Two Is Enough D. C. has formed to fight off marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia this fall. Although it has taken years to reduce the smell and litter of cigarettes, the public health benefit could be erased and replaced with the widespread infiltration of marijuana smoke.
Polls show that DC voters favor legalization, but they need to look at what has happened in Colorado and Washington state. One wonders how, after seeing what alcohol and tobacco do to health, voters can want a third vice. The answer appears to be the huge amount of money backing full legalization.
The Money Behind Marijuana
The change of public opinion has gone hand-in-hand with the large influx of money to fund marijuana legalization. Since the early 1990s, money-fund manager George Soros has been providing financial backing to groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project. Together Soros and the late Peter Lewis donated approximately 100 million dollars to legalization and medical marijuana campaigns. The well-organized marijuana lobby has gained some backers in Congress: Dana Rohrabacher of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Stephen Cohen of Tennessee.
Laws revolving around marijuana have gradually changed. Support is especially strong in the western states, where politics involves personal freedom and individual rights. A movie released in 2011, Guns and Weed, reflects the views of many who have advocated for this freedom. Unfortunately, the freedom issue has become stronger than protecting children. Legalization legitimizes a vice and promotes the greed of both dealers and governments, at the expense of future generations.
The normal course for changing marijuana laws has been decriminalization, followed by introducing medical marijuana and finally allowing voters to tax and regulate. About a year ago, medical marijuana was implemented in the district. This spring the city council voted to decriminalize pot, with a $25 fine.
Only one city council member in Washington, DC, Yvette Alexander, stood firm against the measure. The fine for kids smoking marijuana in public is now less than the fine for smoking cigarettes. It is likely that the marijuana lobbyists, such as NORML and Drug Policy Action Committee, have worked long and hard to gain the support of politicians in Washington, DC.
Typically voters don’t even notice what is happening because these lobbying groups talk only from the side people going to jail or the inefficiency of drug wars and suggest that drug money could go to governments instead of criminals. The first medical marijuana initiative passed in California back in 1996. California voters rejected full legalization in 2010, despite being outspent 10 to 1.
How Congress Can Respond
One member of Congress, Andy Harris of Maryland, a physician, has tried to stall the implementation of decriminalized marijuana in Washington, citing the negative effects it has on children. The marijuana lobby waged an expensive, negative advertising campaign against Harris and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who has also stood firm against the pot lobby.
Congress has the ability to slow legislation in the district. A House budget bill passed last month included a provision to block not only a legalization effort but the decriminalization bill that is now in effect. Rep. Harris argued that the law has no drug-treatment component, even for minors, and that the fine for a young teen who is caught with a joint would be half that of the city’s $50 ticket for underage smoking of a cigarette.
A three-member D.C. Board of Elections voted unanimously today to approve the ballot initiative. Malik Burnett, leader of the D.C. Cannabis Coalition, turned in more than 57,000 signatures to get the referendum on the November ballot. However, he was not sure how Congress would ultimately react to this legalization effort, but he said that the vote “will send a message that D.C. is serious about reforming its marijuana laws.”
It’s hard to protect kids when the names of medical marijuana dispensaries are so enticing. The stores using “health,” “wellness,” “medicinal” and “candy” in their titles make pot very alluring. Imagine if a liquor store, tobacco store, or pharmacies did the same. (See our investigation into medi-pot dispensaries.)
In states with medical marijuana, 12-17 year-old teens use marijuana to a much greater degree than in states without medical marijuana. States that voted down medical marijuana, Arkansas and South Dakota, have some of the lowest rates of youth marijuana usage. Before legalization in Colorado, a study showed that more than half the teen users surveyed said they had obtained pot from a medical marijuana ‘patient’.
Parents Opposed to Pot calls on those who support medical marijuana to address how to prevent substance abuse and secondary sales to children. The best laws have been adopted by state legislatures, as in New York and New Jersey. Whenever there have been statewide votes, as in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, the records for protecting children are poor.
Teen usage has been going up since 1996, when medical marijuana was voted upon in the 1st state, California. Additionally, the teen perceptions of the risks in using marijuana have been going steadily downward since the 1991. Certain states with medical marijuana, especially Vermont, Oregon and Colorado, also have some of the highest usage of opiate pills, cocaine and alcohol in children and adults. It looks like marijuana is the gateway drug, when comparing state statistics for marijuana usage with all other drug usage. Vermont has been having a heroin problem this year, and Oregon has had problems with pill abuse over the past several years.
Testing and Approval of Drugs
As Americans have learned to expect easy, medicinal solutions to complex problems, the prescription drug and medical marijuana industries have grown.
