Weighing in on Lady Gaga's comments about being hooked on pot, Dr. Drew Pinsky outlined his position on the controversial subject of marijuana and addiction on CNN's news show Erin Burnett Tonight on Nov. 18:
"It would be malpractice to say that cannabis isn't addictive," the Celebrity Rehab host explained. "Anybody who's experienced it, actually been addicted to it, knows how profound that addiction is. Gaga is speaking from experience and god bless her for pointing out exactly that, which is it is a relatively safe drug which for some people can be profoundly addictive. It's easy to tell when you're addicted when you just love it more than anything else, it's all you think about, it's what you're gonna do. The difficult thing about marijuana addiction is some people, even though they're addicted can do fine with it for many many years before they start to have difficutly, but eventually the high starts wearing off, people start smoking a lot more to try to get that high back and that's when they descend into difficulties.
"One of the comedic aspects of cannabis these days that I get," he added, "is that cannabis is a plant, it's a natural herb - you hear this all the time - has everyone forgotten that tobacco is a plant? The evil tobacco! And the real concern about legalizing cannabis is that we're going to see Big Cannabis just the way you see Big Tobacco. That's what people need to watch out for."
After Burnett smartly quoted former surgeon general Jocelyn Elders, who says marijuana is not physically addictive, she asked: Why are getting such mixed messages on this?
"It's so bizarre to me," Pinsky replied. "The political energy around cannabis is such that we can't be truthful or rational about it. I've been treating cannabis addiction for 20 years. When people are addicted to cannabis, cocaine and alcohol the drug they have the most difficult time giving up is the cannabis. It is extremely addictive...for some people. I think that's where people get confused. It's not very addictive for many people. It's a small subset of people with a genetic potential for addiction. But for them it is really tough. You only need talk to them, they'll tell you how tough it is."
Burnett's final question: Now that medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, isn't that going to mean more abuse?
At this point, Pinsky took the opportunity to blast the medical marijuana industry in California, as he's done in the past. "In the last few years since cannabis has been medicalized in California I have not treated one single drug addict who didn't have prescription for marijuana," he poked. "It's just a sham that all my patients, who are drug addicts, have a prescription for the marijuana - and sometimes it's not they're primary drug, they just use it incidentally. I just find it such bad medicine that no one says are you a drug addict, or really looks into that, or checks their urine, does the things they should be doing."