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Rumors around Whitney Houston`s Death Investigation; Justice for Trayvon Martin
Aired March 23, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
Rumors swirl around Whitney Houston`s death investigation. Insiders join me to separate fact from fiction.
Then, Rosa Parks, Rodney King, real people whose victimization sparked real change. Will the killing of Trayvon Martin do the same? Jesse Jackson is here to give us his thoughts.
And later, would you commit a crime to save your child`s life? A mom and a dad who say they did just that. They are here.
So let`s get started.
Tonight I`m coming to you from New York and we`ll start by speaking more about Whitney Houston and what we have learned so far about her death. But before we get to that, last night we covered the initial coroner`s report about Whitney Houston`s death and during the show, Whitney`s former sister-in-law, Leolah Brown, made some very pointed allegations about Ray J.`s relationship with Whitney that she never discussed with any from the show prior to air.
I immediately noted that we could not verify the accuracy of her claims.
We were later contacted by representatives for Ray J., whose real name is Willie Ray Norwood, Jr., who told us none of it was true. We pulled (ph) the interview until we could learn more.
And today, we received a statement from Ray J.`s attorney which says in part, "Even though Leolah Brown was nowhere near the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the day Whitney Houston died, CNN proceeded to broadcast an interview with Ms. Brown in which she falsely claimed that Ray J. was at the hotel and contributed to Whitney Houston`s death. Even the most minimal inquiry with anyone actually in contact with Whitney would reveal that Leolah Brown had been out of contact with Whitney for more than a year and was nowhere near the scene on the day of her death."
The statement went on to request that the segment not re-air, it has not. HLN regrets the allegations were aired before we had spoken with Ray J. to get his response.
Tonight, I`m joined by Trent Copeland, criminal defense attorney. Also, medical examiner, forensic pathologist, Dr. D`Michelle Dupre. Editor in chief at Celebuzz.com, Dylan Howard.
Dylan, what are you hearing from police sources today?
DYLAN HOWARD, CELEBUZZ.COM: Dr. Drew, this investigation is well and truly an active event tonight. And tonight, I can tell you that the two lines of investigation, the Beverly Hills Police Department is pursuing is, one, who supplied the cocaine to Whitney Houston that was found in her system? And, secondly, whether or not the death scene was tampered with.
Of course, you will note that police sources to date have said that no cocaine was found. Some prescription drugs were found in the Beverly Hills suite and people are now asking and this is the process by which police will go through, whether or not that death scene was tampered with. That is a crime under California law.
PINSKY: Let me go out to Dr. Dupre, the forensic pathologist and sort of interpret that autopsy report, the preliminary report we have so far where she was found to have various central nervous system prescribed depressants like Xanax and Flexeril in her system. But the pathologist says that wasn`t directly related to the cause of death. They make it a stimulant death, presumably with some sort of cardiac event, like a heart attack or cardiac arrhythmia and then they say accidental overdose.
So, let me ask you this first question. Am I interpreting the report correct? Is that how you interpret it?
DR. D`MICHELLE DUPRE, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, that`s how I would read it as well.
PINSKY: OK. Now, I have a question. When is a drowning not accidental? I found that kind of bizarre, accidental drowning?
DUPRE: Well, you could have a homicide by drowning if someone else were to hold someone under water.
PINSKY: OK. And then --
DUPRE: And --
PINSKY: Go ahead.
DUPRE: Well, drowning is actually what we call a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that we need to rule out any other causes of death in order to classify that death as a drowning.
PINSKY: So, again, I`m trying to read between the lines, Dr. Dupre. That means the cardiac event, whatever it was, I guess there wasn`t muscle damage to the heart, or they would call it a myocardial infarction, that the cardiac event is presumptive, and presumptively what triggered low blood pressure, unconsciousness, and drowning. Is that accurate?
DUPRE: Not necessarily, because cocaine is a very interesting drug in that chronic use of cocaine actually can damage the heart itself. And change the muscle appearance.
PINSKY: I totally understand that, but I notice they don`t refer to this in this report, which I find rather bizarre. Maybe we will hear it when the complete report is out.
But let me go on to one other issue. One is the cocaine in her blood. Do you have any sense of how much so-called native cocaine is there? In other words, cocaine before it`s metabolized. Because that would tell us that the cocaine was recently used.
Do we have any information like that?
DUPRE: Not from the autopsy report that I`ve seen. We don`t. We need those concentrations.
