August 2009


August 30, 2009 – The United States is torn on whether or not marijuana is harmful or actually could be used for a healing intervention. There are many studies, articles, and marijuana_alcoholdoctor’s perspectives on this issue. But, what are the true facts?

According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Fifty-one percent (51%) of American adults say alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and just 19% think pot is worse. 25% believe both substances are dangerous. Just two percent (2%) say neither is harmful.

An online article on Saferchoice.org, “Marijuana vs Alcohol,” provides readers with evidence that alcohol is potentially more harmful and addictive than marijuana. A few reasons being:

1. “There are hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths each year, yet there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in 2001 there were 331 recorded alcohol overdose related deaths and 0 deaths dealing with marijuana overdose. The CDC also recorded 20,687 alcohol generated deaths in 2003; where as, there were no records of marijuana induced deaths.

2. “Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs, and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect can lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring thousands times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death.”

Dr. Leslie Iverson, Oxford University, found in his book, “The Science of Marijuana” that marijuana is a naturally “safe drug” which cannot lead to infertility, brain damage, cancer, or mental illness. He thinks that the legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes should be contemplated.

3. “Long-term marijuana use is far less harmful than long-term alcohol use.”

Drugpolicy.org notes, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked. Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people’s behavior.”

However, an article published last year by Reuters, provides evidence from Australian researchers that “Long-term heavy use of marijuana may cause two important brain structures to shrink.” They came to this hypothesis by conducting brain scans on men and women. Those who had smoked marijuana for five or more years showed smaller hippocampuses (portion of the brain that regulates memory) and amygdalas (section of the brain that deals with fear and aggression) than nonusers.

Marijuana has been a hotly debated issue for years and it will continue to be; but, one thing is certain, anything used in excess is called an addiction. We must think of the body as a pure and clean vessel. It is important that one uses wise judgment when putting any foreign substance into the body. By Kimberly Willingham. Source.

August 30, 2009 – ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Medical marijuana used to treat a 10-year-old boy with autism may sound shocking. But one Orange County mother says she exhausted all other options.
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Before using medical marijuana, doctors described Joey as “hostile, destructive, a danger to himself and others.”

His mother says he’s now a different boy.

Four months ago, doctors told Joey’s mom that he was going to die. She strongly believes medical marijuana saved her son’s life.

“Had I had not gone this route, my son would not be here,” said Joey’s mom.

Joey was diagnosed with autism when he was 16-months-old. His symptoms are severe.

“His behavior was just completely off the charts,” said Joey’s mom. “It was taking its toll on our entire family.”

Joey doesn’t speak or walk. He’ll never lead a so-called normal life.

“He didn’t sleep for weeks, and neither did I,” said Joey’s mom.

She and a team of doctors tried everything, including 13 different medications and therapy. At one point, Joey was taking six medications at once. But the prescription drugs took a toll on Joey’s body, causing liver damage, minor seizures, insomnia and drastic weight loss.

Joey was diagnosed with malnutrition and anorexia, and his weight dropped to 46 pounds.

“I have a 10-year-old that was 46 pounds,” said Joey’s mom. “He was very weak. You could see the bones in his chest. And at that point I realized if I did not take him off these hardcore prescribed medications, my son was going to die.”

In desperation, Joey’s mom finally turned to medical marijuana. She gives it to him in specially prepared brownies and cookies.

She says the changes have been dramatic.

Joey’s doctor said she noticed a difference within weeks.

“She looked at Joey and said, ‘For the first time Joey has cheeks,'” Joey’s mom recalls. “Now he eats everything. Everything! Calamari & he eats sushi. My son is finally getting the nutrients that he’s been missing for the last seven years.

But it’s not just his appetite that has changed. Joey is calmer and less edgy.

“He’s happy, he feels alive. And to hear him make sounds, I mean, we’ve never heard him make sounds,” said Joey’s mom.

Joey’s repetitive behaviors have also diminished.

“This to me sounds like a very reasonable use of medical marijuana,” said Dr. Drew Pinksy, a specialist in addiction.

“The idea that somehow cannabis is a ‘bad’ drug and there are ‘good’ drugs, that’s a huge mistake. There are drugs that have liabilities and used properly can really help people. This is a clear situation where it’s helping a kid. Why shouldn’t they use it?” adds Dr. Drew.

He warns that any such treatment must be carefully monitored by Joey’s doctors, but potential addiction shouldn’t be an issue.

