclude in the graph below…

Opioid Deaths in USA

…that a decade after Dr. Volkow took office at NIDA in 2003, opioid deaths have more than doubled. The U.S. makes up 4.6 percent of the world’s populations, but consumes 81 percent of the world supply of oxycodone [6]. Every 15 minutes a poor citizen dies because of opioid toxicity.

From 2004 until 2015, Dr. Volkow earned just over $3 million [3]. She falls in the highest-paid ten percent of employees in the National Institutes of Health. Her pay is 46 percent higher than the average Medical Officer across all agencies. Why this advantage? These death numbers are catastrophic, yet her salary has kept increasing [3].

In 2016, Dr. Volkow requested $1.1 billion dollars from the federal budget, $33 million more than in 2015 [9]. The NIH is funding NIDA to “improve individual and public health” by examining the current best science and present possible solutions. Opioids are killing well over 10 times more Americans a year than all terrorist attacks of the last 16 years combined [12]. On NIDA’s website, one may discover the latest on how magnets may cure cocaine addiction [2], but promising ideas are lacking. People are dying and it does not look promising. They are scratching their heads at the NIH. Meanwhile, NIDA is great at reporting data:

“In 2015, two million people had a prescription opioid use disorder and 591,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder; prescription drug misuse alone cost the nation $78.5 billion in healthcare, law enforcement, and lost productivity.”

Thanks, but where did the rest of the billion dollar of federal funding go?

NIDA and Cannabis

The US National Library of Medicine at the NIH (PubMed) reveals 16,630 scientific articles on cannabis and 25,648 on marijuana (marijuana and cannabis are essentially the same, but a different story for another time). There are now 29 states with cannabis programs, essentially ignoring NIDA’s supportive stand on prohibition. The states’ cannabis programs were implemented due to the hard work of certain individuals, e.g. parents fighting with heroic state representatives for their children. They were the ones who dug deep into this sort of research. They achieved legislative changes. There are hundreds of articles written about the benefits of cannabis. It would take a book to highlight them all.

The studies NIDA focuses on to defend the status quo

Short term Cannabis effects (according to NIDA)

“altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors), altered sense of time, changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory [4].”

Some of Dr. Bogner’s most intelligent patients are using cannabis, so let us compare their alleged “side effects” to some of the side effects of synthroid, currently the most commonly prescribed medication in the United States:

Seizures, lack or slowing of normal growth in children, chest pain or discomfort, decreased urine output, difficult or labored breathing, difficulty with swallowing, dilated neck veins, extreme fatigue, fainting, fast, slow, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse, fever, heat intolerance [5].

It appears that synthroid has many more possible serious effects than cannabis. I lost track of how many patients would have loved to wean of their methadone and use cannabis in my office. Many fear they cannot, since they may lose their jobs.

Long term Cannabis effects (according to NIDA)

“Marijuana also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent [4].”

The above statements are controversial to say the least. Before you take it as scientific fact, I urge you to investigate what they base their statements on.

In order to claim that cannabis may permanently injure our brains, NIDA, with its billions of dollars annual budget, should be transparent and provide bulletproof evidence that medical cannabis is harmful to people. The best science from the U.S. federal database offers 25,648 research papers on cannabinoid signaling research. According to former President Barack Obama’s 2004 memoir, as a high school kid, he would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother,” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”

Besides Obama, Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Matt Damon, Martha Stuart, Morgan Freeman, David Letterman, Ted Turner, Brad Pitt, Michael Bloomberg, George Clooney, Sanjay Gupta, Rand Paul, John Kerry, Oprah Winfrey, there is many more who have either tried and liked cannabis and/or currently are cannabis consumers. According to Bill Gates, “Marijuana was the drug of choice.” Michael Phelps used cannabis and won more gold medals (28) than any Olympian. Ever!

In all seriousness, according to our government, here is the best evidence of the harmful effects of this plant.

Cannabis is Dangerous – NIDA’s (embarrassing) case

NIH Cannabis

NIDA presents this New Zealand study [7], which concluded that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing ‘marijuana use disorder’ lost an average of 8 IQ points between the ages 13 and 38. Statistically speaking, it found a positive association between, on the one hand, adolescent-onset cannabis use and dependence and, on the other hand, a decline in IQ from childhood to adulthood

Why NIDA is wrong to quote this study to defend prohibition

The University of Oxford (United Kingdom) criticized the above chosen study by NIDA, elegantly realizing that they did not account for the possible impact of socioeconomic status during different epoches of life, concluding that

 “the causal effects estimated in Meier et al. are likely to be overestimates, and that the true effect could be zero.”[21]

The findings are also completely inconsistent with separate, better controlled longitudinal studies, e.g.

