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Sep-05-2012 09:59printcomments

Marijuana Vs. Methadone: Methadone Kills - Marijuana Saves

[NOTE: I was a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology for 25 years.]


(PORTLAND, OR) - My recent article on this subject, July 24th 2012, brought in the most curious comment, inferring that I didn’t know what I was talking about regarding Methadone.

First of all, I will confess that I don’t know all about it but I know plenty. It was first synthesized in 1939 at the I.G. Farben Laboratories in Germany. Farben in German means ‘Dyes’ and it was their custom to test ALL compounds for medical use. Sulfa drugs and several pain killers were early discoveries! They needed a new pain killer for the war in case Opium for Morphine would not be available. They also needed Anti-Spasmodics, like Atropine for the same reason. The first name for Methadone was Va10820, which means it had that number when studied first in 1942. It was found to be good for pain and spasms.

Some reports say that it was used by the German Military but it had a long half life and injured patients were sedated for up to 15 hours and did not want to go back to war. Medical remarks at the time said it caused “lethargy, apathy and decreased willingness to engage in combat.”

One of the main uses was to get patients off Morphine, etc. because it did work well for that. It can be given orally and it was much cheaper.

It was introduced by Eli Litly Company in 1947 and my boss, Professor Dr. Norman David at U of Oregon Medical School, was one of the first to prescribe it for a pain killer but also to get Opiate addicts off their drugs.

Now to get to Ms. Heather Grace, who complained of my ignorance about Methadone. Methadone is cheaper and has a longer action than Opiates or Opioids but may be used just as them with NO special training. I wrote my article based upon a story in The New York Times and if she has trouble with their statistics; write a letter to the Editor.

Marijuana gives better relief than almost all Opiates and Opioids with the possible exception of Heroin, Oxycodone and maybe Dilaudid but those are highly addicting. Marijuana is NOT.

I may have inadvertently stated that Vietnam wounded were the first to use it for pain. I should have said “in the modern era”. It was used like crazy in the 1960’s but as an euphoriant and hallucinogen. Before 1900 Cannabis drugs were used for many medical conditions, including pain, as it is today.

It is best for all of us to remember that the very potent Opiates and Opioids are also the most lethal drugs of the whole caboodle.

Thank you, Ms. Grace, for your comments. You do know a lot about it.

Dr. Phillip Leveque has degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and minors in physiology and biochemistry. He was a Professor of Pharmacology, employed by the University of London for 2 years, during which time he trained the first doctors in Tanzania. After training doctors, he became an Osteopathic Physician, as well as a Forensic Toxicologist. Before any of that, Phil Leveque was a Combat Infantryman in the U.S. Army in WWII. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 60 years after the war, and specialized in treating Veterans with PTSD during his years as a doctor in Molalla, Oregon. Do you have a question, comment or story to share with Dr. Leveque?
Email him:

More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole". Order the book by mail by following this link: DOGFACE SOLDIER OF WWII If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

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Anonymous September 7, 2012 9:49 am (Pacific time)

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. - Thanks for your comment. I have to add that the program in Germany was never ment to get the heroin addict off the drug I think. It was because of the death rate and the headlines in the media because the addicts had their dealers around train main stations mostly. There was bad stuff on the market and they died after the shot visible for tourists. The government mayor became a bit nervous. The addicts hat to come to the centers to get their methadone from doctors. They also got coffee and sandwiches free plus medical treatment. These people refuse to go to other doctors but they could do so for free if they would. Side effect was that they did not longer commit burglery and other crimes to get the money for the shot. Dont know how strong this methadone was, they had to swallow such a cocktail. The fact that you cant get no junkie off the methadone is not my words, it is what doctors said that time.

KWP September 6, 2012 7:33 pm (Pacific time)

The article is titled marijuana vs methadone.. are you attempting to argue that heroin and opioid addicts can be stabilized and treated with marijuana? if so you are completely wrong..

Tim Williams September 6, 2012 1:51 pm (Pacific time)

Marijuana isn't addicting? Really? I've had to work with many adults and kids with drug issues, and I can tell you I've seen people quit opiates, cocaine and cigarettes - but I've never seen ONE heavy user quit cannabis, despite trying multiple times.

As for cannabus not causing irreversible changes to neurological functions, Cam, maybe you should read up more on its effects on teenage IQ and on both teenager an adult memory and psychosis.

I'm the first to say that opiates have their danger,s but to promote the view that cannabis is "safe" is stupid, foolish and incorrect.

