Dr. Robert J. Melamede
On The Endocannabinoid System & Far From Equilibrium Thermodynamics
Interviewed by Joshua Lewis
I can honestly say that he is one of the most compelling, interesting, and significant people with whom I have had the honor of speaking. Fortunately, Medical Cannabis Journal (your source for medical marijuana patient information) has recently had the privilege of hosting an MCJ exclusive interview with Dr. Bob. You may know him from cannabuzz.net , Cannabis Science Inc. (CBIS), or from his plethora of uber-informative videos available on Google Video and YouTube. Dr. Bob is the President and C.E.O. of Cannabis Science Inc. (CBIS), he has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the City University of New York. Honorably retired from the position of Chairman of the Biology Department at the University of Colorado Springs in the year 2005. Commonly known as the leading authority on the therapeutic and medicinal uses of cannabis. Dr. Bob has authored and coauthored many papers on science-related subject matter.
Currently serving on the advisory board of the Journal of International Association For Cannabis as medicine, the scientific advisory board of the Sensible Colorado (SensiCo) and, and the scientific advisory board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
Today Dr. Bob is here with us on the telephone to talk about far from equilibrium thermodynamics, the Endocannabinoid System and how cannabis can help provide people with the ability to achieve a homeostatic-balance.
Without further ado, here is Dr. Robert J. Melamede!
MCJ: Hello Dr. Bob how are you today?
DB: I am doing fine today, great to be talking with you. What can I do for you?
MCJ: Great, could you give us a brief explanation of far from equilibrium thermodynamics?
DB: I surely can. Let’s just dissect the term. Far from equilibrium means something that is not at equilibrium and thermodynamics refers to thermo (heat) and dynamics is movement (flow). So what we are really looking at is how does energy and mass flow when you have a system that is far from equilibrium. Basically this means that if you had a battery; for example, that was fully discharged, the chemicals in that battery would be at equilibrium. They can’t do anything. When the battery is charged, it’s far from equilibrium and can do things.
There is really profound magic essentially in the large collection of the molecules that exist on equilibrium. What happens then is that those molecules will have a natural tendency to organize themselves so that energy and mass can blow through that collection more rapidly. Essentially, in a very down to Earth, none scientific way of putting it, what happens is the collection of molecules gets smarter; whereas, the universe around them gets stupider quicker.
In more technical terms you would say that the entropy of the system decreased; whereas, the entropy of the surroundings increased. It is essentially a far from equilibrium system and we constantly have to have energy and mass flowing through us, in order for us to maintain that distance of equilibrium. Essentially health is distance from equilibrium; whereas, death is return to equilibrium. Our illnesses are all part of that return to equilibrium process, illness and aging.
MCJ: Please explain the difference between BLP’s & FLP’s and how they are associated with independent structures and flow dependent structures?
DB: Yeah BLP’s and FLP’s o.k., so backward looking people and forward looking people that is what it stands for there. Let me relate it to the endocannabinoid system specifically.
First of all, far from equilibrium thermodynamics is genuinely responsible for pre-biotic life and lead to the formation of life and if you look at life’s progression, it’s evolutionary- progression. You see that we have a greater level of complexity; for example, the complexity of man and his mind as opposed to say a cockroach. It’s profoundly different. They don’t have the same needs and they don’t do all of the things that we do. They’re complex but nothing compared to our complexity.
So where we are going with this is that as evolution proceeded and as things got more complex their endocannabinoid system evolved and plays a very unique roll in the evolution of mankind and really from my perspective, our entire lineage from when a unique bi-furcation occurred hundreds of millions of years ago. So without elaborating too much on all that and attempting to answer your question more, the complexity of evolution proceeded and increased as we went form reptiles to amphibians, to mammals from a direct mammal-lineage to man.
One of the things that are characteristic of life is that you always have a balance of opposing forces. Kind of like in politics, liberals and conservatives. The reality is that balance is held taught by those opposing groups. Well that is the way our biology works as well. For example, remembering and forgetting.
Those are opposing forces and there are consequences to being essentially out of balance. For example, if you couldn’t remember anything you would have a hard time functioning and on the other hand if you remembered everything that you do all the time especially, for example, unpleasant memories then you would also have a hard time functioning. We call that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Well it turns out it’s that thermostat essentially of remembering and forgetting that is very much regulated by our endocannabinoid activity (cannabis from within). So it turns out that there are natural consequences to being able to forget the past, so to speak. And it has to do with our ability to relearn something new.
