My "love affair" with marijuana began two and a half years ago as a new and exciting way to spend an otherwise dull winter afternoon. I had been offered pot three times previously, and on the fourth I consented. I had been through DARE and knew all the dangers. But I also believed that one time couldn't possibly hurt me. In one sense, I was right; in another sense, I couldn't have been more wrong. The first time I smoked, I loved the high I got, so I smoked again. I found that it actually got better each time. At that point, I was nothing short of ecstatic. An entire world was opened to me. I was able to explore my thoughts in an exciting and simultaneously serene way, and it was great.

Of course, I felt guilty about lying to my parents, but I figured "I'm a teenager, right? It's what we're supposed to do." For the first few months, I lied pretty well. The web I was spinning only had a few strands, and I was free to spend most of my first "drug summer" in carefree stoner pursuits watching movies, swimming, or even just driving around listening to music, which I felt was greatly enhanced by weed.

Soon though, the honeymoon ended. I had been telling myself that I just liked to get high, but I knew deep down that I had other motivations. I smoked because when I was sober, the world was just so damn boring and depressing to me. It would take me another year to figure out that this was my fault, not the world's.

By the time, I had started getting into trouble with my parents. I worried about getting caught a lot more now, but that just made me sneaky, not sober. Deep down, something was gnawing away at me. I was deeply unhappy, but since pot had long since destroyed my ability to feel real emotions, I couldn't admit to myself how unhappy I was. Instead, I just looked forward to the next toke. I compare my use with a love affair because there truly was romance involved. When I was stoned, everything seemed larger-than-life. I felt like I was starring in a spy movie and comedy at the same time.

I kept getting busted, and was sent to a local treatment center, where I b.s.'d my way to a successful discharge with remarkable skill and ease. Then, I went back to pot. Finally, I ran into some very serious legal trouble just over a month later. My parents fortunately gave me more help than I deserved, but I felt spiritually dead. I had lost all hope and all my self-respect. I felt if such a thing as the soul existed, I certainly didn't have one anymore.

I entered an all day dual-diagnosis program at a local treatment center. I had been diagnosed with anxiety disorder as well as chemical dependency. Now I was forced to look honestly at my life; to not only feel, but also to express emotions that hadn't surfaced for two years. It was incredibly hard, but it made me feel clean. It made me feel healthy and hopeful about my life.

I've been sober for awhile now, and my relationships with my family and friends have improved. I plan to attend Notre Dame next fall; however, I know that I cannot use my parents or college as motivation to not use. Even the desire to stay out of jail will only keep one sober for so long. Lasting sobriety must be for oneself, not anyone else. I believe sobriety can give my life meaning. The emotions I feel now are not always good, but at least they are real. I'm now able to make real connections with other human beings, which I could never do before. I realize that the people in AA and NA whom I originally found scary are simply men and women who have been through hell and are now starting to figure things out. I value all these things greatly. They are what truly keep me sober. I can speak only for myself, but I think many others have had the same basic experience. I spent two years of my life chasing after happiness; after a "perfect high" that could never be caught. I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired, Drugs aren't a problem for all users, but they are an incredibly dangerous illusion for many. Just think about your life honestly, and you'll know which category you fit into.

A guy named Thoreau said, "I can't make my days longer, so I can only try to make them better." I'm pretty sure he didn't smoke weed.

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Latest News

Medical cannabis legalization and state-level prevalence of serious mental illness in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2008–2015

International Journal Review of Psychiatry, July 16, 2018

Lauren M. Dutra, William J. Parish, Camille K. Gourdet, Sarah A Wylie & Jenny L Wilie

A higher prevalence of serious mental illness is linked to the states having legalized marijuana. This is the first analysis of the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and mental health. The results of this analysis suggest that, at a population level, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a higher prevalence of serious mental illness, and cannabis use somewhat accounts for this association.

Similarly, research should continue to investigate the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and specific psychiatric disorders. Mental healthcare providers should continue to assess cannabis use among patients to understand its potential role in patients’ symptoms and treatment.

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FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy

US Food and Drug Administration — FDA News Release — June 25, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 25, 2018 approved a new drug, a derivative from marijuana, to treat patients with two forms of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals developed Epidiolex, made from cannabidiol or CBD, a marijuana component that does not cause “highs.” The drug was shown to decrease by 40 percent the number of seizures in patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.

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A Perplexing Marijuana Side Effect Relieved by Hot Showers

 Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, April 5, 2018

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety
medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time and could be in and out of the shower
for days.

When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my
stomach our like a washcloth,” said the 28-year- old, …

It was nearly 10 years until a doctor finally convinced him the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

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Study: Marijuana Smoke 3 Times Worse For You Than Tobacco Smoke

Alexa Lardieri, U.S. News and World Report, March 20, 2018

Exposure to marijuana smoke is three times more harmful than exposure to tobacco smoke, new research suggests.

