Tag Archives: propaganda

national

Cali Patients Find Relief, National Prohibitionists Looking Pallid

by Patrick Devlin

An analysis of data collected in 2012 through the annual California Behavioral Risk Factor survey revealed that a significant majority of patients who use cannabis for serious medical conditions self-reported that the substance was effective in alleviating symptoms or treating serious medical conditions. 92 percent of respondents who admitted using medical cannabis reported that the substance brought them relief from their symptoms, including relief from the symptoms of debilitating and life threatening diseases such as chronic pain, migraines, arthritis and cancer.

The annual computerized phone poll, conducted by the Public Health Institute, randomly surveyed over 7500 Californians about all kinds of health concerns and conditions – the study did not focus specifically on medical cannabis users. The study revealed that an average of five percent of Californians use medical cannabis, a population that included adult Californians of all ages, races and backgrounds. Although more young adults reported choosing cannabis as medicine to treat their illnesses, the study’s authors reported that “the absolute difference in prevalence (of cannabis use) between the racial/ethnic groups is less than three percent.” A difference in usage rates that the authors consider being insignificant.

The study’s authors said that their analysis of the telephone poll revealed that the percentage of cannabis patients for all demographics is consistent across the population of patients in California and there is no evidence of a single demographic over using or abusing the medicine. Also, and importantly, the authors’ review found that medical cannabis users seek relief from the medicine for “medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist…or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer.”

The findings of the scientists who reviewed the data also conclusively refute one of the more pernicious and arrogant prohibitionist talking points: that cannabis is not medicine, the movement to recognize medical cannabis as a medicine is a cynical scheme by hippies who really are seeking the legalization of recreational cannabis, and patients who use cannabis medicine to treat their illnesses are either liars or pawns.

Patients are listening to their bodies, doctors are listening to their patients; however, police and politicians still refuse to engage, learn and move to reclassify and decriminalize as the states push bravely and with no federal support toward a future where American patients can receive the medicine they need.

national

Coppers Ride the Cannabis Arrest Tide, Allow Criminals to Slide

by Patrick Devlin

Statistics compiled by the US Department of Justice reveal that arrests of Americans for simple cannabis possession have increased by over 300 percent nationwide since 1991. Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham analyzed data provided by the DOJ to find that since 1991 cannabis arrests have tripled even though arrests for all crimes, including violent crimes, have reduced over that same period. Ingraham noted that the figures reported by the DOJ with respect to cannabis possession arrests “are likely even higher,” as some states do not report arrest data to the agency.

Ingraham found that 42 percent of all drug arrests in 2012 were arrests for simple possession of cannabis (as opposed to arrests for possession of cannabis with the intent to distribute the substance) and that cannabis possession arrests constituted 5.4 percent of all criminal arrests in 2012. The 2012 statistics as reported by the DOJ exemplify a trend over the course of 23 years reflecting a knowing and considered mindset of local and state police enforcers: cannabis arrests are easy, safe and, in light of failures to combat real crime and violent crime, serve to portray that police forces are doing their jobs promoting public safety. Ingraham also noted that his review of DOJ statistics revealed that, in 2012, 53 percent of all reported violent crimes in the US went unsolved, the perpetrators of these crimes remaining at large.

The government’s figures report that over that same 23 year period between approximately 600,000 and 700,000 Americans were arrested each year for simple cannabis possession. As we know from a raft of academic studies, and even from comments made by President Obama, the overwhelming proportion of cannabis possession arrestees during the past two decades have been African Americans and Latino Americans. While Ingraham notes that not all of the individuals who were subject to cannabis possession arrest ended up in prison, all of the arrestees were faced with the burdens of the costs of defending themselves and the on-going personal costs of living with an arrest record that impacts the arrestee’s employment opportunities, housing choices, ability to apply for student aid and a myriad of life-long road blocks to becoming full participants in our society and economy.

