Tag Archives: paradigm shift

international

Cannabis brain study study finds measurable inaccuracies

Today, while tweeting our weekdaily twitter #cannabis headline blasts (follow @mLaw_news), we found an article that piqued our interest.

Last week mLaw published a parody critique of the fawning and uncritical media reportage of a medical study of cannabis users and the pop-psychological puffery that the doctors who performed the research engaged in while engaging the press, all of which was presented with baited breath by the ‘oh so concerned for the kids’ MSM worldwide (our article focused on reports in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe).

Our parody took the form of a report on an analytic study that purported to demonstrate that scientists who receive moneys to perform studies from America’s “drug warring law enforcement/scientific agencies” have problems with emotion and decision making that were revealed in the doctor’s decisions to make claims that are not born out of their research study and are instead emotional appeals for ‘protecting our youth’ (which, obviously no one disagrees with) that are of the distinct character of those which have been made over the past 80 years by prohibitionists to help sustain the unfair and anti-science prohibition on the substance cannabis.

Today we find an analysis of the national reportage of the study and what its authors told credulous media the study demonstrates: “Does Researching Casual Marijuana Use Cause Brain Abnormalities?” wherein the author Lior Pachter, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler professor of computational biology at UC Berkeley and professor of mathematics and molecular and cellular biology with a joint appointment in computer science, in a causal effort – as opposed to a rigorous study, slammed the cannabis brain research as “quite possibly the worst paper I’ve read all year.”

Dr. Pachter breaks down his critique into 3 categories; flaws in the design of the study, flaws with regard presenting data, and that the researchers suggest correlation in their study amounts to causation.

The study’s design flaws, as analyzed by Pachter, include; the small sample size of the study from which the authors intuit the results that they reported to the press, and Pachter also questions the definition in the study of “casual user” stating that, for him an acknowledged non-cannabis user, smoking 30 joints a week (as one of the study’s participants admitted) seemed to be more than a casual cannabis user.

But beyond these criticisms, Pachter advised (as our parody analysts found) that the media statements of the researchers did not accurately describe the results of the research. One of the researchers (Dr. Hans Breiter, of Northwestern University) told the media in unequivocal terms; “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem; if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our Data directly says that is not the case.” After reviewing the research paper Pachter found that, “Breiter’s statement in the press is a lie.” Pachter states, “There is no evidence in the paper whatsoever, not even a tiny shred, that the users who were getting high once or twice a week were having any problems.”

Going deeper into the science behind the study, Pachter discovered that the findings reported by the researchers were not corrected to take into account data recorded in multiple tests. The study measured different aspects of the brains of the test subjects, including grey matter density, volume and shape. Multiple tests were taken by the researchers and brain volumes of the test subjects were estimated. Pachter says that the researchers “should have…correct(ed) the p-values computed for each type of analysis,” and not doing this led the researchers to report findings where “the extent of the testing was not properly accounted for.”

Additionally, and importantly, Pachter found that “many of the (study’s) results were not significant.” An example Pachter points to is a “volume analysis (that) showed no significant associations for any of the other four tested regions.” Pachter says that, in one of the brain volume tests, for the left nucleus accumbens, if the researchers removed the “outlier at a volume of over 800 mm3” the study would have possibly revealed no effect whatsoever (“flatten the line altogether”) in the brains of cannabis users…a theory that would be of interest to test, but, as Pachter points out in frustration, “the authors did not release any of their data.” (bold in original)

Further – and even more bizarre in an academic study, is that for some of the charts that the researchers use as examples in the study, “the authors did not report the p-values at all” or only reported them where “they were significant or not” and even in these instances “without correlation.” (italics in original)

And finally, Pachter took the researchers to task for pretending to the reporters that, out of all research ever performed, it is only in their cannabis study that the differences that they were able to measure can only be related to what they posit – cannabis use. Even mLaw’s ‘analysts’, who received their certificates in parody from far less well known institutions than Harvard, Northwestern and UMass, did actually point out to the researchers in our parody what they may have missed in their first college classes: “correlation does not prove causality”.