“I mean there may be withdrawal symptoms, there may be anxiety and other mood disturbances down the road from using cannabis, but you’re not going to use, it’s not going to convert this child who has no history of addiction into an addict,” said Dr. Drew.

Dr. Drew and Joey’s mom, both agree that more research is needed. But for now Joey’s mom believes the marijuana saved her son.

“People who have seen Joey … Joey’s a completely different child,” she said.

Joey’s mom did not want her name used in fear of a backlash, but agreed to tell their story in hopes of helping other parents with special needs children. By Ellen Leyva. Source.

August 29, 2009 – The new high life: marijuana is moving into the mainstream with fashion, films, TV and politicians acknowledging its here to stay. Picture 3

In June, an estimated 25,000 people attended the inaugural THC Expo hemp and art show in downtown Los Angeles, an event that pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy — including a $22,400 payment directly to the city of Los Angeles for use of its convention center.

Barneys New York in Beverly Hills is celebrating the Woodstock spirit by selling $78 “Hashish” candles in Jonathan Adler pots with bas-relief marijuana leaves; Hickey offers $75 linen pocket squares or $120 custom polo shirts bearing the five-part leaf; and French designer Lucien Pellat-Finet is serving up white-gold and diamond custom pot-leaf-emblazoned wristwatches for $49,000 and belt buckles for $56,000.

Earlier this year, Season 5 of Showtime’s “Weeds” kicked off with promotional materials plastered on bus shelters, buses and billboards throughout the city. Last year, just across from the tourist-packed Farmers Market at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, a “Pineapple Express” billboard belched faux pot smoke into the air. Even the ’70s slacker-stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong are back. After recently concluding an international tour, they say they are working on another movie, voicing an animated version of themselves and even batting around the idea of staging a Cheech and Chong Broadway musical.

After decades of bubbling up around the edges of so-called civilized society, marijuana seems to be marching mainstream at a fairly rapid pace. At least in urban areas such as Los Angeles, cannabis culture is coming out of the closet.

At fashion-insider parties, joints are passed nearly as freely as hors d’oeuvres. Traces of the acrid smoke waft from restaurant patios, car windows and passing pedestrians on the city streets — in broad daylight. Even the art of name-dropping in casual conversation — once limited to celebrity sightings and designer shoe purchases — now includes the occasional boast of recently discovered weed strains such as “Strawberry Cough” and “Purple Kush.”

Public sentiment is more than anecdotal; earlier this year, a California Field Poll found that 56% of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana. Last month, voters in Oakland overwhelmingly approved a tax increase on medical marijuana sales, the first of its kind in the country, and Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn has proposed something similar for the City of Angels. “In this current economic crisis, we need to get creative about how we raise funds,” Hahn said in a statement.

Smoking pot used to be the kind of personal conduct that could sink a U.S. Supreme Court nomination (Douglas H. Ginsburg in 1987) and embarrass a presidential candidate (Bill Clinton in 1992). Today, it seems to be a non-issue for the current inhabitant of the Oval Office; Barack Obama issued his marijuana mea culpa in a 1995 memoir.

California Field Poll Drug references in popular music have multiplied like, well, weeds in the last three decades. Marijuana’s presence on TV and in the movies has moved from the harbinger of bad things including murderous rage (“Reefer Madness” in 1936) to full-scale hauntings (“Poltergeist” in 1982) and burger runs gone awry (“Harold & Kumar go to White Castle” in 2001) to being just another fixture in the pop-culture firmament. Cannabis crops up on shows such as “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “True Blood” and “Desperate Housewives,” and even on animated shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

To date, none is as pot-centric as Showtime’s “Weeds,” which follows the adventures of widowed soccer mom turned pot dealer Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), though the show’s creator, Jenji Kohan, says there are TV shows in development that are set against the backdrop of medical marijuana clinics.

Richard Laermer, a media and pop culture trend watcher and author of several books, including “2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade,” points to Bill Maher as a bellwether of change. “Ten years ago, he would have been taken off the air.” (“Real Time With Bill Maher” airs on HBO.) Now, he’s “a totally mainstream comic who consistently talks about how much pot he smokes.”

Marijuana’s role on TV and in the movies is no surprise, says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and pop culture at the University of Syracuse S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “The people who are making movies and television shows, from the scriptwriters to the director and the producers — a very large chunk of those are probably people who grew up not only much more comfortable with marijuana’s presence in society, but probably as consumers themselves of it.

