Dr. Bertha Madras - The Modern Day Harry J. Anslinger and Anti-Cannabis Fossil

Updated: May 15

And again, Florida Legislators are hashing up the 10% THC limit rule with the enlisted support from an outsider and fossilized bureaucrat. Bertha Madras is a Harvard Graduate and professor of psychobiology with a background in biochemistry and pharmacology. She is the modern day Harry J. Anslinger and anti-cannabis fossil prohibitionist. A real live sympathizer of FDA and DEA policies against the legal access to cannabis for approved treatments.

For the most part, her educational experience was obtained decades ago from an era of outdated information and practices, government sponsored prohibition policies, and government funded anti-cannabis research papers propping up pro-pharmaceutical profit schemes which lead us all into the horrifying opioid crisis we face today.

Today, Dr. Madras carries the torch for bureaucrats and obsessed politicians to further the cause for anti-cannabis activity and continues to regurgitate intentional barriers to limit adults a right to decide for themselves, with their doctor, what will be the best treatment options for their health concerns. Dr. Madras, who isn't actually a medical doctor, wants to ensure you have limited potency and limited access to an already under supplied market.

What does this really mean? Lower percentages will result in less relief and more often purchases to obtain the levels of relief required to maintain the quality of life you and your doctor have chosen.

It's absurd to think that one person so biased toward cannabis can be allowed to give advice on such sensitive matters as important as health. Personal convictions and confirmation bias should not be a reliable method or source for making healthcare related decisions.

In a 2019 co-authored writing titled, Opioids, Overdoses, and Cannabis: Is Marijuana An Effective Therapeutic Response to the Opioid Abuse Epidemic?, Dr. Madras and her co-author attempt to answer their own biased driven question with outdated cited works supported by poorly conducted anti-cannabis research, mostly paid for by bureaucrats who favor pharmaceutical companies over medical cannabis.

In fact, the publication was so opiniated, the following disclaimer had to be added to the publication:

“The views expressed in this Article are the authors’ own and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, or Massachusetts General Hospital.” https://www.law.georgetown.edu/public-policy-journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2019/09/17-2-Larkin-Madras.pdf

This certainly provokes plenty of suspicion as to why their publication was refused by the very institutions they represent.

Dr. Madras and her co-author made strong opinionated accusations claiming, “…the marijuana plant itself likely will never become a legitimate, scientifically accepted analgesic, particularly when smoked.”

And furthermore, goes on to make baseless claims that, “While further research someday might discover that one or more of marijuana’s constituents could serve as a treatment for long-term chronic pain, there is no such evidence today.”

Dr. Madras wants desperately to convey that the "Dangers of THC" is predicated in cited works that are supposedly factual findings rather than use clinical trials or clinical measures with actual patient studies to support her accusations.

The Other Side of the Coin

In 2016, foremost cannabis research expert and scientist, Dr. Staci Gruber, was conducting consistent data driven research at Harvard Medical School proving the complete inverse of what Dr. Madras was opinionating to the public. In other words, Dr. Madras’ opinions were contradictive to Dr. Gruber’s actual scientific data. Dr. Gruber disclosed through clinical studies and neuroimaging a much different picture of the cannabis user. Remember, Dr. Madras relies on outdated education and incomplete biased funded research focused on anti-cannabis reforms rather than pro-cannabis reforms.

Dr. Staci Gruber, a Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychiatry, directs both the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core and the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital. She and her team are using cognitive and clinical measures, as well as neuroimaging techniques like functional MRI, to help elucidate how cannabis affects the human brain.

According to recent statements from Dr. Gruber, “Our first study, which began about five years ago, is designed to examine medical marijuana patients over the course of up to two years. Patients have a comprehensive evaluation with us before they begin medical marijuana treatment, and we then follow them over time.”

She continues, “In addition to assessing cognitive function, brain structure, mood, sleep, and quality of life, we also get detailed information on the specific strains and types of marijuana products they use, how they use it, frequency and amount of use, and, ultimately, laboratory analyses of actual products.”

Dr. Gruber also explains, “Results are promising, and preliminary data published in Frontiers in Pharmacology shows improvements in cognitive function after three months of treatment. Specifically, once patients began treatment with medical marijuana, they performed better on tasks that reflect skills related to planning, a process that enables us to choose the necessary tasks to achieve a goal; inhibition, the ability to control our impulses; and flexible thinking, which is the ability to think about things in different ways, a key skill for problem solving.”

She adds, “Patients also generally appear to feel better, reporting improvements in mood, sleep, and quality of life. Interestingly, they often simultaneously report decreased use of conventional medication use, including opioids and benzodiazepines.” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2016.00355/full

In her 2019 podcast, How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?, Dr. Staci Gruber, discusses the effects of cannabis use by medicinal users.