While it is completely understandable that somebody that is sick, or the family of a patient, will want to use any means necessary to ease the pain and to cure, we would hope that there would be the correct information out there necessary to make a sound decision about the pros and cons of use.
Pharmaceutical drugs must undergo rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before approval. During these tests, placebos can work almost as well as the drugs being tested. Approved pharmaceutical drugs must warn of any and all potential side effects.
On the other hand, marijuana is recommended without warnings, and providers often do not need to prove their qualifications. Claims of cures by medical marijuana are promoted without testing. The marijuana plant holds 480 chemical components. If one component holds curative properties, another component could work against that property or have negative side effects.
Even if marijuana helps Multiple Sclerosis (MS), it also increases the brain fog in MS in patients. Why aren’t we discussing side effects when we talk medical marijuana? According to former Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Project SAM, the Institute of Medicine has concluded that if there is a future for marijuana as medicine, it lies in isolated components.
Epidiolex, a derivative of CBD in liquid form, is available to children with epilepsy in 10 states. It is being fast-tracked for FDA-approval, along with Sativex for Multiple Sclerosis. Sativex, a derivative of marijuana will be used for as a tongue spray. Both products were developed by GW Pharmaceuticals of Great Britain.
Conventional and Alternative Medicine
Getting a dog has been shown to be a very good solution for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress-Syndrome (PTSD). Both yoga and dogs can bring back connectivity, open up energy and free blocked emotions. Quite the opposite could occur with use of marijuana. It may bring relief by numbing feelings even more, but it is known to harm memory and may not allow PTSD survivors a recovery back to their prior state of functioning.
There are problems with conventional treatments for cancer, but there are also problems with alternative treatments for cancer. The marijuana lobby has yet to explain why marijuana is often not the drug of choice for cancer patients in medical marijuana states. Is it because there are better drugs out there? Marinol, a synthetic marijuana, has been available to address the nausea and vomiting from cancer treatments and AIDs.
In Montana a few years ago, Cashy Hyde’s father claimed to have cured his son of cancer using cannabis oil. Sadly, the boy eventually died, after dramatic announcements that he had been cured. The constant nurture and love from his parents probably helped to extend his life. Any parent may have tried the same thing, maybe preferring it over harsh chemotherapy treatments.
When reading about the remarkable claims advocates of medical marijuana propose, please remember the placebo effect. We don’t know why placebos cure some people and not others. It could be the power of belief, or the result of a person’s own immune system having the ability to fight the disease.
Diet change can treat many of the autoimmune diseases which medical marijuana advocates list as conditions to be treated with marijuana: Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis. Medical marijuana treatments address the symptoms of disease, rather than the underlying causes. Diet and environmental changes can bring us closer to addressing the root causes of autism, autoimmune disease and epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet is a very successful means of controlling Dravet’s Syndrome and other types of epilepsy in children, a fact not discussed by those advancing medical marijuana.
Sometimes psychiatric medications are blamed for the actions of disturbed mass killers, such as Adam Lanza. However, James Holmes, Jared Loughner and Johar Tsarnaev were heavy marijuana users. Even the recent Santa Barbara killer, Elliot Rodger, had made a video about using marijuana every day.
We do not know the extent to which marijuana or pharmaceutical drugs contribute to teen violence. While the pharmaceutical industry has flaws, at least rigorous testing is required. The government has the ability to take a drug off the market.
Where’s the Expertise?
In this day and age, when people want miracles and pharmaceutical drugs can fall short of expectations, the marijuana industry looks for potential openings.
All claims of marvelous, miraculous cures need to be viewed with skepticism, whether considering pharmaceutical medicine or marijuana as medicine.
The push to reschedule marijuana from a schedule I to schedule II drug comes from Rick Doblin, the same person who wanted the FDA to approve MDMA (Ecstasy) as medicine. Doblin holds a PhD in Political Science. He doesn’t have the credentials you’d expect from someone making medical judgments.
The designation of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning “high probability of abuse,” was upheld by the Federal Appeals Court for the DC Circuit, on January 22, 2013. Three pot advocacy groups had appealed a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling of July 8, 2011, a ruling backed up by evidence by the Department of Health and Human Services. Previous reviews were in 1972 and 1986. Pot has become more potent since that time. There were 455,000 hospital emergency room visits for marijuana in 2011, a reason the FDA and Health and Human Services are reluctant to change.
The decision-making should come from the health and medical professions, using their expertise, not from political advocates.
