Activist Questions Speaker’s Cannabis “Bias”

February 26, 2014

Activist Alan Gordon has raised concerns about the “sharp bias” of a medical cannabis speaker, Dr. Andrea Barthwell, that the Department of National Drug Control has booked to address medical professionals at King Edward Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Gordon says the speaker has a “long history of credible accusations” made against her of “one-sided” and “heavily misleading information which could harm Bermuda health care.”

“Dr. Barthwell’s bias against medical cannabis, historically, is so strong that she is not a credible source of information until she meaningfully addresses the allegations,” said Mr. Gordon, who noted that an Illinois legislator, the late Larry McKeon, called her presentations a “travelling con job.”

Mr. Gordon continued, “The speaker is so heavily anti-cannabis, and so unfamiliar with Bermuda, that she once suggested Bermuda would become a smuggling transhipment point for Caribbean drugs to reach the United States. She doesn’t know the first thing about Bermuda, its drug economy, or apparently, even where we are.

“Bermuda’s doctors are already so misled by medical cannabis misinformation that Dr. Barthwell is the last thing they need. Since Bermuda doctors generally refuse to recommend medical cannabis – unlike the 72 percent of North American doctors who will recommend or prescribe medical cannabis – we are increasingly seeing patients simply use dirty, unregulated cannabis, or else go to the U.S. for treatment,” said Gordon.

The activist said that last week he ushered six Bermudian cancer patients to the U.S. for lawful access to concentrated cannabis oil which could save their lives, but he is worried about patients who can’t afford to travel, or who are too sick to.

“CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta used to be opposed to medical cannabis like Dr. Barthwell and Bermuda’s doctors,” said Mr. Gordon, “but he looked more closely and saw that he had been misled. I hope that Dr. Barthwell will likewise modernize her approach, since patients whose doctors won’t help them lawfully and safely use cannabis medicine will just ignore their doctors and do it with street cannabis.”

Mr. Gordon praised Bermuda’s Cannabis Reform Collaborative [CRC] for having a more knowledgeable medical cannabis speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, at a panel discussion last night.

“Unlike Dr. Barthwell, Dr. Hergenrather has actually observed people who used medical cannabis, and so knows the truth,” he said. “I dare the ONDCS to allow me in there to ask questions of Dr. Barthwell, in front of the island’s physicians – she routinely ignores peer-reviewed studies, and instead has made a career of getting paid to bash medical cannabis while under strict instructions not to even refer to any possible benefit, so unless she changes tact, she’s not credible.”

Mr. Gordon says a more balanced approach would leave the island’s medical community more credible in the eyes of patients.

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  1. Serious Though says:

    watch this

    He is right..

    • Whistling Frog says:

      A lot of people are not too pleased with this Dr Barthwell person..

    • Wow what a great audience says:

      *disclaimer: I do partake in, and enjoy the use of marijuana*
      I don’t see what the problem is with what she’s saying here. If anything she made an extremely valid point. She’s not just anti-marijuana, but anti-smoking in general. I don’t want to say this with surety, because I haven’t checked the facts yet for it, but I’m willing to bet that she’s right about the medical costs of having to treat long time tobacco use outweigh revenue produced from tobacco sale, or at the very least take a considerable toll out of money being made.

      Smoking is smoking. Whether you’re smoking herb, cigarettes, or whatever else, you’re doing damage to your mouth, throat, lungs, arteries, and much more!

      Tell me not; if marijuana were to become legal in Bermuda, and was sold at a presumably lower price (prices being what they are due to costs related to physical importation and extreme consequences that the movers face if caught), in an environment where you wouldn’t have to worry about the legal repercussions of possessing and using the drug, where it was easily accessible, do you (not directed solely at you ST) or do you not think you would be smoking far more frequently than you are in the present? And maybe you, reader, do not think you would – but for every person out there that doesn’t increase their smoking load, there are probably two that would. Add that to the fact that the majority of Bermudians drink (a lot), and (correct me if I’m wrong, I checked the BHeC statistics for 2006, but I’m sure its still close to this) 13% of Bermudian adults (roughly 6000-7000 people) are current smokers, and end up with a lot of people suffering from chronic diseases from long term recreational drug use!