“…..We look at this change over time. What we've seen so far, and I think we are the first to publish any longitudinal data on this, medical cannabis users, first of all, are not the same age range as our recreational cannabis users, at least in our studies, which were really early 20s. These folks are older. They're in their early 50s, by and large. They go all the way up to their 70s and beyond. What we find is, instead of seeing decrements in cognitive performance, relative to baseline, after three months of use, we're seeing improvements on measures of executive function. That's a bit of a surprise to a lot of people. They're not getting worse, they're getting better. In addition, we're seeing improvements in lots of different clinical measures, specifically measures of mood and sleep. We see reductions in conventional medication use predominantly opioids. A significant reduction in the use of opioids after the initiation of medical cannabis.” https://harvardmagazine.com/2019/podcast/staci-gruber

Her study participants reported improvements in their overall health as well as a decreased use of conventional medications, particularly opiates used for chronic pain. These statements are contradictory to Dr. Madras.

“We saw a 42% reduction in opioid use,” reported Gruber. “This is significant, particularly for those of us in Massachusetts and other areas of the country where the opioid epidemic is ravaging so many. This preliminary finding certainly warrants deeper and broader investigation.”

With additional supporting evidence, in 2018, Dr. Peter Grinspoon wrote in the article, Access to medical marijuana reduces opioid prescriptions,

”The other study analyzed Medicaid prescription data from 2011 to 2016, and that analysis showed that states that have implemented medical marijuana laws have seen a 5.88% lower rate of opioid prescribing, and when they implemented adult-use (i.e., recreational use) marijuana laws, there was a 6.38% reduction in opiate prescribing.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085

But according to Dr. Madras, “states with liberal marijuana laws should see declining opioid overdose rates, but they do not” and that “individuals using marijuana for pain relief do not exhibit a reduction or elimination of opioid use.”

The actual data proves otherwise and scientifically dismantles Dr. Madras' argument.

Dr. Madras also said, “Until we reach the point at which science can confidently say that cannabinoids are a proper analgesic substitute for opioids, physicians will need to rely on an array of analgesics (opioid and non-opioid) and other types of alternatives to medication for pain relief. Pain patients are also being encouraged to assume that perfection in pain relief is not always possible and coping with certain forms of pain is feasible.”

Dr. Gruber has shown us through scientific studies a strong correlation between cannabis use and the decrease in opioid use, improved cognitive performance, and an overall improvement in health, all of which dismantles Dr. Madras' over exaggerted theories.

So, Who’s Right?

Conclusively, we have two very distinct outlooks on the uses of cannabis. Both researchers come from Harvard, both researchers have privileges at McLaren Hospital, both researchers have degree backgrounds specializing in psychiatry, and both researchers put out publications the same year about their finding on cannabis use. On one hand, you have Dr. Madras, a researcher who relies on other people's opinions and studies to support their argument. She uses confirmation biased research tactics to support her argument and had never conducted an actual patient trial or patient study personally. Furthermore, she supports an old closed-minded era of anti-cannabis bureaucracies fueled by intentional misinformation and hyperbole propaganda used to prop up her pharmaceutical partners. Dr. Madras, an FDA and DEA sympathizer, simply wants patients to continue to use opioids, be addicted to opioids, and use alternative medications (just not cannabis) until more research has been conducted. A job only pharmaceutical companies can perform.

On the other hand, you have Dr. Gruber, a younger more open-minded scientist who has performed years of research and accumulated actual substantive data to support her findings, including neuroimaging. Moreover, Dr. Gruber was literally performing grant funded research following patients 3, 6, 12, 15, 18 and 24 months revealing data not consistent with Dr. Madras publication and accusations against cannabis use.

“As a clinical researcher, I’m not interested in exploring only the good or the bad, I’m only interested in the truth,” explained Gruber. “That’s what our patients and our recreational users have a right to know and a right to expect from us. People are going to use it. It’s up to us to figure out the very best and safest ways in which they can do that.”

What You Can Do

To push back and put a stop to these kinds of attacks on patient access to cannabis, please contact your state representatives and express your concerns, tell your story and tell them you do not agree with bureaucrats like Dr. Madras.

You can also support organizations like FLCAN.org who spend relentless hours fighting fossilized propagandists like Bertha. FLCAN can put your concerns directly in front of legislators. And they need more voices. More voices means more push. Become a member today and show your support for sensible cannabis laws and reforms that work to prevent legislators and bureaucrats from limiting your access to cannabis.

Notice to Reader

The ideas, statements, and opinions in this publication are the viewpoints of Club Twenty After and do not represent any of the entities or persons mentioned herein.