The following article appeared today in Cannabistical.com, and is syndicated here at StatenIslander.Org with full permission. The author, Mr. Abis-Mokir (an obvious pseudonym, which when spoken sounds like “Avid Cannabis Smoker”), covers the topic of the Surgeon General recently penning an advisory against marijuana use by young people or pregnant women. Herein, the author brings the reader to examine the facts surrounding marijuana prohibition, as well as some fundamental questions about health and social issue that arise by keeping marijuana illegal. -Archie Frank, Editor
by Avi’d Khan Abis-Mokir, b. 1967 (pseudonym)
The Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, today issued a significant advisory, warning Americans that marijuana is not a benign substance, and that it can irreparably harm young people and pregnant women. In his own words, HHS Secretary Alex Azar had this to say, “Marijuana is a dangerous drug, especially for young people and pregnant women…This historic Surgeon General’s advisory is focused on the risks marijuana poses for these populations, which have been well-established by scientific evidence. As indicated by President Trump’s generous donation of his salary to support this advisory, the Trump Administration is committed to fighting substance abuse of all kinds, and that means continuing research, education, and prevention efforts around the risks of marijuana use.”
Is this what those of us who chose to vote for President Trump were promised? In 2018, President Trump suggested he’d likely to support ending the blanket federal ban on marijuana. But now, only a short time later, and we have not a “fair” assessment weighing marijuana’s risks and benefits, but a scare campaign, paid for by our President’s own salary? Is this not a clear a conflict of interest? Is this not a betrayal of his voters? Marijuana smokers hail (or inhale) from both the blue and red teams. It’s just the poorer citizens who end up penalized, disproportionately including Black and Hispanic people, young, middle-aged, and elderly.
How could the Surgeon General possibly maintain impartiality in such matters, when his very salary is paid for, contingent on the fact that marijuana be painted as harmful? This is not what I voted for in 2017, when I cast my ballot for President Trump. In fact, President Trump is going back on his libertarianesque campaign promise to let states decide, instead promulgating 80s-era drug-war-styled “studies” that are paid to find the result that the funders are seeking. Preposterous. Truly shameful,indeed!
Where is the uproar, from the Surgeon General, over heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opiate analogs? KIDS OVERDOSE AND DIE EVERY DAY IN EVERY TOWN AND CITY, IN EVERY U.S. STATE. As tent cities grow across OUR LAND, FROM coast to coast, with addicts lying prostrate on the ground with a needle stuck in their arms, unconscious, surrounded by rats and feces, we are warned that marijuana is the real issue we have to content with? Is this seriously happening? I have to ask myself repeatedly, as this is beyond ludicrous. As China and other countries look at our news and see this sad debacle, our President pays personally for a study to show how bad marijuana is. What’s the strategy here?
Has “Big Pharma” gotten to President Trump? Why the sudden vigor in pursuing marijuana? Cannabis successfully replaces multiple categories of prescription drugs, including pain killers like Vicodin®, anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax®, stimulants like Adderall®, sleep aids like Ambien®, and antidepressants like Zoloft®, as well as seizure medications for epilepsy, glaucoma medications, and anti-emetics for nausea. Likely, the list is even longer. Are we to believe it’s impossible, as no one plant could deliver so many benefits? What about cannabis replacing opiates, or helping opiate addicts to get off their poison?
Let’s consider aspirin, an analog of the naturally-occurring salicytic acid that accomplishes so much. is that also just imagination? Fortunately, studies over more than a century have uncovered the myriad of benefits derived from one drug, aspirin. And, even with aspirin, there are risks. Tinnitus, stomach bleeding, and other side effects are a possibility. So, one chemical in a single plant can, if fact, treat many conditions and diseases, yet hold some measurable risk.
Perhaps pressure form the the alcohol lobby also came into play, which funds anti-marijuana legislation to the tune of many millions of dollars every year. Honestly, I’m quite disappointed. It would have been better to fund a study on opiates, showing a fact-based set of reasons to kids why opiates are a complete dead-end, and why skid row is an opiate addict’s final destination, almost guaranteed. With our nation facing a drug crisis of epic proportions, going after marijuana (users) now seems quite bizarre, frankly, and a pursuit entirely without merit.