Let me give you an example; you know you learn right from early age that marijuana is the worst thing in the world and that our federal government or White House drug-policy people actually have the incredible audacity or stupidity to say that marijuana is as bad or worse than heroin.
MCJ: Yeah it’s at the top of the list. A schedule I drug is considered dangerous and to have absolutely no medicinal value (sarcasm). We have President Nixon and the DEA’s Controlled Substance Act to blame!
DB: Whether that is true or not look at all the incredible science that is coming out, now that we have discovered that we all make marijuana-like compounds that literally regulate everything in our body. In order to be able to reorganize our brain we have to forget the old information to replace it with the new information.
Marijuana is good, it’s healthy for you. It’s essentially nutrients and that is why it is effective. It is essential you have the ability to forget because if you’re cannabinoid-deficient you can’t replace old information with the new information. There are nice models to confirm this especially in mice that shows that proof. So are there consequences to not being able to forget? The answer is yes. It is very important to us. So you can always look at the other side of it to be able to forget in order to eliminate old information and replace it with better information. You got to have that cannabinoid-endowed capacity to forget.
Think about your own life and your existence. You have basically three choices of how you spend your existence. You could be looking backwards in time, you could be looking forward in time or you could be experiencing the now. It turns out that they are very much related to endocannabinoid activity that is regulating your ability to forget for the following reasons:
If you are cannabinoid deficient like the BLP’s or the Backwards Looking People or the primitive people o.k., you can’t take in new information and you can’t rewire so easily; therefore, the future to you is threatening under those circumstances because it is a stressor. You know it’s demanding as humans, to encounter novelty that makes you readjust your thinking so that you have to replace your old ideas with your new ideas but you can’t do that because you don’t have the biochemistry that allows for that to happen. So this becomes a stress. Those people are going to tend to look backwards in time more than they are going to tend to look forward in time. The future is an unknown and that will demand of them what they can’t do.
Now look at the contrast, one of the known characteristics of marijuana-users are that they tend to be optimistic. Well how is that? What does that really mean?
Well it means that they don’t know what the future holds, but because they have the capacity to rewire in order to relearn and replace faulty information with new information. You know they tend to be optimistic so they are going to be able to meet the unknown challenges of the future; furthermore, there are additional consequences that are profoundly important.
Backward Looking People they want the future to be the past, to serve them essentially and in doing so their vision is one that already happened so they have consensus and by having consensus they intrinsically gain power. There also less mellow, they also have a lack in cannabinoid-activity so the problem, I believe is that the government is overpopulated with cannabinoid-deficient people.
Future Looking People, cannabinoid endowed FLP, as opposed to the BLP, they tend to agree to disagree because they don’t know what the future holds. They are more cooperative in nature and less-aggressive and have different opinions. Well the problem with that is that even if they are cooperating and saying yeah, and you believe that there is a viable solution to this, how do you get things done? How do you gain power when it’s the backwards looking people who are unified in thinking and therefore gain power?
So there are profound consequences when the world is run by BLP’s. We see that evolution uses the endocannabinoid as a source of newness when developing systems such as immune system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, and skeletal system. The cannabinoid system is always involved in homeostatic-regulation. Essentially it protects us from free radical induced damages.
Well you have a world now where we are trying to move into the future and to create a world where we are more at harmony with our environment so that we can sustain humanity as a species because remember most species that have existed on the planet have gone extinct. So as a species, in order to survive we have to be able to take in the information from our surroundings (our environment) and deal with it appropriately.
Mankind, by virtue of our population, our production and our energy use are polluting everything. You can’t go anywhere and get clean water or clean anything! Everything is polluted everywhere! So a forward looking person would say, if I want to survive as a species we have got to fix these problems. Even though we do not have absolute answers, we have to deal with these issues.
Now a backward person, they don’t look into those issues because they are looking backwards and it’s not their problem which is, of course, ridiculous. So I believe that for the future of mankind’s survival we have to increase the endocannabinoid activity on the planet. You know some people are really deficient, they are like these knock-out mice, they don’t have cannabinoid-activity and they can’t be supplemented. They are just stuck looking backwards. Then you have these other people who are really very loosely-wired, they look into the future and they are very much naturally deviated in that direction. Then you have the bulk of the people in the middle, they can go either way.
By having more cannabinoid activity we can shift that population that is deemed more open-minded, more able to evaluate data that is coming in and to act on it in a way that will allow for the survival of mankind.
