Possibly the most-studied substance on the planet

Thanks to Paul Armentano for his proper take-down of the ignorant comment so often floated out there — that we just don’t know that much about marijuana.

The Media Should Stop Pretending Marijuana’s Risks Are a Mystery — The Science is Clear

Speaking recently with the Los Angeles Times, UCLA professor and former Washington state “pot czar” Mark Kleiman implied that we as a society are largely ignorant when it comes to the subject of weed. Speaking with Times columnist Patt Morrison, Kleiman stated, “I keep saying we don’t know nearly as much about cannabis as Pillsbury knows about brownie mix.”

Kleiman’s allegation—that the marijuana plant and its effects on society still remains largely a mystery—is a fairly common refrain. But it is far from accurate.

Despite the US government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the last five years according to a keyword search on PubMed Central, the US government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research. Over 1,450 peer-reviewed papers were published in 2013 alone.

We know plenty about cannabis. We know more about cannabis than most (if not all) FDA-approved drugs, despite their vaunted exclusive process (which often has as much to do with politics and money as science).

The ‘we don’t know enough’ argument is used to delay or dilute legalization efforts (I would place Kleiman’s comments in the “dilute” category, formerly “delay”), and, in some cases, it is merely short for “I won’t be satisfied with any amount or type of studies until we find one that proves cannabis is bad.” (Sabet would probably be an example of that.)

[Thanks, Servetus]
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53 Responses to Possibly the most-studied substance on the planet

  1. Duncan20903 says:


    Haven’t I ever mentioned that “Never let the facts get in the way of disseminating an effective piece of hysterical rhetoric” is the motto of the Know Nothing prohibitionist?

    They’re going to use that lame “no research available” as long as they can get away with it. Heck, it’s already got a track record of success spanning more than 4 1/2 DECADES. Of course back in 1968 it may have actually been true.
    The A.M.A.: Marijuana Warning
    Time Magazine, June 28, 1968 (subscription required to read it.)

    They’ll still be using this same excuse in 2059 if we let them get away with it.

  2. QuaxMercy says:

    …& yet we’re setting up these regulatory structures within the schizophrenic mindset that refuses to acknowledge the medical efficacy of the plant heralded as the miracle medicine of the 21st century. Carts a’fore horses!
    These people will NOT shape the forum or accept the Court case that will unseat the bogus “legitimacy” of Prohibition. I really believe this piece is up to us.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Sure, and I think we’re doing a pretty darn good job of kicking their idiotic policies to the curb. They’re the ones with $trillions (with a T) in borrowed money to squander to promote their wholly fictional beliefs but we’ve still got them on the ropes even though our only working asset is the truth and being as stubborn as goats. Pretty good for a bunch of “amotivational” people if you ask me.

      Holy fictional nonsense Batman! It’s the Prohibitionist!!

      Yes Robin, and he’s up to his old tricks again! Using “the children” as political pawns while regurgitating bald faced lies, half truths, and hysterical rhetoric all over the body politic!! To the Batmobile, and hurry!!! We must protect Gotham City!!!!

  3. Howard says:

    Read the conclusions of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission of 1894 (that’s right, 1894). Those conclusions echo the results of unbiased studies (read: not funded by the NIDA) conducted over the ensuing 100+ years.

    Not enough information my arse.

  4. QuaxMercy says:

    I’m talkin’ more and keener imagination, more outrageously applied, this year. I used to think a SuperBowl of Debunkment was called for. Now I think we deserve a Definitive Stomp, with the ensuing catharsis.

  5. Francis says:

    Oh, “we don’t know enough” about cannabis? Then why the hell are we arresting people for possessing it? The assertion that we somehow know comparatively little about cannabis — despite the fact that it’s one of the most-studied plants in history — is obviously absurd. But even if it weren’t, if anything, it would be an argument against criminalization. As I’ve said before, the burden of proof should always be on those who would use coercive force to restrict others’ freedom. Or maybe the next time a biologist announces he’s discovered a new plant species and comes back from the field with a specimen, we should have him immediately arrested? After all, if it’s truly a new species, we don’t know anything about it.

    Another problem with the “we-don’t-know-enough” argument is that it misses the point by focusing on the drug rather than our failed drug policies. Let’s just pretend for a moment that we didn’t know much about the effects of cannabis — that we didn’t know, for example, that it’s incapable of causing a fatal overdose, that we didn’t know of its extremely low potential for addiction, that we didn’t know that its use fails to produce the kind of violent, antisocial behavior we so often associate with alcohol intoxication, that we didn’t know of its many medical benefits — we’d still know more than enough about cannabis prohibition to recognize that policy as an unmitigated disaster.

  6. Ned says:

    It isn’t ignorance, that wouldn’t be so terrible. It’s the wrong beliefs. The extent and depth of those are what keep the process of reform dragging on and on.

