Obama, Cigarettes and Cannabis

President-Elect Barack Obama has promised not to smoke cigarettes in the White House. Does not smoking in the house mean smoking in the entryways of the White House? Out in the Rose Garden?

Cigarettes are not just the most lethal drug confronting America, they are also the most addictive. The power of cigarette’s grip on human behavior its remarkably demonstrated by our next president. Barack Obama is literally the alpha male of human competence and self control. Master campaigner, victorious debater, now triumphantly poised to assume the most important job on the planet!

Yet still, of all people, the President-elect is not able to summon the will to not smoke tobacco cigarettes. As much as he would like to quit, as much as Michelle and the girls want him to quit, he will presumably duck out of the White House, furtively avoiding his family and to the chagrin of his Secret Service detail, light up a cigarette. Statistically, the smoke will cost him 11 1/2 minutes of his life, and each pack of 20 cigarettes will cost him 3 1/2 hours from his life.

Like most people who become addicted to cigarettes, Obama began as a teenager. Recent evidence shows that just a few cigarettes smoked by an adolescent can set up a lifelong addiction. Tobacco cigarettes were not the only drug smoked (and inhaled), “That was the point” by young Barack Obama:

  • One drug, cannabis with cannabinoids, he used and inhaled. Later, Obama stopped using cannabis when he chose to do so.
  • The other drug, tobacco cigarettes with nicotine, he also used and inhaled. Later, Obama could not totally stop using when he chose to do so.

Receptor discrimination?

When the young Obama smoked a tobacco cigarette, the main drug he inhaled was nicotine. Nicotine activates trans membrane receptors in cells, specifically the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR ). In less 10 seconds after taking a puff of tobacco smoke, nicotine molecules crossed his blood-brain barrier and fit like tiny keys into a locks normally activated by the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Nictoine causes the receptors to activate, change shape and initiate a chemical cascade. Young Barack would have felt modest elevation of energy and mood from AChR receptor activation.

When the young Obama smoked a cannabis “joint,” the main drug he inhaled was THC, short for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC activates trans membrane receptors in cells, specifically the cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. In less than 10 seconds after taking a puff of cannabis smoke, THC molecules crossed his blood-brain barrier and fit like tiny keys into a locks normally activated by the neurotransmitter, anandamide. THC causes the CB1 (and CB2) receptors to activate, change shape and initiate a chemical cascade. Young Barack would have felt mild euphoria from CB1 receptor activation.

Nicotine is a powerful insecticide. THC is a powerful neuroprotective antioxidant, anti inflammatory and analgesic. Tobacco smoking is highly carcinogenic. No smoke inhalation is a good thing (nor is it necessary with the advent of vaporizers, but cannabis smoking is apparently not carcinogenic. Indeed, THC exhibits several capabilities for preventing, even shrinking tumors.

Tobacco use kills over 1,200 Americans each day. Cannabis use kills 0 Americans each day.

Legal Sanctions

The contrast in legal sanctions for young Barack’s smoking activities are the most startling. If Barack had been caught underage with cigarettes, the punishment, if any, would have been minor. Certainly nothing that would jeopardize his career and future presidential run.

Had Barack been caught and arrested for possesstion of cannabis, though, his future would have immediately dimmed. If given a felony conviction and jailed, as would be possible because of cannabis’  misguided, draconian Schedule 1 listing, Barack would likely now be unemployed. Luckily, because Barack avoided arrest, the “justice” system missed its opportunity to crush the life and career of our next president.

Tragically, Obama’s choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, holds neocon, authoritarian views on exactly this issue. When part of the Clinton Administration, serving as US Attorney for Washington D.C., he pushed for mandatory jail time for young people caught with cannabis in that city.

Hopefully, as Barack Obama puffs on his occasional cigarette outside the White House, he will think of the vast 2,000,000+ prisoner gulag stretched out across America before him. Far too many of these prisoners languish in jail because they were snared by the dishonest, cruel and self-serving laws against a plant. More Americans are arrested for cannabis possession than all violent crimes combined.

As you take your smoke, please think, Mr. President, of all these American lives being crushed and crippled by such torments as mandatory minimums.  Eric Holder gleefully fed young cannabis prisoners to this incarceration industry and as AG may force many more American lives and families down into the grinder.  All for contact with a substance with true medical value, as opposed to the tobacco cigarettes from which Mr. President, huddled outside the White House, draws another nicotine puff.