      Now I’m not saying that because of this we should not legalize marijuana, because I am in fact in favor of legalization. However, there are health concerns, among other things that we need to consider in the long run. Obviously there are many pros associated with legalization: the herb won’t be as “dirty”, we wouldn’t be contributing to any offshore black markets that are riddled with violence in connection to the drug trade, we would potentially reduce drug related gang warfare locally, and users wouldn’t have to deal with dem sketchy bies dahn d road and alladat nonsense to get a little high (you know what I’m talking about).

      In addition, it would potentially create a lot of jobs, which is something that I know Bermuda is in need of right now. Farmers and cultivators, dispensaries, and might I be so bold as to say Bakeries? And it wouldn’t even have to stop at the psychoactive side of the plant. Oils, accessories, clothing, and so much more from hemp. So many jobs, just around one plant!

      All in all, my point here is that there’s many sides to the argument, and if we are going to address this issue properly, we must all be sincerely unbiased in our discussions. I’m sure there are points that I’ve missed in this post, and so I welcome all who have interest in this subject to add to it, and to correct me where I have been at fault.

      P.S. I call dibs on a bakery called Bermy Brownies


      • Wow what a great audience says:

        P.P.S. I’m only calling dibs on that shop if marijuana’s legalized, otherwise it’s basically useless (who would want to go to a regular brownie shop?)

      • Common Sense says:

        OMG The people who need to read this are the people who made the decision to bring Dr. Barthwell to Bermuda!

  2. sage says:

    If this woman is going to be our medical fraternities only source of “education” then they shall remain oblivious to the mountains of positive benefits concerning cannabis, and will continue to deny patients access to something a lot less harmful than the compounds they prescribe. I guess hearing about shrinking tumors, miracle relief for the worst form of epilepsy , allows people to come off of opiate pain meds or reduce them significantly, antimetastatic, antiproliferative etc. they are shaking in their boots, how will they maintain their posh lifestyles, what the hell are they gonna do with a bunch of healthy people who live longer, stronger and don’t depend on the “legal pushers” anymore? No wonder they are entertaining a ganjaphobe with this kind of track record.

  3. C'mon says:

    Didn’t that young guy Hill already tell us about the bias regarding this thing. Smh only a word of confirmation

  4. O'Brien says:

    Her ‘bias’ as opposed to what, Alan Gordon’s impartial and level-headed approach to weed? Give me a break.

  5. Impressive says:

    Does anybody get the real message, to be extremely biased leads to a lack of credibility!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if some of these posters picked up on that point?? tree frogs

  6. more than enough says:

    good man, alan. i agree

  7. well…y’know…pharmacuticals are far more harmful what with all those nasty side effects,ie;-”if have thoughts of suicide” you should consult your doctor”…when postumously? But thse drugs are ok….really”!???Latuda for example is a medication with like 25 or so recognised posible side effects death being one of those “posibilities”…but this is ok….pharmacuticals are literally killing people every day…but they are perfectly legal.There is definitively something very wrong with this .This being the case…how do you choose the legality of a drug….your not thinking straight in my view Dr. Andrea Barthwell…have you ever had marijuana ?…it’s great for atheletes…I ran six miles a day when I indulged last sit ups ,push ups ,stretched then ran…passed the pain barrier and stopped counting the miles.

  8. Take it Easy! says:

    I have had a crackhead uncle, a some what alcoholic father, a cigarette aunty, and a weed smoking grandfather! My GRANDFATHER is the only 1 sill living and he is 75 and been smoking it for 50 years! Take ya PICK! No need to listen to Dr. Barthwell! Dr. Alan u tell the people the TRUE pros and cons about Cannabis on a non bias perspective!!

  9. I see a sock puppet…pretty good at that.

  10. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    She’s a shill for current drug policy. Bermuda is too sophisticated for her BS! Jack Cole is the man!

