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School Rejects Student because he is HIV Positive; E! News Anchor Announces She Will Undergo Mastectomy
Aired December 6, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Here we go, high school hypocrisy. The school is here to help disadvantaged students, so why did it reject an honors student with HIV?
Plus, women are undergoing preventive mastectomies. Why? We`ll tell you.
Then we are talking weed wars, 2011. Let`s get started.
And welcome. Tonight, a school founded to provide education an opportunity for disadvantaged youth is under fire. It has rejected an honor student because he has HIV. Watch this and we`ll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": The school`s decision to turn away a 13-year-old honor student for one single reason, he is HIV positive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No other teenager should go through this.
COOPER: The school admits in no uncertain terms that is why they`re keeping the kid out.
CONNIE MCNAMARA, V.P. OF COMMUNICATIONS, MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL: We had to balance the interests. We looked at everything, and we believe we made the right decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are some people you`re never going to be able to educate.
MCNAMARA: We acknowledge this is a difficult decision and we are very happy the court will be deciding on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: The eighth grade honor student is an athlete who is taking drugs to keep the HIV in check. Here is what he told Philadelphia`s WCAU. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they did was wrong. They put me through emotional distress. I feel that no other teenager should go through this, being denied just because they have HIV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: The school is not backing down from its controversial decision to deny him admission. Listen to this spokesperson from Milton Hershey School.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNIE MCNAMARA, V.P. OF COMMUNICATIONS, MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL: We have to balance our desire to serve this individual with our obligation to protect the health and safety of the 1,850 students already in our care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: This week, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed suit on behalf of the student, claiming the school is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. My guest, Ronda Goldfein, attorney representing the student in that suit. She is executive director of AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. Todd Duane is a New York state senator, the first senator to be openly -- open about his HIV status. Tom, this story must hit especially close to home for you.
NEW YORK SENATOR TOM DUANE, IS HIV-POSITIVE: It certainly does, Dr. Drew. I`m just horrified, but unfortunately not surprised. There`s still terrible stigma and discrimination and ignorance about HIV and how it is spread. And I think about that school and what must be going on there.
There are only four ways that HIV can be transmitted. One is unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. I assume the students are not having unprotected sex. Sharing needles for injection, drug use, which again, I assume they don`t have the students doing. And the others are breastfeeding or through a blood transfusion. I don`t think that`s going on in the school.
And for them to discriminate against this young man is reprehensible. And how is it that they are not teaching the other students in the school about how HIV is transmitted and things like how to protect yourself from contracting HIV, how to make sure others don`t contract HIV? If the children there are sexually active, it is not just about HIV. It`s about HPV and other transmittable diseases. If there is injection drug use going on, certainly should be doing things to deter and to get kids into treatment.
I just can`t imagine how, you know, I keep saying I can`t imagine. Listen, even in the New York state Senate there`s just ignorance and misunderstanding about HIV. And I just want to tell one other quick story in Albany just a few years ago, the extreme home renovation television show was on, and one of the things they did was build a swimming pool, which seemed odd. Why would you build a swimming pool in Albany where the summer season is very short? It is in the snow belt. And the reason was there was a mom who had foster kids and adopted children, a couple of which were living with HIV, and they weren`t allowed to use the town pool.
DUANE: That`s why they built a pool for the children.
DUANE: So in this day and age, there`s just horrendous stigma and discrimination, just a complete lack of information.
PINSKY: And Tom, there`s even another level to this ignorance that we`re seeing here, which is that we live in a time now when HIV is a highly treatable chronic condition where the viral load, the amount of virus circulating in a patient`s blood can be suppressed so low that even with intimate contact they`re barely infectious. So there`s a whole other level of ignorance going on here.
DUANE: Yes. And they should be using, if the kids are sexually active, they should absolutely be using protection.
PINSKY: I agree.
DUANE: Drugs have kept me alive. I have been positive since pre- 1983. I went on the drugs a few years ago. They`re keeping me alive. They are much less toxic than they used to be.
You know, I disclosed my HIV status to the world just a few months before magic Johnson disclosed his HIV status. They banned him from playing professional sports basically, which was completely ridiculous because again, is he having sex with the other team or breastfeeding? It is just absurd. And yet how many years later is this?
PINSKY: That`s right.
DUANE: And still, in Hershey, which is a rather sophisticated, small city, in a school which is teaching children I am assuming science, they are perpetrating misinformation and allowing this stigma of discrimination.