Anandamide Why did they call it bliss?

In Jerusalem in the year 1992, Ananda, the Sanskrit word for bliss, named a newly identified molecule. Anandamide was given as name to the cannabinoid molecule first discovered being produced in the human body, that is, the first endocannabinoid. This revelation solved a decade’s old mystery. The discovery of anandamide and the receptor system it stimulates has greatly changed and grown our knowledge of the structure and functioning of our human bodies. What has been learned already offers to better our health and well-being.

A mystery and a great discovery.

The great discovery begins wrapped in a mystery: In the mid 1960’s researchers in Israel identified the active component of the plant Cannabis Sativa. Then, over a quarter century later, in 1990, researchers indentified natural receptors activated by this plant cannabinoid. The discovery of these receptors found them first in the brain, then throughout the human body.

The mystery: Why should human beings have a natural receptor system triggered by molecules from the flowers of a plant?

The discovery of the human cannabinoid receptor system and the natural substances that activate this system extends our knowledge of human body and its workings. The beneficial properties associated with the activation and modulation of this newly found system are profound: They offer a whole host of beneficial physiological functions including preventative and curative effects for many commonly afflicting diseases. Medicine in the 21st century will be fundamentally altered by the discovery of this system and the natural molecules we produce to manage it.

Jerusalem Journey

Jerusalem is sacred ground in many ways. It is central to three of the world’s most influential religions, and home to many of their key relics, both present and long past. The Wailing Wall, The Dome of the Rock and the Garden Tomb keep uneasy company with each other and with the ghosts of ancient structures, such as the Second Temple, twenty centuries ago burned to ash by the legions of Rome.

During all these thousands of years of Jerusalem history, back 1,000 years to the Crusades, back 2.000 years to the time Christ walked the city’s streets, and much further back, thousands of more years back, something else was constant in the land. Down these long centuries, humans were cultivating, trading and using a weedy plant across the Middle East of which Jerusalem is the center. The fast growing cannabis sativa provided its cultivators with useful fiber, nutritious seeds, potent medications and perhaps even helped stoke their spirituality.

Dr. Raphael  Mechoulam’s discoveries began when he undertook the investigation of the active components of cannabis sativa, the plant so long used in the Middle East for relieving aches and pains, inflammation and a score of other ails, and for enjoying its bliss-giving properties. He began by securing a chunk of hashish, concentrated products of the flowering female plant. In 1964 at the Weissmann Institute of Science at the Rehovoth campus of Hebrew University, he and his team discovered the major active ingredient in cannabis, THC.[i]
But that is the story of a later post.


[i] Gaoni, Y.; Mechoulam, R. Isolation, structure, and partial synthesis of an active constituent of hashish. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1964, 86, 1646-1650.

This is Your Brain On Bliss, the blog

Ananda, the Sanskrit word for bliss, was used in 1992 to name a substance newly discovered, yet ancient. Anandamide was the name given to this natural chemical compound, a cannabinoid, when it was first discovered being created in the human body. The name is apt. Since its discovery, ever-quickening research is finding that this bliss factor anandamide does indeed provide many remarkably beneficial properties. Cannabinoids activate their natural receptors, discovered just two years earlier, populating the human brain, spine, eyes, bowels, lungs, and nearly every part of the body, of your body.

The breakthrough discovery of this cannabinoid receptor system and its astonishing functions is rewriting major parts of human physiology. This crucial system includes unique mechanisms for neural communications, anti-inflammation and pain control. Cannabinoids offer a whole host of valuable physiological properties including newly discovered preventative and curative effects for many commonly afflicting symptoms and diseases. Expanding knowledge of the cannabinoid receptor system will become a cornerstone of medical and health advances throughout the rest of this 21st century.

Yet public awareness of these profoundly important health findings is practically nil. Tens of millions of Americans truly need to know about the bliss cannabinoid and its health enhancing properties. They need to know they may find real help with pain, cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and a dozen other devastating maladies. This website and blog seeks to translate these new findings, some only a few months old, from polysyllabic biochemistry to useful personal information.

Written by a glaucoma victim whose sight was preserved by cannabinoids, this addresses especially those suffering millions with conditions for which cannabinoids can provide merciful prevention and powerful treatment. The blog, of course, does not dispense medical information, but it does acquaint casualties of pain, inflammation and a score of diseases to the hopeful findings of new cannabinoid research from around the world.