However, the fact that cocaine itself, which is the parent drug, the fact that it was mentioned means that cocaine was in her system.
PINSKY: OK. So, Trent, I want to go back out to you and talk about the criminal investigation.
So that to me, based on what the pathologist just told me, cocaine was used within four hours. I`m going to speculate, say four hours. Don`t we have a problem with the crime scene now?
TRENT COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, look, if we can assume that, you know, the cocaine use was within that four-hour period and there was no cocaine found. The only, you know, possible explanation would be she either consumed all of the cocaine or someone who was with her consumed all of the cocaine, or whoever had that cocaine left that scene with the cocaine.
And then at some point, you know, we`re going to have a real investigation and particularly if it`s discovered. That maybe there was cocaine use and when the body was found by family members, or whoever the body was found by, even security, or a combination thereof, and they removed that cocaine from the scene, that is a crime in and of itself because it become a crime scene and really there is no one who can tamper, who can move, who can manufacture any of that evidence, and move it around, shift it around, put if it in their pants, put it in their pockets and move it from that scene.
We could have an investigation that stems from that action alone.
But I think the real window will be how long can the coroner pinpoint when the cocaine was in Whitney Houston`s system? That`s a critical analysis. From there, it will lead this investigation to other people, other sources, other potential people, who might have tampered with that scene or might even potentially supplied that cocaine to Whitney Houston. So, I think it`s going to be very, very critical that we get more answers from this report.
PINSKY: Dylan, I`m going to take the same question to you. Based on my speculation that based on what the forensic pathologist just told me, I`m going to say four hours -- within four hours she was using.
Do you think Beverly Hills police is taking this seriously? Really going after this as a tampered crime scene?
HOWARD: Indeed they are, Dr. Drew. The Beverly Hills Police Department is on lockdown, beyond confirming publicly that this investigation is still active, and with good reason. There are still people that they need to speak to. Of course, the origin of the investigation first started with prescription drugs and their attempts to speak to doctors and subpoena medical records. Of course, it`s now taken this very sinister turn.
One thing that I do want to point out, though, Dr. Drew, is that the stories between what Whitney Houston`s family have told us and what the coroner told us yesterday don`t match. They vary greatly.
Indeed, Patricia Houston when she interviewed by Oprah Winfrey was asked point blank, did she believe drugs contributed to Whitney Houston`s death. And she said, quote-unquote, "absolutely not." It appears, though, that certainly on the surface, there was a lot of attempts from people close to her to protect her legacy, as opposed to dealing with the harsh reality of Whitney Houston`s drug addiction.
PINSKY: And, Dylan, I got to say, for me, as a clinician, whether she was using -- it`s worse when they are using pills frankly. I don`t know the public and particularly her family has to feel like, oh, cocaine is so much worse. They all kill you, it`s all bad.
I feel worse when my peers are duplicitous in. She has long (ph) cocaine problem. It was never effectively treated. People relapse.
It`s a very, very sad story. I -- they must have known. It`s all I can speculate. People around her must have known and it`s hard to understand. I guess as you say, it`s just to protect her legacy.
Dr. Dupre, Trent, and, Dylan, thank you for joining me.
I`m going to talk to you about an important voice that joins the search for justice in the Trayvon Martin case. Hear what, get this, President Obama is saying about this case. That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That, of course, is Trayvon Martin`s parents.
And tonight, the president of the United States has joined the ranks of those searching for justice and meaning of the Trayvon Martin case.
Martin, of course, was the unarmed teen from small Florida town who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he`d look like Trayvon, and, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that it deserves and that we`re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Yes, I get to the bottom of it, but I`m not -- I`m also struck by the depth to which we are shedding new light on which racism affects our relationship. There`s a deeply personal quality to this story. It`s like it has taken to us a new level.
I know I myself feel like I should be apologizing to my African- American friends when they have complained of certain kinds of biases, I didn`t really understand what they were talking about, and now I think I do -- in a way I definitely did not before.
That was President Obama in his statement.
Hundreds of students at several South Florida high schools walked out of their classrooms in a massive protest, calling for the arrest of the shooter George Zimmerman.
Yes. Understandably these kids are upset.
Joining me: Trent Copeland. He is back. He`s a criminal defense attorney.