PINSKY: I agree, Tom. And if they have a problem with unrestrained sexual activity or injection drug use, that`s the problem that needs to be addressed, not the kid with the HIV. We actually invited the Milton Hershey School to participate in tonight`s discussion. They declined. However, a spokesperson for the school recently spoke to Anderson Cooper on CNN. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCNAMARA: The key issue for us comes down to sexual activity. We know that teenagers nationwide, a significant number are sexually active. Our students are no different than any other teenagers. On our campus in our unique controlled environment, if one of our students is engaging in sexual activity, the odds are it is with another of our students. And we have parental responsibility for those, all of those children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Ronda, does the school have a legitimate defense in fearing spread of HIV? And by the way, I imagine they still have the same concern now with the spread of HIV. At least with an identified patient who is known to have HIV, they can have a strategy around containing that. If the kids are having unrestrained sexual activity on campus, they have a bigger problem.
RONDA GOLDFEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AIDS LAW PROJECT OF PENNSYLVANIA: They absolutely don`t have a defense. I mean, the medicine, the law is clear that you can`t segregate out kids simply because they have HIV. Kids can go to school with other kids. Kids can go to camp with other kids. The idea that there`s something unique about the Hershey School, which is a fine, prestigious school and we`re all surprised by their behavior in this manner, but the idea that Milton Hershey School thinks risk somehow changes after dark is really absurd.
PINSKY: And if it does, shouldn`t they come up with some sort of a strategy for managing that, because they have a bigger problem than one kid, because they have an unknown source of multiple STDs that may be making their way through campus?
GOLDFEIN: I would hope the Milton Hershey like all schools are teaching their student body about HIV and how it is transmitted, and how to be safe, and that they`re supervising all of those children how to be safe in all kinds of activities. They can`t simply point to this one boy and say this is a risk that`s just too great and we can`t figure out how to deal with this.
PINSKY: The controversy surrounding students with HIV is no stranger to the headlines. Ryan White contracted HIV from a blood transfusion 30 years ago. His mother, Jeanne White-Ginder recently talked to CNN. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE WHITE-GINDER, MOTHER OF RYAN WHITE: I hear it all the time, that people with AIDS are still being discriminated against, especially in schools, colleges, and job related areas. You know, it is just really sad that people do not educate themselves.
But there`s some people you`re never going to be able to educate, and that`s where you have to just move on. You have to move on to people that will listen and will get the information and abide by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Ryan White died in 1987. He would have turned 40 years old today.
Senator Duane, have we stepped back 30 years? Is there something wrong with science education? Are people that primitive in this country that they can`t take into account the facts?
DUANE: I think that there`s discrimination and stigma, and it is not just around people with HIV. I also think it is about who is stigmatized because people assume that they could have HIV. And one of the things that we need to do is just routinize, which we have just done in New York state, I just passed legislation, to make a mandatory universal offer to everyone as part of routine care, because you cannot tell by looking at someone whether or not they have HIV or they are at risk of contracting HIV, and physicians and nurse practitioners and physician`s assistants should all be talking about this and offering an HIV test and counseling about HIV.
PINSKY: Thank you Ronda Goldfein and Senator Duane. Appreciate this.
See where Rosie O`Donnell`s ring ranks on HLN`s top 10. Go to HLNTV.com and check it out.
Next, E! Networks Giuliana Rancic will undergo a double mastectomy. Her announcement sparked a new conversation about breast cancer and a test that could literally save your life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANA RANCIC, E! NEWS ANCHOR: I was faced with the choice of having found out that I carried this genetic mutation, and knowing very well that I could end up with breast cancer.
PINSKY: Giuliana Rancic is in the news. You know her from E! Network and her reality show "Giuliana and Bill." She`s facing a deadly challenge, breast cancer. She announced today on the "Today" show she will move forward with a mastectomy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANCIC: Last time I was here, I told you I was getting a double lumpectomy and radiation. But now instead of radiation, I am going to go ahead and move forward with a double mastectomy. At the end, all it came down to was choosing to live and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. That`s really what it came down to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Cancer is quite an adversary. It strikes one in eight women in the U.S., some say it is higher than that. The story gives us a chance to give you vital information you may not hear on other shows, including the genetic test that very well could save your life or the life of someone you love. I cannot stress enough the importance of the information you`re about to hear, so tune in here.
Joining me to discuss this is breast surgeon Dr. Lesley Taylor, genetic specialist, Dr. Ora Gordon, and our very own Wendy Brokaw. She is a producer on the show. Wendy, the story from Giuliana Rancic is something that hits very close to home for you. Tell us why.
