May 30, 2019 (with June 26, 2019 update)

Presentation Prepared  by Paula D. Gordon for the  U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration 



  • ANNOUNCEMENT: 3 Online Courses Offered in  2020 by Auburn University OutreachCourse Instructor: Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.:

1) A 3-Week Course on "The Effects & Impacts of Marijuana Use: 

Policies & Approaches Addressing the Challenges" (3 CEU credits)

Course Description: 
In this three-week online course has been designed to help arm those who are concerned about the harmful effects of marijuana and about the negative individual and societal impacts of the legalization of marijuana is having on individuals, families, communities, and on society. The course has also been designed to help expand the knowledge and understanding of those who are working to address the problem of recreational drug use and addiction in America so that they can be as successful as possible in their efforts. The course is also designed to help those in the position of public responsibility understand the wide range of harmful mental and physical effects of marijuana as well as societal impacts.  The course also highlights policy and program options that have been working and what options might be tried to achieve the hoped-for outcome of turning around current trends involving the use marijuana in America.

Next Dates Being Offered:   May 1 – 21, 2023  and October 9 - 29, 2023

Registration Fee: $300   (Discount of 10% to groups of five or more when one person registers for the members of the group.)  For more information and to register, go to and or call (334) 844-5100.


2) A 4-Week Online Course on A National Public Health Disaster: Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Opioid Crisis ~ The Role That Marijuana Use & Legalization Are Playing (3 CEU credits)

The role that exposure to and the use of marijuana are playing in the opioid epidemic will be highlighted along with the role that cartels and the black market are playing. See the “Letter to Members of the United States Congress and All Other Public Officials: Conclusive Evidence of Marijuana’s Harm to the Brain, Body, and the Environment”                                                                                

The tendencies of public officials to narrowly define the problem and not see the role that marijuana and poly-drug use are having in the drug addiction and opioid crisis are highlighted in the course.  A broader way of defining the challenges associated with drug taking behavior and addiction will be featured, along with exemplary approaches to addressing the Drug Crisis.

NEW: Next Dates Being Offered:   August 7 - September 3, 2023

Registration Fee: $400.  10% discount for five or more from the same organization when registered by one person from that organization.  For more information and to register, go to and  or call (334) 844-5100.  It is anticipated that the course will be offered again in 2020.


3) A 3-Week Online Course on  Transforming and Leading Organizations ~ Ethics, Problem-Solving and Strategy  (3 CEU credits)

Course Description:

"Transforming and Leading Organizations" is designed to help leaders, managers, and drug abuse prevention activists hone their abilities and problem-solving skills in ways that help them have greater success in accomplishing their goals.  Approaches to fostering healthy change; utilizing educational change strategies; communicating effectively; understanding the perspectives of those with differing values, information, and objectives; and resolving conflicts will all be addressed in the course.  A focus of the course is on how these approaches can be applied most effectively to addressing problems or external to organizations, such as the drug crisis. For a copy of the article that has given the course its name, see "Transforming and Leading Organizations," published in Government Transformation, Winter 2004-05 issue posted at  or see link at

Next Dates Being Offered: August 7 - 27, 2023 and October 9 - 29, 2023

Registration Fee:  $300.  10% discount for five or more from the same organization when registered by one person from that organization. For more information and to register, go to and  or call (334) 844-5100.      



All courses are taught on a pass/not pass basis.  All are offered in asynchronous time, rather than "real" time. All assigned materials for the course are available without cost online.




From Amy Ronshausen, Executive Director, Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.:
The course was really great!  I really enjoyed it...

From Stephanie Haynes, Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition SOS – Save Our Society from Drugs - Florida, Texas, Louisiana:

Wow! This is a terrific opportunity! Educators, social workers, those in the Criminal Justice system, policymakers, legislators, and community volunteers all need to take this course!! …I want to introduce you to Dr. Paula Gordon who developed this course on the harms of marijuana. We need to spread the word to all our colleagues about the value and importance of having this information, especially today in light of all the pro pot misinformation… Great Opportunity! A three-week online course on Harms of Marijuana begins soon. Sign up today! Please help spread the word, especially to those in the prevention and treatment fields!

From Dr. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) & American Character Builders:

Thank you for providing such great instruction! The resources you provided and the ideas you “spurred” in my mind that will help me with my work in the future were invaluable… Thanks for a very interesting class! I have gained new insight that I believe will help me going forward….. As my first ever online class, you made it easy and fun!

From Susan J. Short, Executive Director Covington County Children’s Policy Council Coalition Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Child Development Center Andalusia, Alabama:

The resources you’ve shared with all of us are a real boost to my program. Thank you so much! Thanks for the additional tips and references on understanding the perspectives of many people that are pro-legalization. I think many times people just aren’t informed or perhaps they heard some information on television and assumed it was correct…

From Roger Morgan, Founder of the Take Back America Campaign:

Dr. Paula Gordon, an instructor for Auburn University’s Outreach, is offering an inexpensive on-line course on marijuana that I think is beneficial to everyone engaged in the battle to save our kids and nation from this insidious drug. Given the problems we have with marijuana in California, I highly recommend this course for anyone seeking to improve their knowledge.

