#379 – The Great Colorado Cannabis Experiment with Jerry Trumbule

Jerry Trumbule

Gerald (Jerry) Trumbule, B.S. Univ. of Md. 1965, M.S. Univ. of Pa., 1970, has been a neuropsychological researcher (Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and NASA, Univ. of Md.) and Assistant Professor of Psychology, Univ. of Toronto, 1970. Disgusted with academia, he moved to Denver in 1971 where he founded Sebastian High School, a grade-less experiential learning center, founded the Western States Film Institute, with two winners of the Student Academy Awards, and, in 1980, founded Denver’s first computer training center (ECC). Now retired and living in obscurity, he is a videographer and blogger (DenverDirect.tv), where he expounds on local politics and pollution, including the legalization of marijuana in that state. He continues his life-long interest in the workings of the human brain, exploring his own brain through hypnagogia and REM sleep, and hopes someday to upload the contents of his brain directly to the internet. Jerry is a return guest and can also be heard on Shrink Rap Radio episodes #280, #266, #262, #259, #257, #172, #167, #161, #155, #149, #143, #136, #130, #128, #126, #124, #122, #100, #4, and #3.

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  1. Gloria
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    A fascinating and wide ranging interview, covering everything from the evolutionary to the political aspects of Marijuana use, with many fascinating stories thrown in for good measure. I was very pleased that Jerry was allowed to take the time at the end to tell the bittersweet story of his doomed personal mini crop. I can totally relate to his description of being attached to his plants, over and beyond the purely practical implications of his loss. Any keen gardener knows plants are human too – just ask Prince Charles!

    Personally I have always been too faint hearted to seriously try any entheogens, although as I get older and the times (and I) they are a changing I’m thinking to myself ‘maybe one day.’ The single time I did try, I experienced nothing at all, in spite of those around me apparently being affected. I wasn’t very impressed by 30-something adults giggling like schoolgirls but I realise now that it wasn’t a well controlled environment and being around 1980, it was still very much in the days of early and largely uncontrolled experimentation.

    One can only wonder at how differently things may have panned out if the legitimate experimentation with entheogens hadn’t been curtailed. I am more than a little in awe of those who persist in personal experimentation with a sensible and sincere attitude. I have often wondered if fear can act as a block to the efficacy of these substances. It occurred to me that dreamwork is a safe and tailor-made way for me of accessing other realms, so I will settle for them unless and until I pluck up more courage.

    There are of course many other ways, including hypnosis and Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork method that Monika Wikman described in her recent interview. It seems that there is something in us that is not satisfied with the mundane world of the physical senses. Stan Grof’s determination to find a legal alternative to his frustrated efforts at a sincere investigation into the therapeutic benefits of LSD is testimony to that spirit of exploration.

    I have been going through old episodes of Shrink Rap Radio and following listening to this interview, I chose a real oldie – #12 – in which Dr. Dave is interviewed on altered states of consciousness. He used dreams as an example of altered states and that is what made me think of dreams as a safe alternative to substances, legal or not. Thankfully we can never be stopped from dreaming even if discussion of them waxes and wanes in acceptability.

    Just for the record, episode #12 is a wonderful primer for working with dreams, with much information and many tips and reference material.

    I was also deeply moved by the email Dr. Dave read out at the end of Jerry’s interview, which was inspired by the interview with Jonathan Van Nuys. I am not a therapist, but have been on the receiving end of the offerings of many wonderful people in the therapeutic community and feel deeply for the writer’s frustrations.

  2. phwaap
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    @Gloria There really is a reason, I believe, that Western governments, the US in particular, come down so hard on entheogens. They really do quickly allow one a view outside the confines of the limited “system” a society offers. One really should ponder Robert Gable’s telling graphic on the toxicity of various drugs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Drug_danger_and_dependence.svg) in relation to their legal status. LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca are all safe. A brief review of the data freely available will reveal which drugs are often lethal and a powerful substrate for violence. While I’m all for non-substance use dream work, mindfulness, etc., used with proper reverence, medicinal plants have a valid place in helping humans find meaning in their lives.

    Hopefully this topic will be discussed in more detail in Dr. Dave’s upcoming interview.

  3. Gerald Trumbule
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Hey Dr. Dave and Friends:
    Here’s a follow up to the story of Sanjay Gupta I mentioned:
    “The number of minors under the age of eighteen on the Colorado medical marijuana registry grew by thirty children in September, bringing the total number of kids with parental-approved medical pot recommendations to ninety, according to state records.