Matthew Springer, a professor at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, studied the effects of smoke on rats and found exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke makes it harder for arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood.

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Pot shops face bans in most of Mass

 

Boston Globe, Dan Adams and Margeaux Sippell, March 17, 2018

Marijuana companies will be banned from a majority of cities and towns in Massachusetts when recreational sales begin this summer, a Globe review has found, the latest indication that there will be fewer pot stores in the early going than many consumers expected.

At least 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities have barred retail marijuana stores and, in most cases, cultivation facilities and other cannabis operations, too, according to local news reports, municipal records, and data collected by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

Fifty-nine of the local bans on marijuana businesses are indefinite. The remaining 130 are temporary moratoriums designed to buy local officials time to set up marijuana zoning rules. Many expire on July 1, and the rest are due to end later this year.

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Sessions reverses Obama-era policy on marijuana, unleashes prosecutor

Adam Shaw and Jake Gibson, Fox News, January 4, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed legal marijuana to thrive without federal intervention.

The move effectively unleashes federal prosecutors to consider bringing marijuana cases, while stopping short of ordering them to do so. “U.S. attorneys need to make decisions in these cases as they do in other drug cases,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he told law enforcement officials in march. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

In a letter to congressional leaders in May, he asked them to ditch language that prevents the DOJ from spending money preventing states from implementing their own laws on medical marijuana.

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Proof cannabis DOES lead teenagers to harder drugs: Study finds users are 26 times more likely to turn to other substances by the age of 21

Steve Doughty and Ben Spencer, Daily Mail, June 8, 2017

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are 26 times more likely to turn to other drugs by the age of 21.

It also discovered that teenage cannabis smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine and three times more likely to be problem drinkers than non-users of the drug.

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Teens rescue girl from horrific crash that killed her pregnant mother

 Dana Rebik, WGN 9, July 6, 2017

A man, arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, hit a car killing a mother who was six months pregnant and leaving a 1-year-old daughter hanging out the front of the car with one arm hanging out and the other hand reaching back grabbing the baby seat.

The driver, Jacob Kaminski 23 from Marseilles, went on to hit a Toyota Camry carrying three people. They were not hurt.

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2 Kids Die In Hot Car After Mom Locked Them In As Punishment: Cops

 Inside Edition, June 25, 2017

A Texas mother of two was jailed after she left her kids in a hot car where they died while she went inside to smoke marijuana. Cynthia Randolph locked 1-year-old Cavanaugh Ramirez and 2-year-old Juliet Ramirez in a vehicle at as temperatures soared to the mid-nineties. Juliet was unable to escape the car with her brother.

According to police Randolph acknowledged that she left her children in the car intentionally. She found the kids playing in the car and, when the 2-year-old refused to get out, she shut the door to teach her a lesson in the belief that her daughter could get herself and her brother out of vehicle when ready.

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Weed pizza? Massachusetts dispensary offering THC - infused pies

 Fox News, June 9, 2017

Ermont Inc., a dispensary in Quincy, Mass., has created a new pizza sauce infused with 125 milligrams of THC and they’re using that sauce to top their homemade personal pizzas. The THC-content of the pizza is far too high for a single serving. The suggested dosage is 10 milligrams of THC every two hours, not 125 milligrams in the time it normally takes to consume a 6-inch personal pizza.

The pizzas are baked and frozen on-site in Ermont Inc.’s kitchen.

But, for dispensary visitors, these weed pizzas might be too good to be true. There are some downsides to the THC-infused snack, the biggest of which may be the high cost. The personal weed pizzas will cost $40, they cannot be delivered and in order to purchase one of these pizzas, a valid Department of Public Health-issued patient or caregiver card is necessary.

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Horror in New York’s Times Square as car rams into pedestrians killing one and injuring 22

 Anthony Bondpatrick Lion, Mirror, May 18, 2017

Driver ran into pedestrians in Times Square high on marijuana

A car rammed into pedestrians in New York City’s busy Times Square, with one person dead and 22 injured.

Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx, was named as the man who drove a maroon sedan at pedestrians, knocking them over near the intersection of 45th street and Broadway.

Rojas, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, was reportedly high on marijuana after telling officers he had smoked the drug earlier today.

Witnesses said the vehicle drove against traffic and on to the sidewalk about noon after entering the district around 42nd street and driving north.

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Workplace drug testing finds cocaine, marijuana use at 12-year high

Quest Diagnostics, May 17, 2017

Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.
Illinois' positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees' drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state.

Cocaine is big in Chicago's south suburbs while opiates dominate at the southern end of Illinois, according to a local breakdown based on the first three digits of the ZIP codes. Heroin is concentrated around Rockford.

