5 Favorite Law Enforcement Lies About Marijuana

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator October 24, 2011

    Gallup Polls Support and Opposition to Marijuana Legalization 1969-2011

    As 50% of Americans now support marijuana legalization, the prohibitionists are coming out in full force with hysterical propaganda to once again terrorize voters about cannabis.  We intended to scour multiple sources to compile the five most common scare tactics they use, but Joseph Summerill, director of the Summerill Group LLC, a Washington, D.C.- based law enforcement think tank and general counsel for the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, made our job easy by using all five in one op-ed piece published today in the Washington Examiner entitled, “Facts on medical marijuana are stubborn things, too“.

    Lie #1) Marijuana’s not really medical.  The government says so!

    [M]arijuana is a Schedule I drug… a high potential for abuse or dependency… no accepted medical value… unsafe to use, even under medical supervision.  [M]arijuana has not passed the rigid scrutiny of medicine proposed by the FDA.

    The Truth

    Lie #2) Doctors and scientists don’t approve of smoked medicine; they do approve of Marinol.

    Institute of Medicine and the American Medical Association acknowledged the lack of data to support the use of smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes.

    What is scientifically approved by the FDA and accepted by the medical community is a medicine called Marinol, a legal, widely prescribed drug currently in pill form containing synthetic THC, a main constituent in marijuana.

    The Truth

    • The American Medical Association said, “smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”
    • Marinol is 100% synthetic THC (the psychoactive component) suspended in a sesame oil capsule.  Cannabis flowers are around 5%-30% natural THC combined with CBD (a component that moderates psychoactivity) and other beneficial compounds.
    • Inhaling cannabis is a superior delivery mechanism for it allows the patient to self-titrate (adjust dose) and get immediate relief.  It’s especially helpful to inhale cannabis rather than swallow a Marinol pill when one is vomiting.  We recognize many inhaled medications (think: steroid inhalers for asthma patients) and when vaporized, any harms from smoking cannabis are eliminated.

    Lie #3) Marijuana smoke is much worse than cigarette smoke!

    [S]moked marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, many of which are identical to the most harmful chemicals and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. The fact is that a marijuana cigarette contains four times as much tar as a tobacco cigarette.

    The Truth

    • My pencil contains five components, two of which are identical to the graphite found in golf clubs and the wood found in golf tees.  This does not make my pencil a golf club or a tee.  Water contains hydrogen and oxygen.  This does not make water flammable or breathable.  Many recipes call for the same ingredients; it’s how you put them together that matters.  Joints aren’t cigarettes, they’re far safer than that.
    • Dr. Donald Tashkin went looking for that “marijuana causes cancer” connection and found quite the opposite, that cannabis smokers had lower incidence of head, neck, and lung cancer.  We even have compelling evidence that cannabinoids may be instrumental in unlocking the cure for cancer.
    • Very few tokers smoke 20 to 40 joints a day, but even if they did, where are these marijuana smokers with the tar-ravaged lungs filling up our hospitals?  Again, we have zero recorded deaths from cannabis smoking and over 400,000 annual deaths from tobacco use.  Joints aren’t cigarettes.

    Lie #4) Marijuana is the gateway drug to cocaine, meth, and heroin!

    [L]egalizing marijuana leads to the use of more dangerous and harmful drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine…. [T]eens who smoke marijuana were found to be 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those teens who do not smoke marijuana.

    The Truth

    • Teens who ride bicycles were found to be 85 times more likely to join an outlaw biker gang than teens who don’t ride bicycles*.  So we should outlaw bicycles?  Sure, most cocaine users may have started first with pot, but they also probably started with alcohol before that and milk before that.
    • That same Institute of Medicine report Mr. Summerill referenced in Lie #2 said, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
    • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 100 million American adults have tried cannabis.  There are currently about 1.5 million monthly cocaine users, 430 thousand monthly meth users, and 192 thousand monthly heroin users.  So for every 46 people who’ve ever tried pot, only one went on to become a monthly hard drug user.  A gateway that only affects 2.1% of the people isn’t much of a gateway.

    * OK, that one we just made up.

    Lie #5) Marijuana legalization leads to carnage on the highways!

    [M]arijuana use, including its use for medicinal purposes, is directly related to motor vehicle accidents and reckless driving, as cannabis affects psychomotor functioning.

    In a study of fatally injured drivers in Washington state, a state with legalized medical marijuana, about one every eight tested positive for marijuana.