    The massive increase coincides almost perfectly with Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special on medical cannabis. The news feature focused in part on kindergarten-age medical cannabis patient Charlotte Figi and the success her Colorado Springs-area family found in treating the child’s rare seizure-causing disorder. After the special aired, reports of families uprooting their lives and moving to Colorado in hopes of finding some relief for their sick loved ones began to surface.

    The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that nearly twenty families had relocated for medical cannabis, including that of Mohammad Halabi, a Lebanese refugee who was living in New York City when he saw footage of Charlotte Figi. “As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to go,” he told the Gazette.

    Dr. Alan Shackelford, a local physician who gained national attention as Figi’s doctor, told us at the time that he was swamped with calls from parents at their wits’ end, and that his biggest concern was that the increased demand for high-CBD oils was outpacing production, which meant these families might be moving here even though there wasn’t yet anything with which to treat their children.” quoted from Westword “Toke of the Town”.

  4. Dr. Michael Ocana
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    That was a fun interview.

    Although I found it hard to decide whether it was more of an inspirational or a cautionary tale.

    Personally I am entirely pro-legalization. However I resist the utopian view of marijuana. I agree with that the potential for addiction exists and should be a concern. However I completely refute the notion that criminalization has any role in managing addictions.

    As for the healing properties of marijuana, I’m sure there are some. At the same time, much like any other allopathic approach, including psychopharmacology, there is a limit to the actual healing that occurs. The effects amount more to paliation, for which there is also a place.

    I found Jerry\’s long loving accounts of his plants to be iillustrative of the parallels between addiction and attachment. The physiology of these have been found to have many parallels. I have found that patients develop loving connections with the instruments of their addiction, whether those be the paraphanelia associated with heroine, the comfort food of the overeater, the razor blades of the self harmer or the feelings of hunger associated with anorexia. The addiction becomes the surrogate parent and lover, or in Jerry’s case, possibly the child. (He referred to them as his girls, which might indicate a combination of these.) Of course the problem with addiction is that it then easily becomes a barrier to other relationships. It tends to be a jealous partner.

  5. Posted December 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    After listening to this interview I had a few thoughts I’d like to share.

    Jerry is a fascinating character, brilliant and quirky and an engaging raconteur. He brings a larger socio-political perspective that I appreciate because it broadens my narrower psychological focus. Also the long, warmly-felt history Dr. Dave and he both share comes through in the interview, giving me the feeling that I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two learned gentlemen in an old English tavern with dark walnut paneling and tankards of ale on solid oak tables. His story about growing pot and being ripped off by itself is worth the price of admission.

    There were some problems with the interview however. First, it was not psychologically-focused enough. Jerry didn’t discuss the psychological implications of the law changes and the increased use of pot that they may bring. I thought Dr. Dave did this quite well in his follow-up comments to the interview and in my mind Dr. Dave’s comments saved the interview from just being an extended commercial for marijuana growing and use. I agree with Dr. Dave’s comment that the effects of marijuana vary considerably depending on the individual. Personally, during the ’60s when I tried it, I had a mixture of experiences, some intensely pleasurable and at other times I felt anxiety and paranoia. At the time I was having many psychological conflicts and it may have been that the pot just relaxed the ego enough so that these came out. So I’m not blaming the pot for my problems at the time, but I think the possibility needs to be considered that pot can open some people up to psychologically painful experiences. And Dr. Dave did a fine job of presenting this side of the picture.

    Second, Jerry tends to free-associate and follow his trains of thought far afield. This is one of the likeable aspects of his character, but it is also frustrating when he doesn’t get to the point. I like the way he follows his intuition wherever it takes him and I also liked the way Dr. Dave tried, sometimes successfully, to bring him back to the point he was making.

    Thirdly, I would liked to have heard Jerry talk about the research on pot and psychological functioning.

    Overall, even though it is not strictly in keeping with shrinkrapradio’s focus on psychological information, I think the interview is valuable because it is thought-provoking, challenging, shows what the comforts of a good friendship can bring, and presents a unique character in Jerry with his refreshingly rebellious, non-traditional mind.

    Again, I’d like to compliment Dr. Dave, for hosting this superb podcast that is so thoroughly nurturing for the psychologically-oriented mind. It’s such a delight to get in the car knowing that on my grueling drive through L.A. traffic I’ll be able to immerse myself in another fascinating episode in the enriching story of psychology and psychologists.

  6. Jim
    Posted May 19, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Dave, I was wondering if we are going to get a follow up interview with Jerry on this subject as it has been awhile now and I’m sure there have been some developments. This was very interesting and entertaining as always! Thank you!

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