In a 2016 study, researchers at Cornell University [22] looked at more than 3,000 adolescent twins. The conclusion was that

“Marijuana-using twins failed to show significantly greater IQ decline relative to their abstinent siblings. Evidence from these two samples suggests that observed declines in measured IQ may not be a direct result of marijuana exposure but rather attributable to familial factors that underlie both marijuana initiation and low intellectual attainment.”

Another study in 2016 coming from the University of London [23] studied 2235 teenagers in a longitudinal study and concluded that

“Adolescent cannabis use is not associated with IQ or educational performance once adjustment is made for potential confounds, in particular adolescent cigarette use. Modest cannabis use in teenagers may have less cognitive impact than epidemiological surveys of older cohorts have previously suggested.”

Last, but definitely not least, the original author of the study above, Madeline Meier, just released a new, follow-up study this July in 2017 [24].
She looked at 1,989 twins and concluded that

“Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

More Bad Science quoted by NIDA

“Adverse Health effects of Marijuana use” [8]

Adverse effects of Cannabis

Dr. Volkow published this study in 2014. It’s quoted often by NIDA as rote defense on the current federal cannabis prohibition. The most damaging accusations come in the following paragraph:

Cannabis Use Text

Dr. Volkow writes in her conclusion that cannabis causes brain damage. The above statement is a conclusion from another scientific paper, as reflected in the little number 12 at the end. This indicates the reference to her claim. Let’s look at people they compared. The paper quoted by her compared 59 cannabis users to just 33 non-users. A small, unbalanced sampling. Hardly conclusive from a peer-reviewed science vista.

Cannabis Usage Data Chart

A review with some great concerns:

  1. NIDA claims cannabis causes brain damage by quoting this study that compared 59 cannabis users with 33 non-users (this is power bias)
  2. The cannabis users were significantly heavier smokers of cigarettes than non-users (we know there are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals) (selection bias)
  3. Cannabis users had an IQ of 3 lower than non-users. Is this even noticeable clinically? (myside bias)

Instead of providing good science from the data at hand, NIDA appears to get paid to be the agency gatekeeper instead, having the most critical say with the most weight of any agency in the federal process of re-scheduling.

Medical Marijuana Laws and Cannabis Use – Intersections of Health and Policy

In the April 2017 issue of JAMA Psychiatry [14], Dr. Volkow gives us the most current view of the agency on cannabis. The conclusion was that

“While research continues to gather evidence to that end, clinicians are faced with the reality reinforced by the findings from Hasin et al that cannabis use is increasing among adults living in states that have legalized medical marijuana.”

Dr. Volkow quotes another NIDA funded study [15] to conclude this. If we look at it, you can find that from 2001 to 2013, illicit cannabis use went up to a maximum of 7% in Colorado, 5% in California and lower in other states. This sounds like a terrible trend. But let us see what message is relayed here. First, there is no serious health adverse affects reported. Simply saying that more people violated the law (7 more percent used the plant illegally) is a policy issue, not a health concern. Where is the data demonstrating HARM? Cannabis use “disorder” is not a disorder if the individual chose that modality instead of opioids or other dangerous pharmaceuticals and if there is no good science demonstrating compromise of intelligence.

If we look at the most recent data reported from Colorado [16], only 3% of registered marijuana patients were under the age of 21. Three years into regulated sales of recreational cannabis, the Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee says calls to poison control and marijuana-related emergency room visits are down, even though overall consumption of pot remains steady [17]. Marijuana is not Colorado adults’ drug of choice: About 6 percent of those surveyed said they used marijuana daily or near-daily. That compares to 16 percent for daily or near-daily tobacco use and 22 percent for daily or near-daily alcohol use [17]. Why is NIDA continuing to waste so much money on these senseless studies on cannabis (which are using data from half a decade back), when they should be focusing on problems that can cause actual DEATH, e.g. alcohol, cigarettes or opioids?


NIDA reports to other federal agencies that cannabis is dangerous. NIDA concludes this by backing FALSE science that has been disproven [21].[22],[23],[24]. Our federal government is defending the status quo of cannabis by quoting FALSE science.

Cannabis – The complete opposite of what the government tells us

As mentioned above, the plant that is kept behind federal bars is one of the most studied plant ever. 25,648 Pubmed articles speak for themselves. As quoted above, we can see that there is incredible evidence that cannabis does not make you dumber. But is it possible that this plant can actually be good for us? Here is some of the top summaries that reflect benefits for human disease.