From Anne Hassel PT, previous marijuana user and marijuana industry worker, Massachusetts:

Dr. Paula Gordon’s courses were critical to my fully comprehending not only the harmful properties of marijuana but also the societal elements and public policy that allowed this destructive addiction-for-profit industry to spawn and flourish.  Her Effects of Marijuana course is a must for anyone involved in the marijuana prevention effort due to the wealth of information and resources presented.  Dr. Paula Gordon’s effective personal instruction enables a layperson, such as a concerned parent, teacher or anyone questioning the health and safety of marijuana, a solid foundation in understanding the complexity of marijuana in our culture.   The information and benefits I received in this course inspired me to take Dr. Paula Gordon’s Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis Course, further enhancing my knowledge, personal development and ability to assist in marijuana prevention efforts.;; and



                                                     “Before Maryland Legalizes Marijuana It Should Consider This:

                                                                  Pot is Linked to Psychosis “

                                                              Op-ed by Christine L. Miller, Ph.D. (Excerpts)

                                                               APRIL 18, 2019, 6:00 AM, Baltimore Sun

                                      ( )

As Maryland legislators appointed to the “Cannabis Workgroup” begin their study of the pros and cons of marijuana legalization, they should pay particular attention to the mental health risks of this drug. Unfortunately, they may not have heard much about the epidemiology of psychosis associated with marijuana use, since relevant U.S. expertise lags behind Western Europe, Canada and a couple of countries in the southern hemisphere.

Epidemiological studies are observational, not interventional, so our slow entry into the field has nothing to do with the illegal status of marijuana. Instead, I would point to our lack of centralized health care, which would otherwise facilitate collection of data on large populations — data    pertaining to health status, history of health-related habits and key demographics. Another factor is how biomedical research here is tightly coupled   to the pharmaceutical industry, a sector less interested in environmental factors that cause disease than in developing blockbuster drugs.

From the perspective of many of us who have researched the causes of psychosis in the laboratory or in clinical settings, the book by journalist Alex Berenson Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence provides an important wake-up call for America. The      former New York Times business reporter wrote it after his psychiatrist wife suggested he learn more about the topic. But it’s a lone voice of caution on the national stage. While Medical associations in the U.S. have issued position papers citing harms of marijuana, these documents are largely buried in their websites out of view.

Here’s what you should know: Researchers looking for a dose-response correlation found that the heavier the marijuana use, and the more potent     the product, the more likely a psychotic outcome like schizophrenia. Daily use of potencies considered moderate by current U.S. standards increases risk 4- to 5-fold.

Some will argue that individuals with psychosis who use marijuana are merely self-medicating pre-existing symptoms, despite research showing symptoms remit for many who quit using and return if they use again. Studies in Europe and New Zealand of thousands of teens followed through young adulthood, demonstrated the marijuana habit preceded psychosis in the majority of marijuana users who developed it.

Yes, initial psychotic symptoms associated with marijuana are usually temporary, and only 12 percent to 15 percent of users reported these transient symptoms with lower strength marijuana common in the 1900s — symptoms like paranoia, delusions or auditory hallucinations. But 35 percent of those who experience such occasional symptoms can be expected to transition to a full psychotic break, a cluster of intense symptoms happening at once.

Three studies from Finland and Denmark, again totaling thousands of subjects, further demonstrated that nearly half of those who experience a psychotic break from marijuana progress to actual schizophrenia, a progression shown to be independent of a familial history of psychosis.

Could other drugs laced into marijuana explain these devastating outcomes? The answer is a resounding no. When compared to other recreational drugs that cause a full psychotic break (LSD, PCP, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine), marijuana-induced psychotic breaks were the most likely to lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia eight years out. As I like to say, lace your LSD with a little marijuana and you’re more likely to become psychotic.

Psychiatrists who admit marijuana can trigger schizophrenia will often maintain it does so only in those with a genetic predisposition. If asked, they would not be able to tell you the precise genetic predisposition, just that it derives from family history, much like susceptibility to heart disease. Yet, clinical studies in the U.K. have shown that 40 percent of individuals lacking a 1st degree family history of psychosis will exhibit transient psychotic symptoms when administered a moderate dose of pure THC. And for users and non-users alike, relatively few of those diagnosed with schizophrenia have any family history of schizophrenia in a 1st- or 2nd-degree relative.

The causal link between marijuana use and the development of psychosis is quite simply the most well-replicated, high impact finding in schizophrenia research today. Given current use rates and the strong potency of the drug available, it stands to be responsible for a larger proportion of schizophrenia cases than any other established factor. Who may be at risk cannot be reliably predicted? The time is long overdue for the surgeon general and American neuroscientists and psychiatrists, along with their universities and professional societies, to inform the public and for journalists to pay heed.

Christine L. Miller, Ph.D.  ( is a neuroscientist and author of “The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in: Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana” (Oxford University Press, 2018).


                                                    Reference List for APRIL 18, 2019 Baltimore Sun Op-Ed by Christine Miller, Ph.D.
                                                  Dose-response correlations demonstrated for marijuana and psychotic outcomes:

Andréasson, S., Engström, A., Allebeck, P., & Rydberg, U. (1987). Cannabis and schizophrenia. A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. The Lancet, 330(8574), 1483-1486.

Arseneault L, Cannon M, Poulton R, Murray R, Caspi A, Moffitt TE. Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study. BMJ, 2002;325(7374):1212-3.