“As a result,” Thompson said, “it’s almost switched with alcohol. Think back to Dean Martin and Foster Brooks — their whole comedy act was the fact that they were in the bag — that now is seen a lot less often. The stoner is the new drunk.”

There’s one hitch

General marijuana use is, of course, illegal. Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance (in the same category as LSD, heroin and peyote) and possession of it is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, in 2007 there were 872,721 arrests in the U.S. for marijuana violations. For Californians who are not otherwise covered under the state’s medical marijuana law (which continues to engender controversy among those who believe it’s abused by recreational users), possession of 28.5 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine. What’s more, passing a drug-free urine test is still a prerequisite for many jobs across the country.

Nonetheless, some indulge. Marijuana reform groups say it’s a $35.8-billion domestic cash crop. And today’s cannabis consumers — the state chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws estimates the number of Californians who have smoked at least once in the last year is 3 million — open their wallets for pot-themed movies, handbooks, calendars, fancy glass storage jars, energy drinks, hemp clothing and ganja-themed bus tours, all part of the ever-widening marijuana-adjacent economy.

How much do we spend?

“It’s hard to say,” says Brian Roberts, co-founder of the THC Expo. “Do you count ‘Pineapple Express’ that did $100 million at the box office? Do you add in Dr. Dre’s ‘[The] Chronic’ and ‘2001’ albums that [together] sold over 10 million copies? What I can tell you is that [the expo] pumped over $400,000 into the local economy,” he added, citing expenditures for security guards and other temporary staffers, banners, decorations, printing and advertising, and renting the South Hall of the L.A. Convention Center.

Roberts, who launched and later sold a now-dormant, pot-themed apparel line called THC Clothing before getting into the expo business, has seen pot culture consumers’ buying power firsthand. “I used to own a smoke shop [2000 BC] over on Melrose and people would spend up to $400 for a piece of glass to use as a water pipe — you’re talking about an adult with extra money. That’s like buying a power tool.”

Did something happen between 2003, when Tommy Chong started a nine-month stint in federal prison for selling a mail-order water pipe, and the June THC Expo, when he stood signing autographs and shaking hands, barely a roach clip’s throw from row upon row of swirling glass pipes, smoking devices with octopus-like tentacles, whirring motors and price tags as high as $800?

Some people point to the Obama administration as the biggest game-changer. “It was when [former President George W. Bush] and his boys were run out of office, that made the biggest difference,” Chong said by phone near the end of the “Light Up America and Canada Tour” that reunited him with Cheech Marin.

Roberts cited the election as the tipping point as well. “The whole show teetered on who won the election,” he said. “If McCain had won, I’d have never have put up my money. But Americans are no longer living in fear.”

In addition, trend watcher Laermer points to a more subtle shift: aging baby boomers — a generation famous for tuning in, turning on and dropping out — who are keeping their party habits going into their golden years.

“It’s hard to fathom that the fifty- and sixtysomethings would be against pot after all the pot they smoked,” Laermer said, “Their kids would laugh them out of the room if they started telling them not to smoke pot.”

The so-called marijuana movement has attracted some surprising names. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has spoken out about decreasing penalties for possession and protecting medical marijuana users. Earlier this year, Glenn Beck of Fox News announced on the air: “Look, I’m a libertarian. You want to legalize marijuana; you want to legalize drugs — that’s fine.”

David Bienenstock, senior editor of New York-based marijuana magazine High Times and author of “The Official High Times Pot Smoker’s Handbook,” said: “Whether you’re with the press or a politician, it’s no longer a third rail. In the past it could have cost you your job. Now people are at least able to have those conversations.”

Roberts, for one, is ready. He’s already booked 50,000 square feet at the Los Angeles Convention Center for next year’s THC Expo. It’s going to happen April 23-25 — right after the April 20 date that’s become a kind of pot smokers’ national holiday.

“They’re happy to have us back,” Roberts said. “They told me the food concessions sold $38,000 worth of food on the first day alone — and that’s more than they do in a whole week at the California Gift Show.” By Adam Tschorn. Source.

August 29, 2009 – Is marijuana legalization slowly moving closer to the finish line? Perhaps. In the court of public opinion it seems more and more obvious that there is a Picture 2growing acceptance of illegal drugs, all the while polls point to nothing more than a smoke-filled haze of public perception on alcohol and drug related topics.