And it doesn’t stop there. The private prison system advocates, as well as law enforcement unions, have also both pushed to keep marijuana illegal for longer than you might imagine. Don’t our police have better things to do than pursue “Marijuana offenders?’ What about our prisons? Is that what we warehouse men and women in cages for, smoking harmless flowers? Marijuana’s worst health issue centers around its illegality, studies have repeatedly demonstrated.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s recently released 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recently announced that marijuana is the most widely (ab)used illegal drug. Is this anything anyone didn’t already know? While Surgeon General Adams states, “There is a false perception that marijuana is not as harmful as other drugs. I want to be very clear – no amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe,” the reality is that pregnant women are routinely given a plethora of pharmaceuticals with known and unknown hazards.
Even Pitocin, a chemical routinely administered during both natural and Cesarean pregnancies, is not a completely benign drug, that may adversely affect both mother and newborn. And neither Pitocin, nor vaccinations during pregnancy, have been tested for safety. At All. Shocking, but true.
And, suggesting marijuana is as “harmful as other (illegal) drugs” might send the false message (to kids) that other illicit substances are,in fact, as safe as marijuana. In any case, there’s no equivalent to a crack baby from a mother who smoked weed. It’s just not factual. And no one has ever suffered delirium tremens from cessation of even heavy, long-term, cannabis use.
Availability is another key focus of Surgeon General Adams health advisory. What can we say of availability? Marijuana is readily available, as is heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. Are alcohol and tobacco readily available to young people? Growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, cigarettes, beer, and even hard liquor, were readily obtainable at local delis by just about any teenager.
Now? With strict regulation, kids have far more restricted access to these substances. If marijuana were made legal, and not merely “decriminalized”, as was done in New York City and so many other places, it would mean that black-market hustlers would have to seek a day job. Right now, NYC is a haven for cartels to sell unregulated cannabis products to the public, as millions and millions of adults choose to use the drug.
If cannabis were legalized, it would mean that in order to buy weed or oil extracts, you’d have to present a valid ID, just as is the case when purchasing alcohol and tobacco products. So, keep cannabis illegal and hope for the best? Did that work during alcohol prohibition? How does keeping a substance classified as illicit discourage black markets, and the cartels such markets both create and cause to grow and thrive? Further, when we the last time a crime syndicate cared one iota about selling drugs —any drugs — to young people? Or drug purity? Legalize marijuana and these issues are no longer there. Done. Caput.
The advisory leans on the worn 80’s Drug War canard: Marihuana is a gateway drug. Actually, the first drug most kids abused was often alcohol or tobacco, and the “gateway” hypothesis never panned out in the real world. Most marijuana smokers (or edible eaters) would be horrified to even consider consuming heroin or meth. And that’s the truth. Surgeon General Adams advisory continues, “[the advisory is]…intended to raise awareness of the known and potential harms to developing brains, posed by the increasing availability of highly potent marijuana in multiple, concentrated forms. These harms are costly to individuals and to our society, impacting mental and physical health and educational achievement and raising the risks of addiction and misuse of other substances.”
Were these risks of physical dependence, and damage to developing brains, provably true, again, legalization would again bar young people from exposure to such risks. Studies conducted in the past regarding loss of IQ among kids who started smoking weed early did not adjust for socioeconomic data and other factors; kids who begin smoking marijuana in sixth grade often have a host of other issues in their lives, usually preceding marijuana abuse, and usually far more pressing. They should be playing with Pokemon and thinking about their crushes, not taking drugs OR drinking alcohol, at that age! Yes; a twelve year old smoking weed is drug abuse; marijuana should be reserved for adults. (That is, excepting medical need; the case of kids being helped with intractable epilepsy is but one example.)