Davis GP, Compton MT, Wang S, Levin FR, Blanco C. Association between cannabis use, psychosis, and schizotypal personality disorder: findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Schizophr Res. 2013;151(1-3):197-202

DiForti M, Morgan C, Dazzan P, Pariante C, Mondelli V, Marques TR, Handley R, Luzi S, Russo M, Paparelli A, Butt A, Stilo SA, Wiffen B, Powell J, Murray RM. High-potency cannabis and the risk of psychosis. Br J Psychiatry. 2009,195(6):488-91.

Di Forti M, Marconi A, Carra E, Fraietta S, Trotta A, Bonomo M, Bianconi F, Gardner-Sood P, O'Connor J, Russo M, Stilo SA, Marques TR, Mondelli V, Dazzan P, Pariante C, David AS, Gaughran F, Atakan Z, Iyegbe C, Powell J, Morgan C, Lynskey M, Murray RM. Proportion of patients in south London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: a case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015;2(3):233-8

van Os J, Bak M, Hanssen M, Bijl RV, de Graaf R, Verdoux H. Cannabis use and psychosis: a longitudinal population-based study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;156(4):319-27.

Zammit S, Allebeck P, Andreasson S, Lundberg I, Lewis G, 2002, Self reported cannabis use as a risk factor for schizophrenia in Swedish conscripts of 1969: historical cohort study. BMJ. 2002 Nov 23;325(7374):1199.

Daily use of moderate potency marijuana (including skunk, high potency in the U.K. but moderate potency by U.S. standards) increases the risk for a psychotic outcome by about 4 to 5-fold:

Marconi A, Di Forti M, Lewis CM, Murray RM, Vassos E. Meta-analysis of the Association Between the Level of Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychosis. Schizophr Bull. 2016;42(5):1262-9.

Di Forti M, Marconi A, Carra E, Fraietta S, Trotta A, Bonomo M, Bianconi F, Gardner-Sood P, O'Connor J, Russo M, Stilo SA, Marques TR, Mondelli V, Dazzan P, Pariante C, David AS, Gaughran F, Atakan Z, Iyegbe C, Powell J, Morgan C, Lynskey M, Murray RM. Proportion of patients in south London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: a case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015;2(3):233-8

 Users with psychosis who stop using marijuana do better:

González-Pinto A, Alberich S, Barbeito S, Gutierrez M, Vega P, Ibáñez B, Haidar MK, Vieta E, Arango C. Cannabis and first-episode psychosis: different long-term outcomes depending on continued or discontinued use. Schizophr Bull. 2011;37(3):631-9.

Schoeler T, Monk A, Sami MB, Klamerus E, Foglia E, Brown R, Camuri G, Altamura AC, Murray R, Bhattacharyya S. Continued versus discontinued cannabis use in patients with psychosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(3):215-25.

Marijuana use generally precedes the psychosis, not vice-versa:

Arseneault L, Cannon M, Poulton R, Murray R, Caspi A, Moffitt TE, 2002, Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study. BMJ, 2002;325(7374):1212-3.

Henquet C, Krabbendam L, Spauwen J, et al. Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis, and psychotic symptoms in young people. BMJ. 2005;330:11–15.

Kuepper R, van Os J, Lieb R, Wittchen HU, Höfler M, Henquet C. Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10-year follow-up cohort study. BMJ. 2011 Mar 1;342: d738

Mustonen A, Niemelä S, Nordström T, Murray GK, Mäki P, Jääskeläinen E, Miettunen J. Adolescent cannabis use, baseline prodromal symptoms and the risk of psychosis.Br J Psychiatry. 2018;212(4):227-233.

 Percent of users of low strength marijuana who experienced transient psychotic symptoms (12% up to 15%):

Barkus EJ, Stirling J, Hopkins RS, Lewis S. Cannabis-induced psychosis-like experiences are associated with high schizotypy. Psychopathology. 2006;39(4):175-8.

Smith MJ, Thirthalli J, Abdallah AB, Murray RM, Cottler LB. Prevalence of psychotic symptoms in substance users: a comparison across substances. Compr Psychiatry 2009, 50(3):245-50. H. A community survey of adverse effects of cannabis use. Drug Alcohol Depend. 1996;42(3):201-7.   More.......

- Working List of Selected References and Resources Concerning the Harmful Effects of Marijuana

Compiled by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.


An extensive Working List of Selected References and Resources Concerning the Harmful Effects of Marijuana initially compiled May 31, 2014 and periodically updated.​Compiled by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.


- Selected Abstracts and References on the Harmfulness of Marijuana (Focusing on Psychosis, Bi-Polar Disorders, and Other Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders)


​- Some Outstanding Websites about Substance Abuse, including Marijuana and other Psychoactive Substances)

~ American Council on Addiction and Alcohol Problems at

~ American Character Builders at

~ Prevent, Don't Promote at

~ Cannabis Skunk Sense at    

~ Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. at

~ The Marijuana Report.Org

~ Smart Approaches to Marijuana at

~ Institute for Behavior and Health at

~ Americans Against the Legalization of Marijuana at

~ National Association of Drug Court Professionals at

~ Parents Opposed to Pot at

~ Stop Pot at

~ Moms Strong at

~ Marijuana Victims Alliance at

~ Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)  DUID Victim Voices at 

~ Cannabis Industry Victims Educating Litigators (CIVEL) (See and

~ Take Back America at (See )