  11. sage says:

    It wouldn’t be a problem if they presented the opposing views instead of just the old one sided BS they always promote, this woman gets paid to oppose herb (unlike Alan Gordon’s free advocacy) and has her fingers in many pots bringing up the issue of conflict of interest. This woman has no sympathy for human suffering and should be ashamed of herself. Oh, and I am biased. People who have an extreme bias for ending modern day slavery have no credibility? Jog on.

  12. Chaos Theory says:

    So, a US legislator called her a “traveling con job”. I have called Alan Gordon worse then that !

    A single US congressman? My god they are such a trustworthy bunch ! Was he a Republican, a Democrat, or that vile American thing called a Liberal ?

    How many congressmen or women are there.

    Sorry, I call Alan Gordan out on this faux outrage. The sole purpose of this apparent indignation is to further his own agenda, nothing more, nothing less.

    • JD says:

      There are 435 members of the house of representatives, on average they represent 700,000 constituents.

      As I read this Alan Gordon is pointing out that this “seminar” will only consist of one person presenting their view on this controversial subject. I would have thought that the DNDC would have at least brought in two speakers to present the two opposing views on this subject, with each speaker presenting their scientific evidence of course. Doctors would then be able to come to a view on this subject after hearing both views and conducting their own research.

      Am I the only one that thinks that this makes a bit more sense than simply having one speaker present one side of the issue?

    • Common Sense says:

      Chaos Theory refers to Alan Gordon’s comments as a faux outrage whose sole purpose is to further his own agenda. I noted that Mr. Gordon referred to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s change of mind on the benefits of medical marijuana and for that reason I looked up, and quote directly what Dr. Gupta states on this subject. I apologize to Bernews for this longer than usual comments but I firmly believe that everyone in Bermuda should be made aware of the following comments taken verbatim from Dr. Gupta
      who is a renowned neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent.

      “Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

      I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

      Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

      Well, I am here to apologize.

      I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

      Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

      They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.

      Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

      I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

      We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

    • Anbu says:

      U trust someone who worked for bush?! U just shot youself in the foot. Sit down be quiet. Majority of people against it have never indulged in their entire lives. Lol. Honestly im tired of the herb debate. Its blatantly obvious that we as bermudians r too conservative and self centered to ever move forward on any issue. Let alone weed. Its never gonna happen guys. Get over it. If weed helps u feel better then by all means smoke it, just be prepared to face the consequences. Unfair yes. But there is nothing that cam be done about it. Gov here uses weed to get votes thats it. They win their votes then shut the topic down till the next time when we dummies hop right back on the bamdwagon thinking something MIGHT change this time. Dont hold your breath. Colorado alone is estimated to make over a billion this year just from weed sales. Go figure

  13. Sandy Bottom says:

    So he wants someone biased with his opinions. That’s what he thinks is fair. Got it.

    • sage says:

      Every one knows comprehending simple, uncomplicated concepts is way above your level, don’t exacerbate your profound mental confusion trying to keep up.

  14. Benita says:

    What one fail to realise is that marijuana is a black man drug; and alcohol is the white man drug. As long as there no white involvement from the inception there will be no push for the legalization of cannabis. When the whites see how they can make money from it, then they will push it here. History have proven that they took our inventions, redesign them, patent them and then sold it as their own. Until this is done with cannabis. I see no hope. Governments know that drugs run the countries around the world, it’s a source of income when they confiscate illegal drugs and forfeit the money. I’ve live long enough here to see as long as the whites here table something, come hell or high waters it will be pushed to the max and sometimes passed. Citizen in waiting.

  15. Mw says:

    Upset because she is opposed to your views, I believe it is called free speech

  16. Common Sense says:

    Perhaps Dr. Barthwell can provide us with a comparison between the medical dangers of marijuana with two of the legal drugs in Bermuda i.e. alcohol and tobacco. There was a time when alcohol was considered to be so dangerous to society that it was completely prohibited in the U.S. – and the result was a total disaster as so clearly outlined this week by retired Police Lieutenant Jack Cole of LEAP.