Ingraham’s review of the DOJ data also revealed the widely divergent law enforcement attitudes toward arresting simple cannabis possessors that are reflected in a state-by-state comparison of cannabis arrest rates. Cannabis users in Louisiana and Nebraska are 40 times more at risk for arrest than cannabis possessors in Massachusetts. And, the arrest disparities are even evident between so-called blue states. Ingraham reports that one of every eight arrests in New York is for cannabis possession, while in the bordering state of Massachusetts, cannabis possession arrests number only 1 out of every 1000.

The statistics that our own government provides detail how our citizens have been harmed by a conspiracy between law enforcers who see the value in spending time and resources busting minorities for non-violent victimless crimes and politicians who see the value in promoting the divisive and counterproductive drug war – both seeking to score points with their constituents by looking drug-war tough. But, are the costs to society worth the self-interested grandstanding? The data that Ingraham reviewed shows that the drug war has failed to end cannabis use but has become a perpetual motion machine, serving to promote law enforcement and political careers at the cost of harming the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens every year for decades and thwarting research into the medical possibilities of cannabis.

Alas, in policy considerations there is never a magic bullet…but wait, reclassify, decriminalize, both of which can be done easily. All that is required is a bit of agreement and concerted effort by our law enforcement officials and politicians…but wait

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy part 4

by Patrick Devlin

Nothing to see here – move along…

When a gang of armed men smashed through the doorway of the 600 square foot home of 29 year old Jason Westcott’s partner, 22 year old Israel Reyes, Westcott acting upon directives he received from the Tampa Bay police, grabbed his weapon and was killed in a rain of semi-automatic gunfire.

Westcott had called the Tampa police earlier this year after being threatened by another citizen. As a result of Westcott’s complaint to the police; the person who had threatened Westcott was confronted by the police, but no arrests were made, and the police advised Westcott to avail himself of one of modern America’s most protected rights, not the right to privacy, not the right to a fair trial, not the right to not have the modern version of Caucasian American Christianity (that Christ himself would find objectionable) shoved into your face – but rather the ‘god given’ right to blow the crap out of anyone you feel threatened by with your concealed and carried and beloved human killing machine. The exact quote from the police to the frightened Westcott when he reported the threat was, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Westcott was an armed drug dealer and was treated as such by the Tampa Police. The Tampa police sent a SWAT team to bring down the drug king pin of Seminole Heights – using whatever force they deemed to be required. Westcott’s evil drug dealing existence was terminated by Tampa’s finest (whose only goal in their action was to protect the community – especially the children, from the evils of cannabis). The police recovered two dollars worth of the dangerous narcotic.

Reyes has not denied in media interviews he has given since Westcott’s killing that he and his partner occasionally sold small amounts of cannabis to friends – but he maintains that this was not their sole source of income and, as Reyes framed it, “There weren’t people coming in and out of the house every day. It wasn’t paying the bills. We were still broke.”

The police dispute that characterization, as they described the SWAT Team raid to the media after the shooting.

They first said that the decision to raid the home was prompted due to complaints from neighbors. When reporters were unable to find such complaining neighbors, the Tampa police admitted that the raid was spurred by an investigation where an undercover Tampa police officer made cannabis purchases at the home. A freedom of information request was filed with the department regarding the incident, and the actual truth of the matter is that the inspiration to SWAT raid the Seminole Heights home came instead from an “confidential informant”, and in police work this could include a criminal who is trying to broker a deal after being arrested to get a lesser charge or not be prosecuted.

Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy told Tampa, when confronted with the cover-up the department orchestrated after the shooting that, “Each time the informant was at this house, he saw pre-packaged marijuana.” McElroy also claimed that the “confidential informer” had claimed to have seen a weapon in the home.

