My Diet Struggle – Keto-Carnivore or Vegan?

Meat and VegetablesI’m sitting here in pain.

Abdominal pain. It started late yesterday afternoon and it’s now 8:05 the next morning. It kept me awake most of the night.

It’s a digestive thing. Nothing too serious…I can just tell. You know…the kind you feel after eating too many beans? Ya, that kind.

But intense. It comes in waves, so it’s not constant. But a new cramp comes on every few minutes and it makes me writhe and palpate my belly like I would knead a big wad of bread dough.

That does seem to help.

A little.

So, before I get into the whole how and why of my current predicament, let me just establish one important fact:

I’m Swedish.

And English. By ancestry. So, Scandinavian and Northern European.

That little fact will come in handy later on in this post.

I won’t go into my background going raw vegan and what motivated that lifestyle change. I already addressed that topic in excruciating detail in another blog post HERE, but suffice it to say that I am still drawn to that dietary choice every-so-often…mostly because I had success with weight-loss during that time…something that has been an almost constant challenge for me my entire adult life.

But here’s the thing…

I watch YouTube videos by all the big names in that community; Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his son, Rip. And I completely buy into the science behind their claims. And being concerned first and foremost with my health and longevity and weight-loss as a secondary benefit, I go to the store, load up on all of the low-fat, high-starch grains, potatoes, vegies and fruits recommended feeling determined to make it work for me

THIS TIME.

And then I start eating that food…and the symptoms start.

Ugh!

It used to be severe joint pain. I’m talking the kind that is so bad I literally thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I couldn’t even roll over in bed at night or lift my legs to walk on a flat surface without unbearable pain in my knees. And sometimes ankles and wrists, too.

And anemia. Bad anemia. Like…I felt like I was going to pass out in public.

That went away when I re-introduced animal products into my diet.

Thank goodness!

But then I realized I was finally on the other side of all of the hormonal changes that went along with my 10-year journey through menopause.

So, I started to wonder if the joint pain might have been associated with hormones.

Additionally, I had regained the 35 pounds I lost when eating raw foods which enticed me to try going plant-based again.

But every time I did I would get the strangest symptoms as a result. I mean, immediately after eating a carb-heavy meal.

The middle toes on (primarily) my left foot would stiffen up in Charlie Horse cramps.

This happened consistently. I know because I tested it. I would return to a ketogenic diet for a period of time and then try going vegan again.

Every. Single. Time…without exception…the cramps would return. And more recently they even began creeping up my shins and calves and were affecting both legs instead of just the left one.

On the up side I experienced no more joint pain or anemia…but then again…I couldn’t follow the diet long enough to find out. Because the cramps in my toes came so immediately following that kind of meal that I was compelled to give up on the vegan approach and go back to a heavily animal-based approach.

And I wondered why?

What caused these cramps?

I started doing some research. And I discovered that a lack of magnesium could be the problem. I read lots and lots of testimonials by people who had similar cramps as mine. And when they took magnesium the cramps went away.

YAY!

I bought some magnesium pills that were recommended by an authority on one of the sites I was visiting and when they arrived I started taking them in the dose suggested on the bottle.

Then I tried eating a vegan diet again.

Yaaaa…no.

That didn’t work for me.

So, here’s where the Swedish heritage comes into play.

I’ve always identified with my Scandinavian heritage. That’s my mother’s side of the family. But even my dad’s ancestors come from England.

It’s dark and cold there much of the year. No freaking pineapples, bananas, or other tropical fruits and vegies grow there. Only hardy varieties that tolerate long months of cold weather.

They eat MEAT over there. And lots of fish. And dairy. True, they also eat whole grains. And some wild berries, nuts, and greens. But mostly their diet is animal-based.

This fact is not lost on me. That’s where my dna comes from.

Sooo…what the hell am I trying to do with this whole vegan thing?

That thinking prompted me to do further research into the keto/carnivore approach to eating.

I lost the most weight I had ever lost in my life up to that point (I was 20…get serious, right?) following the Atkins diet plan. About 32 pounds in 3 months. Impressive.

But I also remember feeling kind of crappy following that eating protocol. I was dizzy and weak. And besides that…I was dieting for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to lose weight to impress my (then) husband who was in the Army at the time. He had been stationed in Germany where he ended up staying for nearly 9-months before our 2-year old son and I were authorized to join him.

So, I lost the weight (at the time I started the diet I weighed an enormous 153 pounds on my 5’9″ frame, lol!) and got down to the lowest I have ever been in my teen or adult life…122 pounds.