That brings us to the Surgeon General’s other big message: There is no medical marijuana; it’s a complete farce, a fabrication. While Surgeon General Adams stated that “…we don’t talk about medical foxglove…” in a June 24th video published by the Aspen Institute, he completely disparages herbal medicine, a discipline extensively studied in the last twenty years, respected by traditional cultures worldwide (like Auhurvedic medicine in India and so many others), as well as research from renowned universities and institutes in the US and abroad.
Sometimes, in fact, we do take a raw herb as medicine, baking it into a brownie or imbibing in a tea. There are thousands of medicinal herbs that have been studied, whose phytochemicals and constituents are documented and well-known. Truly, this nay-saying of herbal medicine is a frightening development, clearly undisguised cheerleading for the pharmaceutical industry, which cannot possibly profit from marijuana (or any other herb) that cannot be patented. Yes; like the Surgeon General says, “plants we can grow ourselves in our yards.” How accurate!
That’s not all. There’s more. The Surgeon General recently stated, “…this isn’t your mother’s marijuana…marijuana a decade ago was 5% THC…you now have..strains that are 20, 30% THC, and they’re concentrating them…you’re getting 90, 95% THC.” Ask Ed Rosenthal or other marijuana gurus who’ve been around since the seventies whether marijuana was so weak in the past. In fact, the outdoor weed imported in the seventies was often quite strong; 80s and 90s weed was also often potent; strains that have high THC have been with us for many, many years. This “stronger weed today” meme is another misnomer. Ever hear this one in the mass media lately? We wouldn’t be too shocked. Lies often repeated tend to develop a life of their own.
Look carefully at the weed available in places like New York City, where cannabis use has been decriminalized (again), having been first decriminalized in the 1970s. (New Yorkers can only smoke in private, of course, and merely acquiring weed is still a crime.) Much of NYC’s “decriminalized” weed is hydroponically grown, and most has been “blasted” with solvents. What does this mean? And, with “decrim” weed, users are exposed to Eagle 20, or mycolbutanil, a fungicide that cartel weed seem rife with.
And, that’s not all; there’s also fake vape pens filled with something other than what is on the fake label, recently sending dozens, possibly hundreds, to hospital emergency rooms across the country. Yes; even in areas where cannabis is legal. Why? Black market profiteers promise cheaper prices, with fake packaging mimicking the real, lab-tested stuff. In other words, black markets are bad, but bathroom gin should have led us to that conclusion a long time ago.
In effect, buyers, unaware, are purchasing cannabis that has been stripped of its cannabinoid-rich oils; cartels now sell the oil as a separate product, as well as the cannabis flower the concentrated oil was derived from. Smoked marijuana, purchased illicitly on the streets of New York, is often sold without much pot(ency). While it’s true that waxes and oils may be quite strong, in areas where it remains illegal, there’s no guarantee. No testing. No oversight. Just what a cartel loves.
Why is this a hazard? The solvents employed in the removal of the oil from the flower buds are not necessarily safe for consumption, and there’s no way such solvents are completely removed. Upon further consideration, should consumers really be relying on a cartel to bring them weed in the first place? Now, if weed were without any positive characteristics, a highly dangerous, physically-addictive substance, capable of causing debility and death, no one would argue that there should be no consumers for this substance. But that’s just not the case.
And if it were, indeed, more potent, so what? Our Surgeon General’s analogy between “…your mother’s weed…and today’s weed…like the difference between you having a glass of wine and a pint of grain alcohol” just does not hold any truth. A bottle of grain alcohol can cause death. In fact, it can take a lot less than that; a young adult can buy enough alcohol to commit suicide for well under fifty dollars.
Even 90% THC extract cannot accomplish this. Ever. No stomach pumps. No dying. At worst, temporary “cannabis psychosis,” a term coined by the medical system to describe the temporary severe psychological effects caused by having too much weed, are the sole result of “overdosing” on cannabis preparations of any type. That, and possibly also temporary tachycardia.