The chief of police in Tampa, Jane Kastor, took to the airwaves herself after the community questioned the actions of the department when it became clear that a young Tampa citizen was mowed down by officers over two dollars worth of cannabis, where she spoke a ritualistic incantation as if memorized that all TV news watchers in all American cities have heard and themselves been mesmerized by:

“Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers…If there is an indication that there is armed trafficking going on – someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm – then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”

– conclusion

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released its findings after performing a review of the militarization of America’s local police forces in a report called War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. During their research, the ACLU became aware of the hundreds of SWAT team assaults on the homes of private citizens that have been carried out by local coppers over the past few years in cases similar to the narcotics raid that resulted in the death of Jason Westcott. The Union examined over 800 SWAT team assaults carried out by local police offices in the years 2011 and 2012 to discover that 79 percent of the gun brandishing, flash bomb utilizing, smash the door down raids were to serve simple search warrants, and of those SWAT raids carried out to simply serve warrants, 60 percent were warrants to search for drugs.

The Union pointed out in their findings that, “Even though paramilitary policing in the form of SWAT teams was created to deal with emergency scenarios such as hostage or barricade situations, the use of SWAT to execute search warrants in drug investigations has become commonplace… The use of a SWAT team to execute a search warrant essentially amounts to the use of paramilitary tactics to conduct domestic criminal investigations in searches of people’s homes.”

Furthermore, the Union reports that, “there is typically no single entity at the local, state, or federal level responsible for ensuring that SWAT is appropriately restrained and that policing does not become excessively militarized,” creating a situation where untrained local police are making decisions to use SWAT raids as they desire to carry out general run-of-the-mill police functions. As can be predicted, the Union also reports that SWAT team tactics are most often used against the poor and minorities – in their study they found that 42 percent of the homes local police raided with SWAT teams were the homes of African Americans and 12 percent were the homes of Latino Americans.

At the same time that SWAT team tactics are becoming the preferred technique used by militarized local police offices as they prosecute the drug war, American citizens are coming to the realization that treating drug addiction as an act of war by our citizens as opposed to treating drug addiction as a community health matter is both counterproductive and immoral.

As a citizen whose family members include police officers, it is difficult to argue against the mesmerizing mantra of police commanders who claim simply to be protecting their officers (and, by the way, the police involved in the killing of Jason Westcott were found by the Hillsborough County State’s Attorney to be justified in their use of deadly force against the decedent). But there is a group of folks who know that cannabis is not a narcotic and is essentially harmless, that communities of color are almost exclusively targeted by local rough and tough militarized small time police chiefs and officers in drug war raids, and that local coppers make boatloads of cash by banging down doors in the middle of the night to lock away cannabis users – both through In Rem forfeiture actions as well as being rewarded by the feds (both Congress and the DOJ) for doing their part to continue the failed, bigoted and immoral war on drugs and on cannabis in particular – these ‘folks’ are your congresspersons and senators and President Obama.

These diners off of tax payer paid for china dinner plates know full well that their self-interested promotion of the drug war is immoral, anti-science and dis-compassionate, that it is a failure, that it supports cartels and gangs in their violent businesses, and harms otherwise innocent Americans rendering them unable to participate in society – unable to help us lift up our country with their individual talents and energies – but they just don’t give a shit. Our leaders cravenly, stubbornly and, quite basically, with malice aforethought, know very clearly that their selfish non-actions with regard to cannabis will without question result in the needless and preventable deaths of other Americans’ sons, daughters, partners, patients, relatives, friends, neighbors – they know and do nothing…except spit out an uncomfortable (or perhaps a knowing, but certainly a not caring) laugh when a citizen asks if they “want a hit.”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” – M. L. King

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy – part 3

by Patrick Devlin

The Grand Rapids Press and MLive Media reported Tuesday on the annual meeting of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) where conferees leveled a unified and scathing critique of the national ‘war on cannabis’ that is driven by self-serving local police, federal level prohibitionist politicians, private prison owners and purveyors of bigoted pseudo medical justifications, which has, according to attendees at this year’s NOBLE conference, “ruined the lives” of countless African American youths, stood as a force against medical treatment of addiction, intensified racial inequality and served to burn bridges of understanding and cooperation between law enforcers and the communities in which they serve.

Chief John Dixon III, police chief of Petersburg, VA, speaking at a session at the NOBLE conference titled, “Decriminalizing the Black Community”, characterized the continued federal prohibition of cannabis bluntly for conferees, stating, “It’s insanity. We know,” adding that after 40 years of prohibition’s failures, “The results haven’t changed.”