Pachter closes his critique by suggesting in all apparent seriousness; “I believe that scientists should be sanctioned for making public statements that directly contradict the content of their papers, as appears to be the case here.”

It goes without saying, the staff at mLaw are not scientists and claim no expertise at all regarding the study of the brain. What we can do, however, is read and our review of the articles that were widely and sensationally broadcast across the spectrum of MSM found that the doctors made statements that the study revealed data that the researchers themselves claimed they never studied.

The single biggest finding from this study, as we see it, is: we need more medical research on cannabis and politicians are standing in the way of this needed research.

But, the researchers’ first demand was not that President Obama must reschedule cannabis for medical research, as he (a never running for office again lame duck) has the power to do. And mLaw is not letting congress off the hook on this, but in the case of Obama, its one man and one action that is consciously not being taken. Instead, the doctors took their time to wax all Dr. Phil in the media interviews, making connections that simply are not supported by the study and that are also of the same tenor as the barrage of prohibitionist scare-talk we have heard since Washington and Colorado citizens voted to legalize cannabis – it is all standard Smart Approach BS.

The study seems significant and worthy of further research – but cannabis is scheduled as being of less value and more dangerous than heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Doctors can’t easily experiment with cannabis due to this listing on the federal schedule of drugs …think about that for a second, our leaders assert that cannabis and LSD are more dangerous and of less value than cocaine and heroin.

To be clear, there is one unequivocal finding from this study…whether you are a supporter of medical cannabis, support ending the prohibition of cannabis, or favor continuing the war on cannabis, we have to agree “more study is needed”, cannabis must be rescheduled immediately.

We find, however in the reportage of the brain measurement study on casual cannabis users that received so much attention in the MSM, that these doctors – who promised to do no harm – spend their energies broadcasting results that are not results that the research afforded and, moreover, are the kind of scare tactics that are used every day by appointees in the White House’s Office on Drug Control Policy, a White House that, in contradiction of scientists on the government’s payroll who have called for more cannabis study, in callous dismissal of mothers and fathers of children suffering from Epilepsy, in immoral support of un-equally applied drug laws as hundreds of thousands of our citizens have to live their lives under the stigma of a cannabis arrest or conviction, and (surprisingly for this particular White House) when, at a time when harsh economic realities are facing this nation, thousands of potential small businesses (and even the felonious banksters who pull Obama’s strings) stand to make boat loads of legally earned dollars should cannabis prohibition be ended federally, has steadfastly refused (for purely political reasons relating to Mr. Obama’s “presidential legacy”) to re-classify cannabis – at least to free up our scientists to perform needed research.

And, although our previous article on this matter was indeed a parody, we at mLaw have to ask ourselves to consider the motives behind all parties involved in the study, its mischaracterization by the researchers and its broad based uncritical boostering by our mainstream media.

What is known is that, in general, regular folks when listening to a doctor describe research, assume a whole lot of good faith on the part of the professional. In this case, sadly, what we find is that while science is science (whether one agrees with or likes what is revealed by scientific study), doctors, on the other hand are humans who can be objective or decide to misuse the good faith with which they are approached by regular citizens to spout propaganda and emotional appeals that are hardly scientific – for whatever reason, whether to support their own predeterminations or to kiss (as opposed to bite) the hand that feeds them and their research studies.

national

Drugged driving duplicity damaged in fender bender with actual science

As cannabis legalization begins and the end of the national prohibition of the natural and useful substance appears on the distant horizon as inevitable, propagandists and their enablers in the media have begun to report in a distinctly yellow journalistic fashion on a scary rise in so-called “drugged driving.”