MCJ: Do you subscribe to the idea of reverse-prohibition? It sounds like a great idea to me.
DB: Yeah, I think we need to end prohibition. We need to reverse it. That is something that I have coined.
MCJ: Exactly, it seems that the idea would help propel us into a forward looking momentum.
DB: Yeah I know. We spent 60 years with prohibition and ending prohibition isn’t sufficient at this point. We need to reverse it. We need to have a government where you have to piss-test dirty for cannabis so that a policy-maker will be open-minded and able to analyze data realistically.
Let’s look at it from another perspective: Instead of looking at it as a survival of the species, look at the survival of us as individuals. Now our cannabis thermostat was set in the evolutionary past when there was a benefit to having higher levels of inflammation and aggressiveness. I mean logically, higher levels for inflammation and neurologically, higher levels for aggression. That is how we functioned socially and pre-socially in order to survive the saber-toothed tiger, you had to be more aggressive. These people didn’t live very long. So they where not exposed for long to the biological-friction caused by free radicals that are essentially degrading the biological molecules that tends their capacity to the most efficiently function in the hierarchy of the complexity of the flow that is responsible for our existence.
So what we need now is we have got to re-tune that thermostat and increase our endocannabinoid activity to decrease our free radical… the negative consequences of free radicals and inflammation because unlike in the past, we are predominantly dying of age-related illnesses.
As a matter of fact, if you eliminate the specific gene that gets you high (CB1 Receptor) which you can do in mice; essentially, what you get is a knockout-mouse which is completely missing that gene’s activity. CB1 knockout mice die prematurely. We all need to have a certain amount of endocannabinoid activity. That thermostat is set in the past; inappropriately, for the future.
We need to increase our endocannabinoid activity and minimize the onset of age-related illness like auto-immune diseases, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disorders and cancers that are suspected to be what is killing us. We need more cannabinoid activity. We can’t get it genetically. We can’t evolve fast enough but we need more cannabis. If you go look up the definition of “nutrient” and “essential nutrient”, cannabis is an essential nutrient for mankind’s survival.
MCJ: How did you come to discover this form of Physics and how did you become involved with the work of Nobel Prize Laureate Ilya Prigogine?
DB: Well my whole life I have been…you know…my Mom, when I was a kid we used to ask what is God? And she used say, Mother Nature and that’s how we we’re brought up. Science, nature and in natural phenomenon.
In the 1960’s when I was at undergraduate school, that is when the genetic-code was discovered and the field of molecular biology began and we now have this idea that there is a commonality that all life had DNA, and discovered genes, genes make proteins and these proteins where acting as enzymes and facilitated reactions to occur and eventually to generate life. What you didn’t know is how that could all happen? What made all that happen?
So I took a course on equilibrium thermodynamics because that is 99% of what is taught, especially back then. Prigogine had not reached the height of his influential development back then, even though he was very brilliant to begin with. Equilibrium thermodynamics basically tells you that life is so improbable that it can’t exist. Now what’s the probability of taking all the molecules that compose you, putting them into a big die tumbler and throwing them out and having you appear? It is essentially zero! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermodynamic_equilibrium
MCJ: I see…
DB: Yet we are all here? So you are confronted with then that the basic laws which determine the physics of and chemistry of the world we live in as taught: says that life is impossible. And then with what Prigogine evolved was the far from equilibrium thermodynamics where the exact opposite is true; that life is just a natural unfolding of the increase in complexity generated on this planet by the fact that we are taking in sunlight at a high frequency and we are re-irradiating lower frequency light. Essentially, we capture that potential and use it to thrive the movement of the chemistry on the planet from the equilibrium; in other words, to power evolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilya_Prigogine
MCJ: That is absolutely amazing to me; it makes so much sense.
DB: That thinking is my life constantly, it’s my religion and my world view is totally filtered by my knowledge of far from equilibrium thermodynamics. Think about it…
If there is an underlying creative force that creates life and is responsible for health, then don’t we want to understand those principals and apply them to our lives so that we, our families, our communities, our nations and our biosphere because they are all totally connected by the same issues? Don’t we want to apply those and wouldn’t we be idiots not to?
MCJ: Yes it would appear so.
DB: Well that is what I am trying to do.
MCJ: Can you explain to our readers out there about the product you are designing and trying to get approved by the FDA?
