DOJ memo: the opposition (updated)

So far, the responses to the Holder memo (that puts in writing the administration policy of not interfering with state medical marijuana operations unless they feel like it) has gotten a lot of favorable press — so much so that it’s likely to help apply pressure on the feds to actually make good their… pledge to prioritize. So despite the lack of teeth in the memo, it has served up a powerful result.

The prohibitionist nay-sayers have been pretty inconspicuous in this discussion. I already talked about the Christian Science Monitor, and the Drug Czar finally gave his two bits here).

But what about the outrageous ones? OK, you know you love these…

1st up: former Baltimore County drug czar and recovering addict Mike Gimbel in the Baltimore Sun (save us from recovering addicts who want to arrest everyone else for their weaknesses): Medical marijuana is an excuse to get high. Yeah, you know this’ll be good…

This is how we handle all potential new drugs in this country, and if the FDA gives its approval, we get our prescriptions filled at a licensed pharmacy. However, this has never been done with marijuana because we all know the results would be negative since the drug is far more dangerous than anyone wants to admit and its medical use is at best minimal.

No, the FDA is really a government arm of the pharmaceutical industry and not set up to handle drugs like marijuana. Every drug that the FDA has approved is more dangerous than marijuana (you know, side effects like death), and despite the government’s unwillingness to deal with it, the science on marijuana’s medical value fills volumes.

Instead, baby boomer lobbyists have convinced several states to set up independent “marijuana dispensaries” to sell marijuana directly to the public, with a doctor’s prescription. No other drug is dispensed this way. Can you imagine an OxyContin dispensary in your neighborhood?

Yes, I can. They’re called Walgreens, and CVS, and Duane Reade, and Costco. They’re all over the place. How else do you sell prescription drugs, but directly to the public with a doctor’s prescription?

Let’s remember that the two drugs that kill more Americans are the two legal drugs: tobacco and alcohol. Making marijuana legal would only lead to the same results.

And that makes sense… how? Are you saying that things kill you because they’re legal? That somehow legalizing marijuana would suddenly make it lethal when it isn’t now? This is like saying “Let’s remember that the two transportation methods that kill more Americans are two legal ones: cars and motorcycles. Making walking legal would only lead to the same results.”

The major difference is when you smoke pot, the goal is to get “stoned or high,” unlike alcohol and tobacco, where you can use a small amount without creating impairment.

First, what’s wrong with getting high? Everybody looks to do that, whether it’s from eating chocolate, having sex, or going to a prayer meeting. Second, you can have a small amount of pot without creating impairment. Third, if getting high was an undesirable side-effect of drinking, why aren’t there more sales of O’Doul’s and sparkling grape juice?

If we are honest with ourselves, we all know that the higher you get after smoking marijuana, the more impaired you get. So if there is a medical use, let’s put it through the proper channels, but if the real goal is to legalize marijuana, we need to think about the consequences.

Um, yes, the higher you get, the more impaired you get. What does that have to do with this argument?


For outrageous, but less funny, you’ll need to read Charles Lane’s post in the Washington Post: Medical marijuana is an insult to our intelligence

He essentially calls Angel Raich a hypochondriac pothead, which did not set well with her considering she has to go in for brain surgery next Wednesday (the tumor is very close to her brain stem).

And Lane throws stuff around without any real connection to reality…

What other substances should we handle this way? Cocaine? Laetrile? Didn’t President Obama just sign a bill authorizing the FDA to regulate the nicotine content of tobacco? And I thought he promised to “restore science to its rightful place.” […] The “medical marijuana” movement may not be a threat to our civilization, but it is an insult to our intelligence.

Considering Lane does believe that there are some uses for medical marijuana and that decriminalization is a discussion worth having, the inflammatory nature of this article was just an opportunity to be nasty.

If he was looking to stir up the pot, he certainly succeeded — the comments section is boiling over.

Update: Lane changed his post to drop out some of the more inflammatory statements.

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18 Responses to DOJ memo: the opposition (updated)

  1. Hope says:

    Great analysis/take down, Pete. Thank you.

  2. paul says:

    The “proper legal channels” don’t work very well and are crammed with bureaucrats covering their ass and laws designed to limit competition. The usual mess.