Hey, I wanted to be a fashion model back then, so I was thrilled!

But…Germany.

Bratwurst and brotchen with french fries, pastries galore, breaded schnitzel pan-fried in butter served with gravy and spatzle (homemade noodles), and lots of alcohol!

Yaaaa…it didn’t take very long before that weight came right back on.

Add two pregnancies in 4 years and it was a losing proposition.

Over the years I’ve tried following the Atkins plan many times and just haven’t had the same success I experienced with it that first time.

Fast forward to the present…

After my experience going raw vegan I kind of threw the baby out with the bath water and started eating whatever sounded tasty and made me feel good.

That last part is all-important.

If something doesn’t make me feel good then I re-adjust. Which means I kind of bounce around a lot.

I want to lose that weight, damnit!

And I _have_ had some success recently.

I tried OMAD – One Meal A Day. Basically consuming no calories during the day until dinner-time. Then just eating one big plateful of whatever I wanted along with one large beverage. I would eat that one meal between 4-7 pm and then be done for the night. No more calories until the next evening. Except I did allow myself a little fat in my morning coffee and that didn’t seem to halt my weight-loss.

Following that regimen I lost 35 pounds over a few months. And I’ve kept that off for almost two years now. Well, mostly. I regained 5-10 pounds of that, depending on the day of the week I weigh myself. But mostly I have kept it off.

So, I feel good about that.

But I have another 35-40 pounds to lose.

So, the struggle continues.

When I stalled on OMAD…actually, I’m not even sure I was stalling…but I was introduced to the idea that if I added a ketogenic element to my OMAD diet then that would really amp things up for me, health-wise as well as with my weight-loss.

So, I implemented a low-carb, high-fat aspect to my OMAD plan…

A-n-d…no. I pretty much haven’t lost any weight since.

In fact, as I already stated above…I’ve actually g-a-i-n-e-d pounds over the last few months.

But I mostly felt good following that plan.

M-o-s-t-l-y.

The toe cramps started coming back.

And this time they were happening when I was eating low-carb foods.

Soooo…that pretty much blew my theory that the Charlie Horses were related to high-carb foods.

Which….(of course) led me to do more research.

This brings me pretty much to the current time.

I had been following a heavily animal-based approach…even tried fully carnivore for a week or so (that is exactly what it sounds like – ONLY animal-based foods. Literally ZERO plants) then back to keto because I just didn’t like the lack of variety in an animal-based approach.

But still…my toes. Ugh.

So, the research.

I then discovered that a potassium deficiency could be the cause of these cramps. So, once again, I purchased some supplements and started taking one 550mg tablet with my first meal of the day. This was, like, 4 days ago now.

And the Charlie Horses went away.

Wow.

So, I decided to really test this out by following a high-carb, high-starch, low-fat vegan diet to see if my results held.

And THEY DID!!!

I was cautiously enthusiastic…

For three days…they held! I ate oatmeal for breakfast and rice and veggies or potatoes and beans for dinner. Fruit for dessert.

And I felt GREAT! I was symptom free!

T-h-e-n yesterday happened.

And I’m miserable.

I didn’t sleep because I kept getting abdominal attacks throughout the night.

I’m exhausted.

This isn’t a stomach thing. This is lower-abdominal.

Anyhow…I’m back to butter coffee this morning and I read that things like broth and tea can help sooth abdominal distress. So, I’m thinking I’ll go down to the kitchen and start a pot of bone broth simmering.

Have you had similar dietary experiences? I’d love to hear about them along with any suggestions you might have for achieving better results.

I realize I’m my own little science project here. But I’d like to think I have more important things to do in life than spending every waking hour trying to figure out what I should put into my mouth, omg!

I’d love to hear from you 😉

~Tracy

My History With Network Marketing (MLM)

Tracy - 8-24-2017

All Makeup by AVON

I remember first hearing about home-based businesses when I was a child…probably around age 8 or 10. I baby sat for someone who was a Jafra rep…though I didn’t know what that meant. Just that she had some special skincare products in he bathroom with royal bee honey in them…that part really stuck with me. Because I thought it was strange that there would be face cream with special jelly that apparently came from queen bees and it was supposed to make your skin look amazing.