Also, we`re very pleased to welcome, Reverend Jesse Jackson, of course, civil rights activist and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Reverend Jackson, it seems like we haven`t seen this kind of an uprising since Rodney King or the Jenna six.
Your thoughts on this?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: You can never tell when these kinds of magic moments occur, this is symbolic of a deeper malady of racial injustice anyone sees in this moment. Here is a child who is apparently innocent, shot down, vigilante style, and the vigilante walks away. They did a drug test on the child, but not on the shooter, not his gun.
We have seen this pattern, we`ve seen this game before. When Med Evers was shot and killed, 30 years De La Beckwith was walking the streets of Mississippi free.
When Emmett Till was killed, they couldn`t find evidence it really was Emmett Till, and the jury said that the guy who`s did it, Mr. Milam, another gentleman did it. It was a crime, but didn`t deserve a life sentence.
And so, we`ve seen this kind of horrendous racial injustice before and it`s too much to take.
PINSKY: Well, Reverend Jackson, I watch this. I want to go to my friend, Trent, who`s in the studio in Los Angeles right now.
And Reverend Jackson is shining a light on the justice issue. You`re an attorney, and I`m going to ask you this question, you shared a story with me when we`re in the studio the other day, I don`t remember if we did it on television or not, where you talk about what it was like for you to walk into Starbucks at the morning with your hoodie on after you worked out.
And it made emotional. It deeply affected me.
Is that what we learned, that kind of thing with African-American parents and African-American men have to worry about, that just who they are is going to invoke fear in people? Or is this about justice, or both?
COPELAND: It`s about both. And, you know -- and, first of all, I want to say to Reverend Jackson, I`m honor to be on the show with him again. He and I have done a number of shows and I was honored to be there. He knows of what I speak of.
When I say, and say this to some of my white friends, it really is a circumstance where there are those moments, when you are very innocuously walking around, and you might have something on that doesn`t resemble a suit and a tie, but have on sweatpants, and maybe even a hoodie, just like Trayvon Martin. I`m looked at differently.
Sometimes people will go to the other side of the sidewalk. Sometimes, people when I walk into a convenience store, I walked into a Starbucks, those people sometimes -- and I`m not necessarily saying employees, but sometimes people standing there waiting for a cup of coffee are taken aback because I look different. And somehow or another, I might have a sinister view about them.
PINSKY: Trent --
COPELAND: And that`s the reality of it.
PINSKY: That`s the part about this that sends a chill. Every time you say it, every time I hear one of my African-Americans say one of those, it sends the same chill down my spine.
And, Reverend Jackson --
COPELAND: I don`t live with this. We don`t live with this every day. What I`m saying is --
JACKSON: We have seen -- I`m sorry.
We`ve seen an African-American head of a ship or state. We think the ship just destroyed the captain.
And while we`ve seen political fact and all these debates, he is not a Christian, he`s not one of us. He`s not an American. He is illegitimate. They shot an AK-47 into the White House. He is a threat to our national security.
I mean, these kinds of attacks are not so veiled code words. We can absorb them, but it manifests itself at that level when he`s not wearing a hoodie, if you will. You`re a liar, from the hall of the Congress. He was not wearing a hoodie speaking before U.S. Congress. And so, we took that blow.
You look at the home court or the banks targeting and took people`s homes. We took that blow.
But not more than unemployment. We took -- we have been taking blows so maybe this case is like tipping point.
Enough is enough, and America, white and black, brown and light, must stand up and say no to this vigilante justice.
PINSKY: I agree with you.
Let me read something that an anchor on FOX News which created, he read -- he said it and created quite a bit of stir. He made a statement about hoodies and kids of black and Latino descent. In part the anchor said, quote, "I`m urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters to not let their children go out wearing hoodies."
Trent, really? Is it about the hoodies?
COPELAND: Look, if it`s about the hoodies, then it`s about the jeans, then it`s about the hair, then it`s about the corn rows, just about everything. If -- the presumption is if we don`t look and act like what some people might presume that we should look and act like, somehow we`re different and shouldn`t allow our kids to be who they are.
Look, this could be my son, this could be your son, this could be any kid. This has nothing to do with the issues of who these kids are. But this is more about a function of what other people see in them.
So, on the one hand, we tell our kids, you go out there, you conquer the world, you be the best person you can be. But on the other hand, we tell these kids, listen, you might be dressed a certain way that may cause someone to want to shoot you.