    I would hope that any legalization would not fall into the hands of the FDA. Tobacco, like alcohol, coffee, and MJ should not be there. Their regulation should be up to the states, or failing that, a subdued or renewed ATF that understands its purpose is to regulate, not ban.

    The FDA is a problem. I hate to be the only one around here defending Big Pharma, but if you try investing in a biotech firm, you will get first hand exposure to the tyranny of the FDA. “Hey! My stock dropped 40% today because they FDA doesn’t like our drug!” This happens over and over to biotech investors, and even when you are successful, the delays stretch out to around 9 or 10 years to approve a drug. In the small biotechs, this can crush you. When large pharma companies go through the process they eat the losses and survive, but it still hurts them.

    The FDA worked miracles when they disciplined the drug industry and applied science to drug discovery. But these days, the FDA’s delays, ass covering and obstructionism slows drug development and kills untold thousands of patients who wait for cures that are too late in coming to save them.

  3. BluOx says:

    Is that all they’ve got? Prohibitionists are running out of ideas that make common sense, and they’re running out of money too. The end of this WOD’s is very near now.

  4. chris says:

    its too bad that I’ve only been following drug policy for the last year so I can’t say for sure, but there really does seem to be a lot of progress this year.

  5. kaptinemo says:

    The methodology of prohib propaganda may be found here: Themes in Chemical Prohibition. For those who are fairly new here, it serves to illustrate exactly why the arguments of the prohibs appear to be so extraordinarily limited…and why they invariably seek to demonize those who attempt to change the laws.

  6. kaptinemo says:

    “The major difference is when you smoke pot, the goal is to get “stoned or high,” unlike alcohol and tobacco, where you can use a small amount without creating impairment.”

    My, doesn’t this sound familiar? Boozed-to-the-gills Tricky Dick Nixon and Art Linkletter said exactly the same thing.

    Linkletter: “Another big difference between marijuana and alcohol is that when people smoke marijuana, they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable. You don’t see people –”

    Nixon: “That’s right, that’s right.”

    Linkletter: “They sit down with a marijuana cigarette to get high –”

    Nixon: “A person does not drink to get drunk.”

    Linkletter: “That’s right.”

    Nixon: “A person drinks to have fun.”

    40 years, and they still tell the same old lies.

    Which is why I keep saying that this issue needs to be settled in court once and for all, with penalties for lying under oath. Only the most dim-bulb prohibs would open their mouths at all, as just about all governmental positions on cannabis and other drugs are patent lies.

  7. Mike R says:

    Excellent rebuttal. I was extremely irritated by both of these articles yesterday.

  8. Wendy says:

    In my opinion it is simply personal choice, much the same as a coffee or cigarette; to each their own.

  9. Ok, lets talk about this: “we all know that the higher you get after smoking marijuana the more impaired you get” First of all, when you smoke weed unlike drinking alcohol, once you get high from it thats it! if you smoke more you wont get higher… you will actually come down from your high a bit….

    second of all unlike alcohol, you can snap out of a high. It usually takes something that gets your adrenaline pumping but the fact still remains. You can snap right out of it and be strait as a judge when those blue lights are flashing behind you…. no such thing with alcohol

  10. R.O.E. says:

    {The major difference is when you smoke pot, the goal is to get “stoned or high,” unlike alcohol and tobacco, where you can use a small amount without creating impairment.}

    Statements like this really get me lol.
    I used to smoke cigs. The point was cause it made me feel good. I drink beer because it makes me feel good. I eat food cause it makes me feel good. I have sex cause it makes me feel good. All of that is ok,but if I should smoke a bowl, its not ok to feel good? WTF?

    Yes you can just take one toke and control the amount of feel good you get,just like another drug, oh ya that evil alcohol. Really,if your not drinking to feel good,just drink water. If your not smoking cannabis to feel good, just breath the free air.

    Freaking people ,I swear they are drinking the koolaid.