WENDY BROKAW, PRODUCER, HLN`S "DR. DREW": Because I was faced with a choice of, you know, having found out that I carried this genetic mutation and knowing very well that I could end up with breast cancer, and not having had it, but making what some people would say is a radical decision to have a double mastectomy. So what she is doing, I was faced with as well, although I didn`t have cancer when I, you know, found out I had this gene.
PINSKY: You just had the genetic potential for it and were not wanting to take on that risk any further?
BROKAW: I found out I personally had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer.
PINSKY: Dr. Gordon, tell us. So help people understand who should be most concerned about this and what people like Wendy might take preventive action?
DR. ORA GORDON, DIRECTOR GENRISK ADULT GENETICS PROGRAM: Overall, about 10 percent of all breast cancer is felt to be hereditary. But another 20 to 30 percent have familial risk. But even if we can`t identify a single gene, they have increased risk as well. BRCA one and BRCA two, there are certain ethnic groups at higher risk, risk factors, family history the most important of those.
PINSKY: Somebody that would want to look into this more aggressively would be BRCA one with a family member with history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
GORDON: Both BRCA one and BRCA two. Anybody of eastern European and Jewish background, anybody with a family history of early onset breast cancer.
PINSKY: Should everybody who has a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, female first degree relative be getting this genetic testing?
GORDON: I think everybody should have that discussion, absolutely.
PINSKY: Because there`s a lot that comes with the information. Something to discuss not just with a primary doctor but with a geneticist.
BROKAW: This is life-saving information. A lot of people find out they`re BRCA positive, and I am grateful to have this information. This is saving my life. I am not going to get that phone call that I have breast cancer. I prevented it.
PINSKY: And Dr. Taylor, these days they think of it as a disfiguring procedure. Nowadays you can come away from initial surgery with reconstructed breast.
DR. LESLEY TAYLOR, BREAST SURGEON, PINK LOTUS BREAST CENTER: Absolutely. There`s immediate reconstruction options and there are delayed reconstruction options. There are options for silicone or saline implants or even having fat injected.
PINSKY: Cosmetic outcomes are remarkable. Wendy was bragging about it.
BROKAW: I have to say they are not real, but they are spectacular.
PINSKY: And they`ll stay that way.
BROKAW: They will. They will be perky forever. There are some silver linings in there. I don`t want to sugarcoat it. It wasn`t an easy procedure, but it is behind me, it is a part of my history but it doesn`t define me. And life goes on.
PINSKY: Now it is something that you have to contemplate in your children, decide when to test, who to test. That same conversation goes on in the next generation.
Dr. Taylor, what about people not at special genetic risk? What should every woman do in terms of minimizing not just risk but also increasing probability of screening early?
TAYLOR: First and foremost is to be informed and to do self breast examinations certainly one week after their periods to notice any new lumps or bumps. That`s just for the general population. If there`s a family pattern, then being aware about it is important. Although we have BRCA one and two mutations, there`s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, even new found mutations being detected. It is a definite thing to be aware of even if there isn`t a known genetic mutation.
PINSKY: What age should women have the first mammogram?
TAYLOR: Age 40.
PINSKY: Do you agree with that?
GORDON: -- early as the cancer in your family. MRI is new imaging modality which is really great for young women at greater risk.
PINSKY: But not for everybody. Everybody is running around getting MRIs. The idea is if you get one unnecessarily, you end up with unnecessary surgeries.
TAYLOR: That`s possible. One thing to be aware of sensitivity of mammography. So the denser the breast, the less sensitive it is.
PINSKY: So the very dense breast, if the mammography comes back with this is a dense breast, you may talk about the MRI. How about the sonographic procedures?
GORDON: We use all of those for high risk.
PINSKY: How about the non-at-risk, say the average person with a dense breast?
GORDON: With a dense breast adding ultrasound is a very nice addition and a consideration of MRI.
PINSKY: All right, Wendy and Dr. Gordon and Dr. Taylor, stay with me. We`re going to continue this conversation. We are going to take questions from the audience about breast cancer and as well Giuliana Rancic`s big announcement.
And later on in the show, the war on weed, to legalize it or not to legalize it. I`m going to get into that. Stay tuned.
PINSKY: We have been talking about breast cancer, detecting it, treating it, surviving it, preventing it. Back with me, breast surgeon Dr. Lesley Taylor, genetic specialist Dr. Ora Gordon, and our producer Wendy Brokaw, a member of our own team. This discussion started with Giuliana Rancic`s announcement this week that she will have a double mastectomy. Let`s her your questions and concerns. Lynn in Florida, go ahead.