Dixon said that while police often view marijuana arrests as victories that ostensibly assist the user come to grips with their use of the illegal substance, the stark fact is that, “locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint,” and putting them into the criminal justice system “pretty much ruins the rest of their lives.” “We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts,” Dixon told the gathering, “Sometimes, we’ve got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn’t going to say.”

Dixon remarked on the devastating effects that criminalized cannabis has had on communities of African Americans across the US and noted that his real-life experiences had led him to conclude that drug addiction is best spoken to as a community health matter rather than as a law enforcement program.

The director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Major Neil Franklin, a 34 year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, reminded the assembled law enforcement officials of the disturbing statistics associated with America’s failed drug war, stating that between 1990 and 2005 the size of the prison population incarcerated for drug offenses grew from 415,000 Americans to over 1.9 million convicts.

Franklin also expressed his concerns that the war on cannabis is driven by private prison owners who are seeking to have their jails filled with non-violent young minority men caught up in the drug war, and supported by law enforcement agencies which have come to rely upon drug forfeiture laws to extract cash and property from arrested drug users to support their departments in a time of reduced funding of public services across the country as politicians refuse to tax the wealthy and businesses to pay their fair share in supporting America’s communities. Franklin concluded, “Marijuana is one of the biggest money makers for law enforcement agencies today.”

Franklin asked his audience pointedly, “Who do you want to (control the flow of drugs) in your neighborhood? The cartels? The 20,000 gangs we have around the country? Or do we take control of it, regulate it?” Franklin echoed the comments of Chief Dixon when he challenged the audience of law enforcers, “There’s no more powerful voice than the people in the trenches.”

The 38th annual NOBLE conference, which was open to the public and presented sessions on all aspects of law enforcement and a job fair, took place in Grand Rapids Michigan between July 13 and 17.

Note: this news-opinion piece relies heavily upon the reporting of John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press and MLive and mLaw expresses its sincere appreciation for bringing this important event to our attention.

international

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-Boy – part 2

by Patrick Devlin

A team of scientists from Canada, New Zealand, The United Kingdom and the United States has reported that even heavy users of cannabis have no greater chance of contracting lung cancer from their use of the substance than casual cannabis users or, remarkably, even non-cannabis users.

The study, which is to be published in the International Journal of Cancer, analyzed data from six case studies involving more than 5000 participants and found that there is “little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.”

The review of research echoed previous medical studies, reported in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society in 2013, that revealed that “habitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function…Overall the risks of pulmonary complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small and far lower than those of tobacco smoking.”

The journal actually went further, as another article from 2013 posited that “cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that low doses (of) cannabis may be protective for both conditions.”

The findings support the conjecture of many in the medical community that cannabis contains “anti-cancer properties” including the ability to inhibit the growth of lung cancer tumors, but no studies have been performed on human subjects due in part to the embargo against researching the capacities of cannabis’ medical benefits as the substance is considered by law enforcement and the White House to be amongst the most dangerous illegal drugs, as dangerous and medically non-useful as LSD and peyote, but less safe less medically useful than methanphetamine, cocaine and synthetic heroin.

national

HillBilly on the same prohibitionist page as Choomer-in-Chief

Over the course of the past couple of weeks and culminating recently in an interview on Meet the Press, it appears that the woman who would be king and her first-mate to be, the HillBilly (sm), have laid out their dry-doper vision for speaking to the concerns of both America’s dire-medication needers and it’s life changing arrest-recorded-pocket-carrying weeders – “Who cares what you think”, in a manner of speaking and referencing a quip of the highly quotable GWBush.

What we have heard from the HillBilly is language that they know is crowd tested to seem mildly progressive in tenor and even hopeful (tm – Barack Obama), that cannabis may be medically useful and that the states are “laboratories of democracy”.