  11. claygooding says:

    I believe that they are finding better things too spend their budget on than all the expense of the drug war,going up more every day. And the overload of grower cases and cultivation cases this year has the court systems,state and federal,loaded up(no pun). Our prison systems are so backed up that the industrialized county jail used by my county has been releasing prisoners whose “state” prison
    was served in the county jail w/o ever making it to the prison itself.
    And the expense of the war in Mexico is climbing,,daily as it gets closer for the US too pay it’s next installment of the 1.4 billion aid for them to stop the cartels.
    So far,there is still an abundant amount of brick available in the region I am aware of so they must still be in operation.
    I am sure that as soon as anyone gets a case too the Supreme court regarding M/M,with the Justice Departments
    policy allowing legal clinics,then either the ONCCP is negligent in his duty,by failing to follow his mandate from congress regarding schedule 1 drugs,or there is a conflict of interest,or that since the use of the term of medical clinics in the policy indicates the use of a medicine,and therefore marijuana is not a schedule 1 drug.
    Don’t know if wording is correct for legal jargon,but there is a problem there and should be exploited.

  12. Dreau Preau says:

    I’m worried by the vehemence of some of the responses to Lane’s post. It looks like most of the people who responded only read the title. I wish we had some better PR as advocates, since it really was summed up as a bunch of overreactions to what was actually a sitting on the fence viewpoint.

    • Pete says:

      Actually, the post has been toned down, so what you’re reading isn’t what was there when the comments were written.

      • Pete says:

        Also, keep in mind that in the initial version, he rather viciously attacked Angel Raich, and she’s got a hell of a lot of loyal friends out there.

  13. factsofthematter says:

    Actually, when various mind-altering substances are compared, the claim that in the case of cannabis “the higher you get, the more impaired you get” is dubious- if not spurious. The potential of marijuana to lead to increased impairment aligns much more closely to caffeine beverages such as coffee or tea than it does to such substances as alcohol, cocaine, or the opiates.

    After the third cup of coffee, the stimulant effect begins to level off rapidly even if the dose is doubled or tripled thereafter. A similar situation obtains with marijuana- there comes a point where the effect reaches a plateau. And particularly in the case of experienced users, that plateau stops well short of impairment of functions like motor coordination and judgement.

    Put another way: as a practical matter, all other factors being equal, it’s pretty much impossible for any amount of smoked cannabis to produce the same hazardous level of impairment as the consumption of one double martini in the space of an hour.

    No doubt, it’s possible to torture an experimental methodology to produce exceptions. But I’m speaking of the general run of real-world conditions. In vivo, one might say.

    It might be possible for a large person with a high tolerance for alcohol to outperform a cannabis-ingesting “naive subject” after drinking one double martini. (Although not after two or three of them.) I speak of the rule here, and not the exception.

    There is an additive effect from combining marijuana with alcohol ingestion- but just as is the case with benzodiazepine tranquilizers, it’s the alcohol in the combination that is the critical factor. And no one in this society is talking about withdrawing Valium or Clonidine from the market, simply because the mix poorly with alcohol- even though unlike the case with marijuana, that “poor mix” is quite capable of being a lethal combination. A high BAC of alcohol mixed with marijuana is a recipe for violent nausea and vomiting. But because even pure THC isn’t close to having the CNS effects of tranquilizers and sleeping pills, marijuana doesn’t lead to gravely toxic overdose effects, even when combined with huge amounts of alcohol.

    By contrast, the combination of alcohol with as small an amount as 5mg of Valium produces a massive synergistic effect- increasing the power of the tranquilizer at least 5-10 fold.

    That said, it’s tough to overdose on Valium alone- but it isn’t impossible.

    For that matter, it’s possible to lethally overdose on Tylenol. Aspirin. Even caffeine pills. And people do, year in and year out.

    But not marijuana.

    And in terms of the impairment of judgement, no other drug can compare to the effect of large amounts of alcohol. Compared to alcohol, nearly everyone ingesting even the most potent mind-altering drugs retains enough insight into their condition that they recognize when it’s the case that they’re too impaired to drive. Contrast that with alcohol- where nearly everyone in the bar scene has witnessed drunk people insisting that they’re perfectly capable of navigating an automobile, even when their knees are buckling under them.

    The impairment of judgement by an alcohol BAC of much over .10 is frankly so huge that I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to design an experimental protocol to properly measure its magnitude. But I’d hardly refer to the observations of that effect under “real-world conditions” as “merely anecdotal”, or “a series of one case.” It’s commonplace and axiomatic that the negative effect of a large quantity of alcohol on personal judgment is pronounced.

