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NORML’s Reefer Madness Du Jour: Florida Drug Czar Cries Wolf Over Medical Cannabis

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director January 16, 2010

    Channeling Harry J. Anslinger….

    NORMLReeferMadness

    It is hard to know which is worse, ignorance or dishonesty? I can’t ascribe either specifically when it comes to the agitprop of Florida’s so-called drug czar Bruce Grant, but his anti-medical cannabis rant published recently in the Orlando Sentinel wins the distinction of being the first in an ingoing series entitled NORML’s Reefer Madness Du Jour, which serve as 1) peeks into and observations of those who still support the practice of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating cannabis consumers; 2) trying to understand and expose the motivations of those who seek to deny sick, dying and sense-threatened medical patients who possess a physician’s recommendation to use cannabis; 3) shedding light on those who deny American farmers the ability to cultivate and prosper from the cultivation of industrial hemp, just like hemp farmers from Canada, France, China, Russia, etc…

    It is no surprise to any casual observer of cannabis law reform that the politically-appointed position of ‘Director of Drug Control Policy’, largely a symbolic government job, in the current epoch of modern American politics, notably in red state-leaning Florida, will be against ‘drugs’ (interestingly, these so-called drug czars rarely rail against the three most deadly and addicting ‘drugs': alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals).

    But what makes czar Grant’s full-throated rant against medical cannabis standout is the vacuousness in his effort to mislead the citizens of Florida.

    Medical Marijuana Would Multiply Misery Of Abuse
    The push is on to add medical marijuana to the ballot. This proposal would make the use of cannabis for medical purposes legal in Florida.

    It seems that every few years vocal marijuana-interest groups seek a way to normalize their drug of choice for the rest of us. Maybe they’ve forgotten the terrible human toll exacted by drug abuse.

    We have to look no further than our own friends and families, addiction-treatment centers and local hospitals to see the tragic consequences these substances visit upon human beings. The misery would only be compounded should medical marijuana be allowed.

    Smoked marijuana is not medicine. Pot smoke contains more carcinogens than cigarette smoke and is simply not healthy for you.

    In short, inhaling toxic chemicals and carcinogens from the burning of a crude weed is not recommended by any reputable medical authority.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration routinely tests new drugs according to a rigorous protocol to prove their safety before they are allowed to be sold to the public as medicine. Marijuana has passed no such test.

    Is there potential use for some form of cannabis in medicine? Sure. The American Medical Association recently recognized limited therapeutic benefits of marijuana — specifically, pain reduction and appetite improvement — in certain patients and has called for further research to look into the development of cannabinoid-based medicines and alternate-delivery systems.

    If this research shows promise, scientists will then be able to isolate the therapeutic chemicals, have them tested and approved by the FDA, and finally packaged in a synthetic form as medicine, much like was done with Marinol some years ago.

    These are possibilities for the future, but right now neither the AMA nor any competent medical authority in this country has yet endorsed marijuana as medicine.

    Considering our national obsession with the health consequences of high cholesterol, trans fats, obesity and second-hand tobacco smoke, why would we now seek to legitimize and encourage the use of a carcinogenic substance?

    Let’s look at the California experiment that began in 1996: People in that state have been using medical marijuana as a convenient cover for the illegal recreational use of the drug. Initially prescribed to alleviate nausea and loss of appetite associated with treatments for cancer and HIV, medical cannabis is now widely prescribed for ailments such as headaches, back pains, insomnia and even ingrown toenails.

    In one clinic in San Diego in 2006, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that only 2 percent of the patients received their prescriptions for serious conditions like AIDS and cancer, while the other 98 percent received marijuana to treat back spasms, headaches, anxiety and other such maladies. Is this the kind of “medicine” we want in Florida?

    The case for medical marijuana is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The true agenda behind the rhetoric is full legalization. Smoking marijuana as a medical treatment empowers marijuana-interest groups to achieve their ultimate goal of marketing this intoxicating substance to the entire population — sick or not.

    Legalization would most certainly lead to abuse by an even greater number of youth and adults than seen today. Ask any addict undergoing treatment whether or not marijuana should be legalized, and you will get a resounding “no.”

    Why? Because between alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, we already have enough problems with substance abuse. Drug abuse inflicts staggering monetary costs reflected in crime, incarceration, property damage and adverse health outcomes. Even worse is the cost in lost human lives.

