Loading

Daily Caller

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 26, 2012

    Last week Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Washington, DC think tank The Heritage Foundation, took to the opinion pages of the conservative-leaning DC publication, The Daily Caller, to opine “why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana.”

    Stimson’s commentary predictably contained various inaccuracies and outright falsehoods — including the unfounded allegations that marijuana use inspires violence, that the areas around medicinal cannabis clubs have experienced “exponential increases in crime rates,” (A recently published UCLA study and several others eviscerate this claim.) and that the daily consumption of alcohol “has been shown to actually improve health; not so with marijuana … (which) has no known general healthful properties.”

    Predictably, Stimson’s comments drew a firestorm of criticism, generating nearly 400 comments on The Daily Caller‘s website. It also drew a harsh rebuke, in the form of a letter to the editor, from NORML Advisory Board Member, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who responded that Mr. Stimson’s “misstatements and half-truths” lacked any empirical foundation.

    To their credit, The Daily Caller on Wednesday also devoted space for NORML to respond directly to Charles Stimson’s pot propaganda via my own op/ed, which I’ve excerpted below.

    Regulations, not criminal prohibition, best address concerns regarding cannabis
    via The Daily Caller

    The views on marijuana legalization expressed in The Daily Caller last week by The Heritage Foundation’s Charles Stimson (“Why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana,” July 19, 2012) are woefully out of step with contemporary science and public opinion.

    Americans have grown weary of the federal government’s war on cannabis. Their exasperation is justified. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous and fiscally taxing criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans, including the president, acknowledge having consumed cannabis. One in ten admit that they use it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.

    … A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the limited legal use of marijuana by adults would best reduce any risks associated with its use or abuse.

    … Need further proof that regulation works? Just look at our contemporary experience with tobacco — a legally marketed but deadly recreational drug. Teen use of cigarettes has recently fallen to its lowest levels in decades. Conversely, young people’s self-reported use of cannabis is rising and has now surpassed the number of teens consuming tobacco. Why the disparate trends? Simple. In short, it’s legalization, regulation and public education — coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions — that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children.

    Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition and regardless of the fear-mongering of pundits like Charles Stimson, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and put forward common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ use and production.

    You can read the entire commentary and leave comments by clicking here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 11, 2011

    Earlier this week Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske sat down for a face-to-face interview with The Daily Caller‘s Mike Riggs. (Riggs is the Daily Caller reporter who yesterday broke the story regarding the DEA’s plans to reschedule plant-derived THC while keeping the actual plant illegal.)

    Riggs asked the Czar some tough questions, including this one specific to medical cannabis: “You’ve said before that you don’t see medical benefits to smoked marijuana and also that the jury is still out on medical marijuana. What sort of scientific consensus does the ONDCP require? How many studies have to come out arguing for medical benefits? What do you need to see?”

    The Czar’s reply? “[Y]ou know there are over 100 groups doing marijuana research, and they’re getting their marijuana from the University of Mississippi. There are several things in clinical trials right now. So we’ll just have to wait for those.”

    To which I reply ‘Bulls–t!’

    As I write today on Alternet.org, a review of the U.S. National Institutes of Health website clinicaltrials.gov shows that there are presently only six FDA-approved trials taking place anywhere in the world involving subjects’ use of actual cannabis. Of these, two are completed, one is assessing the plant’s pharmacokinetics, and one is assessing pot’s alleged harms.

    Memo to the Drug Czar: That leaves a grand total of — not “over 100” — but rather just two ongoing clinical trials to assess the medical efficacy of cannabis. You sir, are a liar (but then again, I suppose we all knew that already).

    Pot May Be Instrumental in Combating Cancer, MS and Other Diseases But the Gov’t Refuses to Fund the Necessary Research

    via Alternet

    [excerpt] A review of the U.S. National Institutes of Health website clinicaltrials.gov shows that NIDA’s kibosh on medical marijuana trials continues unabated. Though a search of ongoing FDA-approved clinical trials using the keyword ‘cannabinoids’ (the active components in marijuana) yields 65 worldwide hits, only six involve subjects’ use of actual cannabis. (The others involve the use of synthetic cannabinoid agonists like dronabinol or nabilone, the commercially marketed marijuana extract Sativex, or the cannabinoid receptor blocking agent Rimonabant.)