In fact, cannabis is essentially nontoxic; water, needed by all lifeforms, is actually far easier to drink to the point of death with. With an LD50 that is actually easily approachable, a person can die from drinking too much water, while marijuana’s LD50 is virtually impossible to attain. (The toxic dose of THC in a 65kg adult is estimated to be 8.45kg; ethics bars us from knowing precisely what an LD50 for cannabis might be.) So, there really is no “overdosing”; it’s just a term that’s misapplied. THC and other cannabinoids are not toxins, unlike virtually every other substance humans employ to modify our conscious state.
“Nearly 1 in 5…people who began marihuana us in adolescence..become addicted.” The Surgeon General should encounter real addicts: Those hooked on heroin, alcohol, meth and cocaine. Any herb users among the readers? Personally,I’ve never had an issue stopping my marijuana consumption cold turkey. Stopping drinking coffee was more difficult. Who are we kidding? I suppose those with no marijuana exposure (a very small number at this point) might fall for this tripe. Marijuana just isn’t physically addictive, even as new studies come out stating such.
But none of these points are factual or science-based; to merely repeat an untruth does not bring it into the domain of provable medical fact. No one dies from weed. No one ends up with a debilitating health conditions, like sclerosis of the liver, or permanent brain damage, both possible outcomes caused by drinking too much alcohol. Now, according to the Surgeon General, one if five pregnant women in California use marijuana regularly. Is that even so bad? Possibly.
But without proven research, we just don’t know. Marijuana has a long history of use in cultures spanning the globe. To fully investigate this, a longitudinal study would have to be conducted, a study that’s impartial and look at historical, as well as current use. How many pregnant women also eat sugar? How many eat basil? There are hazards associated with both, you know. But is it significant enough to warrant a ban on the practice? And, how many of these women the Surgeon General cited are using cannabis as a substitute for other, more dangerous drugs, with far worse proven side effects, in those seven categories listed above?
For now, maybe pregnant women should wait and hold out on smoking that joint. Just to be safe. But what if they instead seek out their doctor’s help and get a benzodiazepines prescription for their pesky anxiety caused by PTSD? Is that necessarily better that cannabis, a more healthful choice? It’s not like our medical system keeps pregnant Moms away from all drugs. While it’s true that having illicit substances in the bloodstream can even lead to CPS taking custody of a newborn, marijuana is not crack; weed is not heroin; wax and shatter are not fentanyl. Let’s be honest.
We should re-examine everything we know, and challenge the “authorities” that claim they’re looking out for us. It seems, actually, they’re looking out for someone else’s bottom line or job security. How very dreadful, to find this to be so! I just wonder how many other Trump voters have had enough with all this and won’t even consider voting for him again. No; I’m not going Democratic; Bernie or Hillary will have to get into office without my help.
But I am not sure that, in good conscience, those who had voted for President Trump in the last election will necessarily do so again, in light of the Surgeon General’s latest cannabis advisory. Will voters help President Trump with his re-election bid with their votes in the 2020 election? I’ve been able to tolerate a trade war gone sideways, resulting in harm to US farmers and industry, because the end results will be worthwhile; the name-calling of political opponents (yes, I am also a weed smoker who is very much pro-Israel) and calling Jews disloyal whom are not (necessarily so); but reverting to 1980s Drug War falsehoods and fear-mongering is just wrong on so many levels, and upsets me on a deep level.
It’s not just about weed; it’s self-determination and honesty in government that’s at stake. Plus, the mass incarceration, going on for decades and decades now, of black, white, and other races of people. Their only offense? Smoking a relatively harmless plant that happens to be, illogically, illegal, legislation passed so, so many decades ago, under questionable pretense. This is clearly not what we voted for. I feel sad and disappointed.
Our present Surgeon General is a Black man., the fourth Black Surgeon General, so there’s no way he lacks concern for people of color. But when he states, “…you already have a liquor store and smoke shop on every corner in every Black community. I don’t know that adding a marihuana dispensary to that mix, we’re going to solve our social justice ills, ” the Surgeon General fails to realize that on the corner –literally — there’s already a weed dealer.