Released yesterday a Rasmussen Report survey now finds that a majority of Americans (51%) say that alcohol is actual more dangerous than marijuana. 25% of polled adults consider both drugs equally harmful and only 19% are now of the opinion that the pot is worse than the bottle. Alcohol is legal in all fifty states for adults over the age of 21. Marijuana on the other hand is illegal for consumption except where it is recognized for medical purposes. That is the case in thirteen states nationwide, although only California, Colorado, Rhode Island and New Mexico utilize medical dispensaries where the drug can be sold. Pennsylvania meanwhile is one of seven additional U.S. states considering marijuana bills in their legislatures.

The broader issue of drugs and the legalization thereof continues to win over certain critics and gain acceptance in circles where it was once vilified. Several polls in recent years have pointed to this fact but the Rasmussen survey is one of the first to pit public opinion of marijuana against that of the more widely accepted stimulant, alcohol. Mexico recently decriminalized small amounts of pot possession and the state of California will no doubt receive great attention next year as it pushes three separate legalization measures.

Nationally speaking polls seem to show varying levels of public support for marijuana legislation. Rasmussen indicates an uphill battle for pot even if the climb doesn’t appear as steep as in decades past. 41% of U.S. adults think pot should be legalized and taxed with 49% opposed according to that poll. Back in April ABC News, who did not include the taxing option, still found that 46% of adults favor the legalization of “small” amounts of the drug for personal use. On the other hand Zogby who surveyed over 3,900 voters this past May found that by a margin 52-37% most actually favored pot legalization.

The least inspiring numbers for marijuana advocates comes from a March CBS poll of 1,142 adults nationwide. Asked rather bluntly if they thought the use of marijuana should be legal or not only 31% of responders agreed against 63% who felt it should remain illegal.

Poll numbers such as these help illustrate the rather diverse feelings most Americans have toward drugs and alcohol alike. For instance, most think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes but probably not for general use. Most think it should be decriminalized but not made readily available. Americans are more sensitive to the issue of drugs and tend to believe our prisons should be heavily reduced in the number of non-violent drug offenders but also believe the substances that put them in jail should remain banned.

There are similar disparities in the view of the public on alcohol. Americans embrace the culture of alcohol and are drinking in record numbers. 30% of adults according to the aforementioned Rasmussen survey even think the drinking age should be dropped back down to eighteen. But while most states have already stepped up legislation against drinking and driving 50% of adults still do not believe current drunk driving laws are strict enough. That same number also favors a tax increase on alcoholic beverages.

Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no one way of thinking on any subject involving drugs and alcohol. Still the overall trend is towards a more liberal view of banned substances so long as the message being preached by advocates is one that does not involve public safety. American drug culture was never as apparent as it was forty years ago yet in 1969 at the height of the counter-culture some 84% in a Gallup poll were against the legalization of marijuana. Anything nearing a 50-50 split of public acceptance for pot would have to then be viewed a major achievement to the mainstreaming of the drug. Source.

August 30, 2009 – San Diego, CA–(ENEWSPF)–August 27, 2009. Compounds in cannabis may protect the human brain against alcohol-induced damage, according to brain-biology-medical-research-biology-01-afclinical trial data published online by the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Investigators at the University of California at San Diego examined white matter integrity in adolescents with histories of binge drinking and marijuana use.

They reported that binge drinkers (defined as boys who consumed five or more drinks in one sitting, or girls who consumed four or more drinks at one time) showed signs of white matter damage in eight separate regions of the brain.

By contrast, the binge drinkers who also used marijuana experienced less damage in seven out of the eight brain regions.

“Binge drinkers who also use marijuana did not show as consistent a divergence from non-users as did the binge drink-only group,” authors concluded. “[It is] possible that marijuana may have some neuroprotective properties in mitigating alcohol-related oxidative stress or excitotoxic cell death.”

In 2005, researchers at the National Institutes of Mental Health reported that the administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) reduced alcohol-induced cell death in the hippocampus and etorhinal cortex of the brain in a dose-dependent manner by up to 60 percent. “This study provides the first demonstration of CBD as an in vivo neuroprotectant … in preventing binge ethanol-induced brain injury,” investigators concluded in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Commenting on the findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Alcohol and cannabis appear to have contrasting effects on the body,” he said. “Ethanol is clearly toxic to healthy and developing cells whereas cannabinoids appear to be relatively non-toxic and possibly even neuroprotective.” Source.

