The stark difference in how doctors and the government view marijuana
The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 8/29/16
Nathaniel P. Morris is a resident physician at Stanford Hospital specializing in mental health. He recently penned a strongly worded op-ed for ScientificAmerican.com on the differences between how some in the medical community view marijuana and how the federal government regulates it.
"The federal government's scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care," he wrote in the essay published last week. "The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II), or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn't reflect what we see in clinical medicine."
Here's Morris' money quote:
For most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.
We don't see cannabis overdoses. We don't order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don't treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.
He contrasts that with the terrible effects of alcohol he sees in the emergency room every day, like car crash victims and drunk patients choking on their own vomit. Morris points out that excessive drinking causes 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC.
The medical and research communities have known for some time that marijuana is one of the more benign substances you can put in your body relative to other illicit drugs. A recent longitudinal study found that chronic, long-term marijuana use is about as bad for your physical health as not flossing. Compared to alcohol, it'svirtually impossible to overdose on marijuana alone. On a per-user basis, marijuana sends fewer people to the emergency room than alcohol or other drugs.
The scientific consensus was best captured in a 2010 study in the Lancet, which polled several dozen researchers working in addiction and drug policy. The researchers rated commonly used recreational drugs according to the harm they pose to individuals who use them, as well as the harm they pose to society as a whole. Here's what their results looked like:
Ads running to legalize marijuana in three states
By Carl Marcucci
In November, voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Although similar initiatives have failed in the past, this time the groups fighting to legalize pot are well-organized, professional and backed by high-dollar donors willing to outspend the competition, reports Raycom News Network.
In Colorado, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) has produced several ads that say marijuana is healthier than alcohol. The campaign’s website points to medical studies that claim marijuana, unlike alcohol, has not been linked to cancer, brain damage, addiction or high healthcare costs.
CRMLA was given nearly $1.2 million from the Marijuana Policy Project, a DC-based lobbying group, as well as more than $800,000 by Peter Lewis, the founder and chairman of Progressive Insurance. Lewis has been a vocal proponent of marijuana legalization for several years and donated millions to legalization efforts around the country.
In an online video ad campaign, CRMLA has young adults explaining to their parents they prefer marijuana to alcohol. In one of the ads, titled Dear Mom, a 20-something woman tells her mother marijuana is “better for my body, I don’t get hung-over and honestly I feel safer around marijuana users.”
In Washington, rather than comparing marijuana to alcohol, New Approach Washington (NAW) is focusing on legalization, arguing outlawing cannabis does more harm than good, by wasting tax dollars on law enforcement while letting gangs control the money. She describes the possible benefits of legalization through saved law enforcement dollars and extra tax revenue.
The TV spot has a professional/executive looking woman, “I don’t like it personally, but it’s time for a conversation about legalizing marijuana. It’s a multi-million dollar industry in Washington state, and we get no benefit.”
These efforts appear to be working. In Washington, 50% of voters say marijuana should be legal while 38% say it should not, according to an Elway Research poll. And in Colorado, a Denver Post poll showed 51% of Coloradans were in favor of legalization, while 41% opposed it.
In Washington, the effort to legalize marijuana is being fought with a bankroll of between $4 and $5 million, according to the Raycom News Network story. NAW used those funds to put $1 million into television advertising during August, and hope to put triple that amount into the weeks preceding the November vote.
In total, groups in Colorado fighting to get marijuana legalized have a war chest of $2.5 million.
The campaigns are especially targeting women ages 30 to 55, whom tend to be less supportive of legalization and regulation than men.
The only visible group opposing the marijuana ballot, SMART Colorado, has been given less than $200,000 – most of it from Save Our Society, a Florida-based anti-drug group.
RBR-TVBR observation: Interesting that the Chairman of Progressive Insurance is donating so much money in this legalization effort. Perhaps legalizing it would create fewer accidents/injuries from police chases and save the insurance industry money? We doubt drivers with the stuff in their car would try to flee if it’s no more illegal than a pack of cigarettes. Who knows, but Progressive is a big corporation and Lewis seems to not be concerned about sticking his neck out on this.
Legal Smoking Kills 6 Million, So Why is Marijuana Illegal?
One of the mysteries of the universe.....-UA
Smoking kills 6 million people per year, including 600,000 from second-hand smoking, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2030, it’s expected to kill 8 million people.
Smoking causes heart attacks, stroke, and emphysema.It also causes cancer in the lung, kidney, head, neck, throat, mouth, and stomach.
“Up to half of all tobacco users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease,” stated a press release WHO issued for the May 31st ‘No Tobacco Day.’
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more telling statistics. It states that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US and kills more people than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents, suicides, and murders combined.
Still, smoking tobacco is legal.
Another legal substance is alcohol, which kills 2.5 million people per year, according to the WHO. In the US, it kills about 80,000 people per year, according to the CDC. It’s also a leading factor in domestic abuse and child maltreatment and neglect cases.
Meanwhile, marijuana, which doesn’t cause death according to multiple sources, is illegal.
Multiple medical professionals have stated that it’s impossible to lethally overdose on marijuana. Contrastingly, many legal substances and over-the-counter drugs (like aspirin) can cause death by overdose.
Marijuana doesn’t increase the risk of cancer or other fatal diseases, according to multiple studies. In fact, a UCLA study concluded that there is “even a suggestion of some protective effect” against cancer.
Whenever marijuana is blamed for causing fatal accidents, other substances are almost always present and marijuana usually played a marginal role. Marijuana isn’t generally linked to violence and certainly not linked to domestic abuse.
In short, marijuana is a safe substance. Yet why is it illegal while substantially more harmful substances aren’t?
Steve Fox, director of public affairs for the National Cannabis Industry Association, blames it on government propaganda and cultural bias.
One of the earliest propaganda materials against marijuana, released in 1936, was a grossly inaccurate film called Reefer Madness. The film showed fictional scenes of marijuana inducing young people to commit attempted rape, commit multiple murders, commit suicide, and become criminally insane.
Throughout the years, similar (but usually less outrageous) lies about marijuana have been spread, leading the public to have a negative perception towards it.
Fox, however, is hopeful. He believes those born after the 1950s have a more accurate understanding of marijuana. Therefore, as time goes on, the US population will increasingly support the legalization of it.
The latest Gallup poll shows that 46 percent of Americans already support the legalization of marijuana. Among survey participants between the ages of 18 and 29, 61 percent support it.
Fox said starting from 10 or 15 years ago, public support for marijuana legalization has climbed about 1 to 2 percentage points each year. If this trend continues, the majority of American could support marijuana legalization in just a few years.