Implicit in the scare-the-suburbanites style of the various media reports on the topic that have appeared in the few short weeks following the commercial availability of cannabis to adult recreational users in Colorado are a host of unspoken assumptions of the type that underpinned much of the drug-war propaganda that Americans were fed during the 80 year prohibition of cannabis. This includes such unfounded memes as; implying that cannabis users have no concern for the safety of others, conflating the known national scandal of drunk driving on America’s highways with cannabis use when the two drugs are widely known by both medical professionals and regular citizens to have significantly different effects on users, and, misrepresenting findings that suggest a connection between cannabis found in drivers’ blood streams and impairment that results in auto accidents.

Another feature of such sensationalized reporting is neglecting to cite studies that countervail the intended message. In the sensationalized reportage found in mega-media over the past few weeks it is interesting that the 2011 study performed by Dr. Daniel Rees, an economist at the University of Colorado in Denver that was published by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University of Chicago Law School in 2013 is rarely mentioned or cited. Dr. Rees’ study found that in the states where cannabis has been legal for a decade or more for medicinal purposes traffic fatalities have reduced by statistically significant amounts.

The important study shows that highway deaths in states that have allowed their citizens to use cannabis for medicinal purposes have reduced dramatically, an overall reduction of nearly nine percent. The study looked at traffic fatalities nationwide, including in 13 states that have legalized medical cannabis, over the 19 year period between 1999 and 2009. Rees’ research shows that traffic fatalities dropped significantly in the first year after states legalized medical cannabis, decreases ranging between eight and eleven percent. The decrease was most significant for drivers between the ages of 20 and 39.

At the time the study was released, Dr. Rees advised that his research team was “astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing marijuana.” The team focused on traffic deaths in America because “there is good data, and the data allow us to test whether alcohol was a factor.” An associate of Dr. Rees who co-authored the study, Dr. Mark Atkinson of the Economics Department of Montana State University, added, “Traffic fatalities are an important outcome from a policy perspective, because they represent the leading cause of death among Americans five to 35.“

The largest reason for the decrease in alcohol related fatalities in states that have legalized medical cannabis, according to Dr. Rees, is that the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a decrease in alcohol consumption. The study found that “legalization is associated with an almost 5 percent decrease in the consumption of beer, the most popular beverage among 18-29 year-olds.” Rees found that “legalization of medical marijuana leads to sharp reductions in binge drinking, a form of alcohol abuse considered to have “especially high social and economic costs.””

Rees was careful to point out that while traffic fatalities dropped in states where medical cannabis is legal, “the negative relationship between legalization and alcohol–related traffic fatalities does not necessarily imply that driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol.” Although this is the case with respect to Rees’ study, Rees points to other studies that have been carried out by scientists that indicate that drivers who are impaired by their consumption of alcohol tend to underestimate how badly their driving skills are impaired and for this reason alcohol users drive faster and take greater risks behind the wheel. On the other hand, cannabis impaired drivers display greater caution than they do when driving sober, driving more carefully and taking fewer risks.

Rees cautioned that, due to the fact that the majority of medical cannabis users as of the date of the study are younger males (69 percent of Coloradans who use medical cannabis are male and 48 percent of Montanans who use medical cannabis are between the ages of 18 and 40) the data used in his study related primarily to these cannabis users and estimates for female users are less precise. Rees also noted that our nation’s disconnected and varied policies regarding cannabis regulation “have not been research-based thus far,” and called for additional scientific study that can lend legitimacy our nation’s cannabis regulatory policies. Dr. Rees concluded, “Although we make no policy recommendations, it certainly appears as though medical marijuana laws are making our highways safer.”

It should be emphasized that scientific studies regarding the benefits of cannabis, medical uses for the substance or studies on how the substance affects social relationships, are nearly impossible for researchers to perform due to the self-imposed federal embargo on medical and psychological research of cannabis. The substance is currently scheduled for political reasons as one of the most dangerous drugs known in America and cannabis is said by federal regulators to have no medical benefit. It is a simple yet startling fact that cannabis is considered by our federal government to be a more dangerous drug than both cocaine and methamphetamine.