Some of the best research summary findings come from our own Ivy-league Universities, summarized by organizations like NORML or the National Academy of Sciences:

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) lists 23 medical conditions with excellent research backup for each [18]

There exists little if any scientific basis to justify the federal government’s present prohibitive stance and there is ample scientific and empirical evidence to rebut it.”

In early 2017, a comprehensive review (400 pages) was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C.

We found conclusive or substantial evidence (ranging in modest to moderate effect) for benefit from cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and patient-reported symptoms of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.” [19]

US Patent 6630507 – Cannabinoids are protecting your brain cells – Yours truly: Unites States Government

Owned by HHS, United States patent 6630507 demonstrates how cannabinoids from the plant protect brain cells and are helpful for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases including stroke and Parkinson’s disease [13]. NIDA is directly contradicting the agency it receives funding from (NIH, HHS)!

The Shafer Commision Report

In the early 1970s, President Nixon appointed Gov. Raymond P. Shafer of Pennsylvania, a former prosecutor with a “law-and-order” reputation, to run a commission that would demonstrate enough evidence to re-affirm Marijuana to the “most dangerous” list, Schedule I.

The Shafer Commission “recorded thousands of pages of transcripts of formal and informal hearings, solicited all points of view, including those of public officials, community leaders, professional experts and students. They conducted separate surveys of opinion among district attorneys, judges, probation officers, clinicians, university health officials and ‘free clinic’ personnel. They commissioned more than 50 projects, ranging from a study of the effects of marijuana on man to a field survey of enforcement of the marijuana laws in six metropolitan jurisdictions.” Shafer brought his report to the White House March 21, 1972. It was 1,184 pages long. Some interesting findings:

“No significant physical, biochemical, or mental abnormalities could be attributed solely to their marihuana smoking.
No valid stereotype of a marihuana user or non-user can be drawn.
Young people who choose to experiment with marihuana are fundamentally the same people, socially and psychologically, as those who use alcohol and tobacco.
No verification is found of a causal relationship between marihuana use and subsequent heroin use.
Most users, young and old, demonstrate an average or above-average degree of social functioning, academic achievement, and job performance.
The weight of the evidence is that marihuana does not cause violent or aggressive behavior; if anything marihuana serves to inhibit the expression of such behavior.
Marihuana is not generally viewed by participants in the criminal justice community as a major contributing influence in the commission of delinquent or criminal acts.
Neither the marihuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety.
Research has not yet proven that marihuana use significantly impairs driving ability or performance.”

-Shafer Commission report 3/21/1972

Nixon response to the media 2 days after its release:

“If we move the line to the other side and accept the use of this drug, how can we draw the line against other illegal drugs”?

Shafer was fired, his work was ignored.His report has never been disproven.

The NIH funding of Cannabis research in Israel

Professor Raphael Mechoulam, based in Israel, is the world expert on cannabis research. He calls cannabis a “neglected pharmacological treasure trove [11]. “ The fascinating medicinal properties of cannabis are mirrored in Professor Mechoulam’s work. He discovered the THC molecule in the 1960s and since has co-authored four books and has published over 390 research papers on endo- (=our own) and phyto- (=plant)cannabinoids. Interestingly enough, the NIH has funded his research for the past 50 years.

Mechoulam on his NIH funding:

“As a few young people in the US were apparently using cannabis in the 1960s (and later), NIH wanted to know all about it. Although NIH does not generally fund foreign researchers, they made an exception in my case. They never interfered with my research and they never asked me (or suggested) to go into any specific direction [10].”

Every year, NIDA has its annual meeting where various topics are addressed. During the 2011 meeting, NIDA awarded a lifetime achievement/discovery award [10] to Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam.

NIDA Directors Report

Dr. Mechoulam did nothing wrong. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to study the healing effects of a plant? He did so and stands on my imaginary Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine shelf. The problem clearly originates in Maryland, somewhere within the four miles that include the physical perimeters of the NIDA and NIH headquarters. The definition of “exploit” is to “make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).” This is scientific treason committed by NIDA.

Now what

We are paying another country to do cannabis research, so pharmaceutical companies can develop drugs that mimic cannaboids that allegedly have the same or similar beneficial outcomes, yet bring more harmful side effects. There is nothing wrong in providing a product to consumers. It is criminal, however, when the government lets big pharma cash in on cannabis-like drugs and at the same time keeps hundreds of thousands of our citizens locked up in jail for just possessing the plant (which made the drug for pharma in the first place).