Likewise, I remember hearing about Shaklee when I was about the same age. I was tall for my age and always thought it would be glamorous to become a fashion model. So, when there was a weekly evening class on modeling being offered at my grade school by a former model and “miss” something or other I signed right up. I remember one class was held in her home and she used some skincare products on us that were from that company. Again, the concept stuck in my head that these were products that couldn’t be purchased at a store. You had to get them from someone who was a representative. I also recall hearing about Herbalife and saw television programs featuring people who had earned piles of money selling their vitamins and supplements. But I never did try the products or know anyone personally who was a distributor.

But the seed had been planted in my brain early on about becoming an entrepreneur.

Then when I started dating the boy who would become my first husband I really got a taste of what multi-level marketing was all about. His parents were very active Amway distributors and over the course of our courtship and first few years of marriage they became quite successful, attaining Gold Distributorship status. I watched as they moved from their small, older home into a large, brand-new home and purchased two new cars…all funded by their Amway business. After attending several home meetings conducted by them we decided to sign up and give it a go ourselves.

But shortly after we were married my new husband joined the Army and we moved away to another state, far from home and family. We tried to build the business ourselves but just didn’t have the local connections or support system that we would have had back in our home town.

Yet, I believed in the power of Word of Mouth marketing. It just made sense to me to that a manufacturer should skip paying all of the advertising and marketing dollars spent in traditional product promotion, and instead reward each person with a commission for any sale that resulted because they told a friend about a particular product. Duh. That’s a real WIN-WIN!

And that was my initial introduction to network marketing. I fell in love with the concept. So much so that, with the help of my current husband, I started my own mail-order gourmet coffee, tea, hot cocoa, biscotti and treats mlm company. We called it Brown Paper Coffee Company (BPCC for short) and we ran that business for more than three years, with consultants I recruited in five different states.

But that’s a story for another time 😉

Below is a list of the TWENTY FOUR (24) network marketing companies I have joined over the years. I’ll give a brief description of each below but will write a detailed overview of my thoughts and opinions on each one at a later date. Some I can recommend and I’ll tell you why. Others I don’t feel so good about…and I’ll tell you about that, too.

MLM Businesses I Have Joined –

Amway – As I mentioned above, Amway was my first experience with multi-level marketing. They offer a very wide range of products from health and nutritional supplements to skincare, hair care, cosmetics, fragrances, household cleaners, laundry supplies, jewelry, clothing, car care, and more.

 

 

Tupperware – Offers a wide variety of food storage, cookware, and other useful plastic items.

 

Mary Kay – Higher-end cosmetics and skincare company.

 

Avon – They offer a very wide variety of products from skincare, cosmetics, bath and body, fragrances, hair care and jewelry, to clothing, children’s products, home decor, and recently have even added a line of health and nutritional supplements. (Feel free to visit my AVON store here: http://www.youravon.com/TracyJohnsonPDX )

 

Rexall Showcase International – Out of Business. They offered primarily weight-loss, nutritional, and health and wellness products.

 

 

 

 

 

House of Lloyd/Christmas Around The World – Out of Business. They specialized in home decor and Christmas decoration items.

 

 

 

 

 

NuSkin – I joined as a distributor then later actually worked as an employee at their facility in Provo, Utah for four years. They offer a comprehensive line of higher-end health and wellness products.

 

 

bpcc_logo**BROWN PAPER COFFEE COMPANY** – My Own Gourmet Coffee Network Marketing Company. I’ll write a separate post about this at a later date.

 

 

 

Party Lite – Offering a wide range of fragranced candles, other home scents, candle holders and associated decorative items.

 

At Home America – Out of Business. They offered a wonderful selection of contemporary country-style home decor items.

 

 

 

 

 

Isagenix – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products.

 

 

Xocai – Healthy Chocolate!

 

 

 

 

Pampered Chef – Offering a wonderful selection of cooking utensils and other chef-oriented products.

 

 

AmeriPlan – Affordable discount health-care coverage for the entire household on a subscription basis. Offering access to a vast network of healthcare professionals who offer their services at a discount when the patient pays cash at time of service. Not insurance coverage.

 

 

 

Park Lane Jewelry – Distinctive jewelry and accessories.

 

 

Scent-Sations – Offering a delicious selection of premium natural wax candles and melts.

 

 

Younique – Higher-end, all-natural cosmetics.

 

 

 

 

 

Jamberry – An amazing variety of beautiful and adorable heat-applied nail stickers. An alternative to nail polish. Styles available for both adults and children. Even designs with licensed Disney and NFL art/logos.

 

 

Purium – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products.

 

Asirvia – High-tech, “proximity marketing” devices.