    Whatever Dr. Barthwell’s personal views, the medical use of marijuana is accepted in many U.S. States and elsewhere around the world, but the question we have to ask ourselves is whether marijuana is so very dangerous to society that we have to continue to outlaw its use and continue to lock up our young people and ruin their lives.

    I would far rather have heard why Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for whom I have the utmost respect, has changed his position on the medical use of marijuana. Perhaps Dr. Barthwell can also advise us where Dr. Gupta is mistaken!!

  17. haha says:

    All this lady does is push the same propaganda the US was using before it changed it’s “views.” Take everything she says, WITH A GRAIN OF SALT!!

  18. Truth is killin' me... says:

    For one action you have an opposing reaction!

  19. Independent says:

    @ Chaos Theory,

    You don’t have a clue what you are talking about. The information is there for you too see if you take your head out your a$$ like the rest of the world who are pro synthatic drugs, but are against weed for no real reason.

  20. Cranberry says:

    Alan – she’s an activist, you’re an activist – accept it…

    • sage says:

      That’s not the point, the issue is that the government DNDC, who are supposed to educate people, would hold a symposium on medical marijuana and invite a speaker who is paid to oppose legalization and not have some one like Dr. Lester Grinspoon or Dr.Jeffery Hergenrather who showed the CRC town Hall MRI’s of a 1 year old’s brain tumor he had shrunk using cannabis.

  21. Tommy Chong says:

    Dr. Andrea Barthwell has lobbied for years to have a drug called Sativex approved for a global market. Sativex was created the major drug manufacturing company G.W. Pharmaceuticals which Barthwell was employed with & still has ties to. Sativex is essentially a cannabis extract & the only difference between a medical cannabis patient orally consuming the plant as opposed to Sativex is that G.W. Pharmaceuticals loses out on profits or at least it’s the only one for now. Sativex has not been on the market long enough to prove there are no long term side effects from it but history shows time & time again that there are always short & long term effects of drugs extracted from a natural source. One can eat oranges all day long without adverse effects but taking too many supplements can be harmful or even fatal.

  22. sage says:

    The SAGE commission recommended that the NDC or DNDC be abolished, and wasting money (how much?) to pay this woman to try to maintain the status quo at all costs, regardless of how much the science proves her wrong is a good example of why they were right. The status quo is the enemy it is not an option. Luckily a lot of people won’t have to depend on doctors and their drugs necessarily and the “agenda” is clear. I have not seen NDC reps at any CRC meetings which present both sides, and the other “helping” agency people looked visibly ill when forced to listen to opposing views, which at the town hall meeting were clearly in the majority despite the diversity of the folks present.

  23. Dark Side of the Moon says:

    I’d rather have someone here who can contribute the truth about weed. If this lady is against it and is educating Doctors about the effects of weed and how they do not help with medical problems, so be it. Does not mean that we cannot decriminalize it here. We are our own country, don’t let these EXPERTS take that away from us. We can do so much to gain more votes for this.

    • Independent says:

      @ Dark Side of the Moon,

      I could understand this ladies point of view if she had real information on weed besides the BS that the US has been spreading.

      But if she is still using that fake information about weed, why should she been given credit for anything?

      This is what’s wrong with the world, we find out truth’s, and we still allow lies to be spoken as gospal. smh

  24. Dinosaurmedia says:

    I don’t oppose marijuana anything – just keep it out of the hands of government because if any entity can screw something up government can.

    Who the heck knows what “social experiments” will be underway with the “lacing and additives” added for “preservation” of course…grow it yourselves if you can…do not trust BigPharma or Government with anything – no I haven’t smoked and I am not paranoid. :)

  25. Will says:

    Shame on you DNDC. Even the liberal hating, anti Weed Pro Republican fox news can even manage to bring two people together from opposite sides to debate and inform people on cannabis.

  26. Sara says:

    I will be investing and laughing all the way to the bank while some of you stay stuck in the 20th century.