Editor: No it isn't Tim because it is safe and has never killed a soul.  I love how you guys dance around that.  For the record, I have known many people who do or don't and it is no big deal, you are in the myth business.  Marijuana is medicine, it is not harmful, should kids use it?  Of course not, because they don't need it.  But you are blowing a lot of smoke yourself and there are hundreds of articles right here on written by Dr. Phil Leveque (who has no educational rivals- multiple PhD's, Professor of Pharmacology,; Forensic Toxicologist and a retired Osteopathic Physician.)  He has watched so many people abandon hard drugs after discovering marijuana.  Many are Veterans who served their nation at war and not you or anyone has a right to deny them as you do.  Maybe I'll ask Dr. Leveque to write about the Marine helicopter pilot shot down several times in Vietnam, who became a miserable addict and after discovering pot through Doc Leveque, had his quality of life rise by several hundred percent.  People don't all need pot, but some do and making it sound like something is isn't does no party any good..  And for the record, of course it doesn't replace every drug, but it helps greatly for those seeking to purge prescription addictions from their lives.

So no, it is not physically addicting.  It is mentally addicting because it is pleasant and it does not rot a liver like alcohol or cause violence as a rule, it is a peace plant and people who use it are the nicest people, unlike the boozed up anti-pot redneck idiots. And for the record little anti-pot crusader, I think your views are also stupid, foolish and incorrect, but then what would you know about it?  This is a nation increasingly allowing people to become addicted to real DRUGS that the FDA is perfectly fine with, like Oxycontin, 'hillbilly heroin' what a crock it all is.  God placed this plant here for our use, and I hope people the world over begin to discover its benefits, even you Tim.  

Hugh Yonn September 6, 2012 10:03 am (Pacific time)

Very informative article, Dr. Leveque...thank you. Several years ago, I had surgery on my right shoulder. Pain medication was prescribed..."take one capsule every 4 hours." I took one capsule. I was down for over 20 hours. When I came to, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The next time I felt discomfort, I smoked a small amount of marijuana ...pain gone, no after effects. I threw the pills out. Then I wrote: Shoulda Robbed a Bank My contribution to helping point out just how ludicrous our pot laws truly are. I hope you check it out.

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. September 6, 2012 1:47 am (Pacific time)

Methadone has a short history of use in the US as a means of helping heroin addicts "kick" heroin. It has a very low efficacy in this regard yet clinics have emerged in the past 15 or so years specifically for this purpose. Methadone, in addicts, does not give the sensation that is sought with heroin. It does eliminate or reduce the body ache, cramping, etc of withdrawal. However, in reality, it is more addictive than heroin. Anyone who has worked in the detox field is aware it far easier to withdraw someone from heroin than from methadone. A very large percentage of addicts will sell or trade their "legal" methadone for heroin or Oxy's or they will mix the two in order to stretch out their heroin. Withdrawal from heroin by standard methods is not pretty. Withdrawal from methadone is a true nightmare. Ronald von Perch stated that there is no drug to get a junkie off methadone. This is not true. There are a few drugs used to detox from opioids and heroin that are effective when properly administered and controlled. They are less effective with methadone however will alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms. There is a drug, not legal in the US and consistently refused trial which works wonders not only addressing the effects of metabolite clearance (withdrawal)but of reaching into the mind of the addict assisting him/her in dealing with the underlying emotional and cognitive issues which are the root cause of all addictions. In my upcoming article, I will talk about this drug. Now, were it legal, marijuana would be an ideal adjunct medicine for assisting withdrawal and I will also talk about that. Please pay attention to Dr. Levesque as he is a treasure trove of knowledge. In years to come, many will awaken to his efforts over many years and regret they did not pay attention sooner.

Paul Cann September 5, 2012 11:25 pm (Pacific time)

Heroin and morphine are safe as houses compared tot he toxicity of man made methadone , replacing one addictive substance for another simply removes profit from the black market and transfers it to the pharma industry curing nothing whatsoever

Cam September 5, 2012 5:09 pm (Pacific time)

Opiates aren't even all that lethal; of the three criteria for risks caused by drug use (i.e. overdose, addiction, and long-term damage), opiates only qualify for the first two. However, they do not cause any significant long-term damage...this is in stark contrast to most other hard drugs/drugs of addiction (methamphetamine, amphetamines in general, cocaine, crack cocaine, etc.) all of which carry heavy costs in regards to all three types of drug risk. Amphetamines and cocaine both can cause significant and irreversible changes to neurological functions, in addition to being easy to overdose on and extremely addictive. At least opiates, whilst easy to overdose on (of course anyone can avoid this by measuring their doses properly) and addictive, at least they don't cause any significant damage to your health in the long-term.

Ronald von Pirch September 5, 2012 10:25 am (Pacific time)

Methadone was given in German Cities in the 9ties as a program free to Heroin junkies. It was because it is clean stuff. They have named it Methadone Program and it has reduced the death rate. But there is no drug to get a junkie off the Methadone, that is for sure. Dont know if this is still existing nowadays. best rgds and tks for article

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