LYNN, CALLER: Hi, Dr. Drew. I just have a comment. I do think Giuliana is doing the right thing. My sister just had a double mastectomy in October and just started chemo for six months. After they removed her lumpectomy from the right side, they discovered it probably would have went over to the left side if she had not opted to do this. So Giuliana is making the right choice.
PINSKY: Well, it is complicated, right, Dr. Taylor? Who decides, because lumpectomy and radiation are effective. We`re not saying everyone with breast cancer should have a double mastectomy.
TAYLOR: Absolutely. It is the same effect -- a lumpectomy with radiation is the same as mastectomy in terms of overall survival.
PINSKY: Are there any special groups other that the risk group we talked about that should be getting a bilateral mastectomy if they have a single tumor?
TAYLOR: Well, for a bilateral mastectomy, certainly if there`s invasive lobular carcinoma --
PINSKY: So the cell type.
TAYLOR: The cell type might --
PINSKY: Which is probably what the caller was talking about.
PINSKY: Let`s go to a tweet. Lauren tweeted us this question, "Why is it that all women are at risk of developing breast cancer?" I don`t want to state the obvious, but because they have breasts and estrogen and progesterone and this is the stuff that promotes cancer, although men have breast cancer. It`s important to bring that up at this time. Do men that carry that BRCA gene and have any increased risk of breast cancer?
GORDON: So men, about one percent of all breast cancer in men is hereditary, up to six percent risk if you carry BRCA gene up to 18 percent if you carry some of the other hereditary.
PINSKY: Anything else you want to say about breast cancer?
GORDON: When we were cave women, we had few menstrual cycles throughout the course of our life.
PINSKY: If you lived out of childhood, you lived to about 22. So cancer or something is not just a product of environmental assault we have on our bodies, but the fact we live a lot longer than god, nature intended it.
Charlotte on Facebook writes "Does a lumpectomy carry a higher risk of recurrence or mortality than a mastectomy?" I think you answered that. Do you think most opt for lumpectomy radiation?
TAYLOR: Hard to say. There`s new evidence showing the trend towards mastectomy, prophylactic mastectomy is increasing.
PINSKY: Is that because the cosmetics are so good?
TAYLOR: That`s part of the reason.
PINSKY: I have to say, I`ve been practicing medicine 25, 30 years, and there`s a lot of lymphedema, the woodiness of the breast from radiation. I imagine people would want to avoid it and get a mastectomy.
TAYLOR: That`s decreasing since we don`t do axillary (ph) dissection if we can avoid it. We do a lymph node biopsy, which removes a much smaller amount of lymph nodes. So fortunately that should be changing.
PINSKY: Thank you. We have to keep you on this side of the camera more often. We want to remind everyone to go to HLNTV.com to see our must see, must share stories and check what made HLN`s top 10 tonight.
When we come back, the guy once known as "robo-quarterback" is here. We`ll talk to Todd Marinovich about how drugs tore his life apart and how he put it back together.
And later, weed wars -- will the battle over legalization about pot ever end, and can we have a rational discussion about that drug?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, weed wars. It`s the 21st century, and America is still wrestling with these questions. Is marijuana harmful? Should it be legalized? We`ll debate it with people on both sides of the issue. There are medical, social, and legal, consequences. Will there come a day when the battle over pot ever ends?
TODD MARINOVICH, RECOVERING ADDICT: When I was completely down and out, what got me at the end was facial expressions. It was worse than you would give the local bum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): At one time in this country, the name Todd Marinovich had college defenses sweating and professional scouts salivating. He was raised to become a quarterback and achieved every lofty football goal he and his father had set since birth. Then, something went wrong. Watch this.
PINSKY (voice-over): If you believe what had been written about Todd and his father, you`d know what went wrong. Todd had a football in his crib the day he was born. Todd followed a diet free of junkfood and birthday cakes. Todd was strength training before he could walk. His dad set the course, and Todd followed.
In high school, he was called robo quarterback, then he went to USC. It was all going according to plan, until it wasn`t. Secretly, Todd had been smoking pot and drinking. Then, he was caught with cocaine. By the time he`d made it to the pros, he was a mess. An angry young man whose troubles were just beginning. His career was a bust. He ended up broke. Drug and legal problems consumed him.
PINSKY (on-camera): Todd Marinovich`s story will be told on ESPN this Saturday, December 10th at 9:00 p.m. We welcome a sober Todd and his friend, Garo Ghazarian who helped him get back on track. You`ve seen Garo on this program before. He is the attorney for Michael Jackson`s former dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein.