Due to cannabis being scheduled so aggressively, researchers cannot study the properties of cannabis to discover the possible medicinal uses of the natural substance. It is for this reason, the self-imposed political embargo on scientific study, that researchers who are seeking to understand the medical benefits of cannabis or its influence in our culture are forced to review more general statistical information and develop hypotheses based upon this general information, as was the case in Dr. Rees’ study. Dr. Rees compiled public medical statistics from several sources including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems to draw his conclusions regarding the impact of cannabis legalization on traffic fatalities.

The pushers of the drugged driving meme also falsely equate cannabis detected in the blood of drivers who cause accidents with the widely known and understood concept of blood alcohol measurement. As is well known, alcohol levels detected in the systems of drivers using breathalyzers are in fact indicators of physical impairment – impairments that lead to thousands of automobile accidents every year in America and tragically kill tens of thousands of citizens. What is widely known in both law enforcement and the medical establishment is that while the effects (and therefore the possible impairments caused by) cannabis are short lived, lasting roughly an hour or two, cannabis can be detected in a user’s blood stream for 30 days or more.

The obvious truth is that while cannabis (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC) can be found in the system of a user for up to a month after a single use – a cannabis user can never be physically affected by the substance for up to month after using the substance. Law enforcement officials and journalists who suggest that a driver is ‘drugged’ because they used cannabis 30 days ago are liars, liars who know that they are dishonestly manipulating the facts for the purpose of hoodwinking their audience. The bandying about of statistics regarding drivers who have cannabis in their system, without identifying the huge caveat described above, is a tactic used by cannabis prohibitionists that is cynical, deceptive and patronizing.

national

Money, Medicine, Marijuana and Moonbeams

The national cable network Comcast has begun running what is the first advertisement regarding medical cannabis of the post-prohibition era. The advertisement, that has begun to run in markets where medical cannabis has been legalized through acts by state legislatures, including in Illinois and New York, will be rolled out into additional markets that are served both by Comcast Cable and by elected officials who understand the humanity in providing medicines to our sick neighbors.

The paid advertisement promotes Marijuanadoctors dot com, which is a business that connects doctors who have experience prescribing medical cannabis with sick patients who are unable for many reasons to get the medical authorization to purchase prescribed medications in their state. Even though cannabis has been legalized as medicine in 20 states (with 13 additional state legislatures considering legalizing medical cannabis), many patients still have difficulty finding a doctor who is willing to prescribe medical cannabis leading to the dangerous, untenable and perverse consequences of, for example, a horribly sick Parkinson’s Disease patient turning to the illicit market to obtain needed medicine. In effect, turning deathly ill Americans into criminals who have to risk both arrest by police and theft and injury by drug dealers in pursuit of life saving and pain ending medications.

Comcast has taken the bold step to be the first media outlet in America to run medical cannabis advertisements because, as Comcast told the on-line news journal the Verge, “It went through our legal department, and they approved it.”

With nothing more from Comcast to analyze, the company’s effort (that is historically the first advertisement that has been presented to Americans on their TV screens involving the nascent commercial cannabis market) may have been inspired out of an altruistic concern for its viewers some of whom are sick and need the relief that medical cannabis can provide them and advertising the services offered by Marijuanadoctors has not been outlawed, or the motivation could have come from the company’s desire to cash in on a truly new and massive market – one can only speculate. But the historic advert does indicate we are living in a changed world.

When the sick and diseased have easily satisfied needs, when suburban moms are lobbying statehouses in red and blue states to repeal prohibition, when international political leaders are finding their courage to confront failed drug warriors, when hippies and international corporations arrive at commonality, when state level politicos and cable company honchos realize the cash that they may be leaving on the table, the finger wagging and tut-tutting of dry-doper politicos and cultural custodians who are intent on maintaining cannabis prohibition are revealed to all as obvious self-serving, self-exculpating and legacy burnishing talking points that have only the effect of consigning more minorities in our country to lives with arrest records and more patients in our land living out lives in pain and desperation – arrests that don’t have to happen and pain and desperation that can be ended by compassionate Americans.

