We were betrayed by our fellow stoners who voted no on Proposition 19.  These selfish, ignorant assholes turned their back on decades of activism because this law wasn’t good enough for them.  Prop 19 wasn’t perfect but you can’t hold out for perfection especially in the United States.

Prop 19 had the full support of every marijuana activism group including: NORML, MPP, SSDP, DPA, LEAP, IDPI and Cannabis Culture.  In addition many, many more non-marijuana advocacy groups supported the legislation including police groups, labor unions, politicians and medical associations.  Check out this list, Support for Prop 19.  Even the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel supported it.  Are the traitors smarter than the overwhelming group of supporters?  Absolutely not.  The traitors are misguided conspiracy theorists and profiteers of the current prohibition.

The reasons that were given by the traitors are as ludicrous as the war on drugs itself.

  • Corporatization of cannabis
  • High taxes on retail marijuana
  • Prop 19 creates more restrictive regulations
  • Medical Law (prop 213) will be abolished

Prop 19 allowed for the commercial production of marijuana.  How is that a bad thing?  The traitors argue that the evil corporations would add hazardous additives to the plant like tobacco companies do.  If that did happen who cares?  Prop 19 allowed you to grow your own pot.  Why the fuck would anyone buy corporate weed if you can grow your own?

Mass production and marketing of marijuana will drastically increase the supply of cheap weed.  That will bring the price down to a much more civilized level.  Current prices vary from $150 to $400 per ounce.  That is because of prohibition.  In fact one of the DEA’s main objectives is to drive up the price of illegal drugs.  Marijuana is a crop like any other and can be produced even easier than most mainstream crops.  At today’s prices corn goes for about $7.50 per bushel.  That’s 8 gallons of corn for $7.50, and corn is many times harder and more expensive to grow than marijuana.  The $50 per ounce tax that Prop 19 calls for would still put  marijuana at a much lower price than today.  If Prop 19 passed high end pot would probably sell for $100 per ounce.

Prop 19 was not perfect and did in fact create some new penalties such as,

  • Every person 21 years of age or older who knowingly sells or gives away marijuana to someone older than the age of 18 but younger than 21, shall be imprisoned in county jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per offense.
  • Any person who is licensed, permitted, or authorized to sell marijuana, who knowingly sells or gives away marijuana to someone under the age of 21 results in them being banned from owning, operating, or being employed by a licensed marijuana establishment for one year.

I don’t agree with any kind of legal age for alcohol, pot or any other substance.  Unfortunately that is the paradigm in the United States.  There are many countries with no legal age for alcohol and they are better off for it but that is an argument for another day.  The traitors argue that Prop 19 would penalize medical users who are otherwise free under California Proposition 215.  That is absolutely false.  Prop 19 clearly states that Proposition 215 and SB 420 laws are exempt from the new law.  “No on Prop 19” claims that there will be stoned drivers and people going to work stoned.  That is clear outright propaganda.

The stoners against Prop 19 also argued that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that growers, sellers and users could still be prosecuted by the DEA.  That is true but what do you expect?  Prop 19 was isolated to the state of California.  It had zero power at the federal level.  It was unfortunate but expected that the feds announced that they would “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws against Californians who grow or sell marijuana for recreational use even if voters pass the legalization measure.  This kind of federal meddling really casts doubt on the freedom that the US federal government frequently trumpets about.  In addition Govenator Arnold signed bill SB 1449 which reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction.  In doing so Schwarzenegger intentionally took some of the wind out of the sails of Prop 19 at a very important time.

Who are the traitors that fucked over Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act?

Dennis Peron

Dennis Peron, author of Prop 215 which legalized medical marijuana in California in 1996.  Prop 215 has done amazing things for the movement.  It allowed medical marijuana to be grown, distributed and used legally as well as the medical marijuana dispensaries that we see today.  Peron opposes Prop 19 because he does not believe in the recreational use of marijuana.  He literally does not believe.  Peron was quoted saying “I don’t even understand what recreational marijuana is, people say they feel high. What were you feeling before that? Not high? Low? In other words, you were depressed.”  Nobody is that naive.  Peron is clearly opposed to Prop 19 because he does not want any competition for his pot friendly bed and breakfast in San Fransisco.

Fortunately Dennis Peron has already tasted justice.  He was recently arrested on hard drug and child porn charges.  Ironically he understands the recreational use of methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Dragonfly De La Luz

Dragonlfly aka Stephanie Taylor is a San Francisco-based cannabis and travel writer for Skunk Magazine.  She has received the most media attention of all the traitors.  Se started a blog titled “Stoners Against the Prop 19 Tax Cannabis Initiative.”  On this blog she spews all kinds of conspiracy theory and misguided information against Prop 19.  Dragonfly erroneously says growers who want to legally cultivate will have to pay $211,000 a year to do so. She was quoted, “Obviously there’s no space for the mom-and-pop small-time farmer who have been living off marijuana legally since 1996.”

Medical Dispensary Owners

In a Huffington Post article a dispensary owner named “Craig” was interviewed.  Here is a quote,

“I’ll give you two reasons, one is big tobacco. Did you know that Phillip Morris just bought 400 acres of land up in Northern California? The minute marijuana becomes legal, they’ll mass produce and flood the market. And of course, they’ll add the same toxins they put in regular cigarettes to get you addicted, and very little THC, so you’ll have to buy more… In short, they’re going to ruin weed.” He gestured around his beloved shop, with every flavor of every strain, in its purist form, selling for at-cost prices. “I like the way things are now.”

Phillip Morris 400 acre thing is a phony conspiracy theory in case you were wondering.

Medical Marijuana Growers

Many growers oppose Prop 19 for the same reason as “Craig”.  They are making a handsome profit the way things are.  I hope these selfish mother fuckers get what they deserve.  Here’s a good article on the growers of Mendocino County in California.

Dragonlfy and the other traitors claim that the godfather of marijuana activism and one of my heros, Jack Herer, opposed Prop 19.  Herer was great activist who did more for the movement than anyone, ever.  He died this year on April 15.  He initially opposed Prop 19 because he wanted full and free legalization.  He saw marijuana as a gift from god and wanted, as we all do, absolutely zero restrictions on its use and cultivation.  Jack’s son Dan Herer wrote the following in a letter to members of the cannabis community,

Jack ‘wanted it all’ and Prop 19 is just part of that dream.  Unfortunately Jack passed away before Prop 19 made the 2010 ballot; so many people think he would still oppose it. We don’t believe that, and we ask that everyone stop saying he would cling to that position as we move toward the Nov. 2 vote. He was smart and had the political savvy to know that once a measure is on the ballot, the time for bickering has passed. That is why he campaigned for Prop 215 despite its shortcomings. That is why, were he able, he would now be telling voters to rally around and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

Unfortunately these traitors, profiteers and conspiracy theorists managed to suck in enough people to vote down Prop 19.  The ballot initiative was defeated with 53.9% of California voters voting ‘No’.  All the marijuana advocacy groups who tried their best to get Prop 19 passed agree that despite the loss a nationwide and perhaps even worldwide debate has been sparked.  People are beginning to listen and the truth is getting a lot harder to hide.  The lies and evils of the war on drugs are more obvious than ever.  Marijuana legalization in North America is no longer a fringe issue.  A new law called the Jack Herer Initiative had been filed in California for 2012.  This new initiative is a much more pure form of legalization than Prop 19.

I just want to say fuck you to the traitors.  I hope you all spend years in a federal prison.

 

Urban legends and myths about drugs run rampant in our society.  Largely due to the underground networks surrounding the drug culture and the lack of formal education about drugs.  It is hard to tell what is and isn’t a myth.  Usually a friend or relative are the ones spreading the misinformation which makes it even more believable.  With the following guide you will have a much better compass through the murky waters of illicit drug conversation.

Things to look for:

1. Excessive detail in the description.

Does the teller of the myth go into detail above and beyond what is necessary?  Does it seem out of place in the conversation?  You are probably dealing with a myth.  Urban legends often rely on the audience’s lack of familiarity with some highly complex system medical, legal, or otherwise.
Here’s an example,

LSD makes your brain bleed and it drips blood onto your spinal cord, that is the reason people get flashbacks.

This is a great myth in many ways and one of my favorites.

Another example with along the LSD theme,

Taking LSD seven times makes you legally insane.

That’s a classic. What is the definition of “legally insane”? Who knows? The use of a specific number is a dead giveaway that this is a myth. Also the number will often change from source to source.

2. Is it intended to scare you?

Most drug myths are intended to scare you. Especially in the case of marijuana.  Here is a popular myth,

Ecstasy drains you spinal fluid.

or a more alarming variation on the myth,

Ecstasy is stored in your spinal fluid over time and when you crack your back it releases into your system.

There are many more myths about ecstasy and the spine too. People will defend these myths to the death, even though they are utterly ridiculous.

3. Does it have a punch line?

I got this one from snopes.com,

This guy goes down to the States from Canada. He comes across this amazing deal on acid, so he buys a hundredlot. He figures that it’s not likely they’ll strip search him, so he tapes the whole sheet to his stomach when he goes back. At the border he’s ordered to get out of his car and wait in a room while they search the car. He gets so freaked out, thinking that they’re going to strip search him after all, that he starts sweating. The sweat soaks the sheet taped to his body and he absorbs a hundred hits of acid through his skin. Pretty soon he thinks he’s an orange and decides he’ll have to peel himself, so he starts peeling off his clothes. To this day he’s confined to a psychiatric ward, still convinced that he’s an orange.

That is the king of drug myths. It has been regurgitated in a million different ways but the punch line is the same. I’ve heard several different versions of this one. Some say he actually started to pull off his skin thinking its an orange peel.

4. Did it happen to a friend of a friend?

Urban legend spreaders will often say that it happened to someone they know (or say they know)  to add credibility.  That is a dead giveaway that they are feeding you an urban legend.

Here’s an example,

My neighbor’s cousin wend blind from staring at the sun too long while tripping on acid.

5. Does it sound too good to be true?

There are no boring urban legends.  If it does not pique your curiosity what is the point of making up a story?

Here is an example, this one is called the after toke smoke.  It goes like this,

Smoking a cigarette after marijuana gets you 33% higher.

I can’t believe I actually found a link to this myth.  I originally heard it years ago.  This link says 27% higher which shows how it changes from teller to teller.  Exact (although made up) statistics are very common in urban legends.  If you hear different numbers from different sources you are likely dealing with an urban legend.

6. Is there a moral to the story?

Most legends, including urban legends, have a moral.  In the case of drug myths the moral is usually “don’t do drugs”.  This one is a great drug urban legend,

This story was told to me by a friend who heard it on the news on the radio about a year or so ago. It is a factual account.

There was a girl and she was baby-sitting. The parents had gone out to a very big party and had left this infant at home with this sixteen-year-old girl. So she was babysitting and they phoned just to see if everything was all right. She said, “Oh, fine. Everything’s great. The turkey’s in the oven. The mother went, “Oh, okay, fine,” and she hung up. Then she looked at her husband and went, “The turkey’s in the oven? We didn’t have a turkey!” He said, “What’s the matter?” So they decided they had better go home and see what was the matter. Maybe there was something wrong with the babysitter.They excused themselves from the party and went home. So they walked in the house and saw the baby-sitter sitting in the chair freaking out. She had put the little infant in the oven and had thought it was a turkey.

I stole that one from snopes.com.  The moral here is to make sure your babysitter is not on LSD.  Or maybe it is don’t take psychedelic drugs if you are taking care of an infant.  You get the idea.

The truth is never as interesting as the myths.  Drugs have been used for thousands of years and will continue to be used for thousands more.  The prohibition imposed dark ages around illicit drugs have left the door open for urban legends.  Don’t be fooled.


With all the progress in the anti-prohibition movement over the last year a government fear mongering effort was inevitable. After all it is the job of the government to maintain the status quo.

Last night in Canada our national TV station, CBC, aired two 1 hour documentaries about marijuana. The first one was on David Suzuki’s Nature of Things. Suzuki is very well respected in Canada, he ranked fifth in “the Greatest Canadian” vote hosted on CBC.  Last night’s episode was titled “The Downside of High” and focussed mainly on the cannabis-schizophhrenia link.  As Loopy Lettuce readers know that is a total myth.  Suzuki quoted a study that was done in the 80s which showed a weak causal relationship at best, read the  schizophrenia myth for more on that.

He also used the marijuana potency myth.  “This isn’t your grandma’s weed” is the jist of it.  The documentary was not objective and ignored newer studies that disprove the cannabis-schizophhrenia link.  The second documentary was called CannaBiz and showed the organized crime connection in the marijuana industry.  It was a generally anti-prohibition documentary and even featured interviews with Marc Emery.  Suzuki’s show was clearly placed in the lineup to give an anti-marijuana message before CannaBiz was shown.  It was obvious fear mongering and CBC is not alone.

The National Post published an eerily similar article the same day, Jan 28 (LINK).  This article was much more blatant fear mongering than the Nature of Things.  If you have any doubts this quote from the article will set the record straight,

Despite what some of its advocates might claim, any “medicinal” qualities are bred right out of the stuff that’s sold on the streets. It’s not wacky anymore. It’s dangerous.

I hope the author, Brian Hutchinson, reads this; medical marijuana is exactly the same as street marijuana.  Many medical growers sell their excess in the black market and the overwhelming majority of Canadian medical cannabis users buy their weed on the “streets”.  He used the potency myth too.  The article says “[BC bud is] 130% more potent than marijuana produced just a decade ago.”  That little “fact” was competely fabricated in order to scare readers.  It is a lie.  I live in BC and I rarely get the high end pot discussed in these propaganda pieces.  When I do it is fucking awesome!  BC bud is not one kind of weed, as Hutchinson points out it is “a catch-all term for locally grown marijuana.”  There is shitty weed in BC too but overall we do have some of the best pot in the world.  It is not some diabolical scheme to hook young addicts as the propaganda would have you believe, we just try harder because we love good pot.

BC bud is being demonized the same way “skunk” is in the UK.  Newspapers in that country have made alarmist claims about skunk and the non-existent schizophrenia risk for some time now.  The British media is the main distributor of this particular propaganda.  Here are some of the UK media claims:

From this article,

Cannabis has been implicated in a string of vicious killings, including the recent stabbing of fashion designer Lucy Braham.

This article is even worse,

Addicts will kill more people unless the Government takes tougher action against super-strength cannabis, a mental health charity has warned.

This headline says it all, “Skunk Linked to Huge Increase in Risk of Psychotic Disease

There are literally hundreds of similar articles published in the UK in the last couple years.  It is all lies, and founded in gutter science.  This is brainwashing.  Marijuana, unlike alcohol or cocaine, does not lead to violence.  It has been shown scientifically again and again.

About a month ago Canadian newspapers headlined some more marijuana junk science.  Read about it here.  A study from McGill University in Montreal used rats and powerful synthetic cannabinoids to show that marijuana damages adolecent humans’ brains.  Paul Armentano does a great job of cutting through the media lies.

At the end of December the Conservative government began an anti-pot media campaign with TV commercials and print ads.  The Conservatives also introduced legislation that will introduce mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana crimes and US style drug courts.  Stephen Harper’s affinity for the US war on drugs is pretty damn obvious.  Previous Canadian governments were smart enough to stay away from a full on war on drugs but Harper didn’t get the memo.  The US has placed anti pot messages in TV shows since the Nixon regime.  It is pretty obvious what Harper and his team are up to.

The government knows that pot is harmless, their own commission proved it in 2002.  There are volumes of scientific evidence that  prove marijuana is the safest drug.  So why is the government spending millions of our own tax dollars to brainwash us against pot?  I don’t know the answer to that.  The government has something big to gain from marijuana prohibition and my bet is its money.  One way or another they aren’t going to give in without a fight.

Myth: Permanent brain damage is one of the inevitable results of the use of marijuana.

The Truth: While other drugs like  methamphetamine do kill brain cells marijuana has no such effect. Actually it has been recently proven to cause regeneration of brain cells which in it self was previously though impossible. (link1, link2)

tThis myth had some support 30 years ago from some “scientific” studies.  These famous examples of junk science forced monkeys to smoke excessive amounts of pot through a gas mask.  The researchers actually adminstered 63 joints worth of marijuana in five minutes with no air in between.  The monkeys began to atrophy and die after 90 days.  It is not really big news that asphyxiation kills brain cells.  Jack Herer discusses these studies in his famous book The Emporer Wears No Clothes.  According to Herer, and I agree, studies of this kind are part of a government conspiracy against marijuana.  It’s not just the US government either, look at the gutter science coming out of the UK recently, Schitzophrenia “study”.

While marijuana use does not kill normal brain cells there is another kind of brain cell it does kill.  There is a growing body of evidence that marijuana has the ability to kill brain cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells (link1, link2).  Cannabis could acutally be the cure for cancer (study, Rick Simpson story).  Rick Simpson has been producing “hemp oil” for years at his home in Nova Scotia, Canada.  He has cured cancer in himself and many others.  Marijuana has successfully been used to cure many different kinds of cancer.  Unfortunately the medical establishment has ignored these incredible results.

Despite the fact that no real scientific study has shown any permenant brain damage supporters of prohibition still argue that marijuana kills brain cells.  The findings from the monkey studies in the 70s have not been duplicated and have been disproved by more recent studies.

Myth: Marijuana use can lead to an increased risk of schizophrenia later in life.

The Truth: This is a total media scare story.  Different sources of this myth have different numbers.  Some say you are 4.5 times more likely to become schizophrenic if you smoke pot.  This “study” from the UK claims “Smoking just one cannabis joint raises danger of mental illness by 40%”.  Pretty scary isn’t it?  Fortunately these studies are total bullshit.

There have been many studies promoting the link between cannabis use and the onset of schizophrenia.  It is not the quantity of scientific studies that matters though, it is the quality.  As stated in some of my other marijuana myth posts there are three criteria that need to be satisfied in order to prove causality, these are: Association, Temporal Antecedence and Isolation.  Association means the cause and effect must occur together, temporal antecedence means the effect must follow the cause and isolation means all other causes must be ruled out.  The first two can be shown for pretty much anything.

For example if I performed a raindance and it rained later in the day I have satisfied association and temporal antecedence but not isolation.  Therefore I cannot scientifically prove that my raindance worked.  If raindances were a controversial topic the media would  then publish the “study” and the headline would read “Recent Study Suggests that Raindance Leads to precipitation”.  Sounds ridiculous right?  Well that is exactly what has been happening with the hundreds of “studies” on cannabis and schizophrenia.

Isolation has not been proven in the marijuana-schizophrenia link.  In fact evidence to the contrary is indisputable.  Marijuana use has grown significantly in the last 30 years.  If schizophrenia was caused by marijuana use then there should be an observable rise in schizophrenia rates as well.  No such link has been established.  This study from Australia demonstrates these findings (pdf).  Before marijuana became popular less than 1% of the population was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and now that marijuana use in widespread the rate of schizophrenia diagnosis is still less than 1%.

The Report of the Senate Special Commitee on Illegal Drugs from Canada in 2002 concluded the following,

No mental pathology directly related to the overuse of cannabis has been reported, which distinguishes this substance from psychostimulants such as MDNA, cocaine or alcohol, heavy and repeated use of which can give rise to characteristic psychotic syndromes. Similarly, cannabis does not seem to precipitate the onset of pre-existing mental dysfunctions (schizophrenia, bipolar depression, etc.).

Those suffering from schizophrenia are known to use drugs.  In a recent study, 60% of people with schizophrenia were found to use psychotropic drugs and 37% would be diagnosable with a substance use disorder.  It is assumed that people with schizophrenia use drugs to overcome self-esteem issues and negative feelings due to antipsychotic medication and the condition itself.  There are studies that show that cannabis can actually be used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (link1, link2).  The scientifically accepted factors that contribute to the onset of schizophrenia include genetics and social situations such as childhood abuse, poverty, and racial discrimination.  Social outsiders generally cling to drug use as a means to self-medicate depression or just add a little enjoyment to their lives.

Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the disease between 16 and 25 years of age.  The studies that suggest that marijuana causes schizophrenia claim that pot use during adolescence will cause schizophrenia around the age 26.  That is the age that it will occur anyway.  What does marijuana use have to do with it?  Nothing.  Persons who are predisposed to schizophrenia are awkward teenagers and much more likely to use cannabis and other drugs than their peers.  It actually looks like schizophrenia causes some marijuana use!

Despite lack of evidence the media promotes these studies as true.  Headlines like this, “UK researchers to claim as that pot is causing 14% of schizophrenia cases in the UK” are scary.  These media scare stories are unfounded and designed to create widespread fear around marijuana use, also known as propaganda.  The UK is currently in the middle of a psychological war on cannabis.  Check out some of these recent claims taken from a pot-schizophrenia news story,

Professor Robin Murray, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, warned yesterday that the risks were likely to be heightened by the increasing use of powerful skunk cannabis.

and

Cannabis has been implicated in a string of vicious killings, including the recent stabbing of fashion designer Lucy Braham.

These claims are absurd this is pure propaganda.  Unfortunately the majority of people know very little about cannabis and accept these claims as true.

American drug laws are being threatened by anti-prohibition groups.  People are beginning to wake up to the evils of prohibition.  The DEA published this booklet, Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization.  It is available online HERE.  The DEA says this booklet is “designed to cut through the fog of misinformation with hard facts”.  Let’s take a look at the top ten “facts” about legalization.

1. We have made significant progress in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America. Now is not the time to abandon our efforts.

They go on to say “Ninety-five percent of Americans do not use drugs.”

The exact opposite of that is true. An estimated 117,325,000 Americans aged 12 or over (47% of the US) have used illicit drugs in their lifetime. The lion’s share being marijuana use (41% of total US population).   Marijuana use has declined slightly in recent years but heroin use has grown significantly as well as cocaine.  Drug use follows trends for which change over time.  For example acid was popular in the 60s and again in the 90s but not right now.  Speed and meth were popular with the artsy crowd in the 60s and now meth is seen as a hillbilly drug.

Lets not forget the legal drugs.  The DEA only combats illicit drug use but the scope of drug use in America paints a picture.  Over 66% of US adults drink alcohol on a regular basis and 82% have tried it. 90 billion is spent on alcohol annually in the US alone. Tobacco use is also alarming, 173,927,000 Americans have used tobacco in their lifetime. In addition the use of menthol cigarettes among smokers is on the rise. Caffeine use is also alarming, approximately 70% of Americans are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is an addictive and abused drug, in fact there are four caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders recognized by psychiatric professionals.

2. A balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment is the key in the fight against drugs.

Prohibition has never worked. Alcohol prohibition created a lucrative black market run by organized crime groups, corruption among law enforcement and politicians, and did little to curb alcohol use. Drug prohibition has taken all these problems to the next level.

The DEA continually promotes it’s special drug courts. These courts often sentence people to forced rehab. While that is better than prison many people don’t need or want rehab. In the case of marijuana the unnecessary treatment is used to create statistics that show marijuana is addictive, which it is not. (see marijuana rehab industry)

3. Illegal drugs are illegal because they are harmful.

Absolute bullshit. The legal drugs are more harmful than the majority of illegal drugs. In the case of marijuana the DEA uses myths and half-truths to show it is harmful.  Here is a quote from the DEA site:

smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits about four times more tar into the lungs than a filtered tobacco cigarette.

That is not true at all (see joint/cigarettes myth).  Another DEA tactic is emergency room mentions. Emergency room mentions are not reasons for visiting the hospital. If you go to ER, lets say for a broken leg, and mention marijuana verbally or on a survey it goes to this statistic. That is a loose measurement of prevalence of use not an argument for harm related to the drug. The DEA’s arguments that marijuana is harmful are 100% false. The lethal dose for marijuana is about 900 joints in one sitting (physically impossible), it is not addictive, and there has never been a recorded death or case of cancer as a direct result of marijuana use.

The DEA’s lies are immoral. A publicly funded agency should not lie to the public to stay in business. They are going after the children too, check out justthinktwice.com.

Alcohol is the drug that society has the most problems with. It is addictive, poisonous, has a high potential for abuse and no medical value. Four in ten criminal offenders report alcohol as a factor in violence. 43% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in their families. Tobacco is physically worse. Nicotine addiction is harder to quit than heroin. These drugs are harmful and kill millions every year but they are legal, why?

This chart sums it up. It ranks drugs based on the amount of drug it takes to get high vs how much it takes to kill you:

4. Smoked marijuana is not scientifically approved medicine. Marinol, the legal version of medical marijuana, is approved by science.

Marinol is a synthetic form of THC in a pill.  It is not popular among those who need medical marijuana.  There are three major complaints.  First, vomiting patients have trouble swallowing a pill. Then, if a patient does swallow the pill, the good effects don’t kick in for hours. And when the pill finally starts to work – buckle up. “A 2.5 milligram Marinol pill absolutely knocked me out,” reports one man with AIDS. “I wound up lying on the sofa for days, just totally drugged and unproductive.”  Patients prefer smoked marijuana because it is cheaper, more effective, works almost instantly, and easier to dose.  Here’s a good article “Marinol: The Little Synthetic That Couldn’t“.

Marinol costs $652 U.S. for 30 doses while cannabis can be bought for less than $100 for the equivalent amount.  Marinol was first made in 1985 when a company called Unimed bought the patent and began producing.  The reason a pill was created is a plant cannot be patented.  The pharmaceutical industry is based entirely on patents.  If you could grow your own medicine why would you pay thousands of dollars per year to a drug corporation?

The American Medical Association has recently stated that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance must be reviewed (article).  The DEA suffered a blow and has been working to remove references to the AMA’s stance on marijuana from their website and publications (article).

5. Drug control spending is a minor portion of the U.S. budget. Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction, government spending on drug control is minimal.

What?!?  The DEA’s annual budget was $2.4 billion in 2006 and increases every year.  That’s just the DEA, the cost of maintaining the extreme amount of prison space required for drug war POWs is enormous, as well as local police, judges, prosecutors etc.  In 2003 the US federal government spent over $19 billion on the drug war, that’s $600 per second.

Drug prohibition is the lifeblood of many private industries as well including the private prison industry, private rehab, anti-drug advertising, drug testing, and many others.  There are countless other corporations who benefit from drugs being illegal; big pharma, alcohol and tobacco companies to name a few.  Of course there are the organized crime groups who actually sell the illicit drugs.  The money involved here is insane!

6. Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction. Legalization has been tried before, and failed miserably.

The “legalization” that was tried before was actually the decriminalization of marijuana in Alaska that started in the 70s but they deliberately did not tell the whole story. As the DEA correctly points out Alaskans passed a referendum to recriminalize the personal use of marijuana by a slim margin in 1990. However, in 1993 the Supreme Court of Alaska ruled that a popular vote could not change a constitution amendment. The court has upheld this decision on several occasions. As the law currently stands in Alaska you are legally allowed up to one ounce of marijuana in the privacy of your home and up to 25 marijuana plants.  In Amsterdam you are only permitted to have 5 grams of marijuana without facing prosecution.  The DEA knows this and purposely lied in their “fact sheet”.

Decriminalization does not remove the “forbidden fruit” appeal of  drugs.  Some rebellious teens do drugs because they are illegal.  Under decriminalization people arrested for small amounts of pot don’t get a criminal record but they still pay a fine and it is still illegal.  It was not just an experiment either, twenty one states in the US have decriminalized marijuana to some degree.

The argument that legalization will lead to higher levels of addiction assumes that prohibition limits demand.  That is not the case.  Drugs are available in an absolutely uncontrolled market. High school students frequently claim that pot is easier to get than alcohol.  The law is not much of a deterrent.  When alcohol prohibition was removed in the 1930s did everyone become a drunk?  Absolutely not.

Let’s try a thought experiment.  If a big bucket of heroin and one of cocaine were left unattended on a busy street corner how many people would use the drugs?  Probably the same amount that are using it now.  Less than 1% of the population have used heroin and nearly 10% have tried cocaine.

7. Crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand

That’s true but not for the reasons they say it is.  Illegal drugs are available only in the black market created by prohibition.  In a black market you can’t rely on the cops or other agencies to solve disputes so violence is the only option.  This market is run by criminal gangs who have built up massive amounts of money due to prohibition.  Drug users do not have to be criminals.  If you could go to a gas station and by a pack of “greens” the criminals would not be involved.  You don’t see Starbucks (one of the biggest drug dealers in the world) shooting up the competition do you?

8. Alcohol has caused significant health, social, and crime problems in this country, and legalized drugs would only make the situation worse.

This argument is used frequently by prohibitionists.  Well why is alcohol legal then?  I’ve already pointed out some of the problems with alcohol.  The truth is marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol and the DEA prevents this alternative from getting to the public.  To me this argument is an admission of guilt.

For info on the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol look no further than SAFER.  Or get yourself a copy of the new book “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

Drunk driving is a major problem but studies show that stoned drivers are more cautious and safer drivers.  Each drug has its own unique pros and cons. If you can’t compare apples to apples the argument breaks down.

9: Europe’s more liberal drug policies are not the right model for America.

Europe has different forms of decriminalization and harm-reduction.  These policies have already made their way into the US.  The American stance of militarized outright prohibition with no compromise has not worked.  It is pretty ignorant to ignore alternatives when the system is failing.  What is the shelf life for bad legislation?

10. Most non-violent drug users get treatment, not jail time.

Again they are tooting their own horn about the “drug courts”.  The DEA thinks that treatment over incarceration shows mercy.  They won’t let you forget it either.  That does not change that hundreds of thousands of non-violent users are in jail for extremely long sentences.  (see marijuana vs rape).  The US imprisons more of their own people than any other nation past or present.  The drug war is the main recruiter for the growing US prison population.  Jail or not they still get a criminal record and that is just as bad.

The DEA’s arguments against legalization are weak.  I thought they could do better with a $2 billion/year budget.  But why are they arguing about the law anyway?  DEA is the drug enforcement agency they are supposed to enforce the law not rationalize it. As David Bratzer of LEAP said “If police officers are qualified to comment on anything it lies merely in the area of arresting criminals and helping people in distress.” Laws are supposed to be determined by the legislative branch of the government and in a more general sense the voting public, not the cops.  That just shows how fucked up the DEA is.

Myth: Marijuana is an addictive drug.

The Truth: Not everyone has the same definition of addiction.  To some any use of an illicit drug is considered addiction, to others signs of dependency are the determining factor.  Depending on your definition marijuana could fill some of the criteria.

The generally accepted definition emphasizes preoccupation with the substance, compulsive use and frequent relapses.  Those who spend excessive time and money to get a drug may be considered pre-occupied.  As well as groups of friends who talk about nothing but the drug, or blog writers for that matter.  Users who smoke at the same time each day or can’t watch a movie without pot could be considered compulsive users.  What about relapses?  Those who continue use despite repeated attempts to quit are typical of addiction but this is a rare product of marijuana use.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the authoritative tool used by psychiatric professionals to diagnose mental disorders.  The DSM does not use the word addiction because it is too subjective.  It uses the terms dependence and abuse instead.  In the DSM a person is considered dependant if 3 of the 7 criteria are satisfied.  The criteria are

  1. Tolerance
  2. Withdrawal
  3. Use in excess of initial intention
  4. Failed attempts to decrease use
  5. Loss of time related to use
  6. Continued use despite problems
  7. Reduced activities due to use

Tolerance certainly applies to marijuana.  Some effects of pot diminish with continued use; things like dry mouth, munchies, coughing and inebriation are much less pronounced in an experienced user compared to a new user.  Once a tolerance is developed it takes more drug to get high.  The vast majority of marijuana users though will reach an equilibrium where they know the high they want and stop there.  Withdrawal means discomfort associated with absence of the drug.  Some heavy marijuana users report symptoms such as sleep disturbances, anxiety and irritability when they discontinue use abruptly.  These symptoms vary significantly from person to person and many users experience no withdrawal symptoms from marijuana.

The third symptom shows loss of control of the amount consumed.  Binge drinkers and cocaine users frequently display this symptom.  It is uncommon for a marijuana user to buy a big bag and not have any left in the house the next morning.  While some heavy users smoke huge quantities it is their intention to do so and not a loss of control.  For example Bob Marley was quoted in an interview to smoke over a pound of ganja (weed) per week.  That was no accident, he was a Ratafari and ganja  is sacrament in his religion.

The fourth symptom is also not typical of marijuana use.  While many users have a craving for the drug they also have no intention of quitting.  Few people have any trouble at all quitting marijuana use.  Number five, loss of time, is another very subjective symptom.  Marijuana is illegal worldwide and as such it takes time to track down and buy.  In contrast users of caffeine or nicotine can purchase their drug of choice at a variety of stores.  Impairment for the duration of the drug is not considered a loss of time to most users; that is often the goal.

Number six on the list is also subjective but somewhat easier to diagnose.  Any time lost from work as a result of use would qualify as well as unwanted lifestyle changes.  For example someone who previously enjoyed skiing and rock climbing but now spends most of the time laying on the couch  would qualify.  The pop culture image of a marijuana user is the burned-out couch potato but that is not the case in the vast majority of users (see Amotivational Syndrome Myth).  Arrest and or incarceration from a possession charge would not qualify because it is not the result of marijuana use but the result of prohibition.  The final symptom is continued use despite problems related to the drug.  This is another subjective symptom.  Cannabis users could experience confrontations with family members who have a strong opinion about the drug, legal problems, or increased symptoms from a pre-existing disease such as emphysema or asthma.

The criteria for determining drug dependence in the DSM are vague.  Out of the seven symptoms, some don’t apply to marijuana and others are open to interpretation.  Tolerance is the only one that is common in all marijuana users.  The case for marijuana dependence is weak and that is reflected in real-world marijuana use.

Abuse symptoms are even less objective than dependence symptoms.  The DSM requires only one of the four symptoms to diagnose abuse.  These are:

  1. Interference with major obligations
  2. Intoxication in an unsafe setting
  3. Legal problems
  4. Continued use in the face of troubles

Number one can include impairment at work/school or neglect of children due to use of the drug.  Number two often includes driving under the influence but studies show that marijuana users drive slower and are more cautious then non-stoned drivers (Study).  Legal problems have nothing to do with the substance itself and because of its inclusion in the list all use of an illicit drug is considered abuse.  If yogurt was made illegal today your breakfast would be considered abuse.  The final symptom is the same as it is for dependence.

Marijuana definitely fills some of these criteria but the DSM abuse criteria are way to subjective.  Many marijuana users smoke every day and in spite of legal problems, are they abusing it or simply using it?  There are people who do abuse marijuana but they represent roughly 6% of all users.  Marijuana abuse is a phenomenon not a problem.

Scientific studies have been conducted which compare the relative addictive effects of drugs including Heroin, Cannabis, Nicotine, Caffeine and others.  In two prominent studies marijuana was ranked last.  I graphed the data from one study (Hilts, 1994).

In a different study (Franklin, 1990) experts ranked 18 drugs on how easily they hook people.  Marijuana ranked 14th behind all the previously mentioned drugs.  The only ones that ranked lower were MDMA, mushrooms, LSD and mescaline.  This data is echoed in real life as only a small proportion of people who have tried marijuana go on to use it regularly.  Nearly 50% the US and Canada population over the age of 12 has tried pot at least once in their lives while 10% of the US and 14% of Canada’s population use cannabis on at least a monthly basis.

One of the arguments that proponents of this myth use is that large numbers of marijuana users are admitted to treatment every year.  What they don’t tell you is that they are given an ultimatum in court to take treatment or prison time.  The US Department of Health and Human Services admits that 37% of the estimated 288,000 thousand people who entered drug treatment for pot in 2007 had not reported using it in the 30 days previous to their admission.  Not only does this practice create phony statistics (used for anti-drug propaganda) it also allows a completely meaningless industry to thrive.  I’m doing a future post on the corrupt marijuana treatment industry.

Advocates of prohibition will often admit that pot is not addictive but instead they say it is “habit forming”.  What the fuck is that?  Habit forming is a reference to psychological instead of physical addiction.  It is even more vague than the description of addiction.  The habit forming argument is a total cop-out.  Is it that hard to imagine that people can use a drug because they like it and for that reason alone?

So is marijuana addictive?  The data show that it is not but the subjective nature of the word and diagnosis allow some wiggle room.  Millions of people around the world enjoy cannabis in a responsible way with no problems related to addiction.  Marijuana is easier to quit than coffee.  If all use is abuse then we’re all drug abusers.  Maybe our definitions of addiction, dependence and abuse say more about us a a society than about the drugs themselves.