This isn`t a cross that we carry every single day. We`re not suggesting we go about our lives and we can`t function because we are concerned how people look. But there are those moments, and I think as Reverend Jackson said, those are moments, those strange circumstances where you are caught in a situation and you ask yourself, why is everyone looking at me like this? Why --
JACKSON: My son -- my son, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., we bought him a new car just after graduation, and we get the call, the emergency call, they pulled him out of the car, it must have been stolen. It is a new car, spread eagle before the public, being embarrassed.
My son Yusef, University of Virginia law graduate, going back and forth between Washington and Charlottesville, pulled over several times.
My son Jonathan, arrested and held in (INAUDIBLE) Iowa, why is he in a certain neighborhood. He had a business there.
So, this is pervasive and it`s traumatic. And I would like to think what the president ought do beyond, while it was a sensitive, caring statement, we need to revive the current commissioner report and get a truer evaluation, moving on. And we can revive the civil rights commission again because the infrastructure of racial injustice is just too much -- 2 1/2 million Americans in prison, half are African-Americans. It`s not right.
PINSKY: Next, if you fear for your child`s safety -- thank you, gentlemen -- every time he walks or she walks out the door, you need to hear the measures that some African-American parents feel they need to take to keep their children safe.
Stay with me for me and my panel.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: It sounds like a male.
DISPATCHER: And you don`t know why.
CALLER: I don`t know why. I think they are yelling help, but I don`t know. Send someone quick please.
DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt to you?
CALLER: I can`t see him, I don`t want to go out there, I don`t know what`s going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re calling the cops.
CALLER: They are sending them.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: Since the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, African- American parents have been sharing the rules that they have been giving their children in hopes of keeping them safe and alive whenever they step out of the home.
Here are some of the rules as they appeared in a recent "Washington Post" article.
"Don`t run while carrying anything in your hands.
Go where you say you`re going and come straight home to avoid being falsely accused of a crime.
Just because your white friends does something, doesn`t mean you can do the same.
Know who you are."
Reverend Jackson and Trent Copeland are still with me.
Reverend Jackson, you know, this is -- again, I have an emotional reaction to this thing in a way that I have not found myself reacting to these sorts of issues in the past. And you summed it up very nicely in the last segment.
What are you asking for? Specifically, what do you think needs to be done?
JACKSON: Well, the law -- the standup law should be repealed. There were like 12 unjustifiable homicides from year 2002 to 2005. Once the law passed, it jumped 283 percent to 35 a year.
And about 22 states are trying it. In Georgia, they just got through the Senate a deal there where they want 18-year-olds to carry weapons. Even carry weapons to the airports. So, the use of more weapons and more threats can intensify.
On the hoodie question, the white people like the hoodies, wearing sheets, the hoodies and some of them had minister robes and hoods and blue suits under those robes and judicial robes under those hoods.
So, no one shot them. They were not right, but to somehow begin to shoot folks for the way they dress and the way they look is not right. It`s illegal and it`s immoral.
PINSKY: Trent, do those rules sound familiar to you? Do you have to tell your kids things like that?
COPELAND: Those rules sound very familiar, and, look, I heard those rules from my mother and father, and those rules have carried down. And tragically so, those are rules that apply to not just African-American children, but children of color, and frankly, these are the rules that are pervasive, they`re going across the dinner table and families have to talk about them.
But, look, if I can, very quickly, Dr. Drew, I just want to say another reason why this case is so significant is because, remember, George Zimmerman -- this wasn`t someone who had a clean record. And so, when the police decide they are not going to prosecute him, they are going to take his word for it, the reality is, this is someone who was arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest. This is someone who was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assault. This is someone who had a background.
Look, if you look at the police report on page three of that document, it says specifically, that law enforcement came and said they found no reason to disbelieve anything that George Zimmerman said. So, the reality is, he had a presumption of innocence going in that an African-American person, that clearly Trayvon Martin would not have had, and that`s what is so palpably unfair with this.
JACKSON: That`s what we need, the current commission report should be revived, (INAUDIBLE) and not just use anecdotes and use images, and to revive a visible civil rights commission. And we are going to have annual reports to what are relative to matters, we must close this gap and make us well and heal as a society.
We want to close this gap. But they`re getting wider I`m afraid.
PINSKY: Gentlemen, thank you for sharing this afternoon and this evening.