                                                           Statement on The End of Drug Abuse

The tidal wave of drug abuse and its aftermath will eventually end.   The end to the scourge will come when more and more thoughtful, feeling human beings come forward, contribute to a critical mass of public wisdom and opinion, and effectively turn the tide.  Many individuals have allowed themselves to be blinded to current realities. Many have allowed themselves to be conned and dehumanized.  Some have succumbed to sheer greed, not caring or oblivious to the human and societal costs.  When they become aware of what is going on, they will no longer give in to groupthink, social pressure, and denial.  There is then a hope that human values will overtake the magical thinking and ignorance of proponents and users and that the materialistic values of those who are promoting the societally destructive efforts of “Big Marijuana” will give way to reason and human values.  The challenge is to help coalesce the efforts of two forces:  those who at their core realize what devastation this enchantment with altered states of mind has wrought and those who are not enticed by the promise of material gain who are neither uncaring nor in denial concerning the cost of the destruction of all human and societal values, potentials, and goals. Not only is the mental health of millions of human beings at stake, the very gene pool is in jeopardy.

                                                                                                                                Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.       June 2, 2019


                        Updated Excerpt of a Letter from Paula D. Gordon to all U.S. Senators and Congressmen and

                  Candidates for President  Who Do Not As Yet Understand that Marijuana is Harmful Mentally and

                                        Physically and Who Support Its Legalization, Use, and Commercialization

.......Today’s marijuana is exponentially higher in its THC content than the marijuana of preceding decades.  Many of the results of older research studies have been “cherry-picked by proponents of marijuana use and have in effect served to propagandize impressionable individuals who have not read, studied, or understood the research concerning the full extent of the harmful of effects of marijuana.

......Today’s users are sadly more “out of it” than stoners and users of decades ago.  For instance, they cannot begin to answer a variant of the question that I would ask you:

                         What would it take for you to decide not to use marijuana or not to promote or support its use?

 Indeed I asked that question of hundreds of users who were standing in line to pick up free seeds in Washington, DC in March of 2015. Those who deigned to answer showed they had ceased to use any reason concerning their decision to use.  They also revealed that they knew nothing of the tens of thousands of studies in the refereed journal literature.  To me the Harris Isbell study is most decisive.  Isbell and his associates established in 1967 (Psychopharmacologia) that THC, the active principle of marijuana, has idiosyncratic psychotomimetic effects on healthy human subjects. That means that even the relatively low dose used in the experiment triggered unpredictable psychotic effects in normal human subjects.

Do you really want people, including young people, to be playing Russian Roulette with their mental and psychological health?  Are you aware that the human brain is developing from the fetal stage through age 25 to 29, if not later?   The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to impairment as a result of marijuana exposure or use.

Are you aware that exposure to marijuana in utero sensitizes the brain to opioids?  See the Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress and All Other Public Officials for research that establishes the connection between marijuana exposure or use and the tendency of those sensitized to use opioids.  

Are you aware of the fact that the societal costs of legalizing marijuana are so great, that no amount of tax revenues could offset those costs.  Indeed taxing marijuana only ensures that cartels and black marketers will have a continuing advantage over "legally" dispensed marijuana.  It is easy for them to undercut the prices and even sell everything from cocaine to meth to heroin at lower prices than "legal" dispensaries.

Are you unaware of the fact that marijuana use impairs both semen and eggs.  The effects on the endocrine and reproductive systems are significant, so much so that the progeny of users, male and/or female users, have lower birth weight and shorter gestation periods than those infants whose parents were not marijuana users.  Chromosomal damage has been know for decades.  See the 1984 NIDA Monograph on Marijuana and Its Effects on the Endocrine and Reproductive Systems.  See   Also see Dr. Stuart Reece's Review on Marijuana, Arteriopathy, Teratogenicity, and Genotoxicity (See the file posted in the upper right hand corner of this home page.)

On April 14, 2016 at Brookings a debate was held on whether or not marijuana should be rescheduled as a Schedule 2 drugs. David Evans, Esq. and Dr. Bertha Madras argued in favor of keeping marijuana a Schedule 1 drug.  (See .) Dr. Bertha Madras concluded her extensive arguments that she had made during the debate saying that “there is not the evidence that whole plant marijuana is safe or effective”.  Then her extraordinarily eloquent concluding remarks took the debate to a different level.  The following remarks that begin at 1 hour and 25 minutes into the program were as follows:

Why do nations schedule drugs?...... Nations schedule psychoactive drugs because we revere this three pound organ (of our brain) differently than any other part of our body.  It is the repository of our humanity.  It is the place that enables us to write poetry and to do theater, to conjure up calculus and send rockets to Pluto three billion miles away, and to create I Phones and 3 D computer printing.  And that is the magnificence of the human brain.  Drugs can influence (the brain) adversely.  So this is not a war on drugs.  This is a defense of our brains, the ultimate source of our humanity.

                                                                                                                                       Dr. Bertha Madras   April 14, 2016

To all those in roles of public responsibility:  Please study the research literature.  Please read the studies and the journalistic accounts of the devastating consequences that the use of marijuana is having on society.   Great efforts need now to be directed to helping all listening understand the effects of marijuana and the way in which is use and legalization have fueled the opioid crisis.   Education, information, understanding, counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation are all needed now.