    Marijuana would embolden those who would use the plight of the sick as a clever subterfuge for drug legalization with tragic ramifications for our citizens. We support medical progress and relieving pain in the sick and dying, but allowing medical marijuana would cost us all more than we can pay.

    Bruce Grant is director of the Florida Office of Drug Control.

    OK…where to begin?

    First, right out of the gate, the threat of medical cannabis being foisted onto the unknowing and easily manipulated citizens of Florida by crazed cannabis activists.

    Second, medical cannabis is a mean-spirited ruse for legalization.

    Threat #2…Grant implies cannabis places citizens into drug addiction centers and hospitals. Is this true? Doesn’t alcohol, pills and tobacco products put consumers in some jeopardy for the need of addiction or medical treatments. Maybe czar Grant has never visited an emergency room on Saturday nights after midnight…

    Despite the fact that 14 states recognize cannabis as a medicine (where 90 million Americans reside), and arguably now so does the federal government under the Obama administration post a well-publicized DOJ memo this past October, and that there are thousands of supportive and affirming scientific studies published indicating cannabis’ safety and utility as a medicine, czar Grant (who is not a medical doctor, rather a career military and anti-drug officer) flatly declares: There is no such thing as medical cannabis. Period.

    One wonders if Alice in Wonderland is czar Grant’s favorite book and inspiration for informed policy-making?Bruce_Grant

    Czar Grant seeks a fig leaf to hide behind when claiming that the FDA has not approved medical cannabis. Has the FDA actually tested medical cannabis? No. Has the FDA been abused by anti-cannabis politicians to produce position papers against cannabis? Yes. Ironically released by the ONDCP and Bush 2.0 administration in conjunction with NORML’s 36th annual national conference.

    In short, inhaling toxic chemicals and carcinogens from the burning of a crude weed is not recommended by any reputable medical authority.

    These are possibilities for the future, but right now neither the AMA nor any competent medical authority in this country has yet endorsed marijuana as medicine.

    Czar grant just outright lies when he asserts that no reputable medical organization supports patient access to whole-smoked cannabis when there are hundreds of reputable medical organizations that do, including the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, AIDS Action Council, American Academy of Family Physicians and The British Medical Association, etc…robbed of their historic, institutional opposition to cannabis, czar Grant even has to soft pedal the American Medical Association’s new direction on medical cannabis’ medical utility.

    Czar Grant dangles the false promise (and proven marketplace loser) of 100% pure THC pills like Marinol being superior to natural cannabis.

    A favorite prohibitionist canard to employ, as Grant does, is the one that asserts ‘in a world where deadly and addicting drugs like alcohol and tobacco are legal, me-oh-my, why would we want to legalize another drug like cannabis?’

    The simple retorts are:

    -The failure of cannabis prohibition for 73-years does nothing to actually control the use of the drug;

    -Cannabis is already so popular it is not clear at all that taxing it will increase the use of it. In states that have medical cannabis laws and/or decriminalized cannabis there has been no discernible increase in the use of the herb by children or adults;

    -Cannabis, despite it’s long illegality is a top five cash crop in America, the drug is readily purchased on most any street and children in government surveys acknowledge greater access to untaxed/unregulated cannabis than taxed and controlled drugs like alcohol and tobacco products.

    Czar Grant then goes on to commit a damning blood libel by labeling all medical cannabis consumers in California as frauds. His proof: He cites a recent anti-medical cannabis white paper created by the California Chiefs Of Police Association, which was written and published for the purpose of propagandizing for anti-cannabis activists, law enforcement and opinion-makers in the media.

    cpca1-300x255

    If one employed Grant’s prohibitionistic thinking, if a youth illegally purchased a bottle of beer or  prescription pills, then the government should ban alcohol and pharmaceuticals and criminalize the behavior.

    The fact is that tens of millions of citizens–in states like CA, CO, OR, NM, WA–safely and responsibly use medical cannabis everyday with their physician’s recommendation with little-to-no-harm to the individual patient, their city, state and society.

    Czar Grant may want to take note that states like NM, RI, ME and now NJ (and the District of Columbia) are issuing state licenses to medical cannabis cultivators and distributors, therefore it can be stated that cannabis is a safe medicine, that is why the states are allowing its use and sales.