Marijuana, the most common drug for which workers test positive, has a steady presence throughout much of northern and central Illinois but leads to a particularly high positive rate in Sangamon County, home of the state capital.

Illinois has nearly double the national rate of positive heroin tests — 0.055 percent versus 0.028 percent — and the rate is even higher south of Chicago around Will and Kankakee counties. The rate of positive heroin tests is highest around Rockford, where it exceeds 0.12 percent.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues charging and sentencing policies for drug crimes.

 Note: A bill in the Illinois legislature would raise the amounts of all drugs constituting an offense while decreasing penalties for all drug offenses (HB3235).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City Award Presentation
Department of Justice, Friday May 12, 2017


In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the price of heroin is down, the availability is up and the purity is up. We intend to reverse that trend. So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress – plain and simple. If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way. We will not be willfully blind to your conduct. We are talking about a kilogram of heroin – that is 10,000 doses, five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. These are not low-level offenders. These are drug dealers. And you're going to prison.

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Scientists Expose Colorado’s Marijuana Problems

Letter to Governor John Hickenlooper, March, 2017

We are a group of scientists from Harvard University and other institutions acutely concerned about the impact of marijuana on youth, and among drivers, employees, parents, and other members of society.

The only representative sample of teens ever conducted in Colorado, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that Colorado now leads the nation among 12 to 17-year-olds in (A) last-year marijuana use, (B) last-month marijuana use, and (C) the percentage of people who try marijuana for the first time during that period (“first use”).
Youth use has risen since statewide since the legalization of marijuana.

Read more ...

Mysterious illness tied to marijuana use on the rise in states with legal weed

Jonathan Lapook, CBS News, December 28, 2016

There is a disturbing new illness resulting from heavy, long-term marijuana use that causes nausea and vomiting. Hot showers and baths are the only thing that seems to relieve the symptoms. It is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.

For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.

“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.

Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado co-authored a study showing that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits diagnoses for CHS in two Colorado hospitals nearly doubled. In 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”

Read more ...

Elephant tranquilizer carfentanil causes first death in Chicago area

Dina Bair, WGNTV.com, December 9, 2016

There is a new opioid, a fentanyl synthetic called carfentanil that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. A 35-year- old Lake Zurich man became one of its first victims.

Drug dealers are manufacturing their own version of a painkiller used by veterinarians to immobilize elephants. In people, it leads to instant death.

“It’s really like a ticking time bomb because it’s so potent. If someone thinks they are getting something else, like just straight street heroin for example, its being so much more potent, they’re likely to stop breathing and die,” Dr. Steven Aks, Stronger Hospital, Emergency Medicine and Toxicology.

In an effort to save lives naloxone has been made available by prescription. If administered immediately after an overdose of heroin, for example, it can completely reverse an overdose. But carfentanil may be too strong for naloxone.

“The problem with carfentanil is because it is so potent, we are not sure how effective it is going to be,” Aks said.

Read more ...

Gummy bears that sickened Naperville students contained marijuana, doctor says

WGN TV, December 8, 2016, Associated Press

On Tuesday December 6th, fourteen Naperville high school students were taken to the hospital after eating gummy bears believed to have contained marijuana. Dr. Jennifer McNulty of Edward Hospital said after talking to the students and observing their behavior she is certain that the gummy bears contained marijuana or marijuana oil.

On Tuesday, police said they had taken a 17-year-old into custody for his alleged involvement in the incident but on Wednesday police did not provide any updates on the investigation.

Source:
http://wgntv.com/2016/12/08/gummy-bears-that-sickened-naperville-students-contained-marijuana-doctor-says/

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Drug Positivity in U.S. Workplace Rises to Nearly Highest Level in a Decade, Quest Diagnostics Analysis Finds

 Quest Diagnostics, Sept. 15, 2016

In the general U.S. workforce, between 2011 and 2015, marijuana positivity increased 26 percent and heroin positivity increased 147 percent.

Following years of declines, the percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.

Another notable trend is the rising positivity rate for post-accident urine drug testing in both the general U.S. and federal-mandated, safety-sensitive workplaces. Post-accident positivity increased 6.2 percent in 2015 when compared to 2914 (6.9% versus 6.5%) and increased 30 percent since 2011 (5.3%). In addition, post-accident positivity for safety-sensitive workforce has risen 22 percent during a five-year time period (2.8% in 2015 versus 2.3% in 2011).

Read more ...

Child Abuse, Exploitation in California’s Marijuana Country

 Parents Opposed to Pot, September 12, 2016

The Emerald Triangle can’t hide behind its secrets after a report of widespread abuse, sexual exploitation and worker exploitation was published last week by Reveal News. There’s both worker and sexual exploitation.