 

 

It Works! – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products. Their “flagship” product is the “Wrap” that is impregnated with a botanical mixture that helps to release water and weight when applied regularly.

 

 

Senegence – Long-lasting, higher-end cosmetics. Their “flagship” product is “LipSense” – a lip _stain_ that will not come off on beverage glasses, clothing, or others. It mostly only comes off with their signature remover.

 

Magnabilities – A line of inter-changable magnetic jewelry and accessories.

 

 

Melaleuca – They offer a wide range of products from health and nutritional supplements to skincare, hair care, cosmetics, fragrances, household cleaners, laundry supplies and more. Most, if not all their products, contain their signature ingredient, Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca oil).

 

 

New U Life – The only FDA registered, topically-applied HGH (Human Growth Hormone) gel available on the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing with the Laser Engraver

They said it was just like using a printer. And it kind of is…

Epilog Helix

A REALLY COMPLICATED PRINTER ON STEROIDS!

A printer with lots of diverse settings that have to be adjusted for power and speed and resolution and dithering effect, and, and, and… Not just that…those things (and more) have to be re-calibrated for each different type of material you are “printing” onto. For example; the settings you might use to achieve the perfect depth of burn of a logo on birch might be entirely different from the settings you would choose for that same image on say, walnut or bass wood. Much less leather or cardboard! Additionally, the settings you might use to achieve the desired shade and intensity in a plaque expressing a sentiment in words using a specific font would be entirely WRONG for the correct pixelation needed in a photograph where white space around each pixel is not only desirable but required in order to see the depth of detail in photo reproduction.

So, ya…this machine is industrial-grade and takes quite a bit of training and experimentation in order to come up to speed so that we can comfortably add laser-engraving services to my current offering.

Below are a couple of images of recent test projects…

I wanted to try out various settings to see what kind of results I could get with a photograph. I kind of wish I had taken pictures of the earlier renditions of this, lol! But I think we’re getting it nailed…slowly but surely!

I burned the smaller version onto a piece of thick leather first. And I’ve got to say that I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

So, I thought I’d try it in a larger size and this time on a 12″x12″ square of birch…which is quite a bit harder material than the leather.

Trust me when I tell you that this one took SEVERAL ATTEMPTS to finally achieve this output. But…I _am_ pleased with the final result.

We have also been practicing on ceramic tile and have some acrylic sheeting on order so that we can learn on those, too.

We haven’t even tried cutting shapes out with the laser engraver, yet. That’s coming next!

I’ll keep you posted.

This is kind of fun…but tricky, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Best,

Tracy

Pendants

I started making jewelry back in 2000 and my favorite pieces to create for the longest time were rings. Though I tried my hand at creating all kinds of jewelry, from earrings and bracelets to handcrafted chains, necklaces, and pendants.

But about two years ago I began using annealed steel as the primary material in my jewelry and my passion for creating pendants expanded like crazy!

Part of the reason for this is the fact that one of my dear friends is a rock-hound in Arizona. She supplied me with several bags full of semi-precious stones that she had collected, sliced, and polished. These stones offered a beautiful focal point for what has become my own unique style of “framing” each one to enhance it’s natural shape and the energy emitted from it.

Below you can view just a sampling of my wire-wrapped stone pendants, as well as some of the other pendants…primarily crosses…I have created over the years. If you would like a one-of-a-kind piece please feel free to CONTACT ME with your ideas!

Clearing Up Ketogenic Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet Confustion

Have you been confused by all of the conflicting and contradictory diet and nutrition messages out there? In particular, there seems to be a major divide between whether a low-carb, ketogenic diet or a low-fat whole-foods / plant-based diet is the better choice for overall health, nutrition, and longevity. I know I’ve experienced more than my share of confusion on the subject! I watched this video by Ryan of Happy Healthy Vegan the other night…twice…because I think the explanation he shared by Cyrus Khambatta of Mastering Diabetes, who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, makes literally more sense than I have heard anyone explain it, ever.

You may know that in 2009 I launched and published an online magazine for the raw foods community called Eighty Percent Raw for which I recruited over 25 raw food chef and health care practitioners who contributed to the magazine monthly for 4 years. I simultaneously enrolled in and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for the purpose of attaining a health coaching certificate. I became a student because I am so passionate about learning the truth about optimal nutrition for humans.

However, I will admit to having experienced more than a little confusion about what is the best approach…at least for my own body.