Paula D. Gordon

June 25, 2019


Letter to District of Columbia Mayor and City Council Regarding the Harmfulness of Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Subject: Regarding DC marijuana smoke policy

Date: February 1, 2016 at 3:02:21 AM PST

To: "Office of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser" <>, The Council of the District of Columbia <>
Dear Mayor Bowser and DC Council Members,
I read in the Washington Post about the controversies regarding regulation of legal marijuana use and about how smoke-free policies should be enforced.  Because discussions pertaining to exposure of the public and of pot club employees to marijuana secondhand smoke frequently involve questions of whether or not secondhand marijuana smoke is harmful, I would like to provide you with important information about it effects on the ability of blood vessels to function properly. 
My research group at the University of California, San Francisco has studied the effects of tobacco and marijuana secondhand smoke on blood vessel function in rats, under conditions that closely mimic the effects of tobacco secondhand smoke on blood vessels in humans.  We have shown that not only does marijuana secondhand smoke impair proper functioning of the arteries but that its effect is more extreme and longer lasting than that of tobacco secondhand smoke, at reasonable real-world levels.  This potentially increases the chances of heart attack and stroke.
We reported our initial results at the 2014 annual American Heart Association conference and are currently submitting a paper for publication, showing that even one minute of marijuana secondhand smoke exposure is enough to cause drastic reduction in vessel function for at least 90 minutes.  Our policy briefing for California about cardiovascular effects of marijuana smoke is at
Based on these results, exposing the public to secondhand marijuana smoke in an arena or other public place, or exposing bar/club employees to the smoke, may put them at greater risk than if tobacco smoking were allowed in that space.  I hope that you will continue to protect the public from unwanted exposure to smoke from any source, be it tobacco or marijuana.  I have written a short letter to the editor of the Post as well.  Please feel free to contact me for more information.
Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D. 
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research Institute
Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research
Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of California, San Francisco  
Phone  (415) 502-8404


The Extraordinarily Costly Environmental Damage of Marijuana Grows

According to Roger Morgan of Take Back America, “ California alone, the projected reclamation cost, if even possible, is $50 to $80 billion.  That won't bring the wildlife back, or cleanse the water tables and watersheds serving millions of people and farm animals.  (i.e.  The social, environmental and economic cost are vastly in excess of alcohol and tobacco.  So are the human harms.” 

“Silent Poison” is a video that documents the damage that is being done to the environment and the quality of life.


The Video of the Exchange Between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Nora Volkow on Addiction

Significant insights can be gleaned from this discussion of the  ways in which drug use and addiction affect  the functioning of the brain and decision making.  As both Dr. Volkow and the Dalai Lama acknowledge, the person caught up in drug-taking behavior surrenders his or her “agency”, and his or her initiative and will power along with his or her judgment and ability to make sound judgments.  Dr. Volkow and the Dalai Lama also talk about ways of undoing and reversing addiction. This can be done by ceasing the use of drugs and reconnecting the decision making part of the brain with the rest of the brain.  Brain scans of what a healthy functioning brain is like are also presented during the videotaped exchange. 

The effect of participating in healthy activities, such as serving others and showing concern for others and engaging in meaningful activity can reconnect the disconnected parts of the brain.  When an addicted individual is able to begin to overcome his or her addiction, the brain begins to show a return to a healthy functioning state.  Of course, there will be some who have done irreparable damage to the functioning of the brain and their mental health, these individuals may not be able to fully recover.

See for the video which takes place on the morning of Day 3 of the workshop on addiction.


- The Complaint Filed in December of 2014 by the States of Nebraska and Oklahoma Against the State of Colorado to Settle the Question:How can Colorado circumvent federal law that bans the cultivation, trafficking and possession of marijuana?

…Attorneys General Jon Bruning of Nebraska and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma took the extraordinary step of suing another state Thursday when they asked the Supreme Court to settle an important question: How can Colorado circumvent federal law that bans the cultivation, trafficking and possession of marijuana?     

Attorney General-elect Doug Peterson, who takes office early next month, said he fully supports the decision to challenge Colorado’s law. Bruning kept him informed and shared legal briefs before filing the case, Peterson said….     

The complaint filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma  See



- December 5, 2014 Presentation by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. at the Dupont Summit in Washington, D.C.

Marijuana Legalization: A Man-Made Public Health Disaster Currently Unfolding in Two States in the U.S. 



- An excerpt from the October 30, 2014 testimony by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. on the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” before Joint Committees of the Council of the District of Columbia: Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Committee on Finance and Revenue

 “Many feel that those in lower socioeconomic groups have been unjustly targeted even with the minimal penalties that now exist with decriminalization in D.C.  There is a very easy way to remedy this.  What you need to do is simply follow the lead of other jurisdictions throughout the country who provide drug court services and other in lieu of incarceration and in lieu of prosecution approaches to dealing with drug use. For instance in Maryland, users are being given the option of going into counselling, treatment or rehab and thereby avoiding penalties, avoiding adjudication,  and avoiding a record.  Simple.  Please rescind efforts to legalize marijuana and try to help those caught up in drug-taking.  Please help the rising generation to grow into drug-free adults who have not diminished their will power, their motivation, their intellect, and who have not impaired their mental and physical well- being.  How can we hope to maintain a free and thriving society, and how can we hope maintain a viable representative democracy dependent on an educated citizenry, if you take unconstitutional steps that in effect spread the use of the last thing any sane society needs and underdeveloped societies are currently shunning: an instantaneous intoxicant with psychoactive properties that so deleteriously affect the weakest, the youngest, and the oldest in our community while impacting the economy through the loss of productivity and loss of a viable tourism trade.   Please do not continue to follow this path that will turn a beautiful historic treasure of a city that should honor the legacy of the Founders of the nation and the nation’s heroes and great leaders into a Denver or an Amsterdam and contribute to the problems of its youth and its elderly, its mentally ill, its developmentally disabled, its homeless population, its unemployed, its underserved, its former users, its current users, its naïve experimenters, and so many others who are being and will be immediately harmed by the spread of the use of marijuana.”