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.

– –

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.”

> >

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.”

national

Barack and Cannabis: legacy burnished, propaganda furnished

All I can say today is, quite simply, spare me the bullshit.

As our government has reported:

  • In 2012, four years into the Obama era, 749,825 Americans were arrested for possessing cannabis.
  • This figure represents fully 48.3 percent of all drug arrests in the US in 2012.
  • Of these arrestees, 87 percent, 651,231 Americans were arrested for possession of cannabis for personal use.

That means that during Obama’s fourth year as president, one of his fellow American citizens was thrown in jail every 48 seconds because they use cannabis.

And, my compassionate friends, I ask you to try and remember a time when you were very ill – as we all have been at some point. When the pain was so horrible that you felt time slowing and as the seconds ticked by you felt hopeless. When your belly and back were sore from vomiting. When the headache pounded like a jackhammer to wake you up and 6am seemed like sixty days away. Every forty eight seconds of sickness and suffering was a lifetime. We have all been there, with most of us, thankfully, returning quickly to full health. Consider now if you can, chronic spasticity, paralyzing rigidity, incapacity to eat, palsy, fatigue, fever, inability to breathe or swallow.

Its great that science and medicine (and I’m not talking about health commerce, but study and experimentation that is largely funded socialistically, meaning thorough the support of all of us- as it should be) have found that cannabis can bring relief to patients who suffer from: glaucoma, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease(s), Rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Lupus and many other painful and life eroding diseases.

And, in the fourth year of the Obama presidency, our own government told its citizens who are hopeful for answers from medicine that can assist them and their oncologists that experiments performed over the past ten years show that cannabinoids “possess anticancer activity” and can actually impede the growth of tumors and help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the bodies of afflicted patients.

It is important to reiterate these scientific anti-cancer breakthroughs: cannabis not only relieves the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy as we have know for some time, but cannabis has also been found to inhibit the growth of cancer tumors and stop the spread of cancer to other organs in diseased patients. That is amazing and brings hope to millions of our fellow citizens across America.

With the citizens in two states taking the initiative from “some of the folks who are writing those laws” and legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use, and the promise of a substance the medical applications and usefulness of which have been knowingly ignored and shunned by the medical establishment for 80 years (for what is basically the entire history of modern medicine), one could say that we are truly at a moment of cultural epiphany – note I didn’t say “panacea”.

There are very few moments in history where we as a society, an egalitarian people who embrace science and have compassion for our sick brothers and sisters, a free society that is capable of understanding what it means to our fellow citizens when one of them is unfairly and unnecessarily jailed and given the life sentence of being an ex-convict, can together take simple actions that effect so many of our brethren and have such positive implications for our heirs. So it really rankles me to hear a dry doper elected official tell us that stopping kids from being arrested, making the daily life of my sick neighbor bearable and giving cancer patients the hope of a cure cannot happen today because, “There is a lot of hair on that policy.”

I’m supremely aware, as has been so often pointed out by patronizing “practical and intelligent” players of eleventy dimensional chess over the last five years, that I am simply too simple to understand what all that “hair” refers to, but I do have one question – asking the so-called “great men” who see themselves at the head of “great movements” to think beyond their scheming and dreaming and meme-ing about their personal “legacies” for a moment…how about the currently imprisoned and dying? What can possibly be more important than these human beings, what is more “hairy”?

Oh, I get it…”evolution”.