And I want to apologize to you guys as much -- I feel like I need to apologize to all of my African-American friends. I hope I`m speaking for other people don`t -- aren`t of color, that it helped, it brought this into focus in a way that we some of us weren`t getting and I thought I did. I thought I did.
Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you.
COPELAND: Thank you.
PINSKY: Coming up, parents who went to extremes to save the life of their little boy. Did they go too far? But first off, we`re going to take your calls, my question, and I will always say, we`ll talk about anything. So, please don`t go away.
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, a three-year-old boy with brain cancer, unable to eat and wasting (ph) away is given cannabis oil, marijuana, and illegal substance. His mom says she snuck it into his feeding tube without the doctor`s permission.
Just a couple of weeks later, he was seemingly better, laughing and able to eat. His mother and father are here to tell us why they broke the law which they are fighting to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: I`ve got Irene in Wisconsin on the line. Hi, Irene. What is your question.
IRENE, WISCONSIN: Hi. At my school every year, there`s girls having babies, they`re 14 and 15-year-olds.
PINSKY: Irene, how old are you?
PINSKY: Eighteen. Do you try to reach out to these young girls and talk to them?
PINSKY: Go ahead.
IRENE: They keep having kids.
PINSKY: I know they do. Irene, I`ve done a show called "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" specifically to address this issue. I believe, and this has been my experience, I`ve been working with young people for 20 years, and I`ve been working with them through media, and I have seen the biggest impact is when they see people like themselves doing the things that they think are cool and not having great outcomes.
In other words, getting pregnant and how much their lives unravel. That is opposed to me sitting here in a white coat telling them what they ought to do which tends to be dead-on-arrival. It doesn`t do anything, really. Irene, are your peers do anything to try to address this?
As usual, these kids are at risk. They have other things going on in their life. Do people help them, support them? Do anything try to do with this?
IRENE: They just don`t care about their kids, and it`s like what?
PINSKY: I know. Well, Irene, this is your chance to put a message out there. What is your message for kids that are thinking about having kids?
IRENE: Just don`t have kids. Do what you have to do, just don`t have kids.
PINSKY: Grow up first, right?
PINSKY: Yes. Irene, thank you for that call. I mean, when I used to do "Love Line" with Adam Carolla, we always said the biggest problem with this country is screwed up kids having screwed up kids. Wait until you ready to have a kid. It`s not going to solve any problem. Again, I feel very strongly about the "Teen Mom" series showing you that.
Raquel on Facebook asked, "Is it better to have a child live with a father who`s an alcoholic, or without a father at all?" That is a tough question, actually. I mean, it`s not as though I have a single answer for that that blankets every situation. Generally, it`s better for the father to be there, even if the father has illness, but if they have illness, you`re going to have to do work.
There`s one thing I might got to tell you is that treatment works, that`d be treatment for the alcoholic father. Obviously, I`ve seen some glorious recoveries, and father in recovery from alcoholism. Even if it`s later in the child`s life can have a massive impact on that child, and the child themselves will need some sort of help dealing with the fact that their dad is an alcoholic.
And again, so, I would say father in the life provided that you take action and get help with having the fact that somebody`s got an illness in the family like any other illness.
We got Nancy on the line from Michigan. Hi, Nancy.
NANCY, MICHIGAN: Hi, Dr. Drew. I am trying to get some help for my 16-year-old.
PINSKY: All right. Go ahead. Yes. Go to it.
NANCY: I`ve got some spice and smoking pot and stuff going on.
NANCY: They generally say that you can`t prove it.
PINSKY: What do you mean (INAUDIBLE) they can`t prove it. You`re the mom, you can actually have him held in psychiatric hospital just by saying there are behavior problems. I mean, spice is a dangerous drug. Listen, you remember the story with Demi Moore?
Demi Moore is alleged to have been using spice, the kind of seizure activity she had, the confusion. We see that from spice. Have you seen any changes in his behavior and personality? Nancy?
PINSKY: Is he coming in the house now? Is that what`s happening?
PINSKY: Your son has walked in the room while having this conversation live on TV. This is awesome. Why don`t you ask him to leave the room right now, you`re on private call? Can we do that? Let`s practice a little parenting here. Nancy? You won`t ask him to leave the room?
NANCY: Can you take a hike for a minute?
PINSKY: You`re on a private call. You`re entitled to a private call, Nancy. This is it.
PINSKY: There were go.
NANCY: I`m on the phone, can you leave for a minute?