Now, Todd, one of the things that keeps coming up in your story is, oh, your dad, your dad made you an addict. Now, I know that`s not how things work in addiction. What do we have to do to understand that piece of your life story?
MARINOVICH: Well, I think it`s just a simple misunderstanding, and my dad and family, in general, have been behind me and caring the entire way, and I wouldn`t be sitting here today if that wasn`t true.
PINSKY: So, your dad`s enthusiasm about football wasn`t somehow abusive in any way?
MARINOVICH: No. I mean, he was definitely 110 percent into what he does, and he`s very passionate about it until this day.
PINSKY: And it worked for you. I mean, you`re a great football player. And probably was a great experience, by the way.
MARINOVICH: It was a great experience.
MARINOVICH: And that`s one of the things why I got together with these great filmmakers, John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan to put together this film because it`s something that I wanted to share with people just my experience.
PINSKY: The thing I love about your story is that part of sobriety is finding your real self. And if I could show people Todd`s book, he`s got a new book. Is it new?
MARINOVICH: It is coming out.
PINSKY: "Keeping an Eye on Your Soul," and this is the real Todd, who is an art -- Fine Arts major, who loves abstract expressionism.
PINSKY: And is quite a departure from the hardcore football player.
PINSKY: Yes, which is wonderful, right?
MARINOVICH: Yes. People don`t really see the correlation, but I always treated football like it was a way to express myself.
MARINOVICH: And now, I can do that with art. I`m a full-time artist, and a dad, and I just love where my life is at.
PINSKY: Well, let`s go back. People love to hear the stories. So, let`s hear how bad it got. So, here`s what it was like to be Todd`s friend when he was at his worst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was seen around the beach like he would wash himself at the free place to go to the bathroom at the beach. You know, it couldn`t have been a wonderful life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had lost everything. He didn`t have a bank account. He didn`t have a place to go. That`s when he moved in with me. I gave him one rule. No drugs in the house. Don`t use them. And if you do, you`re gone. And, after a month, I found some paraphernalia. I kicked him out, and I`ve never heard him completely just lose his mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And Garo, what was your experience like with Todd. You were a friend of his and you were part of the road back.
GARO GHAZARIAN, MARINOVICH`S FRIEND, FORMER ROOMMATE: Yes, I was part of the road back, but the road back was filled with some obstacles of its own.
PINSKY: Hold on a second. You mean, drug addiction isn`t quickly, easily treated? I`m stunned. I`m shocked, Garo. What are you talking about? Road to recovery is not a straight line in anybody`s life.
GHAZARIAN: It`s not. You know, I have known Todd for now approximately a dozen years. Our meeting was coincidental. I did not know who Todd was nor did I know anything about American football as I call it.
PINSKY: How dare you.
GHAZARIAN: How dare I, but I`m a fan of the game now.
PINSKY: I don`t know. I don`t know. OK, good.
GHAZARIAN: But Todd was someone that was put together with me by then bunch of folks, his then coach in the arena league, the then owner, Casey Wasserman and others, with the idea in mind that I would guide Todd and help him.
PINSKY: I think they were sort of desperate at that point, too, when you were playing ball and doing drugs, right?
MARINOVICH: Oh, yes. I mean, as any person that struggled with drug addiction knows, keeping up with job and addiction is almost impossible.
PINSKY: And not just a job, but an arousing job, an intense job, a public job, high performance job, a lot of pressure. Bring it. Oh, yes.
GHAZARIAN: Well, I learned. I learned from Todd a lot more than I had ever learned in my experiences with battling substance abuse.
PINSKY: Well, you`ve been through a lot, too. I don`t want to necessarily tell your story here. There`s no time for that, but I know you`ve been through something similar to what Todd went through.
PINSKY: And one of the thing that addicts have is a deep, deep sensitivity and it`s part of your artist (ph). And one of things you had said and I know a lot of my patients say this, too, is to seeing the disappointment in other people`s eyes. You can see them, especially if they didn`t know you. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINOVICH: I could be at a gas station pumping my gas. If I had your talent, that`s the saying, if I had your talent, well, how do you think I got my talent? A lot of it is God-given, without a doubt, but people don`t understand the work that involved getting to the highest level. There were so much work involved. And so, when people say, oh, you threw it all away, well, whose was it to throw away in the first place?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And now where you at? People look at you now, and they probably see you, they probably didn`t even see you before.
MARINOVICH: Right. Right. And I do get noticed, but it`s a different look.
PINSKY: But they see Todd. They see the person, not Todd Marinovich --
MARINOVICH: And I had that aura before that I was hiding, and I didn`t want to be seen, and that probably just brought more attention.
