Dr Giorgis Economoupoulos

Interview: Dr. Giorgis Economopoulos talks to CannaBoss

Dr. Giorgis Economopoulos was born in 1947 in Athens, Greece and is a physician with specialization in Neurology – Psychiatry.

Reading his bio, one definitely grasps these are not just words on a paper, this is a lifetime of work and commitment. It is genuine interest, in-depth study, meaningful action; this is a man who fights fearlessly, authentically, and relentlessly.

Since 1981, he has been working exclusively against drug addiction as a doctor, with self-help groups alongside pharmacological strategies for treatment and has been helping with his knowledge a great number of individuals, most of them young, in their personal fight against heroin.

In 2014, his book entitled “Cannabis, The Sanative: The ostracized herb and its impressive therapeutic applications” was published by Kedros publications.

This year, in April 2018, he formed the Greek Association for Therapeutic Cannabis.

CannaBoss met with the doctor in Athens to chat over lunch. Pleasant, approachable, he speaks eloquently, with authority and confidence –and it is quite obvious that he believes in what he is saying.

It is a fact that the cannabis plant has accompanied humanity in various ways and uses since antiquity, how effective is it in treatments?

The first recorded therapeutic use of cannabis dates back to the third millennium B.C., by the Emperor Shen Nung of China who prescribed cannabis for pain, inflammation, and so forth.

It then appears in the Vedas (Books of Knowledge), around 2000 B.C., where it is again referred to as a medicine for pains in general, spasms, period pain and other various situations. Specifically, it is mentioned in the Atharva Veda, which is mainly related to science and its applications, and is the origin of Ayurveda. Ayurveda (the Science of Life), that was developed in the Indian subcontinent, is considered one of the oldest traditional systems of medicine and it is still practiced as an alternative treatment method in many places around the world.

Next, in Greece around 100 A.D., there are references to cannabis as medicine by Diocouridis , and after that there are reports coming from the Arab countries.

So it seems to be quite effective…

It is effective; the fact that cannabis is effective as medicine was proved in 1988, when it was discovered that in our body there are millions of cannabis locks… They were in shock! They did not announce these findings, they continued the research and, after 5 years, they found that right there, to these cannabis locks or ‘cannabis receptors’ binds a chemical produced naturally by our own body. In other words, they discovered the cannabinoids (the substances produced from within our body), and the endocannabinoid system (our biological system which is made up by a series of these locks). This system is a lot like the immune system, it acts as a regulator and promotes our good health. That’s why cannabis, which mimics and enhances the ECS, is a medicine for many different disorders –you name it: pains, convulsions, vomiting. Anything. “This is inexplicable”, it would make sense to think, “how come is a single plant with a simple composition able to do so much?”. As a matter of fact, it is not the plant that works wonders, it is actually the endocannabinoid system, which the plant activates.

In your book “Cannabis, The Sanative “, you speak about the past war on cannabis due to its posing an economic threat to major industries such as nylon, pharmaceutical, oil, cotton, etc. What tells us the same will not happen again today? 

Nothing tells us that. The only thing that has changed is the awareness, the consciousness of people. Now, of course, replacing conventional nylon and plastic with cannabis products would be a sustainable eco-friendly solution, replacing paper from wood with hemp paper would also be an ecological solution to deforestation, as rainforests are being destroyed on a daily basis, and the trees would be saved. As a matter of fact, for the same amount of paper made from a surface of 1.000m2 of hemp, it takes 4.500m2 of forest wood to produce. The difference is huge.

So, even today, there still exists the possibility of fighting it and trying to ban it.

This story ends here. From the moment we discovered that our own body produces cannabinoids, the whole universe has been overthrown, end of story.

We heard you in June at Cannabeta, the international scientific meeting held at the Eugenides Foundation, at one point you said that cannabis is a remedy for almost all disorders.

(the Doctor interrupts and tells us:) It is not cannabis that is a remedy for all disorders, it is the Endocannabinoid system –because that is its job, just as the Immune, to fight against all disorders. Cannabis comes and mimics this internal system -and strengthens it, so its intake can help with disorders.

How much do you think this fact will affect the medical world in the next few years?

Very much. Of course, there exist the special interests of the pharmaceutical industry, which resist in order to protect market share. But recently, I hear, pharmaceutical companies are getting competitive about making the best cannabinoid based drug.

What was the most striking case of a patient you have treated yourself with cannabidiol CBD treatment?

A 27 year old woman, with epilepsy and psychosis at the same time. Epilepsy as well as psychosis both disappeared following CBD use alone. That was very shocking indeed; I presented the case study in Brussels because it was so impressive. The woman was cured within the first quarter of treatment with CBD.