Aug 28, 2009 | LISBON – The evidence from Portugal since 2001 is that decriminalisation of drug use and possession has benefits and no harmful side-effects.greenwald_whitepaper

IN 2001 newspapers around the world carried graphic reports of addicts injecting heroin in the grimy streets of a Lisbon slum. The place was dubbed Europe’s “most shameful neighborhood” and its “worst drugs ghetto”. The Times helpfully managed to find a young British backpacker sprawled comatose on a corner. This lurid coverage was prompted by a government decision to decriminalise the personal use and possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The police were told not to arrest anyone found taking any kind of drug.

This “ultraliberal legislation”, said the foreign media, had set alarm bells ringing across Europe. The Portuguese were said to be fearful that holiday resorts would become dumping-grounds for drug tourists. Some conservative politicians denounced the decriminalisation as “pure lunacy”. Plane-loads of foreign students would head for the Algarve to smoke marijuana, predicted Paulo Portas, leader of the People’s Party. Portugal, he said, was offering “sun, beaches and any drug you like.”

Yet after all the furor, the drug law was largely forgotten by the international and Portuguese press—until earlier this year, when the Cato Institute, a libertarian American think-tank, published a study of the new policy by a lawyer, Glenn Greenwald.* In contrast to the dire consequences that critics predicted, he concluded that “none of the nightmare scenarios” initially painted, “from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for ‘drug tourists’, has occurred.”

Mr Greenwald claims that the data show that “decriminalisation has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal”, which “in numerous categories are now among the lowest in the European Union”. This came after some rises in the 1990s, before decriminalisation. The figures reveal little evidence of drug tourism: 95% of those cited for drug misdemeanours since 2001 have been Portuguese. The level of drug trafficking, measured by numbers convicted, has also declined. And the incidence of other drug-related problems, including sexually transmitted diseases and deaths from drug overdoses, has “decreased dramatically”.

There are widespread misconceptions about the Portuguese approach. “It is important not to confuse decriminalisation with depenalisation or legalisation,” comments Brendan Hughes of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is, coincidentally, based in Lisbon. “Drug use remains illegal in Portugal, and anyone in possession will be stopped by the police, have the drugs confiscated and be sent before a commission.”

Nor is it uncommon in Europe to make drug use an administrative offence rather than a criminal one (putting it in the same category as not wearing a seat belt, say). What is unique, according to Mr Hughes, is that offenders in Portugal are sent to specialist “dissuasion commissions” run by the government, rather than into the judicial system. “In Portugal,” he says, “the health aspect [of the government’s response to drugs] has gone mainstream.”

The aim of the dissuasion commissions, which are made up of panels of two or three psychiatrists, social workers and legal advisers, is to encourage addicts to undergo treatment and to stop recreational users falling into addiction. They have the power to impose community work and even fines, but punishment is not their main aim. The police turn some 7,500 people a year over to the commissions. But nobody carrying anything considered to be less than a ten-day personal supply of drugs can be arrested, sentenced to jail or given a criminal record.

Officials believe that, by lifting fears of prosecution, the policy has encouraged addicts to seek treatment. This bears out their view that criminal sanctions are not the best answer. “Before decriminalisation, addicts were afraid to seek treatment because they feared they would be denounced to the police and arrested,” says Manuel Cardoso, deputy director of the Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Portugal’s main drugs-prevention and drugs-policy agency. “Now they know they will be treated as patients with a problem and not stigmatised as criminals.”

The number of addicts registered in drug-substitution programmes has risen from 6,000 in 1999 to over 24,000 in 2008, reflecting a big rise in treatment (but not in drug use). Between 2001 and 2007 the number of Portuguese who say they have taken heroin at least once in their lives increased from just 1% to 1.1%. For most other drugs, the figures have fallen: Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest lifetime usage rates for cannabis. And most notably, heroin and other drug abuse has decreased among vulnerable younger age-groups, according to Mr Cardoso.

The share of heroin users who inject the drug has also fallen, from 45% before decriminalisation to 17% now, he says, because the new law has facilitated treatment and harm-reduction programmes. Drug addicts now account for only 20% of Portugal’s HIV cases, down from 56% before. “We no longer have to work under the paradox that exists in many countries of providing support and medical care to people the law considers criminals.”

“Proving a causal link between Portugal’s decriminalisation measures and any changes in drug-use patterns is virtually impossible in scientific terms,” concludes Mr Hughes. “But anyone looking at the statistics can see that drug consumption in 2001 was relatively low in European terms, and that it remains so. The apocalypse hasn’t happened.” Source.