Thanks HillBilly, but we were already aware that the National Institutes of Health said in 2003 that cannabinoid “compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell-signalling pathways,” and then went further in 2012 when the NIH stated firmly that the properties of cannabis have “anti-cancer activities.” And, that in states such as Illinois where cannabis has been made legal for medicinal purposes, politicians agree with the medical establishment that asserts that cannabis is medicine that helps patients who are suffering from a long list of crippling and permanent medical maladies including these diseases that the HillBilly most assuredly do not have or do not want to contract or become afflicted with:

“Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency, syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I), Causalgia, CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II), Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain,” as well as “any other debilitating medical condition” recognized by Illinois Department of Public Health as being treatable with the useful and important medicine called cannabis.”

Hooray for the forward march of science.

And, HillBilly (sm), we are also aware that the states can indeed be “laboratories of democracy” – as we have seen over the past decades, where obstructionist politicians who are keenly concerned with pandering to the rubes (so as to keep their jobs) have labored to reduce Americans’ access to abortion, enable citizens to carry high powered rifles into restaurants and shopping malls, forestalled equality in marriage and voted over and over to ensure that we do not follow “shria law” in places like Oklahoma and Florida. And we have seen even in the past year, in states that have legalized cannabis usage for medical and recreational purposes, state level prohibitionists and suburban township cultural custodians effectively stymie the will of the people by imposing ridiculous “home rule” restrictions on the sale of cannabis for no other reason than to make it difficult for the citizens who they represent to use the legal substance.

Hooray for small “d” democracy.

When I hear the HillBilly talking like this, it’s hard for me to say hopefully that the statements that have come from both of the soon-to-be first couple reflect a growing “evolution” on matters related to cannabis. I think rather the stance is nothing more than self-serving dry-doper kick-the-can cowardly narcissistic bullshittery.

I am certain that the cynical liars HillBilly know full well that the current dry-doper in the White House has used this exact fake-assed framing throughout his tenure (when he wasn’t actually publically making fun of those Americans who understand the medical usefulness of cannabis and are cognizant of the bigoted pogrom that is the war on cannabis in America, by using his ‘bully pulpit’ as a dais from which to be a bully), as in when Obama told a New Yorker writer earlier this year that, “it’s important for it to go forward…And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

Hooray for “evolving”.

When I hear self-serving asshats talk like this it’s difficult for me to think of progress because, since Obama became president and decided to do nothing regarding cannabis for legacy burnishing reasons, more than 4.2 million of our fellow citizens have been arrested for possession of cannabis – the overwhelming majority of these arrests have been for small amounts of the substance (i.e. personal use – not drug trafficking) and the overwhelming majority of these arrestees have been minorities. Seems to me that’s a step backwards for our country.

I also think about the “smash and grab raids” that Obama’s DOJ has performed on medical cannabis dispensaries since he became president, and the fact that Obama’s DEA is currently threatening doctors in Massachusetts (a state that has legalized cannabis for medical use) that, if they prescribe cannabis as medicine, they will lose their license to prescribe any medications. Nice, that hopeful and evolving mindset, eminently reasonable.

I know, I know – why take such a hard stance against the clear and considered, callus and continual foot-dragging of our royal Democratic class members? Those Republicans are so mean and selfish and so much worse that our Democrats…and, by the way, it’s only cannabis, I can hear supporters of HillBilly intone patronizingly. Let me advise, I realize that it’s “only” cannabis.

So – let’s instead consider; banker bailouts, imperial wars, inescapable total surveillance, union busting, propping up the amoral health insurance industry, supporting polluters over our people, killing citizens in extra-judicial executions, funding illegally occupying religious zealots, criminalizing dissent, supporting the oxymoronic concept of “humanitarian war” and rehabilitating torture as US policy – these are the legacies of Bill Clinton and the vision for America that define the motivations of Hillary Clinton to run this nation.

Hooray for oligarchy.