Thanks to the device of “framing”, provided by the soft-ball tossing hagiographer Mr. Remnick, we see now how a heavy cannabis user, who ran for US senate supporting cannabis decriminalization, who then consciously altered his view when he ran for president, and then once becoming president, refused to answer questions about the relative safety of cannabis for going on five years – five years that included making calculated and demeaning jokes at the expense of citizens who are seeking answers from this so-called “representative” of the people – we now are informed that President Obama has “evolved” with respect to his understanding that cannabis is, with absolutely no qualifiers, safer than the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol. With over 400,000 deaths yearly in the US over the last 9 years caused by tobacco and over 10,000 automobile accident deaths yearly in the US over the last 9 years caused by alcohol (as a matter of fact, Obama’s government reports that one in three auto accidents involve alcohol) during which time exactly zero deaths were caused by cannabis, one who is concerned about health and equal justice must gasp in a state of understandable amazement – Huh? Sorry to inform you Mr. Remnick, that’s not an evolution – it is cynical, thought out, intentional election year deception and voter manipulation, nothing more. Where I come from (Chicago, Illinois – Obama’s ‘home town’) we call that type of duplicitous bullshit what it is – lies spoken by a lair.

Obama wouldn’t have been lying if he had said that cannabis is less harmful than the legal products sold by our billions of dollars a year alcohol and tobacco industries in 1979 the year he graduated high school. If he made the statement in 1983 when he graduated college it would have also been true. He could have said the same thing in 1988 when he entered law school, or in 1997 when he started to write laws as a state senator in Illinois – but wait…

We also hear from Obama’s hagiographer that Mr. Obama chides “some of the folks who are writing those (cannabis) laws” because they themselves “have probably done the same thing.” Who is the president talking about here besides his own guilty self? 1997 is seventeen years ago – I know that Obama had some really important self-promotion to attend to over the course of those years, but- seventeen years of remaining silent about the simple to understand, easy to demonstrate and widely accepted fact that cannabis is less harmful than America’s debilitating and death dealing legal drugs? The math is easy with respect to arrests; 17×700,000= 11 million nine hundred thousand arrestees whose lives have been shackled to an arrest record that “folks” just like Obama (and including Obama himself) were blasé about – did nothing about – did not speak up about – did nothing to help. Yep, just let those Americans slide down the alimentary canal of our legal system. Nice.

Also known for decades by all (but revealed to be a concern of Mr. Obama just now in his fifth year as President) is the 80 year history of African Americans and Latino Americans being targeted in a discriminatory fashion by America’s collective law enforcement using drug laws. It’s good to know that Obama admits that he is aware of the near century of discrimination in drug arrests by local and federal law enforcement. And we can all be sure that Obama (although calculatedly never uttering this widely known fact) has known that this is the truth for many years, meaning it ain’t an ‘evolution’. Eighty years of discriminatory law enforcement actions that have landed millions of our fellow citizens behind bars, in many cases ending these citizens’ chances to become full members of our society – to live productive lives and bless us all with their skills, intelligence and talents. Good to know – but, hey Obama, what have you done about it in five years as president, four years as US senator and seven years as a state senator?…cue crickets.

Finally, and echoing Obama’s cynical, deceptive, authoritarian and a-scientific modern drug war strategy, we get this slice of unctuous skanky bullshit from our dear leader;

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

Who, I ask simply, is suggesting that providing life supporting and life saving medications to Americans with fatal diseases and saving our future’s Americans from lives tainted with arrest and conviction records is a super-secret subterfuge attempt to legalize cocaine and methamphetamine? No one – besides pin headed propagandized drug warriors, the suburban moms that they scare the shit out of with their lies, and smarmy, calculatingly self-interested, dishonest, fake assed liars who know the truth (that cannabis is generally benign and medically important, which our government has made very plain to all of us and is upheld by years of scientific research) who don’t give a damn about the sick and dying or the unfairly imprisoned, and who are only concerned about their “legacy”.

Another thing that Obama knows but calculatedly does not utter to the public – he is happy as shit that cannabis will not be federally legalized on his watch. That is truly something that Obama has spent time, energy and political capitol endeavoring to prevent.

Long live the legacy.