In order to create change for the better, the federal government needs to keep their involvement in the science of cannabis very limited and instead focus on the opioid, alcohol, cigarette and obesity crises. Uncle Sam has had its shot at it for too long and has misled the American people, becoming part of the propaganda in neither allowing the science to govern the natural course of medical cannabis research and development, nor allowing its legalization at the federal level.

Re-scheduling cannabis is not the answer, however. It is long past time to de-criminalize cannabis to liberate the sacred plant and take it off the DEA’s Controlled Substance Act.

The effects on the economy

Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University, wrote a report that concludes that legalization would reduce state and federal deficits by eliminating expenditure on prohibition enforcement—arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration—and by allowing governments to collect tax revenue on legalized sales. Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would result from legalization of marijuana.

Dr. Price’s HHS owns the patent on the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids. Not surprisingly, the patent quoted 27 of the finest cannabis research papers from the world experts on the subject [13]. Cannabis is helpful for treating devastating neurological diseases and may be helpful in the opioid withdrawal and autism spectrum disorder realms, as well.

Dr. Price and the HHS should give the patent back to Mother Earth. She, in kind, will give it back to the people. We will save lives; we will save the government at the federal and state levels billions for years to come; we will revolutionize healthcare. The time is now.

Christian Bogner, MD


[1] https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/what-we-do/nih-almanac/national-institute-drug-abuse-nida
[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2017/03/narrative-discovery-can-magnets-treat-cocaine-addiction-part-3
[3] https://www.federalpay.org/employees/national-institutes-of-health/volkow-nora-d
[4] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
[5] https://www.drugs.com/sfx/synthroid-side-effects.html
[6] http://www.nsc.org/RxDrugOverdoseDocuments/Prescription-Nation-2016-American-Drug-Epidemic.pdf
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3479587/
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24897085
[9] https://officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/pdfs/FY16/ONDCP%20(Volume%201).pdf
[10] http://www.thedailybell.com/cannabis-marijuana/anthony-wile-dr-raphael-mechoulam-the-promise-of-cannabis/
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1751232/
[12] https://real-leaders.com/this-should-scare-you-more-than-terrorism-the-opioid-epidemic/
[13] http://patent6630507.info/
[14] https://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0723

[15] http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2619522?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jamapsychiatry.2017.0723
[16] https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CHED_MMR_Monthly_Report-JUNE_2017.pdf
[17] http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/01/31/colorado-marijuana-data-2017-report-health-effects-trends/72711/
[18] http://norml.org/component/zoo/category/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana
[19] http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx
[20] https://www.mpp.org/issues/medical-marijuana/state-by-state-medical-marijuana-laws/medical-marijuana-patient-numbers/
[21] http://www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251
[22] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/5/E500.abstract
[23] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0269881115622241
[24] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13946/abstract

Cannabinoid Synergy With Hyperbaric Oxygen

Dr. Bogner’s presentation at AutismOne 2018 on Cannabinoid Synergy

The literature supports various pathophysiologies in individuals affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including cerebral hypoperfusion, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. It has been hypothesized that children affected with ASD might benefit from Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) owing to the increase in cerebral perfusion occurring during treatment. Here I present my theories on potential cannabinoid synergy with hyperbarics.

Watch the presentation below or YouTube | View or Download my Deck

The cell-danger response and endocannabinoid signaling pathways have been described as possible key elements in the pathophysiology of microglia driven neuroinflammation, with resulting behavioral problems associated with ASD.

Cannabinoid Synergy = Phytocannabinoid + Hyperbaric Oxygen Synergy

With the growing body of evidence in the literature that describes beneficial phytocannabinoid effects in patients affected with ASD, we highlight the principle mechanisms of a novel concept, e.g. phytocannabinoid-hyperbaric-oxygen synergy and its role in paving the way for faster and lasting clinical benefits. HBOT is approved for several clinical disorders including decompression sickness, gas gangrene, cyanide poisoning and diabetic wounds. Inhalation of above-atmospheric oxygen might result in an elevation of arterial partial pressure of oxygen, leading to increased oxygen delivery to the brain.

Cannabinoid Synergy with HBOTHBOT might also have anti-inflammatory properties due to the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor–α, interferon-γ, and interleukins 1 and 6). Furthermore, HBOT might improve mitochondrial dysfunction, as well as up-regulate the production of antioxidant enzymes. While some studies suggest improved cerebral perfusion, others showed decreased markers of inflammation and did not worsen oxidative stress markers in children with ASD. In the reviewed studies, HBOT had minimal adverse effects and was well tolerated.