    The Truth

    • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said of marijuana testing of drivers, “It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone, and currently impossible to predict specific effects based on THC-COOH concentrations” because “[d]etection time is well past the window of intoxication and impairment.” Finding pot in some drivers’ systems following a crash just tells you some people smoke pot.
    • From 2008-2009, fatal crashes in the states that had medical marijuana declined overall 9.34%.  Only one medical marijuana state, Rhode Island, had an increase greater than 3%, which resulted in 18 more deaths.  Four other states had 1%-3% increases, leading to 9 additional deaths.  Of the remaining eight states that saw declines, half saw double-digit declines, including the laxest medical marijuana state, California, which had 353 fewer traffic fatalities.
    • Legalizing marijuana does not legalize DUI.  People who smoke pot and drive now are busted in all fifty states and legalization doesn’t change that.

    When it comes to medical information and the safety record of cannabis, we’ll trust real doctors and 5,000 years of historical use.  Not the ramblings of a law enforcement think tank director desperately trying to save asset forfeiture proceeds, federal grant money, and overtime hours for state and local cops and job security for prison guards.

    110 responses to “5 Favorite Law Enforcement Lies About Marijuana”

    1. Dandylion says:

      Mary jo anna was well here before any of us was thank god otherwise id still be in so much pain every dam dijking day if it was not for the mary jo anna 🙂

    2. Mooky says:

      Great list!

      GJ NORML!

    3. Fred A. Willis says:

      Dear NORML Staff, Thanks for bringing these facts to light,clarifications,Statistics…I’ll Pass Them Along As Far as I Can !!! Thanks A Lot…

    4. Nice says:

      Hopefully the activists in the upcoming elections will refute all these dumb points that law enforcement used that pushed a few away from voting on Prop 19.

    5. greenthumb says:

      Awesome post hope this helps marijuana activists everywhere

    6. Paul and others,
      I know i posted this before but for those who missed it –

      DEA to legalize marijuana chemical for Big Pharma but keep it a crime for everyone else

      Have no illusions about the true nature of the so-called “War on Drugs” and the actions of the DEA. The War on Drugs has always been about protecting the profits of the drug companies which have a long and well-documented history of copying street drugs, repackaging them as “medications” and selling them to children as FDA-approved drugs (see below).

      Today, yet another example emerges as the DEA moves to legalize THC in Big Pharma’s pills while simultaneously making it illegal for anyone else to grow, sell or possess THC. The DEA, you see, is working to change the classification of THC from a schedule I substance (like street heroin) to a schedule III drug (pharmaceuticals). So if Big Pharma grows its own marijuana plants, extracts the THC and puts it into a “pot pill,” those pills will be perfectly legal. They’re already FDA approved, actually, when made with the synthetic version of THC.

      But if a guy grows the very same chemical in his backyard, then extracts THC from those plants — even for his own personal use — suddenly he’s guilty of committing a federal crime and will likely be subjected to an armed raid by DEA agents.

      The DEA answers to its pharma slave masters
      Why would the DEA decide to legalize THC only for pharmaceutical companies? Well, because Big Pharma requested it, of course! As the DEA says on the subject:

      “The DEA has received four petitions from companies that have products that are currently the subject of ANDAs (abbreviated new drug applications) under review by the FDA. …While the petitioners cite that their generic products are bioequivalent to Marinol, their products do not meet schedule III current definition provided above. Therefore, these firms have requested that 21 CFR 1308.13(g)(1) be expanded to include naturally derived or synthetically produced dronabinol.”

      You can read it all at the DEA’s own website: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/f

      The DEA goes on to say:

      “This proposed action expands the schedule III listing to include formulations having naturally-derived dronabinol and products encapsulated in hard gelatin capsules. This would have the effect of transferring the FDA-approved versions of such generic Marinol[supreg] products from schedule I to schedule III.”

      Just so you can make total sense of this, the DEA’s loopy logic is that since Marinol (an FDA-approved synthetic THC drug) is already recognized as a pharmaceutical, the DEA is saying that other generic drugs containing natural THC from marijuana plants can also be recognized as a pharmaceutical. What they fail to recognize is that even the synthetic THC is, of course, based on natural THC grown in marijuana plants!

      It’s classic Big Government pseudoscientific quackery: Only “synthetic” chemicals are considered authoritative, even when those synthetics were stolen from nature in the first place.

      Your doctor is your new dealer
      So now, thanks to the DEA and its twisted position on THC, your doctor is now your dealer and Big Pharma steps in to take over the manufacturing and distribution of drugs that have traditionally been handled by street criminals and Mexican drug gangs. That’s what this was always about of course: Big Pharma taking over the drug trade, using its own private gang of armed enforcers known as DEA agents.

      It’s a lot like Mexico, in fact: Armed enforcers, drug profits, turf wars… except in the U.S., it’s all “legal” under the monopolistic protection of the FDA — an agency that has always sought to protect Big Pharma’s market monopolies.

      What’s astonishing about all this is the DEA’s insanity in saying that the very same chemical can be legal for corporations to sell you but illegal for you to grow yourself using a natural plant. THC is THC, after all, and if this chemical is so “incredibly dangerous” that the DEA must throw people in prison for daring to grow it, possess it or sell it, why is it suddenly okay for corporations to do the exact same thing?

