Michael Jackson Taught Us More Than Music

Michael Jackson Taught Us More Than Music

By Robert Schubring.

Sunday would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday.  9 years ago, when he died, police searching his home, Neverland, seem to have made no record of any cannabis in his possession.  Whether he had none, it all got stolen, it belonged to other people, or officers decided to ignore it, can’t be determined at this time.

What was interesting among the list of drugs found at Neverland, was a stimulant called Aminorex that got taken off the market in 1972 because it caused lung damage, along with three other stay-awake drugs often prescribed to treat ADHD.

Attorney Brian Oxman, who defended Mr. Jackson against criminal charges for suspected child molestation a few years before, mentioned an exchange he had on the subject of addiction.  He advised Mr. Jackson that an addiction doctor could probably help him.  Mr. Jackson responded by accusing Mr. Oxman, whose photo makes him appear overweight, of being addicted to carbohydrates.

Proving that moralizing about addiction is useless.  People use the substances they use, for a reason.  Unless we understand the reason, we cannot persuade them to try safer and more effective ways to achieve the same goal.  In psychology, as in mathematics, there are infinitely many wrong guesses one could make, in trying to arrive at the correct answer.  So, it’s far more efficient simply to ask the person what the hell is going on, than to ignore their personal knowledge.

What’s known for dead certain about Mr. Jackson’s condition, is that the drugs he was on gave him trouble sleeping.  He had in his possession at Neverland, several prescribed sleeping medications that apparently were ineffective at undoing the damage caused by the stay-awake meds he was taking.  At Dr Conrad Murray’s trial, it came out that for 2 entire years, Dr Murray came nightly to wherever Mr. Jackson was staying, to inject him with the surgical sedative Propofol and knock him unconscious, and carefully position him in bed so that his oral secretions did not drain into his lungs.  About 15 minutes later when the Propofol wore off, Mr. Jackson would be asleep and Dr Murray would leave him.  Nobody tried backing off the stay-awake meds to see if that could help the problem.  One of those stay-awake meds was Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance that has serious withdrawal symptoms including psychosis.

Our DEA keeps trying to tell parents that it’s safer to put children on addictive stay-awake meds to treat ADHD, than it is to put them on cannabis-derived medication.  Mr. Jackson, whom Nancy Reagan cited as an exemplary supporter of her “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign, showed us in death what these stay-awake meds are able to do to people.  DEA dismisses all reports of adults who switch from stay-awake meds to cannabis, as “co-morbid cannabis use disorder”, and refuses to consider even the possibility that people who suffer ADHD find cannabis beneficial for their illness.

CDC statistics reveal there to be 2 million opioid addicts and 23 million methamphetamine addicts in the US population.  Opioid addiction remains stable at around 2 million.  Methamphetamine addiction continues increasing.

People who cannot afford a doctor like Conrad Murray, but are having trouble sleeping because of the meth they’re on, need another source of sleep aid from their local dope house.  Usually that sleep aid is a concoction of alcohol, over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills, and a milligram or two of fentanyl.  Accidental overdose is fatal and the body count keeps mounting.

Kentucky and West Virginia, where meth use is rampant and caniphobia dominates their police forces and law courts, record huge numbers of these deaths from cocktails of sleeping drugs.  Meth users who wind up like Mr. Jackson, desperate for sleep but terrified of going through Meth withdrawal, take whatever sleeping drugs they can buy from their meth supplier and keep dying.  Our DEA keeps ignoring the link between stay-awake drugs, sleep disorders, and deaths from desperate attempts to self-treat those sleep disorders.  And the reason our DEA does that, is it has too much invested in defending its past claims, that meth is safer than cannabis for treating ADHD.  So, when Colorado statistics reveal no increase in “opioid-related overdose deaths”, the fact that adult ADHD sufferers there are abandoning prescribed stay-awake drugs and switching to cannabis, safely and successfully, is not discussed.

But it should be.

“Just Say No to Drugs” completely failed to help Michael Jackson.  Just as it’s failing to help everyone else.

Bob Schubring is a Michigan-born filmmaker who funded and produced HIGH: The True Tale of American Marijuana (2008) for Director John Holowach. In making the film, Bob learned that pain is under-treated because of irrational fears about cannabinoids and opioids, and in helping his ailing father and many friends with chronic pain, became an activist, co-founding GivePainAVoice.org with Canadian film director Tina Petrova.  Bob, 60, himself is partly disabled by a nerve disorder that causes spasms in his lower back, the result of a car crash 4 years ago. Last year Bob submitted a paper reviewing decades of Federal studies on opioids, cannabinoids, pain, and brain disorders to the FDA, that expands on these editorial comments with 2 pages of references:  Evidence-Based Policymaking: What’s Absent From the Opioid Crisis.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Bob Schubring

newest oldest
Notify of
Ricky Love

Bob, didn’t know about the car wreck. I got T-boned in ‘17. Nasty.
Recovering as well.