In summer and fall, temporary workers come in town to work the marijuana harvests. These “trimmigrants” sometimes end up homeless and without jobs. In one article, it’s reported that 100 European “trimmigrants” were stiffed for pay, broke, and without a place to go and ended up in homeless shelters. Mexican and other immigrants also face abuse.

After exploitation, teens and other workers many end up in homeless shelters.

Read more ...

How Marijuana Begat Heroin

Notable & Quotable, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2016

Okay, I’m going to say it. The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.

We wanted legal weed, and for the most part, we got it. Four states have legalized it outright, others have decriminalized it, and in many jurisdictions police refuse to enforce the laws that are on the books, creating a de facto street legalization. The American marijuana was superior and the cost of doing business significantly less.

Colorado’s recreational marijuana law threatened to annihilate the Sinaloa Cartel’s weed operation. In a single year, the cartel suffered a 40 percent drop in marijuana sales, representing billions of dollars.

Looking at the American drug market as it existed, Guzmán and his partners saw an opportunity. An increasing number of Americans were addicted to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin. And their addiction was expensive. One capsule of Oxy might sell on the street for thirty dollars, and an addict might need ten hits a day.

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Mass Illnesses Due To Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

California, Child Endangerment, Colorado, Washington

Parents Opposed to Pot, August 8, 2016

Edible marijuana poses a ‘unique problem,’ because ‘no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form’ – such as cookies, brownies and candy. Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

Last year there were more than 4,000 treatments at hospitals and poison center treatments in the US related to marijuana toxicity in children and teens.

Parents Opposed to Pot summarized the recent cases of toxicity from edibles.

• A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization. In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage. Edible products were responsible for 51 (52%) of exposures. The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.

• The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website. From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases
of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington. However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that number could be much higher. 

Read more ...

Secondhand marijuana smoke damages blood vessels more than tobacco smoke

American Heart Association News, July 27, 2016

In a new study, arteries in rats that inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke for one minute carried blood less efficiently for at least 90 minutes. Similar exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke caused blood vessel impairment for 30 minutes.

 “While the effect is temporary for both cigarette and marijuana smoke, these temporary problems can turn into long-term problems if exposures occur often enough and may increase the chances of developing hardened and clogged arteries,” said Matthew Springer, Ph.D.

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Marijuana exposure in kids rose after recreational use legalized in Colorado

The JAMA Network Journals, July 25, 2016

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado was associated with both increased hospital visits and cases at a regional poison center because of unintentional exposure to the drug by children, suggesting effective preventive measures are needed as more states consider legalizing the drug, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics

The authors identified 81 children – 62 included in the analysis – evaluated at the hospital and 163 marijuana exposure calls to a Colorado RPC. The median age of children who visited the hospital was 2.4 years and for children in RPC cases. 

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Colorado Youth Marijuana Use: Up – Down – Flat? Examine the Data and You Decide!

Press Release, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), July 6, 2016

In June, 2016, the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) was released with the media claiming that past month marijuana use by Colorado teens had not increased since pot had been legalized and use was within line with the national average.

However, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area asks, “Is the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey ‘Good News’ and is Colorado teen marijuana use ‘flat?’ The reader can examine the facts and data to make an informed decision. What is clear is that there is no overall pattern in the HKCS data: thus it is best to refrain from jumping to conclusions on such an important issue. The HKCS results are highly variable between class years and regions from major increases to major decreases.

Examples of variables include:

• There was a 57.5 percent increase in use among one region’s freshmen while a 53.4 percent decrease in another.
• In one region there was a 72.0 percent increase in high school sophomore use but, in another, a 38.9 percent decrease.
• One region for juniors shows a 49.8 percent increase and another, 33.1 percent decrease.
• In one region, high school seniors had a 90.0 percent increase and in another a 34.3 percent decrease. 

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Opioid overdose deaths by state

Emily Rappleye, Becker’s Hospital Review, June 27, 2016

Opioid abuse — which has spurred a 20-year high in heroin use in the U.S. — has become a significant cause of death nationwide.

In 2014, there were 28,647 deaths due to opioid overdoses. The overdoses were due to natural, semisynthetic and synthetic opioids, methadone and heroin.

The five top states were Ohio – 2,106, California – 2,024, New York – 1,739, Florida - 1,399, and Illinois – 1,205. The data was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

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Quotes and Facts

"The best policy to protect the public health is one that reduces, not increases, marijuana use. There are reasons why employers, including the U.S. government, prohibit marijuana use by employees in the workplace. There are reasons why marijuana emergency room admissions are reported at the rate of 1,250 a day and 455,000 a year and why highway crashes double for marijuana users. Crime rates in Denver have gone up 7% this year."
Peter Bensinger - Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration & Robert L. DuPont, M.D. - Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse