Monthly Archives: February 2014

national

Marijuana Deaths Mad-Lib

Here are two news reports about tragic and likely avoidable deaths. My transformation of these two reports was simply replacing the word ‘cannabis’ with the word ‘football’ in the first story, and replacing the word ‘football’ with the word ‘cannabis’ in the second. Have fun!

Football triggered deaths of two men, study says

BERLIN — Football likely triggered fatal complications that led to the deaths of two men with underlying health conditions, according to a German study.

The findings, published online this month, are noteworthy because playing football isn’t normally associated with acute health problems, let alone death.

The researchers, based at university hospitals, said these were isolated cases but suggested people who might have serious heart problems should be made aware of the risk of playing football.

The cases involved two outwardly healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after playing football. Autopsies showed that the younger man had a serious undetected heart problem and the older one had a history of alcohol, amphetamine and cocaine abuse. These underlying conditions, combined with football’s known effect of increasing a user’s heart rate or blood pressure…may have caused the men’s hearts to lose their rhythm.

“We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases,” one of the researchers told the press, noting that it was hard to draw any wider conclusion about the number of deaths that might be caused by football playing.

Still, the researchers concluded that while playing football isn’t particularly toxic and its effects are short lived, people who are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases should avoid the sport.

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Heart Troubles Rare but Deadly in Cannabis Users

Though relatively rare, a cardiac event that strikes a cannabis user is often deadly…cardiac arrest is the cause in half the cases…

Cardiologists say cardiac conditions…typically fall into one of two categories.

The first, cardiomyopathies, involve some abnormality of the heart such as enlargement, thinning walls or scaring. The second type is caused by rhythm disturbances. Nothing appears wrong with the heart but it has a tendency to beat irregularly in some way.

Doctors say said that at-risk cannabis users can experience a heart event any time but that using cannabis certainly increases the chances.

“Patients can be at home watching TV when it happens,” he said. “But we know that symptoms might be exacerbated during cannabis use, which causes the heart to beat faster.”

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The point of this mad-lib exercise is to demonstrate the sensationalized nature of the recent world-wide news report broadcasting two deaths “caused” by the evil weed. When similar news stories are broadcast nationwide upon the death of young athletes who have underlying conditions at sporting events in the US, no one suggests that the sport itself is to blame. The news feature about young athletes dying at sporting events appeared on ABC News in February of 2013. The report about ‘marijuana deaths’ appeared in USA Today, on CBS News and in Time Magazine, amongst other ‘reputable’ national news outlets.

The obvious take away: ban football!

national

Sabet sounding like Carrie Nation – instead of caring for our nation

As America steps confidently and comfortably into the post-prohibition era there are some who have apprehended the consequential demise of the cultural custodian/law enforcement industry that blossomed over more than eighty years of cannabis prohibition. While cannabis-ists and capitalists have celebrated the bold step that Colorado has taken to allow adults to consume cannabis for recreational use, prohibitionists are sounding the alarm that America is doomed.

Kevin Sabet, the resident social scientist at the anti-legalization policy workgroup Smart Approaches to Marijuana that was organized by high profile drug warring prohibitionists from both parties (former democratic congressperson Patrick Kennedy and former speech writer for George W. Bush David Frum) penned an op-ed that was placed in the Washington Times recently that deploys scary conflations, manipulated statistics and veiled threats of the end of America as we know it decrying Colorado’s experiment. There was a time when Sabet’s finger wagging and apoplectic scare mongering found a ready audience. In early February 2014 the same old-same old anti-cannabis rhetoric sounds a bit like Anslinger styled reefer madness mongering.

In the first lines of the piece, “Colorado Will Show Why Legalizing Marijuana is a Mistake”, Sabet lunges toward the propagandist’s friend false equivalency saying that “as far as we know” the first weeks of cannabis being sold like alcohol in Colorado did not include incidents of “bloody fistfights among people waiting in line” and “no burglaries or robberies” – yes, Kevin we know that crack addicts commit crimes to support their addictions and boozed up dumbasses present local law enforcement officials with daily challenges at sporting events, bars and in the homes of battered wives across America…but cannabis? Will the next comparison be that which was presented to Congress in 1937 by Henry Anslinger the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics?;

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

Heavens, America may not be capable of withstanding the onslaught of tie-dyed wearing dead-head fist-fighters committing burglaries across the Centennial State now that the pernicious experiment is underway.

Sabet goes on to attempt to get the villagers all exorcised because “Multimillion-dollar private investing groups have emerged and are poised to become, in their words “Big Marijuana.” Really? I ask you dear reader, when was the last time in the brave and altruistic press in America you have seen the threat of moneyed industrialists scooping up an entire market to make boatloads of cash described as anything other than “the American way” and celebrated in an unqualified fashion as an example of pure American god gifted patriotic market manipulation?

Mr. Sabet, while I personally agree with you that big biz coming into small markets and destroying long-time local small family run businesses with the assistance of bought-off local officials that drives down wages and is antagonistic to collective bargaining and limits our product choices to plastic disposables manufactured by modern-day slaves is destructive and threatens the American economy (see WalMart), I actually don’t remember you saying anything of note with regard to the development of the private prison industry in America over the past years (during the years of cannabis prohibition). You know, those mega-corps who get no-bid cost-plus contracts to house the human debris of your drug war. Contracts that require that these private prison facilities are stocked full of humans, including the victims of America’s racist drug war…you may refer to the biz as “Big Prison”.

Sabet also points out (using another propagandist tactic- attempting to associate his point of view with an honored institution) that the American Medical Association “has come out strongly against the legal sales of marijuana” Well Kevin, the AMA also has “come out strongly” against universal health care, contradicting the humane and cost-saving practices of every industrialized country on the planet (excluding the US) who provide health care to all of their citizens irrespective of their income…you know, Kevin, as in humanity.

The social scientist, out of genuine concern I am sure, is especially keen to inflame the passions of his audience informing them that they may be “shocked to hear that, according to the National Institutes of Health, one in six 16-year-olds who try marijuana will become addicted to it” Now, now Kevin, put down that Red Bull. While it is true that Americans’ addiction to tobacco leads to 400,000 deaths every year and alcohol addicts kill tens of thousand of innocents on America’s roads every year, you know Dr. Sabet that medical researchers say that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine – the killing drug that powers such deadly concoctions as Coke-a-Cola and that Starbucks espresso that you may have consumed as you prepared to write this op-ed.

The real danger behind the small-d democracy experiment to legalize cannabis for adults to use recreationally in Colorado is revealed by Sabet when he confides, “We can expect criminal organizations to adapt to legal prices, sell to people outside the legal market (e.g. kids) and continue to profit from other, much larger revenue sources, such as human trafficking.” So…legalizing cannabis for personal use by adults in America will somehow contribute to an increase in human trafficking? What the hell are you smoking, Sabet?

Feigning concern for us all Sabet asks, “Why do we have to experience a tragedy before knowing where to go next?” when considering the Colorado experiment. Here Sabet employs, embarrassingly, a shop worn tactic used by luddites and religious extremists for centuries; this change we speak of will only bring tragedy, we know that now – fear this change, fear our future, fear the truth. I wonder if Sabet is thinking of the tragedy of providing relief and cures for patients who are suffering today from horrible diseases like cancer, MS and Parkinson’s disease? I wonder if Sabet is thinking of the tragedy in millions of families whose brother or sister was arrested for possessing cannabis for personal use and now cannot become a lawyer, a doctor or president of the United States because of their criminal record?

Witnessing the lengthening of the already long shadows on the blackened tarmac of America’s drug war, the sun finally setting on the despicable, anti-science, human misery creating and racist war on cannabis, Sabet bleats the warning; “Voters in other states should watch Colorado closely and engage in a deep conversation about where they want this country to go.” I do agree with the good doctor on this point…watch Colorado, think about the possibilities for our future, and follow, America.

national

Breaking: Obama’s Deputy Drug Czar admits that cannabis is less of a public health threat than prescription drugs and alcohol

cross posted at Fire Dog Lake

In an exchange at the House Committee Oversight and Government Reform’s congressional hearing on marijuana policy today, an elected representative and an appointee of an elected representative squared off over a non-political truth about the relative safety of cannabis compared to America’s legalized drugs, specifically prescription pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

The appointee, Michael Botticelli, the Deputy Detector of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, was asked a series of non-vague questions by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) who demanded non-evasive answers or propagandized conjecture on the subject of whether or not cannabis is safer than alcohol from the White House spokesperson in light of President Obama’s recent comments suggesting that the president believes that cannabis is “no more harmful” than alcohol.

Connolly asked Deputy Director Botticelli for a direct answer to an unambiguous question; “How many people die from marijuana overdoses every year?” To which the deputy drug czar answered, “I don’t know that I know. It is very rare.”

Connolly persisted with the line of questioning by asking Deputy Botticelli, “Very rare. Now just contrast that with prescription drugs, unintentional deaths from prescription drugs, one American dies every 19 minutes…nothing comparable to marijuana. Is that correct?” Deputy Botticelli agreed with the congressperson’s analysis.

Connolly continued, “Alcohol – hundreds of thousands of people die every year from alcohol related deaths; automobile (accidents) liver disease, esophageal cancer, blood poisoning…Is that correct?” Deputy Botticelli did not respond to the congress person’s question, but instead offered an off-topic point of personal analysis by reiterating the Obama Administration’s stance on cannabis legalization, stating that the “totality of harm” that is associated with cannabis demonstrates to appointed policy minions such as himself (as opposed to doctors and scientists) that cannabis is dangerous, even though the government itself reports year after year that cannabis causes no deaths of Americans.

Botticelli’s non-substantive and medically inaccurate waffling led Representative Connolly to comment out of frustration in attempting to pin down the administration’s policy person on a simple and straight forward question about widely known scientific fact, “I guess I’m sticking with the president – the head of your administration – who is making a different point. He is making a point that is empirically true. That isn’t a normative statement (that marijuana is good or bad), but he was contrasting it with alcohol and, empirically, he is correct.”

Botticelli continued to dodge the direct question by again waffling into administration talking points that have been used for going on five years by the Obama administration to justify its conscious inaction with respect to the legalization or reclassification of cannabis, prompting Representative Connolly to interrupt Botticelli and demand a specific answer to the following question;

“Is it not a scientific fact that there is nothing comparable to marijuana? And, I’m not saying it is good or bad, but when we look at deaths and illnesses, alcohol, other hard drugs are certainly – even prescription drugs – are a threat to public health in a way that just isolated marijuana is not…Isn’t that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?”

To which Botticelli responded sheepishly, “I don’t dispute that fact.”