The two eating styles I have had the most weight-loss success with over the years have been the Atkins diet, which was basically the original ketogenic diet, back when I was 20 years old. And the high raw foods diet when I was about 40.

I lost 30+ pounds in 3 months the first time I tried low-carb and was really excited and amazed by my results. Thinking back on my experience I must admit that I felt kind of crappy, health-wise, as a result, though. I recall feeling light-headed and weak a lot of the time. And honestly, I really just viewed the eating plan as a short-term weight-loss program and not at all a long-term lifestyle. I just wanted to lose the weight as quickly as possible. And it worked GREAT for that purpose.

But the results didn’t last…

I gained the weight back quickly as soon as I started eating carbs again and that was followed by two pregnancies in three years…so, ya. My success with low-carb was short lived.

And honestly, I’ve tried it again multiple times since then and it’s true what they say…you just can’t achieve the same results again a second or third or fourth time that you did that first time losing.

So, raw foods and veganism…

You can read my full experience HERE

But suffice it to say that I lost nearly 40 pounds over a few months following a high raw food diet, and kept it off (easily) for about 4 years.

However…that was not without it’s complications either…which you can read about HERE

To compound the sitation…I am a huge student and consumer of health-related information on the internet. And yes, I have a godzillion books on every imaginable diet plan and cooking strategy (Thank you very much for the instant gratification that is Kindle, Amazon! lol!) So, being of Swedish heritage I was also swayed by the DNA/blood-type theory that says “Hey, my ancestors CERTAINLY didn’t evolve on mangos and bananas and other tropical fruits and vegies! They evolved on lots of fish and elk and pork and eggs and dairy products, with very little vegetation and only seasonally.”

So, there’s that.

Anyhow. I continue to search. My body doesn’t seem to respond well (read: lose weight) on a high starch diet, ie; Dr. John McDougall’s Starch Solution so I’m in a bit of a quandary.

But the video above DOES make a lot of sense! So, at least for now, that’s the approach I’m following!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences with diet and weight-loss! Please do share with me below and tell me what you think on this whole issue!

Until next time!

Be well,

Tracy

My Pyrography for Business

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Business Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

My Pyrography for Private Clients

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Private Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

Have A Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

Whole-Foods ThanksgivingFor many people Thanksgiving dinner is the single biggest family feast of the year. It represents a time of gathering together, rebuilding bonds of love and friendship, sharing thoughts and feelings of gratitude for blessings received, and the centerpiece is always the meal. Food is an important element in our lives. It can garner memories from childhood that warm us and make us feel nostalgic. Many who cook use their culinary creations as a meaningful show of love and affection for those the food has been prepared for. And when we consume dishes that have been carefully prepared to be especially delicious it makes us feel loved. It is no wonder, then, that we associate so much emotional connection with the Thanksgiving feast!

That being said, however, the traditional Thanksgiving fare most of us are accustomed to eating on this day is usually a far cry from “health food”. Many dishes are heavily prepared with unhealthy fats and saturated with sugars of every kind. The turkey is probably the healthiest part of the meal, since it is essentially pure protein and in that sense, “real” food, without a lot of added ingredients (if we aren’t counting the grain fed diet, antibiotics, and hormones most are raised on). Most of the side dishes, from the mashed potatoes loaded with real butter and heavy cream, to the stuffing…normally white bread cubes with lots of fat and little nutritional value…to the white-flour, milk, and butter dinner rolls, to the candied yams, and normally ending with pies (baked in white flour and hydrogenated vegetable oil shortening – read trans fats – crusts) topped with piles of whipped cream, meringue, or ice cream. I read recently that the typical Thanksgiving dinner for an average adult runs right around 3,500 calories! OUCH!

Sooo…I’d like to challenge you this year! I know it can be a daunting task to want to alter long-held tradition. One which will inevitably be met with substantial resistance from family members. So, rather than try to talk you into doing anything too overly difficult which could result in conflict and contention, I have a more subtle suggestion…try taking baby steps. Especially if you are relatively new to the high-raw foods lifestyle, and particularly if you are the only family member following such a path. Here are some practical application things you can do to make your holiday meal HEALTHIER while still maintaining peace and harmony in your home, all the while offering the same delicious and satisfying, comfort foods your family is used to for this most important meal:
1. Substitute unhealthy sugars, such as white sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup with healthier sweeteners such as stevia, pure maple syrup, dehydrated cane juice sugar, agave nectar, molasses, etc.