- Monday, November 3, 2014 Presentation by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. for The George Washington University

University Seminar on Reflexive Systems:Viewing Marijuana Use and Policy from a Public Health Perspective

~What are the Impacts of Legalization in Colorado and Washington State?

~ Is There a Better Approach that Keeps Marijuana Illegal While Providing for Non-Punitive, “In Lieu of Incarceration” and “In Lieu of Prosecution” Alternatives That Discourage Drug-Taking Behavior & Marijuana Use Specifically in the U.S.?


- Marijuana Legalization: a Man-Made Public Health Disaster Currently Unfolding in Two States in the U.S.?  (An Article)

By Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.October 4, 2014  2014-09-26_Paula_D._Gordon__Ph.D.__Marijuana_Legalization_in_Two_States_-_A_Man-Made_Public_Health_Disaster.docx    Initially published in PA Times Online on September 19, 2014.


- The Illegality of Legalizing Marijuana Use: An Open Plea to the President and All Other Sworn Federal, State, and Local Public Officials Concerning Marijuana Policies and Laws in the United States: What Part of “I swear to take Care that Laws be faithfully executed” or “I swear to support and defend the Constitution” Do You Not Understand?

by  Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.August 4, 2014   


Published by Family Security Matters and Also Posted at


- Some Comments and Questions for Proponents of Marijuana Legalization by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. May 30, 2014

​​There is a public policy approach that can be taken to addressing the use and abuse of intoxicants and psychoactive substances, including marijuana, an approach that does not involve incarceration or a permanent record in the criminal justice system.  The public policy approach can be taken in a way that advances the health of individuals and the public health of the nation.  Undertaking such a public health approach can make it totally unnecessary and counterproductive to legalize marijuana.  Individuals who are intoxicated as a result of using psychoactive substances and who are apprehended for public intoxication or driving under the influence can be remanded through the court system to “in lieu of prosecution” programs, including drug court type programs.  Such programs focus on education and information, and on counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation where needed.   With the completion of such programs, records can be expunged.  Numerous such approaches and policies are already in place in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As is evident from the experiments in Washington and Colorado, legalization contributes to the spreading use of marijuana among all age groups.  Legalization has also increased the lucrative nature of the illicit sales trade since it is easy for those selling marijuana outside of the legal distribution system to undercut the prices of the legal distributors. 

There has been testimony from illicit sellers to this effect.There has been an increase in DUIs and fatalities involving marijuana use since marijuana was legalized in two states. 

Some questions:

~ Do you think that it is possible to drive safely with any amount of marijuana in one’s system?

~ Are you aware that increasing numbers of individuals of all ages have begun using marijuana as a result of the changes in the laws in Washington and Colorado?  Are you aware of the increased demand for treatment by those using marijuana?

~ Are you aware of the public health consequences of this and of the fact that no amount of tax revenue could possibly offset the public health consequences and costs to society?

~ Are you aware that the use of marijuana has increased in adjacent states?

~ Are you aware that THC has been shown to have idiosyncratic psychotomimetic effects in human subjects?

~ Do you know about the research, including brain scans, showing anomalies in the brains of casual users?  (April 16, 2014, Journal of Neuroscience posted at )? 

~ Do you know about the complementary research findings, that have also included brain scans of users, and that have been reported on over the past few years? These research findings show that marijuana affects the development and functioning of the brain and that use of marijuana lowers the IQs of users whose brains are still developing.  The brain is considered by many to be developing in individuals who are 25 years of age or younger.  There are those in the scientific community who would put the age the completion of brain development between 35 and 50.  The age that one must be to purchase marijuana in Colorado is 21.

~ Did you know that individuals who were high on marijuana have been involved in crimes of violence and in major accidents that have resulted in multiple deaths?  Christopher Darden, attorney for the prosecution, is on record as having said that O.J. Simpson had marijuana in his system at the time of the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. There has also been a recent murder in Colorado involving an individual who was high on marijuana.

~ Are you aware that a percentage of those using marijuana who become addicted to it?

~ Are you aware that the smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco are both carcinogenic and both impair the heart and respiratory system? Are you aware that there are recently reported cases of those using marijuana who have died of heart-related causes?

~ Do you think that legislators or the public had any idea that they would be legalizing marijuana that could have a THC content of 85% or more?  Are you aware of the much higher THC in today’s marijuana as contrast with the marijuana that was used in prior to the ‘80s and the ‘90s?

~ Do you foresee the involvement of the FDA in regulating the advertising claims made by marijuana distributors to recreational users?  For instance, see the warnings included in the information provided by a distributor in Colorado of paranoia as a possible negative result of using a product that has a 17% THC content. (See The same distributor is promoting medicinal uses for most all of the products being offered to all of the customers of the business.