“nothing worse than a dry doper” -g.singlaub

national

Cannabis legalization landslides in Maine and Michigan

Following the forward thinking Uruguayans and leaping out in front of twentieth century minded politicians in Washington DC and at the level of the states, 70 percent of the electorate in Portland ME and 63 percent of the citizens in Lansing MI voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use in their cities, smashing 80 years of prohibition and sounding a challenge to cities across America to call for an end to the failed drug war.

The Portland city measure allows adult residents of Portland to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The measure passed into law by the cities’ residents does not allow the retail sale of cannabis, therefore no system of growers and distributors or tax program has to be created for the law to go into effect.

In Lansing MI, the measure amended the city’s charter to legalize the possession, use and transfer of an ounce of cannabis by any adult 21 years and older on private property. Two smaller Michigan cities, Ferndale and Jackson, also passed measures yesterday legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis by adults last year, but citizens in those states await the creation of laws governing the farming, taxation and distribution of cannabis and therefore, though legal, cannabis is still not available for purchase.

international

Uruguay set to beat the black market

As Uruguay moves confidently forward with its plan to end the prohibition of cannabis in the country, law makers have set the price of the commodity when it becomes legal for personal consumption by adults later this year. To compete with the Uruguayan black market sale of cannabis, which sells for about $1.40 per gram as contraband, the legislators determined to sell cannabis to adult Uruguayans for one dollar per gram.

National Drug Board chief Jose Calzada told Uruguayan newspaper El Pais that a gram of cannabis would be enough for “one large joint or three slimmer ones,” and reminded that cannabis’ benefits can be achieved by vaporizing the natural substance “which is much less harmful” or it can be consumed “it in foods like brownies.”

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica proposed legislation that would end the prohibition of cannabis in his country in an effort to counter the violent and failed internationally waged “drug war”. The bill proposes that the Uruguayan government be the sole grower and seller of legal marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Marijuana is legally consumed in Uruguay, but selling marijuana is illegal. The Uruguayan government projects that the marijuana sold on Uruguay’s black market nets between $30 and $40 million for criminals each year.

In a letter describing the legislative intent of the proposed law, Diego Canepa the pro-secretary of the presidency, wrote that “The type of policy that we have followed for more than 50 years in this country has not had the expected results…the worst thing that can happen to public policy is to not act when the evidence shows that persisting on the same path will not obtain different results.” As it stands, says Canepa, the ‘war on drugs’ causes significantly more harm to Uruguayans than legalized marijuana ever could.

international

Musicians applaud Mujica for having the courage to ‘dream on’

Honoring the heart of passion of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, members of one of America’s oldest rock bands, Aerosmith, made an unusual personal request to have an audience with the visionary leader when they recently visited Uruguay to perform.

Mujica and Tyler 'Come Together'

Mujica, who has chosen to draw the line calling to end the destructive war on drugs and for the legalization of cannabis in his nation, is hopeful that a critical mass of Uruguayan popular support for cannabis legalization will help chip away the stone of drug violence and crime profits.

President Mujica met with the band members in the afternoon prior to an evening performance in Montvideo’s Centenario stadium on October 9 spending more than two hours participating in both public and private events, culminating in the president and rock stars contemplating the beyond beautiful Motevidian sunset together.

The band’s singer, Steven Tyler expressed the band’s support and appreciation for Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla who was at one point imprisoned for his views and now is the elected president of his country who gives away his salary to house impoverished families headed by single mothers in Uruguay. “He gives 70 percent of his salary for people’s homes. Here in this small country, Uruguay,” said Tyler, “I think he’s doing it the right way, (at the) grass roots, and we believe in that.”

Many in Uruguay believe that Mujica’s action attempting to permanently seal the Pandora’s Box of the US supported ‘War on Drugs’ by ending cannabis prohibition is a good thing because criminally prohibiting the medicinal, recreational and creative natural substance has proven to be a tragic failure. And, like the band members of Aerosmith, many people around the world see Mujica is a man of peace who has what it takes to break these chains of drug war violence and discompassion, who beacons to reasonable and compassionate citizens of all countries to “walk this way”.