2. Substitute unhealthy fats, such as margarine, shortening, and most refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils with healthier fats such as coconut oil (especially for cooking), cold pressed olive oil (mostly for drizzling over warm or cold foods and in dressings but not for cooking), and real butter.

3. Try making pie crusts out of ground nuts and dried fruits such as dates or use coconut flour instead of the traditional refined white wheat flour.

4. Stuffing is delicious using ground almonds or pecans to give substance and body rather than using the traditional bread cubes.

5. If you are going to make rolls, try using whole grains rather than refined white flour. Better yet, go for some of the gluten-free grains such as rice or kamut. Spelt is a great alternative to regular wheat (they are cousins) with a higher protein profile and can be better tolerated by those who have gluten or wheat sensitivities. Coconut flour is an amazing and health-promoting alternative to regular flour. It is loaded with fiber and lots of great, healthy benefits! Just be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly because coconut flour is very dense and a little goes a l-o-n-g way! You can order it (along with fabulous coconut oil and other coconut products) online at Tropical Traditions

6. Make your own cranberry sauce from scratch using natural, healthy sweeteners instead of purchasing the canned version which is full of high fructose corn syrup.

7. And last but certainly not least…add more raw side dishes to fill out the meal with lots of delicious, nutritious selections that will add healthy options and introduce your family and friends to the wonderful variety of decadent foods available in raw form! There are SO MANY amazing dishes that can be prepared from healthy, whole foods and the holidays present a great opportunity to share these foods with your loved ones! Try making a raw dessert to go along side the other desserts you prepare, as a healthy alternative to the more calorie-dense versions.

Remember that making improvements in your health and wellness can come one baby step at a time and it doesn’t need to be a drastic or drama-filled experience. In this way, you can feel good about the foods you are offering your friends and family while preserving the essence of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Now THAT is something to be thankful for!

Blessings to you at this special time of year.

Tracy

My Response to A Time When Marijuana Is Legal

Marijuana_RaidsThis issue is so huge that it makes me tired just trying to figure out where to begin with my response.

I guess the best place to start would be to suggest you read all of the information and feedback on our Drug Law Reform, and War Stories pages, and especially, I would encourage you to listen to our audio interviews with Superbowl Champ, Mark Stepnoski and Yale Law School educated, Seattle criminal defense attorney, Jeff Steinborn on our Audio Interviews page to get some real, concrete insight into this whole issue.

Let me say that I am not a pot smoker. But I certainly _have_ smoked pot. More than once. And I also inhaled. So, I know first-hand what the experience is like. And it is not the evil, addictive, demon-drug the government and big-industry have made it out to be. Do your research. Get the facts…not the propoganda…and come to your own, educated conclusions.

The following excerpts are from the May 27th, 2013 edition of the NY Times and are letters to the editor. Read the full text for yourself here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/opinion/a-time-when-marijuana-is-legal.html?_r=1&

I will reply, per item below, in the body of the text –

NYT -“To the Editor: Bill Keller gets it right: the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized, since whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk. Pot is high risk for children because the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed, while the pleasure-seeking part is fully functional. So teenagers will do risky things, like driving while high. They’re also far more likely than adults to become addicted.”

~TracyThinks – There are so many things wrong with what Mr. Rosenthal states here, as fact, that are simply not true. At least he starts out by saying that the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized. But that is the only lucid part of his statement. That he goes on to say that whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk infuriates me. This is a red herring intended to illicit an emotional response and is not based on fact. The greatest risk to children currently, where marijuana is concerned, is the potential for arrest, possible conviction and incarceration, of themselves or their parents, and the emotional damage resulting from being forced through the legal system. Add to that the HUGE side-effect of being denied government funding for attending college, something not even rapists and murderers are denied access to, and you begin to see the real risk to children.

His claim that the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed is just laughable. I’m not a scientist…but I have raised 7 children to adulthood…so I have a little experience in this area. And let me tell you, even my 2 year old grand daughter knows all too well what dumb and dangerous behavior is and she is very good at preventing harm to her person…and recognizes when she has done something she shouldn’t have. Contrast that with the fact that violent crimes are committed, to an overwhelming degree, not by children or even teens, but by mature adults, and his claim doesn’t hold water.