PINSKY: I want to quickly show what your mom had to deal with. She, apparently, is in this documentary, as well. Here`s what mom feels like watching a child self-destruct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUDI MARINOVICH, TODD`S MOTHER: There was a time that I actually saw someone on a bicycle, I thought it was him. And I had to go around a couple of blocks and come closer that I couldn`t recognize my own son. Was that him, was that him? That was a terrible feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Sometimes, it`s harder to love the addict than to be the addict themselves, isn`t it? How did you get recovery? What was your moment of clarity? Where are we today?
MARINOVICH: It really wasn`t one moment. I think it was accumulation over the years of moments brought together, and if it wasn`t for people like Garo, I wouldn`t be sitting here. I mean, Garo went beyond the call of duty with me.
PINSKY: How? Tell me what that was?
MARINOVICH: Giving me a place to stay.
PINSKY: Never giving up.
MARINOVICH: Never giving up. And really an inspiration because he lived it on a daily basis. So, it wasn`t so much talk. He showed me it`s all about action, and he filled his life with positive people, and I try to do the same today.
PINSKY: And Garo, you were on the streets, too, at one time.
GHAZARIAN: I was. I was on the streets. And the reason I open the doors of my home to Todd is because when I was on the streets, there were no doors opened for me. And I wanted to do that, which I prayed and hoped and did not get when I went through the struggle. Todd came into my home. He was a part of my family for two years and he remained a part of my family to this day.
He taught me and my entire family the meaning of the word compassion, kindness, and humility. Humility, which is so often talked about into rooms of recovery is one that I learned in my interactions and my involvement with Todd and Todd`s life.
PINSKY: Yes. A lot of addicts need to watch that one on a daily basis.
PINSKY: If you start to think you`re above or bigger than, the disease will take full advantage of that.
MARINOVICH: That`s right.
PINSKY: Gentlemen, I thank you --
PINSKY: Well done.
MARINOVICH: Thank you, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Garo, yours as well. Thank you for not giving up on this young man. You know, and you I`m sure can be of service to others through your story, both of you. Obviously, you`ve been for him, but service will keep you sober.
MARINOVICH: That`s right. Thank you.
GHAZARIAN: Thank you, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: The "Marinovich Project" airs December 10th at 9:00 p.m. on ESPN.
And next, we`re going to keep the drug topic alive, but this may be a very different kind of conversation. The weed wars, discussion about cannabis, marijuana. We`re taking a look at both sides of America`s pot problem and whether or not it should be legalized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know, U.S. attorney, how many more need to suffer before you do the decent thing and surrender this campaign of terror and intimidation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought long and hard about what I would do if the federal government did come in here and lock me up. I have to say that the very first day I got out, I would come right back here to this spot, and I would start dispensing medicine to patients again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re never going back. We`re never going back into the shadows again. We have stepped into the light, and in the light, we shall remain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: The weed wars continue. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug. California and 16 other states have decriminalized it, leaving cannabis in a legal limbo. And, of course, there is this issue of the medical marijuana, dispensaries that have made my colleagues the gatekeepers for those who want to buy marijuana medicinally.
The California Medical Association, which I am a member, have recommended the following. The rescheduling of medical cannabis, regulating recreational cannabis similar to alcohol and tobacco, taxing cannabis, facilitate dissemination of risks and benefits and refer for national action.
The question now is not about the effects of pot. We`ve had that debate. Rather, it`s now about our drug policies. Joining me to discuss all this is Kevin Sabet, former senior adviser to President Obama`s drug czar and columnist for the "Huffington Post," Dr. Donald Lyman, share of CMA, California Medical Association`s Technical Advisory Committee on cannabis, and Steven D`Angelo, founder and executive director of Harborside health clinic.
He is profiled on Discovery Channel`s "Weed Wars," which airs Thursday. Steven, you were part of Discovery Network`s new series, "Weed Wars." From your perspective, what is the battle?
STEVEN D`ANGELO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARBORSIDE HEALTH CLINIC: Well, the battle is to bring the truth about the cannabis plant to the American people. For years and years, they have heard nothing but misinformation and propaganda. So, we hope to allow Americans to just see the world of medical cannabis and makeup their own mind.
PINSKY: And that`s something that on this show, when is this show airing?
D`ANGELO: Thursday at 10:00 p.m.
PINSKY: And you were sort of exploring people who are using the marijuana (ph) on the program?