PINSKY: There you go.
NANCY: Thank you.
PINSKY: Nancy --
NANCY: Excuse me.
PINSKY: Here`s the deal. Listen to me, you don`t have to say any more. I understand you`re in an uncomfortable situation. You are live on national television, fantastic. But, here`s the deal, you`re the parent. Get help. If you have any access to resources, take him to your doctor. He`ll refer you to mental health professional.
Use the school. The school is your asset. The fact that you -- I mean, just tell you something. This is what you need to know, Nancy. If you take nothing else away from this, this is what you need to know. If you are aware that there`s a problem and it seems somewhat desperate, I guarantee you what`s happening is ten times worse than what you know.
You must get help with this or you`re going to end up like poor Sylvia and Jodi here. This is really serious stuff. I guarantee you, whatever is happening, it`s worse than you think. And by the way, the fact that he`s smoking spice, which is a dangerous drug, we don`t know the full potential on adolescent brain is enough to say I need help.
Do not go this alone. Get help. Nancy, I`m going to let you get off the line. Thank you very much.
I`ve got a note from Bobby who has this to say. "On your recent program with Tom Arnold, you`ve seemed to be against Suboxone treatment and said, "I can`t get anyone off opiates in a week." I`m desperate to know how you can do that. It seems the only therapy offered in Michigan is Suboxone."
Here`s my problem with Suboxone, excellent drug. I don`t have any quarrels (ph) with it when it`s used properly. My concern is that it starts getting used like there`s just a new methadone. And I know people are advocating methadone treatment. Basically, Suboxone should be used just to taper people off and they help detox people.
My statement was, I don`t need that drug. I have other things that can use to get people off opiates. It works fine. We`ve been doing it for years. It takes about five to seven days. The Suboxone withdrawal ends up being about the same in my experience anyway, not all that different.
But the problem is they keep people on Suboxone, and they get strung out on that drug, and that`s what I get upset about. That`s a concern. And that drug is now starting to have a problem, and I think that`s contributing to the prescription drug deaths we are seeing. That`s my concern with that.
Next up, want you to meet the parents who broke the law to help their little boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer. They actually went so far as to -- there they are with Tommy Chang (ph), how about that -- who smuggle in, guess what, cannabis. But it seemed to help, and if it helped, should there be a problem with that?
We`re going to talk about that from many perspectives. So, please, do stay with us. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HYDE, FATHER OF CASH HYDE: I watched Cashy not be able to eat for over 40 days to the point where he couldn`t lift his head up off his pillow. I realized along the way in this journey that there is a quality of life that a lot of people do not have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back. And as I`ve said, we are live tonight. Nothing like live television. We talked to somebody on the phone, and the person you`re talking about walks in the room, and there you go. We are having issues tonight with our Skype. I hope we will be talking to these people in just a second.
Two years ago, little Cash Hide was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Endured bouts of chemo that made him sick, made him ill. He didn`t eat for 40 days and was vomiting severely. As his parents watched helplessly as many have, they made a crucial decision. They asked doctors to take Cash off his anti-nausea and his pain medication and secretly gave him marijuana oil, cannabis oil made from marijuana.
What they did was illegal. In addition, they didn`t tell his doctors. Today, three-year-old Cash is in remission and doing well.
Joining me to discuss this, Dr. Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, also criminal defense attorney, Mark Eiglarsh. I brought Bob Forrest back with me in case we continue to have Skype issues, because I have Cash`s parents, Mike and Kalli Hyde.
Dr. Gitlow, let me go to you. What issues do you have with this family feeling desperate, doing what they felt they had to do to create a quality of life intervention on behalf of their child?
DR. STUART GITLOW, PRES. AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ADDICTION MEDICINE: Well, Drew, thank you very much for having me tonight. The issues here come down to what does a family do when their son has a critical illness, and they feel as if they have no alternatives left? How are they going to deal with that and cope with that?
The issue, as they start to use something like marijuana, is the question of to what lengths do we go to protect our children? Do we go to the length of picking a schedule one controlled substance that has no known medical qualities to it? The analogy --
PINSKY: Let me interrupt you and just say, I mean, if it`s just for quality of life and we`re using schedule one drugs like opiates, like painkillers, what`s wrong with this schedule one drug if it helps somebody feel better?
GITLOW: Well, we`re not talking about quality of life here, we`re talking about trying to save a two or three-year-old. This is an issue where the goal would be for him to have a normal life and a normal length life.