As for psychoactive cannabis, how dangerous is it really? 

Danger is relative. When one has never used it before, they should start with a low dose, very carefully.It can be dangerous, when one is experiencing psychosis. Cannabis is psychoactive, “psychedelic” as we say. The term’s etymology is from two Greek words, “psyche” (the mind, the soul) and “delos” (to manifest, to make visible) and translates to “soul-revealing”. Therefore if the person has anxiety, they will panic; if one is happy, they will be brimming with joy. Whatever the feeling is, it will heighten it. That’s why we have to pay close attention to the individual, to what the patient situation is, etc. If the person is well, good things will emerge. The only danger is the “high” occurring at a bad moment. Driving should definitely be avoided after large doses, while we should be cautious with people who are a little ‘off’ to not use the psychoactive cannabis.

Given that a user of cannabis is usually identified as ‘a pothead and a criminal’ and given that you are a Physician, and doctors are automatically and highly respected by society, I would like, if I may, to ask you if you have ever had any experience with cannabis, namely psychoactive, and if so, how this experience was for you.

Since I have had repeated experience, I will describe the first time for me, in 1970 in Copenhagen, when I went to a Woodstock-like music festival. Green fields full of young people, [it was] summer, in August, it was amazing. People had formed circles smoking pot. I go and sit there too, out of curiosity, I get the joint, I take two puffs, I am not feeling anything; I take one more, and still not feeling anything. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen immediately. Then I get up and what I am beginning to feel is “what kind of music is this?”, “what kind of music is this?”. I am beginning to feel the music flowing through my veins, and I start dancing. I was dancing to every musical note with a different movement, an extraordinary situation. I have to tell you, of course, I did not realize that all this was from cannabis, I interpreted it as coming from the environment I was in, the music, the blond women, naked bodies wandering around, I was dancing for 4 hours. I did not realize that I was under the influence of cannabis; I thought it was the environment.Two years after that, I had a second experience, in Athens this time, and it was then that I realized what I had felt at the festival was from cannabis. I thought “ah! so, that’s what it was”. I have had many more experiences with weed since then, all of them positive. The point is whoever uses weed to be doing it for the good effects. Now, if one uses it and gets freaked out, feeling like they don’t know what they’re doing, having a “bad trip”, it means they cannot handle it, it is not fun for them. Weed is not for everyone, so whoever uses it should be careful and know what they are doing. Giorgis Economopoulos chose to study medicine due to his keen interest in the nature of Consciousness, its changes and its potential. From early on, he dealt with the study and application of practices for a self-conscious exploration of Consciousness. Later, he reiterated the study of Altered States of Consciousness, both independently and with the help of psychoactive substances, under the scientific guidance of Thanos Kafkalides, a top Greek neuropsychiatrist, who was a pioneer in psychedelic therapy i.e. the use of psychedelic drugs in deep psychotherapies.In 1982, Dr. Economopoulos formed the Association for Narcotic Drugs Information and Treatment. In 2004, he was a founding member of the Association for Liberation from Drug Addiction (www.elefsyna.org), a non-profit organization as a follow-up to ANDIT, to promote treatment (drug addiction) as well as prevention (legislation regarding Harm Reduction).

In 1980, he published his first book “Psychedelic or Soul-Revealing: LSD MESCALINE HASHISH”, the first comprehensive work on the subject in Greece, which brought him into contact with heroin users seeking help. In 1988 he published his book “Addiction and Withdrawal”, in 2008 “The Treasure of Happiness”, by Cactus Publications, a fairy tale about drugs written for children -but also for adults.

He has been invited twice to the Greek Parliament Drug Committee and three times by the European Parliament to participate in drug conferences. He is married and has four children.

More information on the doctor’s life and activity can be found on his personal website giorgisoiko.gr. Here follows a part of the media invitation to the Press Conference on the creation of the Greek Association for Therapeutic Cannabis, in April 2018:

“The acceptance of the therapeutic value of cannabis by the Greek Parliament and the passing of the Law on the cultivation and production of Medicinal cannabis, came to justify the long struggle for acknowledging cannabis as a valuable health aid (and this is merely an understatement).Now is the time of great responsibility for those who know firsthand the healing effectiveness of cannabis, to break through ignorance and the darkness of misinformation.

Responding to the need for informed citizens, both patients and therapists, on the safe and effective applications of medicinal cannabis, we formed the Greek Association for Therapeutic Cannabis (…)

The President of the Association

Giorgis Economopoulos”

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