    The same is simply not the case with marijuana use. While some people- particularly naive subjects, or those unfamiliar with its effects- report feelings of dysphoria or disorientation from using cannabis, this almost never translates into the sort of impaired judgment that leads to people putting themselves or others physically at risk. Once again- while it would be difficult if not impossible to design a lab experiment to measure the effect of cannabis as far as producing reckless behavior, the evidence of widespread empirical observations in real-life conditions over a long period of time doesn’t lead anywhere near a conclusion that cannabis produces a public health risk in that regard. Consider the observations of the La Guardia report, or the Costa Rica study by Ver Rubin, for example.

    It’s particularly critical to realize the truth of this as far as refuting claims of an increased public health hazard due to so-called “driving impairment” by cannabis. Considering how widely it’s been used in the USA over the last 40 or so years, if cannabis use were leading to an increase in the rate of auto accidents- particularly serious ones- there should be a mountain of evidence to demonstrate that case by now, with the most reliable indicator coming from epidemiological trends. And that evidence is simply absent from the record.

    Consider that despite the much vaunted rise in marijuana use (especially by adults) between 1994 and 2008- and the much-touted increased availability of “superpot” in that time frame- vehicle fatalities per 100 million miles driven have DROPPED steadily EVERY YEAR in the U.S., from the 1994 rate of 1.74 fatalities per 100 million miles driven, to the 2008 rate of 1.27 fatalities per million miles driven.

  14. DdC says:

    Pot is not stronger today, what is sold on the street is cleaner. The seeds, stems and leaves are not good for smoking, only the buds, and with cloning and horticulture technics the potency in some domestic bud has risen slightly, as well as the prices keeping it out of the work dope category for the most part. Holiday pot. Specialty items the same as the early 70’s Vietnam Tea, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Afghani, Lebanese Hash, Hash Oil and Sinsemilla out of the deep south that would match anything today.

    Nixon lied, thats all folk’s. Now this may come as a shocker, I know most realize politicians may tend to stretch the truth occasionally for our own good. Being they start out as humans and all. But guess what kiddies? Corporate CEO’s start out as humans too. I know this may put Libertarians and GOPerverts in a tizzy. But they lie, cheat and steal too. They have by Historical accounts, not just gossip. They have intentionally kept their business’ going long after receiving evidence they were harming people. Now we even estimate the value of citizens lives to the profits and hardship on business. Like disclosing the toxic environment and unhealthy products the Meat Industry puts out is what got Oprah busted.

    Monsanto and Cliarence Thomas gutting environmental laws. Same as Exxon tying up costly courts appeal after appeal to relieve themselves of the responsibility of the Exxon Valdez spill. Monsanto and their hatchetman Cliarence Thomas tied up the lawsuit 7 years while citizens of St Louis lived with it. How much collateral damage from the lies in Iraq? Haliburton Asbestos Co knew it was selling carcinogens, with Dick Cheney as CEO. Billions in lawsuits to victims. Then the Lie in Iraq, no bid contracts and much of the $Trillion spent went into their pockets. Enron gouging fuel prices to California, while buying up Power plants and running them to the ground. Causing the brown outs, causing the recall, calling the Aunuld to get invited to the Bohemian Grove. First act is to veto the Hemp Initiative.

    Traffic jams are design projects, more gas spent. Hell, they start conventional police actions, those you can profit on. Even sanctioned by Congress Wars, you can’t profit on. Like Iraq before Mission Accomplished. Now its a police action the same as the Ganjawar. These ends justifying means are not new. Lies don’t mean a thing if its the enemy you’re lying too. Making us sick, selling us mandatory white powders to “treat” it, lot better than killing us for nothing. The end is get the Presidency and Congress by any means possible, then you deal the cards. Getting more power that doesn’t come by fair trade methods. Wallmart, Nike Mickey D using slave labor. NAFTA/GATT sending jobs overseas, isn’t just for cheap labor/more profits.

    Its a deterrent to those with jobs to stay silent. Whistle blowing can be hazardous to your employment, and being jobless is the hardest job on the civilian market. So I’m reasonably certain corporations are fabricated by those at least starting out as humans. Same as the World Banksters with no sovereignty to the U.S. Making $300 billion a year in interest… on Boosh’s loans… to bail out the Insurance Racketeers and Banksters? But granny’s arthritis is relieved with a toke of Ganja and caging her seems OK with the Church’s and Soccer moms protecting their tikes from heathen devil weed plants. That might interfere with their kiddy’s speed Ritalin.