PINSKY: Let me ask the parents what they were thinking when they went ahead and did this. Guys, was it just because you got tired of seeing him suffer and you wanted him to feel better?
MIKE HYDE: I watched Cash several times after the doctors gave him Benadrine and fentanyl (ph). I watched my son suffered for over 40 days, starving to death, and (INAUDIBLE). My mother said before, these doctors are killing our (INAUDIBLE). The medications (ph) are highly toxic. Medical cannabis or cannabis, whatever you want to call it is the safest (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: OK. I do want to talk to your wife in a second. My understanding, she`s an RN. And I have a question, let me ask to you, Mark. My issue with this, more than anything else, Mark Eiglarsh is, we have an RN.
She has a license. She understands how hospitals operate. She`s found a medication that helped her, let`s say, helped her sister, made me feel good, and she walks in the hospital and just gives it to somebody because it worked for them. Is that how hospitals should operate? Or do you share my concerns, Mark?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. This is a tough one. First of all, even they know and they`ve admitted publicly that what they`re doing is unlawful. No question they`re violating federal law. But let me just say this. If we`re talking about my child and I was told six to seven times, you know, we`re going to stop doing this because there`s nothing more that we can do to save him, I would try whatever it took to get even an hour more with him.
Now, it turned out, it worked, and the California Medical Association supports to some extent this concept of giving THC. In one study, 25 to 30 percent of mice rejected the cancer after they had been injected with THC. So, again, we`re talking about mice, and it hasn`t been, you know, widespread approval amongst the medical association, there is an indication that it might work.
PINSKY: Dr. Gitlow, let me go back to you. Let`s say it is a quality of life issue and it is a terminal case. Do you share my concern? It`s not, again, so much about making the child comfortable, it`s that somebody brings in a substance from the outside while kids under care. The doctors don`t know.
I mean, who knows how the care could go bad if people just start administering their own drugs, illicit or illicit to somebody in a hospital. Isn`t that a concern?
GITLOW: Well, let`s go back for a second. I don`t think that this demonstrates that the drug worked. What it demonstrates is that Cash got better at about the same time that he was administered marijuana. So, this is an experiment with one person being tested, and basically, what we have is an individual who was given multiple other types of treatment who got better at about the same time that he was given the marijuana.
That doesn`t mean the marijuana led to his improvement. It means he got better at about the same time.
PINSKY: Right. And Mike, you`re on the phone, I think, with me now. Can you hear me OK?
MIKE HYDE: I can hear you fine. What I would like to say to that guy is I pulled Cash off the Ativan, Zofran, methadone, morphine, Oxycodone, OxyContin, Ketamine, and Dilaudid in a two-week period with medical cannabis. After he had been over for 40 days --
PINSKY: Mike, but maybe that alone is what made him better. You know what I`m saying?
MIKE HYDE: Exactly. And if I wouldn`t have made those doctors wean him off those drugs, he would have died.
PINSKY: OK. Let me talk to your wife for a second.
MIKE HYDE: These doctors are killing our children. That is the difference we`re talking about. These kids are given -- who would give a kid morphine?
PINSKY: I get you. Let me talk to Kalli. I get you. Let me talk to Kalli for a second. Listen, they`ve got a child who`s in a -- has advanced cancer, on life support. They`re trying to make him comfortable. They`re not trying to kill anybody. Kalli, let me talk to you. You`re an RN, right?
KALLI HYDE, MOTHER OF CASH HYDE: Yes. This is Kalli.
PINSKY: OK. Kalli, do you understand my concerns about people coming into the hospital, just administering substances, illicit or illicit, without the team`s involvement? You know what I mean? You work in hospitals. It can really make things unravel if the team is not there taking care of the patient.
KALLI HYDE: Yes. I do understand the controversy with, you know, coming in and giving Cash, our son, you know, cannabis. But you know, he was laying there dying, shaking, shivering, his skin was peeling. He was vomiting every two hours. He was vomiting, you know, --
PINSKY: Let me ask the question, Kalli -- again, let me ask you the question a different way. Let`s say you had medication X, Y, Z, and it`s legal. You describe that same scene to us. You just bring that from the outside and give it because you wanted your child better no matter what. You go to any length, even if it means upsetting how hospital functions. Is that what you`re saying?
KALLI HYDE: Exactly. Yes.