“I recognized at once that we had never understood the meaning of these words, so common and yet so sacred: Justice, equity, liberty; that concerning each of these principles our ideas have been utterly obscure; and, in fact, that this ignorance was the sole cause, both of the poverty that devours us, and of all the calamities that have ever afflicted the human race.”
– Pierre Joseph Proudhon

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

Fed Moneyed Scientists Choose Deception, Because : Young People

A recent study of the how funding sources of scientific studies impact the emotional honesty and decision making abilities of scientists revealed that researchers make fantastical presumptions, unfounded deductions and engage in deceptive conflations that are not supported by scientific evidence when speaking to the media about studies performed using monies provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center.

...scientists lie for it

Recent research funded by America’s drug warring law enforcement/scientific agencies found that 20 casual cannabis users brains had measurable differences when reflected against a group of 20 subjects who were not casual cannabis smokers.

The scientists did not seek to discover if the differences that were measured resulted in any behavioral changes in the subjects, whether for good or for bad. The scientists did not attempt to understand if the changes measured equated in any way scientifically with addictive or criminal behaviors. The study did not attempt to qualify or quantify in any way how the measured differences effected the study’s subjects decision making or emotional reactions or even if the measured changes were transitory or permanent – the researchers simply did not seek answers to these questions.

Analysts reviewed the statements of the doctors who performed the research to find, strikingly, that although the scientists (from well-respected medical learning institutions including Harvard, Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts) had not sought in any way in their study to understand the implications of the different brain measurements or the possible consequences for casual cannabis users whose brains reflected the different measurements from non-cannabis users brains in their study, they nonetheless reported in their statements to major US media outlets that their study demonstrates the dangers of even casual cannabis use – especially in young people.

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Jodi Gilman told the media outlet the Boston Globe that her review of the results of the study led her to conclude that America should be concerned because, as the Globe reports, though the “researchers did not study whether (the) changes (found in the tested subjects brains) were linked to corresponding declines in brain function”, we have to be worried because : young people.

Gilman, careening wildly from scientific researcher to self-appointed cultural custodian opinion maker, when responding to questions about the results of her scientific study reminded the credulous Globe reporter of : young people. When, not speaking about any matter the researchers studied, she told the Globe;

“This is when you are making major decisions in your life, when you are choosing a major, starting a career, making long-lasting friendships and relationships.”

Of note, the Globe reporter did not ask the doctor if her team actually investigated topics such as selecting college majors or embarking upon long-lasting relationships relating to their discovery regarding brain measurements.

Though, as the Globe points out, the study “did not address whether the brain changes are permanent”, Gilman also made the speculative claim that the changes that the study revealed are related to addictive behavior in cannabis users stating that cannabis is, for the brain, “a sort of learning process” that allows the brain “to make connections that encourage further drug use.”

Another researcher involved in the government funded experiment, Dr. Hans Breiter, told the Washington Post that the research “raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” and, “people think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school, our data directly says this is not the case.”

In actuality the study says nothing of the sort as the scientists admit that they did not study, research or in any way test Breiter’s theories that the measurable differences in the brains of the test’s subjects were related to any changes in the behaviors of the subjects – whether good changes or bad changes, or if the measured changes promote, as Breiter frames it editorially as opposed to scientifically; “bad consequences”.

To his credit, it appears that the effect of receiving monies for the study on Breiter was less significant that it was on Gilman, as Breiter did actually throw a smattering of qualifiers in his answers to the Post. In a down column quote the good doctor drops this hedge to the unequivocal-ish statements he made to the Post’s reporter; “there are still many unanswered questions.”

Additionally, although both Gilman and Breiter endeavored to continually mention in their media interviews that the parts of the brain that exhibited differences in measurement in their study are neurological centers for both motivation and decision making, the study itself made no claims or efforts to study the motivations or decision making of cannabis users. Analysts expressed concern about the motives behind the scientists’ decision to stress and discuss attributes that have long been conflated with cannabis use by prohibitionists in their description of the study that had nothing to do with motivation or decision making. The analysts suggested that mLaw seek input from well known cannabis users, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton and California Governor Jerry Brown to further understand the consequences of the impaired decision making abilities and debilitating a-motivational capacities that haunt college-age cannabis addicts and injure America as a nation.