Most of the reviewed studies relied on changes in behavioral measurements, which may lag behind physiological changes. In our protocol, we utilize different ATAs in monoplace chambers for all ASD children. The molecular collusion of hyperbaric oxygen and phytocannabinoids suggests synergistic properties, aiding in anti-inflammation, detoxification, improved synaptic plasticity and central nervous system homeostasis.

The Highwire interview: Del Bigtree on Cannabis Science for Autism

In autism, major protective brain mechanisms become interrupted and neuroinflammation emerges. A variety of toxins are responsible for the consequential great demand for neuronal protection. This is where cannabis science comes in to play. And guess what? It’s backed by a lot of solid research. I can vouch for this: I’ve personally gathered cannabis papers for autism in the original Michigan petition 3 years ago and helped support 4 states’ petition as well. It’s a banker’s box full of the finest research papers.

Cannabis programs are implemented in 58% of all states in the United States, yet the federal government says it has no medicinal value and classifies it as dangerous as heroin (or natural peyote). What evidence is being defended to keep it that way? Congressional members are sticking their necks out to make sure individual states are not targeted by Jeff Sessions and the Feds.
Why is the FDA approving cannabis-like pharmaceuticals? When we dive into the more than 35,000 scientific articles that are available in regards to cannabis, we can clearly see that the current main stream narrative on its implementation in autism and other medical conditions is flawed. In a big way too.
Del wanted to get to the bottom of cannabis science for autism. He invited me to discuss the current status quo. Autism is just one of many conditions that respond to cannabis, with a safety profile that justifies de-scheduling on a federal level completely. The autism cannabis science we will present is just the tip of the iceberg. Cannabis is already heavily studied in other countries such as Israel. We will discuss some results of human trials and take a deeper look on the federal fraud of prohibition.

Where is the Cannabis Science for Autism?

John’s Hopkins University found a 25% reduction of overall annual mortality from opioids due to state cannabis program implementations. The science speaks volumes. It is time to de-schedule cannabis, not primarily to have states cash in billions of dollars, but to benefit the ones who really need need it: the patients who suffer and are dying of mostly ineffective and dangerous pharmaceutical intervention.

I want to thank Del Bigtree for creating the platform for the conversation and inviting me to help spread awareness on the cannabis science for autism spectrum disorders.

Cannabis Science for Autism with Dr. Christian Bogner

Cannabis Science for Autism with Dr. Christian Bogner on The HighWire Show with Del Bigtree


Cannabis is plant GcMAF – Central Immune Energy

Even some of the best car engines out there require a specific ingredient in order to run smoothly: Oil.  It reduces friction, heat and wear in the numerous components. Without oil, parts will overheat and break. Even a Tesla motor requires grease to run smooth. Although the human body is a million times more complex in it’s self-sustaining metabolic existence than a luxury 21st century car engine, science reveals parallel concepts. Just as engine oil provides the optimal “viscosity” for prevention of steel friction, in our bodies cannabinoids appear to be directly responsible for a constant anti-inflammatory drive towards systemic balance, or homeostasis. These cannabinoids are either self ( = endo-cannabinoid) produced or plant ( = phyto-cannabinoid) derived. The Cannabis plant has been used for millennia to treat a wide range of human illnesses as evidenced by medicinal reports issued in China and India. The main active compound of Cannabis sativa, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), was identified and characterized in 1964 [1].
Cannabis is Plant GcMAF

How Cannabis Interacts with your Immune System

The last decade has provided us with a deep understanding of our endocannabinoid system’s involvement in immune regulatory functions. Hundreds of research papers have demonstrated the beneficial immune properties of this 10,000+ year old plant. One of many revelations are that cannabinoids derived from the plant (e.g. phytocannabinoids) interact with our defense receptors. The evidence is overwhelming. So much in fact, there is cannabis like drugs approved in different countries for immune disorders. Marinol is approved in Denmark for multiple sclerosis since 2003. Sativex is approved to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis in Spain (July 28, 2010), Canada (Aug. 31, 2010), Czech Republic (Apr. 15, 2011), Denmark (June 8, 2011), Germany (July 4, 2011), Sweden (Dec. 22, 2011), Austria (Feb. 7, 2012), Italy (May 7, 2013), and Switzerland (Nov. 27, 2013). The drug is also approved in Finland, Israel, Norway, and Poland [2].