~ Do you foresee law suits being brought on behalf of those harmed by marijuana use that would likely equal if not rival the law suits that were brought on behalf of those smokers harmed by tobacco?  Do you think that such lawsuits would be likely to have an effect on the marijuana industry, “Big Marijuana”, that would be similar to the effect that lawsuits have had on “Big Tobacco”?

~ Are you aware of the effect that marijuana smoke can have on innocent bystanders and on non-using family members of all ages?  Are you aware of the civil liberties implications this has for bystanders, especially former users, the mentally ill, individuals who are infirm, and sensitive individuals and children?

~ Are you aware that there is no way to extrapolate to the U.S. the experience that Portugal, a small predominantly Catholic country of around 10.6 million people,  has had with its unique multidisciplinary assessment and rehabilitation of those engaged in drug taking behavior? The closest thing to it in this country would be the remanding of users to drug court programs or other “in lieu of prosecution” approaches involving education, treatment, and rehabilitation.  There is no comparability between what Portugal is doing and what is happening at the present time in Colorado.

~ Are you aware of the voluminous research that exists on the full range of harmful mental and physical effects of marijuana?  See the various lists of references in the articles and reports and lists of references posted on .  Especially see the “Open Letter to Those Who Believe that Marijuana Use is Harmless or Relatively Harmless to Themselves and Those in Their Surround”.

The author of these comments and questions knows from first-hand experience in the ‘60s the effects of psychoactive drugs (as well as mood altering substances such as alcohol and tobacco).  The author has worked since the ‘60s to promote public health approaches to discouraging use and to intervening in early stages of psychoactive drug use and experimentation.  The author also has emphasized the need for in lieu of prosecution programs, including drug court type programs that focus on education and information, and counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation where needed. This might be viewed at a campaign to dissuade individuals from engaging in drug taking behavior and to help enlighten individuals concerning the innumerable mental, psychological, physical, and spiritual effects of using marijuana and other psychoactive substances. The spiritual effects of marijuana are particularly insidious as they result in the near instantaneous abeyance of one’s “soul power” and initiative. For those in the process of developing a moral compass, marijuana use can drastically impact that developmental process.  See and also see the video of the exchange between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, that took place in the fall of 2013. The video can be found at  Alternatively, Google “Dalai Lama + Nora Volkow” for the link.


- An Open Letter to Those Who Believe that Marijuana is Either Harmless or “Relatively” Harmless to Users and to Those in Their Environment by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.May 21, 2014 

It is very sad to know that so many are either unaware of the research findings concerning marijuana or have succumbed to groupthink, social pressure, and denial regarding the many harmful effects of the recreational use of marijuana.  It is particularly disheartening to know that so few are aware of the most significant research on marijuana that has been published over the past fifty years.  Even the ground breaking research findings on marijuana and its effects on the functioning of the brain that have been published in the past two years, including the research published in April 16, 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience, are all but unknown to the vast majority of proponents of the recreational use of marijuana.  (Several hundred references to the research concerning the widest imaginable array of harmful effects of marijuana use can be found here at . An selected working list of references and resources is posted here and will be updated periodically.)

If you follow the reports on the damage that the use of marijuana has already done in Colorado, I think that you might well have second thoughts about the nature of the effects of the “recreational” use of marijuana.  The following excerpt is from a “report card” created by the organization known as “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” (SAM).  The report are being issued on an ongoing basis concerning what has been happening in Colorado since the first of 2014.  The organization responsible for the reports was co-founded by Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths about Marijuana and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.  The report is dated 4/29/2014 and recounts some impacts that marijuana legalization has had in Colorado already. The following is from :   “The City of  Denver now   surpasses  all  US  states  for  teen  marijuana  use,  and   car  crashes  with  drivers  testing  positive  for  marijuana  have  almost  tripled”.   Use has spread among school age children.  There have also been significant increases in the numbers of those of all ages seeking treatment as a result of marijuana use.   Two deaths have been attributed to the use of marijuana.  Even small children have gotten hold of marijuana edibles and experienced negative effects as a result….(more)


The Harm Caused to Individuals and Society by the Use of Marijuana 

by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.  

May 27, 2009, Revised December 27, 2009 and  

The view that marijuana is harmless or even “relatively harmless” is a view that is widely shared.  That a view is widely shared does not mean that it is a sound view or that it has any basis in knowledge or fact.    Of course, the fact that marijuana is a plant that is widely available in nature has nothing to do with the potential harm that it can do if it is smoked or ingested.  To assume otherwise is to engage in vague or magical thinking.  It is common knowledge that there are plants and substances of all kinds that are harmful if ingested.  For instance, hemlock is deadly as are some mushrooms.  Smoking anything has some harmful consequences.   However widely shared a view it may be, the view that marijuana is harmless or even “relatively harmless,” it is a view that reflects a lack of knowledge concerning the immediate and the short term and long term effects of marijuana.  It is also a view that reflects a lack of knowledge of the less widely recognized effects of marijuana use of contact highs and flashbacks (spontaneous recurrence of a drug high without using the substance at the time of the recurrence.)  Similarly, the view reflects a lack of awareness of the civil liberties implications of being subject to contact highs and other effects as a result of being in the proximity of those who are using marijuana.   Certainly, a rational public policy needs to be based on such a knowledge base.   One way I try to determine what the knowledge base might be of a person who seems  unaware of the harmful effects of marijuana is to pose these questions: 

·         Do you know of research that shows that the use of marijuana can negatively affect motivation, long and short term memory, concentration, judgment, reasoning, and common sense?   