    Of the six, two of the studies are already completed: ‘Opioid and Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetic Interactions‘ and ‘Vaporization as a Smokeless Cannabis Delivery System,’ both of which were spearheaded by researchers (primarily Dr. Donald Abrams) at the University of California at San Francisco.

    The four remaining studies are still in the ‘recruitment’ phase. Of these, only two pertain to the potential medical use of cannabis: ‘Cannabis for Spasticity of Multiple Sclerosis,’ which is taking place at the University of California at Davis and is likely the final clinical trial associated with the soon-to-be-defunct/defunded California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, and ‘Cannabis for Inflammatory Bowel Disease,’ led by researchers at the Meir Medical Center in Israel.

    Of the remaining studies, one focuses on the detection of cannabinoids and their metabolites on drug screens, while the other, entitled ‘Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Risk Taking and Decision Making Tasks,’ seeks to establish pot-related harms — hypothesizing that subjects “demonstrate poorer decision-making abilities and increased risk-taking behaviors” after smoking marijuana.

    You can read the full text of my Alternet.org story here.

    You can read the full interview with Drug Czar Kerlikowske here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 22, 2010

    Texas GOP drug warrior Rep. Lamar Smith (21st District) lashed out at the Obama administration yesterday on Fox News (Watch the video here.) — claiming that the President is ‘soft’ on pot and is refusing to enforce federal drug laws. But as I opine in today’s edition of The Hill.com’s Congress blog, Congressman Smith is fundamentally wrong on both counts.

    Failed marijuana policies are a bi-partisan boondoggle
    via The Hill

    [excerpt: read the full text here]

    Law enforcement officials prosecuted a near-record 858,408 persons for violating marijuana laws in 2009 – the first year of the Obama presidency. That total is the second highest annual number of pot prosecutions ever recorded in the United States.

    According to the arrest data, made public last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 88 percent (758,593 Americans) of those charged with marijuana violations were prosecuted for possession only. The remaining 99,815 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    Does any rational person really think that arresting and prosecuting nearly one million Americans annually for their use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol exemplifies a ‘soft’ – or better yet, sound – public policy?

    Rep. Smith further claims that the administration has abdicated the enforcement of federal drug laws in the fourteen states that have legalized the physician-supervised use of marijuana since 1996. Not so. Despite promises from the U.S. Attorney General to respect the laws of these 14 states, the September 21 edition of DC’s Daily Caller reports that just the opposite is taking place.

    In an article entitled, ‘DEA, DOJ stay mum on medical marijuana raids,’ reporter Mike Riggs states: “Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t stopped raiding marijuana dispensaries operating in states where sale of the drug is legal for medical purposes. But the DOJ has demonstrated one marked change now that it’s under Democratic control: The department has stopped publicizing medical marijuana raids, both by requesting that more cases be sealed under court order and by refusing to distribute press releases.”

    The story goes on to cite details of over a dozen recent federal raids of medical marijuana providers in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada – all states that have approved the cultivation and possession of medical marijuana.

    Of course, if the stricter enforcement of marijuana laws – as Rep. Lamar advocates – was really the solution to curbing Americans’ appetite for pot then how does one explain this? Since 1965, police have arrested over 21 million Americans for violating marijuana laws; yet according to the World Health Organization more Americans consume marijuana than do citizens of any other country in the world.

    Rather than scapegoating the new administration, which has done little to alter longstanding U.S. marijuana policy, Rep. Smith ought to reconsider the past 40 years of failed drug war policies. … It is time to replace failed marijuana prohibition with a system of legalization, sensible regulation, taxation, and education.

    The Hill’s ever-popular Congress blog ‘is where lawmakers come to blog.’ It’s also where legislators and other politicos come to gauge the pulse of the public. Given that this is a paper of record on Capitol Hill, why not send Rep. Smith and his colleagues a message that their anti-marijuana rhetoric is woefully out of touch with voter sentiment? You can make your voice heard by leaving your feedback here.

    If you live in Texas (particularly if you live in the 21st District, which includes the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Kerrville, and San Antonio), you can also contact Rep. Smith directly here.