A common misconception about cannabis is that it calms the immune system. In fact, the opposite is true. Cannabis activates your immune system! The calming is a secondary effect and is the result of coordinated chemical reactions which neutralize the threat. This means the immune system must be receiving a message, e.g. a signal to start cleaning up the foreign substance that lead to the inflammation in the first place (e.g. an antigen like gluten, aluminum, bacterial toxins, yeast etc). This signal literally carries with it the secrets to self regenerative processes. It appears that exactly these processes are the target of industrial and agricultural chemicals that end up in your food and elsewhere. According to the CDC, every other American suffers from a chronic disease [3]. This is a serious problem. Exactly how these chemicals paralyze some of your defenses is described below.

The Immune System’s Executive Branch: Macrophages

Macrophages + CannabisMacrophages are little Pacmans. They are big, smart white blood cells that chase, capture, engulf, and digest intruders and foreign substances once they receive the appropriate”signal“. They also present antigens to the adaptive immune system, which means they help create a lasting memory. Macrophages are fighting micro-wars on a cellular level so you can enjoy being healthy. When toxins cause inflammation, macrophages need to be activated by a molecule called GcMAF to get to clean up the foreign, potentially harmful substance [4]. Vitamin D helps to activate macrophages to get to work and clean up. In essence, our bodies produce GcMAF whenever there is inflammation.

GcMAF and Vitamin D3

A vaccine is injected into your muscle. Macrophages are crucial in orchestrating an immune response with the task to remember the antigen for future exposure (creating immunity) and cleaning up the toxins that were contained in the vaccine (e.g aluminum, thimerosal, nanoparticles, human DNA, viral epitopes etc).

The sequence of events are: toxin > inflammation > vitamin D activation in liver and kidneys > production of GcMAF > macrophage activation > neutralization of offending antigen > inflammation controlled


The herbicide glyphosate inhibits this vitamin utilization process (it inhibits the p450 enzyme process) [5], rendering vitamin D supplementation less useful. Because of less GcMAF, immune defenses are weakened. The toxins may slip past macrophages undetected until they enter your blood, because the macrophages did not get an “order” to “arrest and neutralize” the offending toxin.

Cannabis corrects P450 Enzyme in Liver

Glyphosate is found in common genetically modified foods (GMOs) [6], baby formula [7], prenatal vitamins and literally every vaccine that was tested [8]. High glyphosate exposure renders individuals vulnerable to vaccine injury, as many vaccines contain toxins and foreign molecules such as aluminum, polysorbate 80, fetal bovine serum, aborted fetal cells and thimerosal [9]. These toxins are neutralized by macrophages in a final showdown, which plays out in your lymph nodes and spleen. It is exactly these areas where glyphosate is providing the final hit: the lymphatic system. But has this been really proven to be accurate?

Evidence of glyphosate toxicity

The World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by the United Nations. They have established the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1965.  In a special report by the IARC on glyphosate (92 pages with extensive research), it was concluded that

“Two large case–control studies of Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) from Canada and the USA, and two case–control studies from Sweden reported statistically significant increased risks of NHL in association with exposure to glyphosate.” [10]

Prenatal Vitamins contain Glyphosate

Prenatal Vitamins – We tested this brand positive for glyphosate

Furthermore, analyzing 44 individual research projects published since 1980, the scientists, writing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said that people exposed to the weed killer glyphosate, marked by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup, had double the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [11]. This information is crucial, because if the toxins are not neutralized here, in your lymphatic system,  the next target is the blood, where glyphosate and other toxins have fast track access to all organs, including the brain. Protein leaks result in auto-immune problems. Other toxins “leak” as well and can lead to organ inflammation and ultimately damage.

Cannabis can do what GcMAF was supposed to do

When we cannot utilize vitamin D correctly to activate macrophages, because glyphosate inhibited its necessary conversion to GcMAF, plant cannabinoids may be able to jump in and directly activate macrophages in a similar fashion. Activating the cannabinoid receptor CB1 leads to macrophage phagocytosis [12], which means Cannabis literally tells your body to clean up by activating macrophages.

Gastrointestinal Homeostasis. Yours truly: Cannabis

Gastrointestinal Homeostasis - Cannabis

Since there are so much cannabinoid receptor up-regulation in the inflamed GI system, could raw cannabis juice be the answer?