·         Do you know of the research of Harris Isbell and others who found that there can be idiosyncratic psychotomimetic (psychosis-like) effects from the administration of delta 9 THC in human subjects? (Delta 9 THC is the active principle of marijuana.)  

·         Do you know of the research findings that marijuana smoke can be inhaled by bystanders who then can experience marijuana highs and idiosyncratic effects?  

·         Do you know of the research in humans and animals showing the deleterious changes in lung tissue as a result of exposure to marijuana smoke?

·         Do you know that contact high and flashback effects can occur as a result of the use of marijuana and do you think that the occurrence of such effects can have any negative  consequences?

·         Do you see any deleterious impacts to the civil liberties of others, including children, the elderly, mentally impaired, and other sensitive individuals, when they are unwillingly or unwittingly subjected to marijuana smoke or contact highs? ……(More)


- Statements Made by John Walters and Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy on Mr. Obama’s January 2014 Comments Concerning the Effects of Marijuana, Comments that were Ill-Considered and Without a Scientific Basis.  



- A Must-See Video of an Extraordinary Exchange between Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Dalai Lama

The two hour and twenty minute exchange between Dr. Nora Volkow and the Dalai Lama that took place in India in the fall of 2013 is at .

The insights are pertinent to all forms of addictive and compulsive behavior.  They are also pertinent to prevention, intervention, and treatment of such behavior.   Brain scans are shown.  It is an extremely illuminating and helpful sharing of understanding including insights into how to help people caught up in addictive behavior including the use of marijuana, get out of the spiral of addiction.   The loss of personal agency, motivation, and initiative that are noted can leave one open to great harm. ……(More)


- An Outstanding PSA and Video on the Harmfulness of Drug Use  

The following URL is for PSA is called  “Damaged Circuits”: 

It shows the morphing of an articulate and cogent child into a spaced out drug using teen.

The Public Service Announcements was made by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.


The Website: A Website Devoted to the Harmful Spiritual Effects of Marijuana and Other Psychoactive Substances…(more)


  • Paula D. Gordon, 10-22-2020 “Why Marijuana Legalization is a Very Bad Idea ~ Marijuana as a Contributor to the Opioid Crisis, the Homeless Problem, and Societal Unrest  and Its Harm to the Brain, Body, Future Generations, and Environment”  See
  • “Predictable and Unpredictable Effects of Marijuana”. Published March 4, 2021 by Moms Strong at .
  • High Truths on Drugs and Addiction Episode #31: “High Truths with Dr. Paula Gordon on Second Hand Marijuana Smoke”,  Interviewed by Dr. Roneet Lev, July 26, 2021 at .

  • Paula D. Gordon 12-16-2019 Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress and All Other Public Officials: Conclusive Evidence of Marijuana’s Harm to the Brain, Body, and the Environment
  • 11/14/2016 Paula D. Gordon Presentation at the 2016 International Criminology Conference in Washington, DC: A Case for Protecting the Brain: Keeping the Federal Controlled Substances Act in Place and Providing Non-Punitive, Justice System-Based Public Health Options to Address the Use of Marijuana, Opiates, and Other Psychoactive and Mood-Altering Drugs in America


 Paula D. Gordon  " Drugs, Homelessness and a Growing Public Health Disaster" Published December 11, 2019 in at  and in the Dom Prep Journal, December 2019.



[ Click here for the COMPLETE TABLE OF CONTENTS ]

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A purpose is help inform the public, the media, and those in positions of public responsibility of the challenges facing the nation as a result of the widespread use of psychoactive and mood-altering substances, including marijuana, other hallucinogens, opiates, and designer drugs. The harmful effects of these substances have not been well understood.  In fact, there is great ignorance of the harmful effects of marijuana and other drugs that are being used for experimental or recreational purposes. Information concerning the effects of marijuana on the endocrine and reproductive systems alone should be enough to dissuade anyone from using or promoting the use or the legalization of the use of all substances containing cannabis, CBD, and hemp. See the work of Dr. Stuart Reece and Dr. Gary Hulse on these topics, including the review by Dr. Reece posted next to this message.  I also commend your attention to the work of Christine Miller, Ph.D., including  The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in: Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana (Oxford University Press, 2018) and the work of Alex Berenson, Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence (Free Press, 2019).

The implications that the harmful effects that these drugs have for the health and well-being of individuals, families, and society are legion. I hope that the work that is posted and cited here, including the Working List of References and Resources, will be helpful to all those seeking to understand seriousness of these challenges and the options before us.  I hope this website will lead to the adoption of a public health-centered approach to dealing with these challenges, an approach that will help ensure the sustainability of the mental, physical, and spiritual well being of those of all ages, particularly the rising generation that has everything to lose by engaging in drug use and experimentation. 

It is a great mistake to legalize the use of marijuana and to otherwise encourage or fail to discourage the recreational and experimental use of these substances. Individuals can be helped to become fully functioning individuals again and not reliant on drug taking.  This can be done through providing drug court type programs and other “in lieu of prosecution” and "in lieu of incarceration-type" programs. Such programs and approaches can provide information, education, counseling, and treatment and rehabilitation and other supportive services as needed. Completing such programs should result in the expunging of any accrued justice system record. The future of the rising generation and of the nation is dependent on making the most sound choices concerning public policy that should be designed to protect and sustain the health and functioning of individuals and society.