Ricky Love

I’m overjoyed to Bob Schubring;s fecund and knowledgeable mind focusing so solidly on this issue. NOW is the time for new and advanced research into the palliative properties of CBD and Csnnibis in treating sleep disorders and pain management. Congratulations!


There is nothing wrong with using ADHD drugs if you need them. Why is it that people can’t talk about the benefits of cannabis without criticizing the choices that other people make? Let me share something you really ought to understand or at least RESPECT: WHAT WORKS FOR ME MAY NOT BE THE SOLUTION FOR YOU. AND - WHAT WORKS FOR YOU MAY NOT BE WHAT I CHOOSE AND IF THAT IS NOT OK WITH YOU, THEN YOU SHOULDN’T VOICE YOUR OPINION. I hate it when people bash other treatments because theirs is the only true way. It is like a religion. Your article is scattered and doesn’t even make coherent sense to me. All I get out of it is that “marijuana would have solved all his problems.” When people give a treatment a halo, and try to apply it for all medical problems, especially when they dont even really know what another human being’s individual experience of illness is (or just want to ignore it and talk over them), then it is time to walk away. Give me balanced information and don’t airbrush anything and then I will listen.

Karen Sheppard

Michael Jackson Taught Us More Than Music: Fabulous article as a person on Morphine for chronic pain, systemic scleroderma and now not sleeping but trying to raise two children. I’ve also been watching and learning a lot from and about Mr Jackson. Thank you

Ferri jack

Well throw in John Belushi ,Chris Farley,Richard Pryor,etc,etc,etc. Even Dan Ackroyd said John would probably still be here if he’d stayed with marijuana.

William Dorn

I would hate to be these people in our government who are killing chronic pain patients on judgment day. To allow people to suffer and die just to keep their jobs is a crime against humanity. You will be judged.


Actually, Wednesday would have been Michael Jackson’s birthday. He was born August 29,1958. I know this because he and I were born the same day.

Neldine Ludwigson

Pretty sure that fentanyl is fixed in micrograms. Certainly the Duragesic patches I was prescribed before #OPIOIDHYSTERIA became all the rage. Also, marijuana isn’t for everyone, it actually makes my pain worse, quite disappointing.

Kris Aaron

The DEA promotes whatever the politicians who authorize and approve their budget requests tell them to promote.
Those same politicians obviously believe taking prescription opiates away from chronic pain patients will keep recreational drug users from overdosing on illegal fentanyl and heroin. They haven’t even considered the possibility that chronic pain patients who no longer can obtain pain relief will either turn to drug dealers and risk death or bypass that detour and head straight to Dr. Ruger or the Smith and Wesson Pain Clinic.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that politicians with control over a powerful government entity’s budget are more willing to listen to lobbyists with fat wallets than licensed physicians who specialize in sleep disorders and pain management.


I cannot wait for the day I can get Jack Herre for pain. As a 70 yr old woman with HIV, I can tell you pain pills suck.
While I am prescribed I take them with caution which means I’m still in pain.
My husband was a drug addict before I met him. At no time did he share his statis.
It’s time MM was available.

Barbara Snow

Are they ever get it right? If the powers that be take away my pain meds, I will be forced to the street’s. I don’t have that kind of money, so it would only take one trip.

Hi Everyone,
I am a Canadian mental health advocate and it seems that the DEA has to do whatever it can to prove it’s need for existence. They remind me of all the people that started suing the tobacco companies years ago and the CEO’s sat in the court room bare faced lying about smoking being safe. The DEA is very backward and will soon lose their power and their jobs as the medical evidence moves forward. Right now they are very happy to have all these innocent people dying so that they can keep their power. Enjoy it while it lasts because your time is limited.
Judy Wisdom

Mr. Schubring, First. I want to thank you for all you’ve done and to also say I’m sorry that you have to live with chronic pain as well as the rest of us. Yes Michael Jackson brought us much more than music. He taught the world how to be kind or tried to anyway. A child of horrible abuse he tried to change the world in my book. He dealt with it the only way he knew how and I think he did an awesome job at that! My step dad worked with Michael Jackson’s dad in Chicago Illinois at the steel mills and said he was a…. well I can’t use the term, but a very, very bad man and will let it go at that. It’s so easy to sit back and judge another’s life, that’s the shape we’re in now! No one but Michael Jackson will ever know about Michael Jackson with the exception of Michael Jackson. People can estimate and guesstimate and listen to the media as always. In my book he will always be remembered as a most kind and caring soul that came from a very bad place! His only crime was to try and make the world a better place through his music and through his kindness to children of all genders and ages. The man clearly tryied to make up for what he had been through and I of all people can understand and appreciate his efforts. I think it’s a crying shame that he has been used as an example in our outrageous opioid Injustice. Just my thoughts…