    Corporations for the most part control the legislators and even what is moral within the church. Those twins selling Coors for Geeeeezus? The every 20 minute commercial about Yaz or Viagra, with 90% of the time disclosing side effects. Time driving up cost of Insurance or drugs. Money from price profits paying for propaganda to keep the status weird and stagnant. No profit in prevention or cures. Just “treatment”. Just too many damn coincidences.

    I’m sure there’s a buzzword to counter just about anything humans do. Simply put we the people can not be trusted with power. Not one human, without huge masses of people suffering. So for the gazillionth time… We MUST, no question about it, it is MANDATORY for us humans to have Checks and Balances. Probably why the forefathers put so much time into including them.

    Corporations have sold the welfare of the people for lies about what the people need, for profit. Not Democracy, Freedom, Liberty or jelly beans, except one maybe. Profit is what the machine eats. Not compassion, not Peace, Not cures or prevention shutting down the machine. Or converting it to a Green Machine. The corporations maintain the dysfunction of the Ganjawar, through their employees that we elect, or at least think we elect.

    If the CSA is permitted to stay as law, then this microcosm will continue to unfold in the other arena’s, as it is starting to do. Education, Homelessness, Poverty, Hunger, even Famine, is happening in spite of the modern technology and corporate moralists. When Hemp and Ganja could inexpensively take care of the business of the people, not just mouthfart the words with false intentions.

    Ganja is not a schedule#1 narcotic by the laws of physics and the definition of the CSA. Toss out the lie and Hemp and Medicinal are free by default. Then we can establish an infrastructure and sentry to keep zealots out of the Capitol. Every decade for 4 now, I’ve seen it hover. Outbursts occasionally, reform occasionally. But it never changes much. It ain’t supposed too. Perpetuate is the money ticket. Keeps competition off the shelves and tax payers donating to the private prisons, military and police bloated budgets.

    Truth and the Laws of Physics will free the Ganja and Hemp plants. Therefore pretty much collapsing the war on some drugs. Pushing $300 million in Hemp sales, While obesity is epidemic and farmers going broke. $? in buyers clubs and billions on the streets while booze is clearly the slob method of forgetting, rather than peacefully reducing the stress as Ganja does. Ain’t nothing new. Pre-Yuppies in suits and gowns toking openly in 69. When will they ever learn. Or is that the reason for censored school books, so they don’t?

    Marijuana: the law vs. 12 million people
    Life magazine Oct 31, 1969. 25-35
    In New York a group of middle-aged professional people begin an evening with a marijuana “cocktail party.” in Detroit some lawyers and executives get together in the small hours for wine-and-pot. In Beverly Hills, at a stately black-tie dinner, the matronly hostess beckons the butler who brings a silver tray with a single after-dinner joint to be passed around.

    Virtues’ of Ganja

    What No One Wants to Know About Ganja
    From The Natural Mind by Dr. Andrew Weil
    (last half of chapter four pg. 86-97)

    Because marijuana is such an unimpressive pharmacological agent, it is not a very interesting drug to study in a laboratory. Pharmacologists cannot get a handle on it with their methods, and because they cannot see the reality of the non-material state of consciousness that users experience, they are forced to design experimental situations very far removed from the real world in order to get measurable effects. There are three conditions under which marijuana can be shown to impair general psychological performance in laboratory subjects. They are: continued…

    Marijuana Drug Czar Distorts Report
    Astonishingly, Walters claims that the 1999 Institute of Medicine report didn’t urge the government to allow seriously ill people legal access to medical marijuana on a case-by-case basis. What the institute did say about medical use of marijuana by AIDS and cancer patients was “nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” Maybe these experts were duped. Maybe John Walters, unbeknown to us, has medical expertise beyond that of the world’s leading physicians and researchers. Or maybe he’s lying in a desperate attempt to save a collapsing policy.

  15. Luigi Fulk says:

    Asbestos Lawsuit will be getting a lot of traffic in 2010, it will get to be a hot tpic.

  16. Asbestos Lawsuit will be receiving a lot of popularity in 2010, it will get to be a hot tpic.

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