D`ANGELO: Well, viewers will just have an opportunity to come and meet myself, my staff, our patients, and see how we handle the medicine and how we take care of our patients. And really have an opportunity to makeup their own mind on the subject. Most shows about cannabis take a point of view one way or another. "Weed Wars" just allows the American people to step into our world and makeup their own opinion.
PINSKY: OK. Speaking about taking an opinion one way or another. The California Medical Association has come out with some very strong recommendations. I read them just a few moments ago. Dr. Lyman, is California being looked at as scants by the rest of the country and by the White House or are they being looked at as someone who`s leading the way into the next century?
DR. DONALD LYMAN, CHAIR, CALIFORNIA MED. ASSOC. COMMITTEE ON CANNABIS: Well, we took the lead with the proposition in 1996 in which we did decriminalize marijuana in the state. It was the first state to do that. And as you`ve said, there are now 16 states, plus the District of Columbia.
And we now have two governors who`ve announced that they will go to Washington and solicit the Drug Enforcement Administration to change its schedule. So, there`s a national movement here.
PINSKY: But Dr. Lyman, I want to understand this, because I`m a doctor that practices in California. You are one of the leaders of the California Medical Association. You represent me and my peers.
Are you guys representing the mainstream in these very strong recommendations to put cannabis more in the category with alcohol and cigarettes than a schedule one drug? Are you representing the mainstream or are you, guys, going rogue on us?
LYMAN: We think this is mainstream. We think there`s a crescendo of repudiation of federal policy. With 16 states, District of Columbia, and two governors, this is something that`s more than just a little bit of unhappiness out there. There are three things that push us this way. The first is, as you pointed out, we, as physicians, are now made the gatekeepers for cannabis or people`s access to it, but we`ve discovered there`s no gate.
There`s no regulatory structure we can depend on to know the strength, the potency, the safety of this stuff. There`s no regulatory structure there. Secondly, we have this crescendo of repudiation, state after state, governor after governor, and the third is a fear. When alcohol prohibition came unstuck 80 years ago, it was Al Capone, and gunning down people on the street that got our attention.
We now have that same thing happening right next door in Mexico, and we are frightened that this may spill over on to our side of the border. It`s time to fix it.
PINSKY: Dr. Sabet, you disagree with this?
DR. KEVIN SABET, PH.D., FORMER SR. ADVISER TO PRES. OBAMA`S DRUG CZAR: Well, yes. I mean, simply medicine needs to be determined by science and the scientific process not by popular vote in the ballot box. And actually, there are medicinal effects (ph) in marijuana. We sympathize already a couple of those components. Today, you can get them, if you have a doctor`s prescription. One`s called Marinol and others called Cesamet.
There`s actually way to do this through the FDA who makes that determination, but to have something, you know, called purple haze or banana cush put out there as medicine is pretty ludicrous. I mean, the issue is you don`t need to legalize marijuana in order to do the research. The feds could speed up research.
I have urged them to do so. I hope they do. There`s already research going on, some exciting research of some drugs that have been approved abroad in Europe that are marijuana-based. So, you know, we don`t smoke opium to get the effects of morphine. We don`t need to smoke the raw marijuana plant to get its potential therapeutic effects.
PINSKY: Let me offer (INAUDIBLE), why don`t we illegalize alcohol or cigarettes if prohibition is the way to go?
SABET: Well, I think alcohol and cigarettes are a different story. First of all, alcohol has a long history of widespread accepted use in our culture dating back in terms of the mainstream, dating back to before the Old Testament. Yes, marijuana has been used for thousands of years. I always have people say back to me, wait a minute, you know, 7,000 years ago, they used marijuana, sure they did, but not in the widespread fashion as alcohol.
So, we made a decision on alcohol, at least, as a cultural decision, but we can look at alcohol and tobacco. Their costs to society are about $200 billion a year in lost social costs. We gain about 10 to $15 billion a year in taxes. So, it`s not a huge windfall that we get from taxes on those drugs.
Dr. Lyman brings up Mexico. It`s a great discussion point, but the issue in Mexico, to think that marijuana is the bulk of the profits going on in Mexico is completely contrary to the evidence. The Mexican drug cartels are involved in multiple things and multiple drugs. The idea that legalization is going to put a dent in cartels, and they`re just going to go away after legalization is completely --
PINSKY: Here`s what I have a problem, and Dr. Lyman, you respond to this. I`ve got about 40 seconds, which is every patient I treat with addiction, I mean, every one now has a marijuana card. So, the horse is out of the barn for the addicted population.
We`re not going to do anything to improve their situation by changing the status, because they already got their marijuana cards. What are we to do with this, Dr. Lyman? It`s made it impossible for me to treat addicted patients these days.