    If cannabis was the problem and health threat czar Grant claims, why would every single candidate from the Democratic party in the 2008 presidential election, including now President Obama, support lawful access to medical cannabis?

    If cannabis truly were deadly and dangerous why would voters massively favor reform in the voting booth and state legislators pass and governors sign these measures into law? Because they favor their own deaths and illness? Do the politicians who support medical access to cannabis want to sow death, disease and drug addiction to their very own voting constituents?

    How logical and based in reality is czar Grant’s mentality regarding cannabis?

    Lastly….

    We support medical progress and relieving pain in the sick and dying, but allowing medical marijuana would cost us all more than we can pay.

    I don’t know who the ‘we‘ is in czar Grant’s absurd claim as a vast majority of Americans do in fact support medical access to cannabis. When given the opportunity to directly vote on the matter of medical access to cannabis, only once since 1992 have cannabis law reformers not prevailed at the ballot box (South Dakota, 2006, where reformers lost 51%-48%; prevailing in AK, WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, CO, MT, MI and ME).

    If Grant and other prohibitionist really care about the health and welfare of their fellow Floridians, they should do the two following things:

    -Read NORML’s Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids – A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2009;

    -Get into a car, head Ft. Lauderdale way and look up stockbroker and one of five federally-licensed medical cannabis patients in the United States Irvin Rosenfeld. Irv receives over 300 complimentary pre-rolled cannabis ‘joints’ every month grown at NIDA’s University of Mississippi cannabis farm, rolled en mass at a secret facility at the Research Triangle Institute in NC and escorted by US Marshals to a DEA-certified pharmacy. The man smokes about 10-12 large joints a day, is a successful stockbroker, sailboat racer, community volunteer and high taxpayer.

    I guess in czar Grant’s world Mr. Rosenfeld should suffer in silence and not be an active, productive, fully-engaged-in-life medical patient who consumes cannabis prescribed by his physician.

    Of course, anti-cannabis guest columns have been penned in the mainstream media by dozens of political appointees against any modicum of cannabis law reforms since the early 1990s.

    How has that worked so far for them?

    Does Grant believe the results will be any different in Florida regardless of his shallow and ill-informed cry of wolf?

    82 Responses to “NORML’s Reefer Madness Du Jour: Florida Drug Czar Cries Wolf Over Medical Cannabis”

    1. Matt says:

      This doesn’t surprise me in the state of Florida considering we have some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. What I find amazing is that these “Drug Czars” especially in Florida, do not realize the benefits of using this for medicinal purposes instead of prescription pills. The tri-city area, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach has gained the name of the pill mill of the country where prescription pills have become the highest percentage drug to overdose on, over herion and cocaine, but yet a doctor writes a prescription for it and it is okay. Shouldn’t it be okay for a doctor to write you a prescription for medical marijuana as well. These people in power need to take the blinders off and look and compare the positives and negatives of these drugs and consider a safer alternative instead of feeding someone’s addiction to prescription drugs, which does and will happen. It is ridiculous to see so many of our people in power so close-minded.

    2. Robbie Robinson says:

      Mr. Grant is obviously living in a cloud of his own misguided and misinformed making. It is the same old story of any paradigm shift, “We do it this way because that’s the way it was always done before.” What about the feds patent # 6630507 on cannabis for it’s neuroprotectant and antioxidant properties. How would he explain that away?

    3. todd bass says:

      florida is where we get all the hillbilly heroin. So any thing a drug czar from florida says is crap. someone should shut his mouth.. . how did this creep get his power.. everyone concentrate on grant having a disease he could benefit from marijuana and him not being able to get it because of his own policy. He looks like an alcoholic.

    4. ChronJohn says:

      I really hope you NORML folks get a rebuttal published in all publications this farcical nonsense was put in. Florida could really use safe access to medical cannabis.

    5. Lisa Boston says:

      I would like to thank Allen St.Pierre and NORML for addressing this issue.I have seen many Floridians express their need for Medical Marijuana.To bad their rights are being denied because of lack of education or stupidity.
      In the long run,I hope all in need of any kind of medical treatment,will not be denied their choice of medicine.
      It’s a crying shame that ‘we the people’ are denied our right to choose.