The human body is home to trillions of bacteria, which outnumber our own cells 10 to 1. The length of the adult gastrointestinal system spans from mouth to anus and is roughly 25 feet (7.5 meters). The intestine represents the largest compartment of the immune system. It is continually exposed to antigens and immunomodulatory agents from the diet and the commensal microbiota, and it is the port of entry for many clinically important pathogens. Convincing evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system is expressed in the gut and maintains intestinal homeostasis by modulating many important functions including the immune system, motility, sensation, and secretion [13]. The intestinal immune system is continuously exposed to a variety of antigens. An effective immune response must be launched against pathogenic antigens.  There is a macrophage that is called CX3CR1hi, which neutralizes these antigens and limits inflammation [14]. These macrophages can be activated by endocannabinoids such as anandamide (AEA) [14] , an intestinal cannabinoid you produce while you read this sentence. Plant cannabinoids can do the same, as they act on the same receptors.

Brain macrophage activation. Yours truly: Cannabis.

In my previous article [15], we learned that in autism there is evidence of focal brain inflammation. Countless anecdotal reports from parents who treat their kids with cannabis exist, glorifying its benefits. The reason is the signal cannabis is sending to brain macrophages in that particular patient population(in the brain macrophages are called microglia). In the brain, the CB2 receptor is up-regulated once microglia (e.g. brain macrophages) undergo transformation into the pro-inflammatory state [16]. This means that the moment your brain has any sort of inflammatory process going on, CB2 receptors are produced in high quantities (healthy brains have barely any CB2 receptor expression!). Remember, glyphosate, contained in our diets (and every vaccine) inhibits our own body’s production process to produce a compound (5,6EET-EAs) that is strong enough to activate brain macrophages [17].
Cannabis is Plant GcMAF

Evidence of beneficial cannabinoid effect on brain microglia

  • CB2 activation via anandamide suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines, TNF-alpha and nitrous oxide [18]
  • Cannabinoids potentiate the production of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 [19]
  • Cannabinoids prevents pro-inflammatory cytokine production which was induced by LPS [20]
  • Endo-and phytocannabinoids activate CB2 to induce cell migration (to tell other microglia to help with the clean-up and restructuring) [21][22],[23]
  • Cannabinoid activates CB2 on microglia to increase beneficiary M2 state proliferation [24]
  • THC-mediated CB2 activation resulting in fewer number of microglial cells and fewer number of degenerating neurons [25]

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet’s GcMAF Study

In 2012, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet published a paper entitled “Initial Observations of Elevated Alpha-N-Acetylgalactosaminidase” [26].

Dr. Jeff BradstreetHe reported that a specific enzyme called nagalase destroys GcMAF. This enzyme is elevated possibly due to inflammation. He concluded that nagalase levels are higher in patients affected with autism. While he treated them with GcMAF, 67.5% of individuals had significant improvements. Their nagalase levels dropped. Dr. Bradstreet died June 19th, 2015. The circumstances surrounding his death are extremely troublesome. After a recent Discovery Channel ID special, one could clearly see the continued need to investigate this as a homicide rather than a suicide. Watch this quick interview with his brother Thom Bradstreet (including wife Candace) regarding the latest updates [27].

The bottom line? Exposure of cannabis to the intestinal tract, especially the liver could theoretically produce beneficial effects on macrophage activation, similar to GcMAF. GcMAF production is possibly limited due to genetic predispositions of activating alternative and synergistic detox mechanisms. One of those includes a mutation in the MTHFR gene, leading to less glutathione production and hence more vulnerability to glyphosate.

Studying cannabis is not really permitted (but not impossible. It took Sue Sisley 8 years to get it through the regulatory processes to study PTSD). Just as GcMAF labs are getting raided [28],[29], federally, cannabis remains one of the most dangerous substances you could ingest. It is considered as dangerous as meth [30].  What proof does the government provide to defend the current schedule? The science that the National Institute of Drug Abuse, under the guidance of Dr. Nora Volkow, puts out is nothing short of deceiving. I will address that particularly in my next article. Meanwhile, countless patients that could benefit, are suffering instead. And so are their families. There is a whole generation out there that is injured. Mental disease numbers have never been higher. For the millions of us who have children affected with autism for example, it would be more beneficial to have options like cannabis available. At the same time it is probably equally important to eradicate chemicals like glyphosate (there is many other chemicals like it) from this earth. It is not only a threat to humanity, but to the planet itself. Shame on us.