LYMAN: Well, we have agreement from the previous speaker that we need more research. And the way to get the research to know what works and doesn`t work is to reschedule it, something other than schedule one. That`s the number one call we have made, the governors have made, and the other states have made.
SABET: Dr. Lyman, that`s not true. You can research schedule one drugs. It`s done all the time.
PINSKY: Guys, I`m going to keep Dr. Sabet and Dr. Lyman, and Steven, you`re all going to stay with me.
Next, more of this war on the laws regarding marijuana. If you want to read more about any of these stories you see here tonight and a whole lot more, go to HLNtv.com. We`ll be back after this.
PINSKY: Welcome back. We`re discussing weed wars and our drug policies, particularly here in California. The California Medical Association which represents 35,000 doctors in California has come out in support of changing marijuana, perhaps, legalizing marijuana.
Dr. Sabet, I want to go to you. I want to know how the federal government, the White House looks upon California. I was criticized roundly for saying that, basically, I just support my California Medical Association. Isn`t that what we`re supposed to do as physicians practicing in California?
I don`t believe my leaders here are rogue and are out of line. I just go along with what policies they set. Should we be standing up and objecting strongly to our leadership here in California? Is that what the White house and the federal government expect us to do here?
SABET: Well, no, Drew. I think there are two issues here with the CMA position. First of all, it`s completely out of step with the American Medical Association who does, by the way, support research but not legalization. It`s out of step with multiple American Society of Addiction Medicine.
They actually put a really good white paper on medical marijuana and the history of it and possible uses which is very useful. There are multiple national organizations. We could go on and on, American Academy of Pediatrics. They don`t see marijuana as a good thing, and they don`t see legalization as a way to help them.
On the issue that Dr. Lyman brought up about research and that we both, I think, do agree that there should be more research done on marijuana is that you don`t need to reschedule a drug to do that research. I mean, right now, we have a marijuana based medication called Marinol. That`s been researched, and it`s a scheduled of three drugs (ph).
We have, you know, GHB, you know, the date rape drug. Actually, we have a scheduled three derivative GHB siren that`s used for narcolepsy. So, you can actually derive other drugs from medicines, and they can be scheduled as such. Should there be more research on marijuana, yes, there should be.
And again, I`m appealing to my former colleagues that I truly believe there should be more research. But right now, for example, there`s a drug called Sativex. It`s in schedule. It`s in phase three clinical trial, late stage clinical trials. It`s been approved in other countries for neuropathic pain and also for MS spasticity, and that`s a mouth spray. And it`s a combination of two active ingredients of marijuana --
PINSKY: I get you. I`m running out of time. I want to give Dr. Lyman a chance to respond. Dr. Lyman.
LYMAN: Respond that what we`re talking about here is a plant. We`re not talking about the chemicals extracted from it. And that`s the issue that we`re dealing with. And that`s the thing that needs more research by being rescheduled.
PINSKY: Dr. Lyman, let me just ask you again as a physician here in California, are you guys going rogue? Am I supposed to follow you? Am I supposed to listen to the federal government? What do we do? What are the physicians supposed to do in this state?
LYMAN: Physicians are together on this one. The AMA is together with us, plus 16 other states, plus two governors.
PINSKY: Now, Steve, you`re caught in the middle of all this. What do we do here? You`re not a clinician. What are you going to do? Just go on and do what you do, I guess?
D`ANGELO: Well, I know that this medicine works, because I see patients every day who would be lost without it. And I`m going to keep on serving those patients. I think that it`s essential that we reschedule cannabis. Dr. Sabet, himself, has admitted that there are medical uses. So, let`s go ahead and reschedule.
PINSKY: I tell you the one thing that drives me crazy about cannabis is that there`s so much political energy around it that we can`t have rational conversations about it.
PINSKY: By the way, it`s addictive for some people. And those people whom it is addictive, it`s a real serious problem, but for some it isn`t. And, you know, it doesn`t make the drug bad. Yes. It`s all drugs. It`s not there are good drugs and bad drugs. It`s the human relation, the biology of the drug, that we have to understand better. Thank you, Steven, Dr. Lyman. Thank you, Dr. Sabet.
Last word, Dr. Sabet. I have five seconds. Go.
SABET: Well, look, we want to reduce availability of all kinds of harmful drugs. Marijuana is one of many harmful drugs.
PINSKY: OK. Fair enough.
PINSKY: I got to go.
LYMAN: We want to keep it away from children.
PINSKY: Got to go. Thank you, guys. Thank you all for watching. We`ll see you next time.