The analysts pointed out that it should be noted that, in an act of journalistic honesty, the Post (unlike the researchers) does inform its readers; “The study did not look at the behavior of the pot smokers, only their brains.”

The analysts who reviewed the responses that the researchers gave to the major media outlets, while reminding in the strongest possible terms that in science, correlation does not prove causality and acknowledging that the study that they performed focused on an infinitesimally tiny number of federally supported scientists’ media claims, said the researchers, whether consciously or unconsciously, removed themselves from the realms of scientific study in their commentary to provide pseudo-psychological theories about the study’s subjects that (in general) are consistent with the overall policy goal of the science/law enforcement agencies who funded the study; this being, the perpetuation of the unjust, unscientific and irrational prohibition of the substance cannabis, about which other scientific studies performed by American scientists advise;

“Evidence accumulated during the last decade supports that the active components of Cannabis possess anti-cancer activity” – National Institutes of Health

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

Shattering the myths proffered by waxy
prohibitionists about hash oil

The point was made everclearly this week that, now that the devil’s door has sprung open to the wild west of cannabis legalization, organized big marijuana and its trailer trash second cousins have begun weaponizing the benign and useful substance in a war to shroud the minds of our youth in a thick green absinthe like haze with nuclear nugs, 151 times stronger than “your mama’s Woodstock weed“.

ABC News, earlier this week, promised television viewers that they would be their guide;

“Into the strange subculture involving a new and powerful drug that you may have never heard of. It can be dangerous to use and even more dangerous to make…and yet, in some places, it’s totally legal.”

And CNBC reported;

“A powerful distillation of marijuana’s essential active ingredients, is mixed into many new and popular cannabis products…The problem-child of concentrates may turn out to be the actual concentrate itself—a hardened or viscous mass of cannabinoids created via a process of butane-gas extraction.”

The “new drug” that is an “explosive secret” is what used to be referred to as hash oil. Hash oil is a smokeable product of concentrated THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) that is made by using chemicals, such as butane, to extract the THC from cannabis plants. Shatter, wax and butter are modern versions of the 1970’s product made with modern technologies. 1970’s hash oil contained 20 to 65 percent THC and modern extractions contain between 60 to 90 percent THC. The product has become commercially available to the public in the states of Colorado and Washington because cannabis is legal for recreational consumption in those states.

As the stories were revealed by the media outlets, however, the dangerous mystery drug turned out to be dangerous because dumb-assed kitchen chemists were brewing ho-made batches in their condos and doublewides with little knowledge and less competence.

The processes of extracting active chemicals from plant and mineral products are not new and have been used by some of the world’s most profitable and prestigious companies for many years, but toxic chemicals and high temperatures and pressures are often used in the chemistry necessary to extract desired compounds that transform agricultural products into commercial products.

What was not pointed out in the sensationalized “news stories” is that extracting concentrated THC from cannabis does not make cannabis or THC any more harmful or toxic than when it is consumed in more traditional ways, such as smoking, eating or vaporizing. In 2002 the medical journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics reported on a study that found that there has never been a documented human fatality solely from overdosing on THC or cannabis in its natural form. Hash oil by any name is no more addictive than any other form of cannabis, and scientists calculate that risk to be equivalent to your risk of being addicted to caffeine.

Though this is the case, in the ABC report a DEA agent said that the agency has, “seen people have an onset of psychosis and even brain damage from that exposure to that high concentration of THC.” And the CNBC story reported that “The high that a user gets from concentrates is far from natural” and went on to quote the head of the University of Colorado Hospital’s residential rehab unit who has fears in general about cannabis’ contribution to “amotivational syndrome” and psychosis in our nation’s youth.

Thankfully, cannabis is legal in Colorado and Washington, and can therefore be regulated, including regulations regarding the chemical extraction of THC from raw plant product. When cannabis becomes legal federally and our nation’s scientists can study the medically useful plant and its extracts without fear of arrest, we will be able to scientifically demonstrate that scare stories of cannabis causing brain damage are nothing more than the ramblings of backward cultural custodians.