As far as teenagers doing risky things, like driving high…well, don’t get me started on drunk driving statistics and the fact that a person is FAR more likely to drive drunk than high in the first place…And while there are those who do drive high (and I’m not advocating it here, btw) the difference between driving under the influence of alcohol vs. driving under the influence of marijuana are night and day. Alcohol increases brash and brazen behavior and emboldens one to think they are completely capable of operating machinery, when in actuality their judgment and reaction time are impaired. Conversely, under the influence of marijuana, the absolute opposite is true. A person who has consumed pot becomes hyper-aware of their abilities, and because of this, is more likely to choose not to drive. But if a person does drive high, they are usually more cautious than they would be if not under the influence.

His statement that “they are more likely than adults to become addicted” is completely unsubstantiated. There is no scientific data to support that marijuana has any addictive properties. It has been used by large populations of people, world-wide, for thousands of years and is perhaps akin to a coffee addiction when it comes to the physically addictive properties in marijuana. And let’s not even begin discussing all of the “perfectly legal”, highly addictive, pharmaceutical drugs such Suboxone, Revia, Vivitrol, and others that are being prescribed by physicians at “rehab” and “intervention” facilities to manage (treat?) mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, that are far more damaging and detrimental to the health of those consuming them (including children) than marijuana could ever hope to be.

According to Phoenix House’s 2012 annual report: “At Phoenix House, they are able to detoxify in a controlled environment WHERE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS DISPENSE AND MONITOR MEDICATIONS…A commitment to the use of every available and appropriate treatment tool is evident in INCREASED EMPLOYMENT OF PHARMACOTHERAPIES at Phoenix House. medications such as Suboxone, Revia, and Vivitrol, which control drug cravings, are being used conjointly with other treatment tools. For a number of clients, concurrent medication-assisted treatment allows them to gain the strength they need to maintain sobriety and succeed in recovery.” Suboxone is an opiate and highly addictive with strong potential for abuse itself, and carries a laundry list of side effects, including possible death.

I’m not necessarily saying that these particular pharmaceuticals are being used to treat marijuana “addiction”. But the fact that these rehabilitation centers are treating drug addiction with other addictive substances seems problematic and counter-productive to me.

NYT – “Pot smoking changes brain anatomy, retards maturation and impairs learning, memory and judgment”

~TPJ – Show me the evidence. This is propaganda to support the continuation of The Drug War. There is no scientific data to support such claims.

NYT – “At the programs of Phoenix House, the overwhelming majority of adolescents we have treated used no drug more potent than marijuana.”

~TPJ – Ahhhh…now we get down to the crux of the issue. “At the programs of Phoenix House.” Follow the money. This guy has ulterior motives. He is money-motivated, as is almost always the case. Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D. is founder of Phoenix House and served as President and CEO from 1967 to 2007. A quick look at the organization’s listing at the Better Business Bureau tells us that the current President and CEO, Howard P. Meitiner,  receives annual compensation totaling $637,898. Not too shabby, especially for a non-profit. Mr. Rosenthal was  deputy commissioner of New York City’s Addiction Services Agency (ASA) at the time the organization was formed. And, as of July 2010, he was elected to the Board of Directors at The Partnership for a Drug Free America. (see http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/dr-mitchell-s-rosenthal-founder-of-phoenix-house-elected-to-the-board-of-directors-of-the-partnership-for-a-drug-free-america ) Another interesting note is that Phoenix House received $61,865,683 in government contracts and grants (representing almost half of their total income of $112,223,034 in 2012). Much of their business is a result of the judicial system referring individuals to them who have been arrested on drug related charges and are compelled to participate in rehabilitation programs, or else face jail time. And those without insurance coverage have to pay for this penalty out of their own pocket.

DRUG rehab is BIG BUSINESS! According to information posted at http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/treatment/residential/centers#pho , treatment ranges anywhere from $375 per day at one facility, or $1300 a month at another, on the low end (with most programs lasting over a month…up to 90 days appears to be the norm for marijuana treatment) to nearly $40,000 a month on the high end.

NYT – “So once the legislators are through, it will be up to parents to protect children, convincing them that legal does not mean “safe” despite what government allows. Somehow Mr. Keller did not add the greatest dilemma to his list, which is just how any system of legalization can help parents to do this. MITCHELL S. ROSENTHAL, New York, May 20, 2013, The writer, a child and addiction psychiatrist, is the founder of Phoenix House.”

~TPJ – It has never been any system of legalization’s job or responsibility to be in the business of regulating morality or personal choice. Government’s role in society is not to monitor, prevent, or treat any kind of personal behavior. It has always been, and should always be, the parent’s job to educate themselves, to the the best of their ability, and then teach their children the truth about the world we live in, and prepare them for functioning in it as a contributing member of society.

I found an essay that elucidates my own thoughts on this very well. The author doesn’t provide personal information so that I can credit them, and the site is old…but the logic is solid, regardless. I’m pasting some of that essay here:

“The thing that separates a government…from any other civic or social organization is that goverments may legally initiate the use of force. Nothing and nobody else may do this… Only government has this power, which is called the police power. And politics is nothing more than deciding how this power should be used.

Everything that a law demands that you do, or forbids you to do, is at gunpoint, if neccessary — at the threat of death. Perhaps not for the offense itself, but if you are stubborn enough about not accepting the penalties that government places on you for breaking its laws, you can easily find yourself under the barrel of a policeman’s gun.

The defining characteristic of government IS the legal use of force. And if the use of force is legal, then it also should be just. In fact, the reason that mankind ever formed governments in the first place was to protect ourselves from others using force to kill us (violating our right to life), or to make us do their will (violating our right to liberty), or to take what was ours (violating our right to property). Everybody agrees that when somebody comes to hurt or kill you, or to enslave you, or to rob you, you can defend yourself. Government is the same thing, only in groups. The point of having a government is to organize force for the defense of a group or community (be it a neighborhood, a town, a city, a state, or a nation). And the government IS us. So at what point does it become justice for the government to do by force that which it is unjust for US to do by force?

The answer is, “Never.” The role of government is to defend our lives, our liberty, and our property, from those who would violate them, and to punish those who do so by making them pay us restitution.

It is neither our job nor that of the government to use force to stop us from being stupid, or hateful, or immoral, or discriminatory, or to help the poor, or provide medical care, or schooling, or art, or homes.

If we are going to have a just society, we must limit government to its core functions: protection of life, protection of liberty, protection of property, punishing those who transgress those rights, and gaining restitution from them for their victims.”

NYT – “To the Editor: Bill Keller suggests that legalization of marijuana is a foregone conclusion. The voters in Washington State and Colorado have proposed that one way out of an intransigent public health problem, costly law enforcement, spiraling prison costs and reduced tax revenues is to legalize a known addictive substance.

~TPJ – Here we go again…marijuana is NOT a known addictive substance. See my comments above.

NYT – “It is wishful thinking, however, to believe that a government-regulated marijuana marketplace will raise enough money to offset the harm that today’s highly potent drug inflicts on communities across America.”

~TPJ – Well, I may have to write a Part 2 to this post in order to properly address the cost to the American tax payer of law enforcement and prison costs associated with monitoring, harassing, arresting, and incarcerating millions of non-violent citizens simply because they choose to consume a harmless weed. And the potential upside, from a financial standpoint, to the government for legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana, similar to alcohol and tobacco consumption, is staggering.

As far as the harm marijuana inflicts on communities across America…I think my position is clear by now that “the cure is worse than the disease.”

NYT – “The only chance we have to get ahead of the coming epidemic is by adequately financing treatment programs so the infrastructure of marijuana production, distribution and retail is matched by broad-based community services. PETER PROVET, President and Chief Executive, Odyssey House, New York, May 21, 2013”

~TPJ – Of c-o-u-r-s-e it is…Once again, Mr. Provet is monetarily motivated and has a vested interest in ensuring The Drug War stay alive and kicking. Just look at what we are already paying to fund these programs: “The requested Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 National Drug Control Budget is $25.6 billion. This represents an increase of $415.3 million (1.6%) over the FY 2012 enacted level of $25.2 billion. And the FY 2013 request includes two new Departments and two new bureaus to the National Drug Control Budget.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/the-national-drug-control-budget-fy-2013-funding-highlights)

Grrrreeeaaaat…that’s just what we need to fix a massively failed Drug War. More money and more bureaus and departments to manage it. According to the government’s own websites:

“Unfortunately, the success rates of treatment are rather modest. Even with the most effective treatment for adults, only about 50 percent of enrollees achieve an initial 2-week period of abstinence, and among those who do, approximately half will resume use within a year.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/available-treatments-marijuana-use-disorders) And from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America “In one study, 71 percent returned to marijuana use within six months.” (http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/drugs/study-examines-new-treatment-for-marijuana-dependence)

This whole issue is a mass of confusion, deception, misdirection, lies, and abuse. And none of it is to benefit the American public. When it comes to marijuana “addiction” far, far more benefit goes to those who administrate these programs.

I maintain that the only time government should become involved in the private lives of it’s citizens is when a violent crime has been committed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Tracy