      You already know the answer: The DEA’s position on marijuana and hemp has always been based on the king of warped logic you only get if you’re smoking crack.

      The DEA becomes armed enforcement branch of Big Pharma
      The real job of the DEA, you see, is not to protect people from dangerous drugs, but rather to protect the profits of Big Pharma by shooting, arresting or otherwise destroying anything that competes with Big Pharma. Namely, street dealers of marijuana.

      It’s not the first time the DEA has done this, of course. Drugs that used to be sold on the street as “speed” are now FDA-approved pharmaceutical medications for ADHD — and they’re being prescribed to children by the tens of millions!

      Every successful drug operation needs henchmen who run around with guns eliminating the competition. In a drug gang, that used to be the job of “Frankie” back in the Sicilian mob days. But today, with Big Pharma, it’s the job of the DEA.

      Hilariously, this announcement by the DEA was posted by their “Office of Diversion Control” (http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/f…). For once, they’re honest: It is a diversion! A diversion to prevent people from realizing the truth about the DEA, the War on Drugs and the pharmaceutical industry.

      Because the DEA, of course, is the armed enforcement division of Big Pharma. It works hand in hand with the FDA, of course: The FDA legalizes Big Pharma drug dealing, and the DEA targets the competition for elimination. It’s a bang-up job, a real one-two punch to protect the world’s largest drug dealers of all… the drug companies themselves.

      I wonder how long it will take before a few DEA agents will wake up and realize they are the armed mercs working for their corporate slave masters known as the pharmaceutical companies?

      The real criminals, you see, are not the joint-smoking hippies getting high in their basements but rather the Big Pharma CEOs whose entire careers are dedicated to addicting people to their patented, FDA-approved pharmaceuticals… even when they’re the exact same chemicals the DEA claims are “illegal drugs” on the street.

      [Paul Armentano responds: I first wrote about these developments back in February: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/150009.%5D

    7. casualty says:

      nice run down… it’s all there.

    8. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Either cannabis prohibitionist can’t handle the truth or they have known it all along.

      In the world of cannabis prohibition, every citizen of the United States are on lifetime probation and must take a drug test for any possible detection of THC so that citizens can risk failure and be forever damn and loose everything while the federal government who abide by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, can take their property and pilfer anything of value.
      Those who failed will remained an outcast or slaves in a prison complex until their debt is fully paid.

      This will only work by continuing making marijuana a Schedule One Controlled Substance during the final devastating crusade by the DEA head administrator Michele Leonhart and congressman Lamar Smith.

      This would not work on any other substances because of the unpopularity and the difficulty to detect.

      Pharmaceutical companies, alcohol beverages, prison development complex, parental socialism, and tobacco companies are added to the cause to make cannabis illegal by sponsoring and buying political candidates and the media.

      And you ask why the feds like to keep cannabis illegal?

      The cannabis prohibition days are numbered because they are running out of money, and citizens had enough of this anti-cannabis foolishness.

      Save the United States and end the cannabis prohibition!


    9. John says:

      I think the arguments against Lie #3 and #4 could use reworking. Smoking it seems to be simply the most convenient way, and how many of those chemicals come from the processing of the paper wrapped around it? I think most doctors would prefer to prescribe a vaporization regimen to their patients, but I can only guess this is so because it would eliminate combusted materials from getting in the lungs.

      Also, I think the illicitness of marijuana is the only real contributing factor to Lie #4. How many people that drank in high school when it was “cool” do so now with as much regularity? I do think that alcohol and tobacco are far more likely culprits for a “gateway drug”, especially if that’s the big argument so many law enforcement agencies use against marijuana. I’m sorry, calling marijuana the root cause of the gateway drug theory just doesn’t hold water when there are so many legally accessible drugs out there. Oh, and don’t forget caffeine. We surely don’t pump our kids full of that (especially around Halloween), or fill their favorite sodas with it, do we? Hm.

    10. Justified civil disobedience says:

      How does the DEA, FDA, NIDA, and among others, ONDCP get away with keeping CBD (cannabidiol), the non-psychoactive, non-toxic cannabinoid found in cannabis, illegal?

      Is it because it’s as effective as patented anti-psychotic medicines? How about that it counteracts the effects of THC? Or is it because there’s strong evidence it reduces the growth of aggressive breast cancer and other cancer cells? What about the fact that no human being has ever encountered an overdose death because of CBD? Or is it because they’re greedy scumbags that don’t care if dying patients, including their own family, have to suffer for absolutely no reason.

      Whatever the reason, they better get their shit straight or we’re just going to have to recreate the Civil War towards the American government. Oh god, conspiracy! Lock me up! The truth must not be let out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!