Response to Philip Mella’s September 7 column | Guest column | Mail from Pikes Peak

Dear Mr Mella,

First off, I find it flattering and a bit scary that after five years and moving to another state, you still find it necessary to come out of retirement to fight my articles.

During our last round, you destroyed my quotes that YOU requested for an article and made my comments elementary to yours, thereby sabotaging the entire article. It was the worst case of biased journalism I have ever seen in my professional career.

Second, I’d like to point out that last year The Atlantic called Alex Berenson “The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man.” Much of Alex’s marijuana book has been debunked. I won’t waste my time explaining everything, but journalist German Lopez does a great job of summarizing it in his article for Vox titled “What Alex Berenson’s New Book Gets Wrong About Marijuana, Psychosis, and Violence” .

And just as this book picks out the data, many of the studies you referenced were paid for by ultra-conservative, church-run organizations and were done at least a decade ago. Since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, science has come a long way; it would pay you to upgrade your resources.

Cannabis has long been debunked as a gateway drug. In fact, a new study recently showed that just one drink of alcohol can alter brain structure and lead to addiction issues in people. So perhaps we haven’t gone deep enough into the chemistry of addiction yet. Or maybe we should go even further and look at trauma and the connection to addiction.

Speaking of addiction, all addiction statistics and studies still base their standards on how the DSM defines cannabis use disorder. So “daily use” inflates the stats because nobody considered the fact that we don’t call someone who uses metformin for diabetes an addict just because they use it three times a day , every day. Nor should we call people who use cannabis “addicts” just because they choose an herb over a synthetic chemical pharmaceutical.

People get addicted to gambling. People get addicted to shopping. People are getting addicted to technology and sex. Do any of these things have to do with a substance? No. Addiction involves repeating an action to reproduce a dopaminergic response – the causes of this response vary from person to person. I’d go so far as to say you’re addicted to fighting me in a public forum – you dig the dopamine release you get out of it.

If you want to exchange studies, I can do it all day. While you cite studies from colleges that were federally restricted in their research in 2013 on cannabis causing memory problems, I’m going to challenge that with a study published in the Journal of Neurotoxicity Research in 2018 that shows that the Delta-9 THC has a neurogenerative effect and can improve cognitive function. This is why Alzheimer’s disease patients are flocking to the cannabis industry.

And no one – not you, the scientists or anyone else – is ever going to tell me that cannabis can’t help end the opiate problem in the United States. In 2015, doctors in the Midwest were killing my husband with polypharmaceutical prescriptions — he was taking a prescription opiate cocktail for a destroyed cervical spine — including fentanyl. In addition, they put him on several other medications for various health issues – at 40, I watched my husband and marriage deteriorate before my eyes – at the hands of his doctor.

But, in 2016, after completely uprooting our lives to do it legally, he walked away from a prescription opiate addiction for 10 years without a single withdrawal symptom. Now he controls his pain with chewing gum every two hours throughout the day. Between the two of us, we’ve eliminated the need for 13 prescriptions and NSAIDs daily by using ONE herb.

So, Mr. Mella – you can talk to me and use your old data all you want – I live it. Every morning I wake up, kiss my husband and thank God for saving my marriage, saving my husband’s life and leading me to his plant.

Disprove it.

Kristina Etter is a resident of Florissant.

Carol N. Valencia