DB: Well whether or not it actually turns out to be a lozenge or not, it definitely is an oral medication and we have a number of them, you know a number of targets that we are going to be going after. And essentially what we are doing, if you think about what we are trying to do is to spread the herb. With respect to the lozenge; what we are doing is we want to spread the herb. We want to promote the creation, the evolution and development of a healthier society. One that is a big change from the aggression and the greed that has characterized our development to this point. In fact it was probably necessary for our development to get us close to this point. Now those models are no longer acceptable if we want to survive as a species.
So you know what we have with our company Cannabis Science, our symbol is CBIS on the bulletin board and we are a fully reporting company. What we are doing is essentially using capitalism to spread activism. What we want to do is have available to anyone, anywhere in the country to be able to go to a pharmacy with a prescription from their doctor and get an FDA approved medicine; a cannabis-based oral extract.
What we are targeting initially, is going to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain in veterans. We feel that it is just totally outrageous that people who go out, fight for freedom and then get injured; are then further harmed by our health care system and by the drugs that are being given very freely by the FDA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_Traumatic_Stress_Disorder
In terms of, you need more narcotics? Then here! Then of course their constipated and depressed because that is what narcotics do and you know… they make you an addict and they give them antidepressants and of course the consequences and side effects of a lot of these antidepressants is suicide! So this is what we are seeing; we are making drug addicts of our soldiers who have done so much to promote freedom and then you know, we promote them being suicidal as well? It is just totally outrageous and insane!
So they are going to be our very first target. The other thing, that is kind of a no brainer in my mind, and I have had personal experience with it so I know that it’s true, at least for me and a few other people is that there has been pure scientific reviews and documentation that THC inhibits what is known as Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome in mice.
Initially certain pro-inflammatory, very hyper-inflammatory strains of influenza such as the Bird Flu and to a minor extent; however, not minor if your one of the 5% that died from, the swine flu. In both of those cases it is not the virus that kills, but rather it is your immune-response that kills you. So what we are urging is that people who are cannabis-users that if they come down with the flu that they should not smoke but rather, eat it. Eating it will turn down that excessive inflammatory response in there lungs. With smoking, even though there going to be delivering the same pharmacological activity, except they are going to be doing it with hot gases and particulate matter that is intrinsically inflammatory as to what you want to do if your are in danger from dying from it or an illness/condition rather that precipitated by the inflammatory response to the virus.
We firmly believe that lives can be saved! It is not going to prevent you from getting the flu, its going to make you feel better while you have the flu because depending on strains it could be a profound decongestant, dry mouth and dry nose right? (Laughs in the background)… I certainly would want to be alive with more viruses then dead with fewer viruses.
MCJ: Yeah, I’d have to agree with you on that. Are there any final thoughts that you would like to add or anything you would like to plug. You have actually answered several of my questions without my inquiring. I will make sure to include your related-links and websites as footer to this interview.
DB: Truthfully, I would hope that people would get out and get active, which is so critical! You know, join NORML! Join MPP, and SSDP! Get out there and do things because this is our future that is at stake at this point and I would certainly love it if people checked out our company: CannabisScience.com and got involved with what we are trying to do because we feel that we are similar to those other companies, in the means of what we are trying to accomplish.
MCJ: Thank you so much Dr. Bob for giving us your time. The world needs more people like you. Have a great afternoon
DB: It was my pleasure, thank you!
Dr. Robert J. Melamede Ph.D.,
Former Chairman of the Biology Department of the University of Colorado
Conducting scientific research on Cannabinoids
University of Colorado
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Room 232
PO Box 7150
Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7150
1. Cannabis Science Inc. – http://www.cannabisscience. com
MCJ: Joshua J. Lewis, Editor In Chief for Medical Cannabis Journal, is a medical marijuana patient, ASA Ambassador and activist with over a decade of experience in journalism and freelance writing. As a published writer Mr. Lewis has had several poems and works of prose published by the National Poetry Society and are archived for viewing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Aside from publishing poems and prose he has written a number of political and philosophical essays, commentaries, short stories and ramblings that have appeared in many independent fanzine publications internationally over the past 15 years. Mr. Lewis’ history and long journey with journalism began when he was just 16 years old and already the Assistant Editor for his high school newspaper. Aside from being Editor In Chief at MCJ and an activist, Mr. Lewis is also a contributing member to OC NORML, ASA, OCASA, and MAPS. To contact Joshua, send an email to: