Veterans In Distress – The Weed for Warriors Project Responds to Johns Hopkins and Announces Protests In DC & Oakland for May 8th
May 1, 2017
Dear President Ronald Daniels,
I write as a follow up to my original letter dated March 27, 2017. I apologize if I missed it, but to date, we have not received a single letter, email or call from anyone associated with Johns Hopkins, not even an acknowledgment of receipt to my original email with the aforementioned letter attached. That is of course excluding our interesting email exchange with Professor Ryan Vandry, who shed a tremendous amount of light on the ethical standards you have set at Johns Hopkins.
President Daniels, we ask the following questions as it now seems apparent something at Johns Hopkins stinks to high heaven and that smell emanates from the very halls of power that have financed your existence with our Tax Dollars for the benefit of the few.
1. Does Johns Hopkins support “whole-plant” cannabis research?
2. We have credible sources who unequivocally state JHU’s withdraw from MAPS study was due to guidance received from the new administration and pressure from what appears, at a minimum, to be a distorted research model that highly incentivizes your University and it’s “prestigious” scientist to focus Tax Payer subsidies for the benefit of the few.
For example, in Dr. Vandry’s second email, he states, “Dr. Bonn-Miller and I are also looking for funding to conduct clinical trials with a novel CBD product that the company he works for is currently developing.” We believe what Dr. Vandry is referring to is Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller’s new position at INSYS Pharmaceuticals and a product that will enrich a lot of people including themselves. While we champion this work, we are under no illusion as to what that work is trying to accomplish, a pharmaceutical that can be used in lieu of whole-plant cannabis rich in CBD and low in THC, much like it’s THC only cousin, Marinol.
It seems your research model uses Tax Payer subsidizations to effectively allow for profit pharmaceutical companies to outsource a significant portion of their R&D expense providing a solution that many times is not in the best interest of the “community” your mission statement purports to serve. In fact, it is only in the interest of those who fund JHU and most research hospitals around this country.
Do you agree or disagree with our concerns? Can you also provide suggestions on how we can unlock the invisible hand from regulatory capture? Thus allowing the benefits of JHU’s work to reach the people who are effectively paying for it, the Tax Payer in the most efficient and affordable way.
3. Veterans would like to know what Johns Hopkins plans are as it relates to the $700,000 in funding received for the study that it has now withdrawn from. Given no study was ever conducted nor a single Veteran ever enrolled, any expenses we thought would be “de minimis”.
However, per Dr. Vandry’s final email, he states, “We invoiced as we went. We have no money to give back.” We believe the sick people of Colorado who ultimately funded this study deserve a public accounting of where the monies vanished to. We ask that JHU provide this without delay.
President Daniels, let me speak clearly. Our Veteran community is demanding answers and action. You can rest assured this will not blow over soon and we choose that phrase for a reason. It was the phrase emanating within the very halls of your institution immediately after the aforementioned letter we sent at the end of March. Let me explain why.
Many Americans are aware that 8,000 Veterans are committing suicide each year, twice the national average. What they might not be aware of is, Veterans are also twice as likely to die from opiods of all types. You can read about it in the following PBS article, but to the point, there were over 33,000 opiod overdoses in 2015 according to the NIH and with Veterans twice as likely to die from such overdoses we can add over 5,000 deaths to the annual total of too early deaths by Veterans. When conservatively accounting for benzodiazepines at the same level seen by the regular US population we see the annual death toll for veterans directly related to suicides and pharmaceuticals exceeding 15,000 per year.
While it won’t surprise you that veterans on the frontlines of this crisis see the problem clearly. It is our opinion the catalyst for this epidemic emanates from our Country’s primary response to Veterans injuries both physical and mental; pharmaceuticals. Our view isn’t without scientific support.
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health by professors from three US Universities suggest that access to legalized cannabis was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20 through 29 year-old males and a 10 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30 through 39 year-old males. In addition, another study shows deaths from opiate overdoses decreased 25% in those states with legally accessible cannabis.
If we apply the above studies results to the Veteran community, we are talking about saving the lives over 2,500 Veterans each year. Better put, that is 15,000 dead Veterans that would be alive versus dead since the FDA first approved MAPS study.
So, we must ask why do seemingly good people, seem unable to just do the right thing. It should be clear to everyone; the “Invisible Hand” of economics has aligned government, the medical community and the pharmaceutical complex behind cannabis prohibition. “One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana” and the point is simple, where cannabis is available, people choose cannabis over pharmaceuticals and that just is not good for the bottom line of your partners, the pharmaceutical companies that rake in over $100 Billion in profits per year.
I would be remiss if I did not also open the discussion as it relates to “the community” as outlined in Johns Hopkins mission statement. WFWP’s National Policy Advisor, disabled combat veteran and Maryland attorney, Brandon L. Wyatt Esq. has confirmed. There is a true, “post-service to prison pipeline” present in your local Maryland community which has a direct correlation to opiate addiction and the ensuing disparate circumstances that surround a lack of true research regarding alternative medicine, such as cannabis. I quote, “There is a pressing need for Federal and State legislatures, research hospitals, and the population at large to look at the opiate crisis, the systemic nature of its affects, and potential cannabis cures through the spectrum of diverse veterans populations, it is an accurate application of applied sociology to policy development and saving lives,” Brandon L. Wyatt Esq. ‘
Veterans throughout America are overwhelmed by the national suicide and overdose epidemic that has unfolded. It is time for good people everywhere to stand up and just do the right thing. We are calling for direct action against your University’s withdrawal from MAPS study and to pressure the current administration’s evolving view on cannabis as a medicine. Veterans and the rest of America can no longer afford delays in science for the political and economic benefit of those tied to prohibition.
We are calling on all Americans who share our views and concerns to join us on May 8th as we gather in Dupont Circle, Washington DC and at the Oakland VA in California at noon local time!
We hope to raise awareness on the very topics discussed above and to protest what I believe is nothing more than the regulatory capture by Corporate America of our regulatory agencies. In such, these agencies created to act in the public interest, are instead advancing the commercial and political concerns of those invested in keeping cannabis marginalized as a medicine for those in need. Many of those agencies are intertwined with the science you conduct.
President Daniels, let me finish my letter with the following question I hope you can answer:
4. We are losing over 15,000 veterans a year to suicide and overdoses directly linked to the pharmaceutical solution, which is indisputably pushed by the VA and Research Hospitals. We have lost over 65,000 Veterans from the above causes since 2011 when MAPS study was first approved?
Why shouldn’t the needless delays and blockades by our Government and Quasi-Private entities financed by those making money off Veteran suffering be looked at as co-conspirators in what by definition could be called genocide?
I look forward to starting a dialogue so we can make all our efforts as productive and peaceful as possible. It is in no one’s interest to continue to marginalize the voices screaming throughout our Country for help and it’s the duty of all to listen.
Sean T Kiernan, Veteran and
President of The Weed for Warriors Project