PINSKY: OK. OK. Hold on one second, Bob --
KALLI HYDE: These doctors are, you know, they`re killing our children. This --
PINSKY: Hold on. We weren`t there. Listen, people are trying to do their job. The child is better because of proton beam and chemotherapy, we know that, too, because that they could expect. Yes. And then, all the other stuff made him sick, it sounds like. Bob, your point.
BOB FORREST, FOUNDER, BOB FORREST COUNSELING SERVICE: Well, the thing is, I love hearing him laugh in the background and he`s alive, and it`s a baby and it`s wonderful, and to be politicized this is what`s really being done, you know? I`m just happy he`s alive. I, too, agree with the father that, you know, the list of drugs that he`s on compared to medical marijuana --
PINSKY: OK. Fair enough.
FORREST: I hate to be the guy that`s against --
PINSKY: No, no. I`m not saying that. I think everybody wants this child better. It is not the sinister people here.
So, we got to take another break. we`re going to keep this conversation go and please stay with us. We`ll be back in just a minute.
PINSKY: Thanks for joining us. Again, we are live. This is an important conversation. We`re speaking with Mike and Kalli Hyde. They are parents of a three-year-old who`s currently in remission from a brain tumor. Mike and Kalli gave him marijuana oil, cannabis oil, after Cash almost died after chemotherapy.
Dr. Gitlow, you say the potential for this -- I`m going to try to get everyone to ring in on this. You say the potential negatives here are substantial. How?
GITLOW: Marijuana is dangerous, Drew. The bottom line is that in the developing brain, it causes problems with attention, with focus, with concentration, and with long-term cognitive abilities. We don`t want to see children administered a drug that`s going to cause them to, bottom line, not be smart later in life. The stereotype of the burned out marijuana user is not there for no reason.
PINSKY: Mark, I want to get your take on this. You`ve heard the conversation. Any more thoughts?
EIGLARSH: Yes. Death is dangerous. This kid was dying. This wasn`t a first resort. This was a last resort. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and while I`m not advocating parents introducing THC as a first resort to their children, in this one instance, they were literally watching their son dying, and prosecutors can use their discretion in a case like this and not necessarily have to bring charges.
PINSKY: And Bob, you`ve said that we politicize this drug too much, and Mike is being political in this. I`m going to give him last word, because he is in the situation, and we are lucky enough to have the child with us.
Mike, I do want to give you the last words, but I try to have conversations about marijuana without it being political, because there`s such energy around it. We can`t -- both sides can`t be rational. I want us all to be rational about it. Help us. I`ve got a minute.
MIKE HYDE: I understand that. I understand that. All I can say is we went through our 30 rounds of proton radiation, and Cash, he did not use one nausea or pain medication. Cannabis is a patented neuro protected and antioxidant. Every cancer patient has the right to that. Cash survived the water stock (ph), yes.
Cannabis is along our journey, and I truly question the ethics and the morals of any doctor that can say the cannabis is dangerous. There is not one proven death to cannabis. You want to talk dangerous, talk about a kid on morphine, talk about a kid on Ketamine or oxycodone or Dilaudid or Ativan. I replaced all those drugs with cannabis oil.
PINSKY: Mike, I`m going to stop you. I`m going to stop you. I`m running out of time. Our prayers stay with you, my friend. I`m just so glad your child is doing better. Whatever it took, my friend, congratulations.
Dr. Gitlow, I want to go back out to you. Desperate times, desperate measures. I got about 30 seconds. I`m having trouble talking about this with people. I think we have to keep the conversation going. I want to thank you for joining me today. You`re an important figure in addiction medicine. I really hope you`ll join me again. Can you put a little coda on this for us?
GITLOW: The coda is that there`s no such thing at this point as medical marijuana. Marijuana has not yet been shown to have an acceptable medical use, and until we study it properly, we won`t know the bottom line answer as to whether or not to use it or some form of it.
PINSKY: More study. More study. I think that`s one thing all sides will agree upon, yes?
FORREST: The idea is the debate continues. This has been a great hour, I think.
PINSKY: It`s been a good conversation. Thank you all for joining us. Thank you to Kalli and Mike. I really appreciate you sharing your story with us. Thank you, Dr. Gitlow. I`m a huge fan of yours, by the way. Thank you for joining us, Bob. I will see you again soon enough.
PINSKY: I got to go. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.