Christian Bogner, MD

Key Molecules Involved

Alternative name: Calcidiol / 25-hydroxycholecalciferol / 25-hydroxyvitamin D
Producer: liver, via enzyme cholecalciferol 25-hydroxylase
Origin: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Time from consumption to production of calcifediol: 7 days

Vitamin D binding protein (VDBP)
Alternative name: Gc protein
Producer: liver
Size: 53-kDa
Binds Calcifediol and Caclcitrol
Delivers Vitamin D to target tissues

Alternative name: Activated vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3
Producer: kidneys, via enzyme 25(OH)D-1a-hydroxylase
Function: increase absorption of calcium from kidneys and gut inflammation results in the hydrolysis of terminal galactose and sialic acid of the Gc protein and this is mediated by membrane-bound β-galactosidase present on activated B-cells and sialidase on T-cells to produce Gc protein-derived macrophage-activating factor (GcMAF)

Macrophages are big and smart white blood cells that chase, capture, engulf, and digest intruders. They trap and phagocyte (literally, “eat”) their enemies. They can multiply rapidly when necessary. 
Receptor: vitamin D receptor (VDR)
Ligand: Calcitriol > Calcifediol
Activator: GcMAF [inhibits M1 activation, enhances M2 macrophage activation]

Receptors: CB1, CB2, GPR18, GPR55 (“CB3”), ?GPR119
Target: Central nervous system, liver, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system, bone, skin


[1] Mechoulam R, Gaoni Y. Hashish. IV. The isolation and structure of cannabinolic cannabidiolic and cannabigerolic acids. Tetrahedron 21:1223–1229, 1965.
[2] http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000883
[3] https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21873164
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=glyphosate+p450+seneff
[6] http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2016/nov/14
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4392553/
[8] http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/glyphosate_in_childhood_vaccines
[9] https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/b/excipient-table-2.pdf
[10] http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol112/mono112-10.pdf
[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24762670
[12] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcp.24911/abstract
[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27538961 [14] http://www.pnas.org/content/114/19/5005.full.pdf
[15] http://drbogner.com/vaccine-mechanisms-in-autism/
[16] Onaivi ES, Ishiguro H, Gu S, Liu QR. CNS effects of CB2 cannabinoid receptors: beyond neuro-immuno-cannabinoid activity. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2012;26(1):92-103.
[17] Snider NT, Sikora MJ, Sridar C, Feuerstein TJ, Rae JM, Hollenberg PF. The endocannabinoid anandamide is a substrate for the human polymorphic cytochrome P450 2D6. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008;327(2):538-45.
[18] Molina-Holgado F, Lledo A, Guaza C. Anandamide suppresses nitric oxide and TNF-alpha responses to Theiler’s virus or endotoxin in astrocytes. Neuroreport. 1997;8:1929–1933.
[19] Molina-Holgado F, Molina-Holgado E, Guaza C. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide potentiates interleukin-6 production by astrocytes infected with Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus by a receptor-mediated pathway. FEBS Lett.
[20] Puffenbarger RA, Boothe AC, Cabral GA. Cannabinoids inhibit LPS-inducible cytokine mRNA expression in rat microglial cells. Glia. 2000;29:58–69.
[21] Walter L, Franklin A,Witting A,Wade C, Xie Y, Kunos G et al. (2003). Nonpsychotropic cannabinoid receptors regulate microglial cell migration. J Neurosci 23: 1398–1405.
[22] Klein TW, Lane B, Newton CA, Friedman H. The cannabinoid system and cytokine network. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000;225:1–8.
[23] Franklin A, Stella N (2003). Arachidonylcyclopropylamide increases microglial cell migration through cannabinoid CB2 and abnormal cannabidiol-sensitive receptors. Eur J Pharmacol 474: 195–198.
[24] Carrier EJ, Kearn CS, Barkmeier AJ, Breese NM, YangW, Nithipatikom,K et al. (2004). Cultured rat microglial cells synthesize the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol, which increases proliferation via a CB2 receptor-dependent mechanism. Mol Pharmacol 65: 999–1007.
[25] Kreutz S, Koch M, Ghadban C, Korf HW, Dehghani F (2007). Cannabinoids and neuronal damage: differential effects of THC,AEA and 2-AG on activated microglial cells and degenerating neurons in excitotoxically lesioned rat organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. Exp Neurol 203: 246–257.
[26] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280298091_Initial_Observations_of_Elevated_Alpha-N-Acetylgalactosaminidase_Activity_Associated_with_Autism_and_Observed_Reductions_from_GC_Protein-Macrophage_Activating_Factor_Injections
[27] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoXH5Gzvl2c
[28] http://anhinternational.org/2015/02/11/uk-government-raid-strips-cancer-patients-of-choice/
[29] http://guernseypress.com/news/2017/02/23/law-enforcement-raid-offices-of-gcmaf-firm/
[30] https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml


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