August 28, 2009 – In part one of this series we took a look at a couple of the key figures whose campaign of lies and propaganda helped stoke anti-marijuana sentimenthumboldt_jail_prisoner among the American public. There were many more. Lawmakers who eventually voted to outlaw marijuana had little factual evidence to assist them in making their decision. The case that was layed out before them had almost no basis in fact. In part two we will look at the cost of marijuana prohibition, not just in dollars, but in destroyed lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, as of 2008 there were 2,310,984 prisoners were held in federal and state prisons, or in local jails. 20 percent of those were incarcerated for drug offenses. The latest DOJ statistics show that one in eight prisoners in the U.S. are jailed for marijuana-related offenses, at a cost of more than $1 billion a year.

The most recent FBI figures estimated that 786,545 people were arrested on marijuana charges in 2005. That number doubled in just over a decade. The vast majority, 696,074, were charged only for possession. The remaining 90,471 were charged with the sale or manufacture of marijuana. That includes people who were growing pot only for personal use.

Let me be clear, I am not attempting to portray marijuana as a totally harmless drug. But it is abundantly clear that it has less of a detrimental effect on its users than alcohol, or even tobacco.

Time magazine in a report last month said a study by the British medical journal, Lancet, showed that one in every 25 deaths worldwide can be attributed to alcohol. Alcohol-related causes of death included accidents, violence, poisoning, mouth and throat cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, suicide, stroke and several others. There are more than two million deaths reported annually as a result of alcohol.

The only single substance on Earth that causes more deaths than alcohol is tobacco. Worldwide more than 5 million deaths are attributed to tobacco use every year. 443,000 of those are in the U.S. alone, at a cost of $193 billion.

In comparison marijuana has never been listed as the official cause of even a single death. Not one. Ever. It is impossible to overdose on marijuana. Marijuana has not be proven to cause phyisical addiction, although it is true that some people do become psychologically addicted to the drug. Like alcohol, marijuana can be used responsibly and in moderation, or it can be abused and become the focus of some users’ lives. The vast majority of users however say they have no problem using the drug and then putting it down for long periods of time, or quitting altogether.

More than 40 percent of all Americans say they have used marijuana at some point in their lives. 18 million people say they have used pot within the last year. Despite claims that marijuana is the primary “gateway drug” and leads to the use of harder and more dangerous drugs, most drug users report their first experience was with alcohol or tobacco. 60 percent of marijuana users say they have never tried any other drug.

The point is yes, some people do use marijuana irresponsibly. Yes, some do go on to use other drugs. But there is clear evidence that alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous than marijuana. Most marijuana users lead very normal and productive lives. Far more so than alcolhol users. So why continue the charade that marijuana is such a threat to public health and safety? A marijuana possession conviction on an individual’s record can do far more harm to them than the drug itself. A person sent to prison for simply smoking marijuana will face consequences in their future that can utterly destroy their lives.

What about cost of enforcing marijuana laws? Government figures reveal that we spend more than $10 billion a year. Yet there is no less marijuana available now than there ever has been. In fact in most areas of the country it is readily available at most times. A recent study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that 40 percent of American teenagers say they can get marijuana within an day. 25 percent say they can find it within one hour.

Statistics from police departments around the country show that on average police find marijuana in only around one in every fifteen vehicles they search. This is valuable time and money being wasted that could be spent enforcing far more serious crimes.

Marijuana is the fourth largest cash crop in America. By some estimates marijuana grown in the U.S. has a street value of around $50 billion. What if the drug were laegalized, regulated, and taxed? Instead of spending billions yearly fighting an unwinnable battle we could be reaping huge tax revenues. Those funds could be partially used for drug education and rehabilitation programs.

Keeping the drug illegal solves absolutely nothing. Those who wish to smoke it will smoke it whether it is legal or not. Some people will drive under the influence of marijuana no matter what its legal status. Teens will still have access to it. There isn’t a single element of marijuana use that be shown to be kept in check by continuing its prohibition. In fact legalization and strict regulation could cut down on many of the problems that may be caused by marijuana.

The bottom line is that the cost, both monetarily and in the damage done to people’s lives who are arrested for simply smoking marijuana, is far to high to continue to justify. It is far past time for our nation’s marijuana lwas to begin to be based on facts, not deceit and misinformation. Source.

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