    6. Robert Lee says:

      Ok enough of this BULLSHIT,1.Medical Marijuana Would Multiply Misery Of Abuse,hmmm just like whats going on in the world with the pills,except you can not die!! 2.Smoked marijuana is not medicine. Pot smoke contains more carcinogens than cigarette smoke and is simply not healthy for you.This is all wrong,cannabis is safe then the foods we eat,water we drink and the air we breathe!3.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration routinely tests new drugs according to a rigorous protocol to prove their safety before they are allowed to be sold to the public as medicine. Marijuana has passed no such test.Thats because they are not testing for it,they all are complete assholes for us to believe this lie!4.If this research shows promise, scientists will then be able to isolate the therapeutic chemicals, have them tested and approved by the FDA, and finally packaged in a synthetic form as medicine, much like was done with Marinol some years ago.This is why we can’t find relief,why does everything have to man made synthetic bullshit when it doesn’t even work for all!! 5.Considering our national obsession with the health consequences of high cholesterol, trans fats, obesity and second-hand tobacco smoke, why would we now seek to legitimize and encourage the use of a carcinogenic substance?Hmm well what about taking these man made synthetic drugs then getting hooked on them then going to much more powerful drugs like Heroin 6.Legalization would most certainly lead to abuse by an even greater number of youth and adults than seen today. Ask any addict undergoing treatment whether or not marijuana should be legalized, and you will get a resounding “no.”Hmmm I would rather do MARIJUANA THEN THE BULLSHIT DRUGS WE ALL ARE FORCED TO TAKE EVERYDAY AND TRHEN YOU STILL CALL THIS A FREE COUNTRY?? KISS MY ASS FREAKS!!@

    7. FiddleMan says:

      If statements are outright lies and can be proven as such, doesn’t a paper have to print a retraction?
      Maybe the Orlando Sentinel will run Allen’s Response…

      Grant needs to be pushed into a situation where he MUST ADMIT to the people that he lied about Cannabis OR that he, as a Florida Drug Czar, does not understand Medical Cannabis and therefore should not be receiving taxpayer’s money for a job that he doesn’t understand!

      Yes, it is a Czar’s job – by definition – to lie – but isn’t there some way to hold these people credible to their words?

      Legalize Cannabis Now!

    8. maxwood says:

      Perhaps Mr. Rosenfeld really needs the amount of cannabinoid in 5-6 grams of hot burning joints a day, but the disdainful-looking photo provided above could be a PR disaster. Consider that a chance was missed to promote “Responsible Use” by showing Mr. Rosenfeld with a vaporizer– or at least a long-stemmed screened one-hit chillum, kiseru or midwakh.

      Please bring this to his attention: prior to the next photo session he could at least sift down the herb and vape or toke a couple dozen low-temperature single servings from each of those spliffs. And, after each round, do 30 intense Warm Wet W’s in and out of a breathmoisturebonnet (alias lunchbag) to protect his trachea.

      Note that by notoriously rolling these fat joints NIDA is doing Big 2WackGo the utmost favor, for if non-overdose smoking or vaporizing procedures now gaining headway among cannabis users spilled over into the nicotine addict population, the massively advertised cash cow 700-mg. squares are history, and that’s the end of the profit margin of the #1 genocide industry in world history.

      Of course once the FDA abandons its phony fear of e-cigarettes (not one fatality in a decade compared to 50,000,000 by “regulars”) those can be used for medicinal cannabis as well as nicotine.

      [Editor’s note: You’re certainly correct regarding some of the benefits of vaporization over smoking, however the federal medical cannabis patients are not supposed to change or alter the delivery system, they also can’t supplement their otherwise low potency government freeze-dried cannabis with market quality medicinal grade cannabis without threat of being thrown out of HHH’s Compassionate Individual New Drug Program.]

    9. Justin says:

      This is not surprising in the least. The thing that scares me is, even though the “war” against mj prohibition has made leaps and bounds recently. I feel that many, many, of the people in power truly feel this way and are arrogantly ignorant to the truth. Yes, we are winning battles, but this is a never ending war it seems. Someone will always be there to spread the propaganda and lies wether it be religious zealots, or just the flat out ignorant. Alas for now to enjoy our wins and temporary peace, would be, I believe, very prudent.

    10. Nick says:

      My guess is that he’s making money off marijuana being illegal. Like the cheater who’s always over-the-top protective of their mate…

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