Most doctors don’t agree with medical marijuana, but some see isolated components of the plant most helpful . The Pro-Con website lists 105 double-blind studies, and the conclusions from these studies are inconclusive: 40% suggest it can be helpful, 30% find no possible medical usage and 30% find it neither favorable or unfavorable.
If your state has a referendum, study the details. How does it protect children and prevent profiteering in the secondary markets?
Some supporters of legalized marijuana say the opposition has a financial incentive. Should we assume those who support marijuana legalization are only inspired by the idea of making money from it? “Where Commerce Meets Revolution” was the title of the Cannabis Industry Association’s meeting in Denver June 24-25.
Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, blames drug laws for the incarceration of too many black men. However, now she is blaming the middle-aged white men who stand to make all the money off of marijuana legalization. (George Soros’ Open Society Foundations funded Alexander’s book. ) The marijuana industry which started as a hippie, outsider, counterculture idea is now a dream of the gray-suited businessmen.
On Sunday, July 6 The Nation printed an article entitled “The Real Reason Pot is Still Illegal,” which suggested that the national prevention and treatment groups want marijuana illegal simply because they are taking corporate donations and entering into partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. (Soros’ Open Society Foundation also funds The Nation in part. Since Soros believes in marijuana legalization, one wonders if groups who take his money are expected to advocate for his views.)
It is amazing that a journalist would analyze a story from only one perspective and not realize that all issues are multi-dimensional. Previously, the same author, Lee Fang, had written an article about the money given to oppose marijuana legalization in Colorado, suggesting that most of it had come from a donor who was involved with a rehabilitation group which was operating more than 20 years ago. The New York Times or Washington Post would not use 20-year old stories to discuss current issues.
The chairman of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA )sent a letter to its members to address the slanderous article. In his words:
“The author compares prescription drugs, particularly opioid pain medications, and marijuana, suggesting that pharmaceutical companies are supporting our work because the medicalization of pot represents a threat to their bottom line. The author also suggests that CADCA is not doing enough to battle opioid abuse, because we receive some funding from pharmaceutical companies. In fact, just the opposite is the case – our funding from the industry allows us to help offset the costs of our two major training events and to develop a number of products and initiatives designed to prevent and reduce medicine abuse. In total, support from the over-the-counter and pharmaceutical medicine industries combined is less than 7 percent of CADCA’s revenue. CADCA believes that the industry has a responsibility to help address and mitigate the complex issues surrounding our nation’s tragic prescription drug abuse crisis.
However, CADCA’s positions are not influenced by any outside organization. CADCA takes its direction from our Board of Directors, our Coalition Advisory Committee, and our membership base. Each group has asked CADCA to provide community leaders with tools to address both medicine abuse and marijuana.
We believe prescription drug abuse is a major epidemic, a point for which we have been sounding the alarm since 2001. More than a decade ago, CADCA published its first prescription drug abuse prevention toolkit to help community leaders address this problem. Every October, we ask our coalitions and partners to join us in a solutions-oriented national dialogue about OTC and Rx drug abuse through National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.
In the Nation article, the reporter makes a bizarre leap, attempting to connect resources received from pharmaceutical companies to our efforts to reduce youth marijuana use. CADCA believes that the U.S. “experiment” with medical and retail marijuana is a grave concern, particularly in that these efforts will increase youth marijuana use, which is damaging to the adolescent brain. The fact is CADCA receives no outside funding to do our marijuana-related policy work.
The reporter conveniently failed to mention the extensive prescription drug abuse training CADCA provides or the significant policy work we do. Omitted from the article is mention of the times CADCA has testified at Congressional hearings about ways to comprehensively prevent prescription drug diversion, abuse and addiction, as well as the various instances CADCA has supported legislation aimed at reducing medicine abuse.
The title of this article alone tells you where the real agenda lies. Sadly, we know many of you have faced the same kind of attacks at the local level. We stand by our positions and our prevention work on both fronts. In this instance, we take this article as a badge of honor that what we are doing is right and is having an impact.”
Since an epidemic of prescription pain pill abuse in the 21st century came from over-prescribing these medications, it is correct to address the problem and work on prevention. CADCA, which works in communities, provides many ways to address the abuse of opioid pills. We applaud the pharmaceutical industry for addressing pain-pill abuse, a problem that is an outgrowth of their business. We don’t deny they want to make money, too. We believe they have been more responsible than the marijuana industry.
Parents Opposed to Pot warns against becoming a culture of pain, and a culture of escapism, which can be caused by both marijuana and too many pain pills.
Parents Opposed to Pot believes that a legalized marijuana industry would prey on the most vulnerable–children, teens and minorities –while adding to the problem of addiction today.