And, unlike those selling their wares in the liquor stores and smoke shops, the corner drug dealer faces no regulations, no scrutiny at all on the purity, or anything, regarding the illegal drugs they sell. And, such drug dealers often sell other drugs, here showing how Marijuana Prohibition actually creates the “Culture of Gateway Drug Use.”
While stating that Black men are arrested at four times the rate of White men for marijuana use,, the Surgeon General fails to recognize that legalization would end this travesty. I believe he is ignorant of fact, rather than deceiving by choice. He seems like a decent military man who joined the Public Health Service Commission Core because he cares about helping people, and our American communities.
I thought our President was more of a libertarian, more about true American values and the supremacy of the Constitution. States rights. Freedom for all. I fear I may have been wrong; I certainly hope I was not. I may not be voting in the upcoming Presidential election, not because the Surgeon General advised pregnant women and kids not to smoke weed (I can agree with that, for the most part), but because of all the other anti-marijuana propaganda he spewed, paid for my President, personally. I helped to cause this latest mess by voting for him. I thought former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his antiquated viewpoints on weed were antithetical to President Trump’s leanings, and once Sessions was gone, the situation might improve. Now, I can’t be so sure. And, I doubt I’m the only one.
While the 2018 Farm Bill was a great step in the right direction, legalizing non-drug hemp and hemp by-products, more progress must be made. “We have to take care of our farmers and ranchers, and we will take care of them,” President Trump pledged. And, that was truly noble, a game-changer for cash-strapped farmers who may now till their fields for industrial hemp, as well as the CBD that is found in hemp’s flower, and the life-giving seeds, an amazing source of complete protein and rare omega-3 fatty acids.
CBD is now everywhere; it’s no wonder, considering all the conditions its users claim CBD aids, swearing by its effectiveness. And, this is no placebo. Long-time sufferers are being helped. And, in this instance, there’s no way to claim that users are just trying to “get high”, making spurious claims so they can use an illicit drug. CBD is real; the endocannabinoid system is real; apparently, endocannabinoid deficiency is real, as well. So for this, we must rightfully thank President Trump for freeing the people of the US to use a natural remedy that works wonders.
The real answer would have been to legalize marijuana. I can’t believe that the President didn’t realize this would get people from the left, right, and center to rally behind him. Cannabis is a lot of different things to different people. And, lots of people use marijuana. It’s already been everywhere for a long, long time. The present prohibition is overly restrictive and has no place in our free country. Why not do a 360 and get on board with what the people want? It’s no small issue, and the change in position would get many people on board with President Trump.
I’ve smoked with staunch conservatives. I’ve smoked with socialists. I’ve smoked with centrists. I’ve smoked with leisure class fund managers, working class laborers, musicians, artists, teachers, and even cops and firefighters. I’ve smoked with Christians (Catholics, Protestants, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists); I’ve smoked with Jews (religious and non-observant folks); I’ve smoked with atheists. Muslims. Buddhists. Hindus.
The list goes on. In actuality, marijuana brings people together. For those who don’t know, firsthand, it’s nothing like drinking with your buddies. Rather than getting combative and having a lowered threshold for inhibitions, speaking words without thinking, people smoking together open up, both emotionally and intellectually, and end up finding common ground.
And of course,in all this talk of medical and “recreational” marijuana, we completely neglect spiritual and religious use of the plant, so common throughout cultures worldwide. Hindus, Rastafarians, and Zoroastrians are but three such groups. It’s not an excuse to “get high.” These faiths consider weed an intrinsic part of their worship of the Creator.
It’s time for a change. Mr. President, please legalize the weed! please, sir, come through for your constituents and those who despise you, alike! Your opponents will be left speechless. Your proponents will be relieved. Spring this on the populance before the election and see how many points your ratings rise. There’s no way this could backfire. It’s what history is calling for, and the inevitability of ending weed prohibition is certain. Whichever president takes the bold move to do this will go down in history as a trailblazer, finally taking a strong stance and stopping the equating of “criminal” with “weed-blazer”.