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Department of Health and Human Services

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 10, 2009

    FYI: Feel free to also comment on this commentary (and digg it) at the Huffington Post here and at Alternet.org here.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has once again released their annual survey on “drug use and health” — you know, the one where representatives of the federal government go door-to-door and ask Americans if they are presently breaking state and federal law by using illicit drugs. The same survey where respondents have historically under reported their usage of alcohol and tobacco — these two legal substances — by as much as 30 to 50 percent, and arguably under report their use of illicit substances by an even greater margin. The same survey that — despite these inherent limitations — “is the primary source of statistical information on the use of illegal drugs by the U.S. population.” Yeah, that one.

    So what does the government’s latest round of ‘statistical (though highly questionable) information’ tell us? Nothing we didn’t already know.

    Despite 70+ years of criminal prohibition, marijuana still remains widely popular among Americans, with over 102 million Americans (41 percent of the U.S. population) having used it during their lifetimes, 26 million (10 percent) having used it in the past year, and over 15 million (6 percent) admitting that they use it regularly. (By contrast, fewer than 15 percent of adults have ever tried cocaine, the second most ‘popular’ illicit drug, and fewer than 2 percent have ever tried heroin — so much for that supposed ‘gateway effect.’) Predictably, all of the 2008 marijuana use figures are higher than those that were reported for the previous year — great work John Walters!

    Equally predictably, the government’s long-standing prohibition and anti-pot ‘scare’ campaigns have done little, if anything, to dissuade young people from trying it. According to the survey, 15 percent of those age 14 to 15 have tried pot (including 12 percent in the past year), as have 31 percent of those age 16 to 17 (a quarter of which have done so in the past year) — percentages that make marijuana virtually as popular as alcohol among these age groups. By age 20, 45 percent of adolescents have tried pot, and nearly a third of those age 18 to 20 have done so in the past year. And by age 25, 54 percent of the population has admittedly used marijuana.

    Question: Does anyone still believe that marijuana prohibition is working — or that all of these people deserve to be behind bars? (more…)

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 3, 2008

    The extent of the federal government’s hypocrisy on the issue of medicinal cannabis truly knows no bounds. Don’t believe me? Just click here.

    (Thanks to Huffington Post blogger Brinna for the link.)

    US Patent 6630507 – Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

    Application: filed on 2/02/2001

    US Patent Issued on October 7, 2003

    Assignee: The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services  

    And there you have it. The same federal government that steadfastly denies pot has any medicinal value also holds the medical patents on the plant’s various therapeutic cannabinoids. And they aren’t the only ones who do.

    NORML podcaster Russ Belville and I will be discussing this issue in depth — as well as the related issue of whether or not Big Pharma is behind the prohibition of pot — on the Daily Audio Stash next week.

    Stay tuned.