    Most people, especially Kleiman, don’t see themselves as ignorant, they believe they know what they need to know to have a worthwhile opinion. It is changing these preconceptions and prejudices that’s actually the enormous hurdle.

    • allan says:

      It is changing these preconceptions and prejudices that’s actually the enormous hurdle.

      No… their ignorance and preconceived idiocy is their problem. Stand ’em up in a line, I’ll drive the steamroller. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing all this time whilst in our amotivational stoned stupor.

      I think our best work is still to come.

      • Ned says:

        Sorry Allan, I accidentally hit the thumbs down button and that can’t be undone.

        Well it (public prejudice etc) has been and continues to be what drives the political process of enacting reform. Until enough minds are changed, progress doesn’t happen. That is what is so difficult about bottom up reform. Literally millions of minds have to be changed. We’ve come a long way but even once people are convinced to support medical use and beyond that general use, they still believe enough wrong things that cause the new regulations to be unnecessarily cramped and onerous. So to that extent it is our problem.

        • allan says:

          aah, that saves a box of Kleenex, thanks Ned.

          I use 1997 as my (re)entry point into drug policy and the distance we’ve covered in that time span is monumental. Literally.

          Here in Oregon it’s been pretty much a ground game all along and we’ve only gained real recognition since whupping Dwight Holton (former fed Atty in OR) in his run for state AG. Politicians now respect our reach. A reach only possible because we have moved the populace into a greater understanding of pot and it’s benefits.

      • darkcycle says:

        We sure ain’t done. Not by a long stretch.

  7. claygooding says:

    I am still trying to get the GAO to release the total amount spent on marijuana research by the federal bureaucracies,,,all they will send you is the budgets for them with no actual breakdown of the studies done.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Did you tell them that you need the data for a study that will result in a massive increase of their agency’s budget?

  8. Francis says:

    Speaking with Times columnist Patt Morrison, Kleiman stated, “I keep saying we don’t know nearly as much about cannabis as Pillsbury knows about brownie mix.”

    You keep saying a lot of shit that’s not true. As far as cannabis and Pillsbury brownie mix are concerned, I think we can say with a fair degree of confidence that the latter is more dangerous than the former. (I’m pretty sure that there were more obesity-related deaths last year than there were cannabis-related ones.) And of course, combining the two is probably not a bad harm-reduction strategy given cannabis’ apparent role in reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Hasn’t “Prof” Kleiman ever heard of Alice B. Toklas?

    • darkcycle says:

      When I can hit the “Google” and find twenty thousand peer reviewed research articles on brownie mix. And it had better include studies on it’s affects on everything from diabetes to potential for abuse to it’s prevalence of use in pre-schizophrenics to memory function TWO YEARS after consumption. And everything else you can conceivably associate with brownie mix. Then I might agree. (And that 20,000 number, that’s conservative…I saw a similar number about three years ago from another source)

    • allan says:

      hmmm… a relevant question… if Markie K knows so little about cannabis, why is he a ekspurt? Or does he just have a frog in his pocket (“we don’t know […]”)?

      A self proclaimed ekspurt no doubt. Instead of a shaman, I think the prohibs are consulting a sham man.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        I’ve never met or even heard of a confidence artist who wasn’t certifiable. Now if an expert certifies his own expertise then who the heck are we to question his boner fidos?

        C’mon, the man scammed the State of Washington out of almost $million (of which we’re aware) and nobody is even considering filing criminal charges. He’s most certainly not your every day grifter.

        I think it would be a good idea for you to keep in mind that you never ask a Navy man if he’ll have another drink, because it’s nobody’s goddamned business how much he’s had already!

    • Windy says:

      Brownie mix is not the cause of the obesity epidemic, geneticists have discovered that the DDT to which our great grandmothers were exposed in huge quantities is what is responsible for the prevalence of obesity we see today.

      I wonder what kinds of problems will arise in our great grandchildren from the women of my mother’s generation, and mine, and my daughter’s, being exposed to the variety of chemicals that have proliferated in our world since I was born?

      • divadab says:

        Windy, do you have a cite for the study?

        • Duncan20903 says:


          I recently read an article which speculated that overwhelming exposure to lead paint in children was either the cause of, or a significant contributing factor to the huge spike in the crime rate in the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s. While it was definitely not anything more than educated speculation I certainly couldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Don’t worry, I’ll keep in mind that it could very well be a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. But it sure seems to be a more reasonable explanation than just the fact that such a large percentage of criminals are young men from 16 to 30ish so let’s blame the baby boomers. While that could be a reasonable explanation for an increase in the absolute number of crimes I can dismiss that theory as causal for the significant increase in the crime rate, and have no problem dismissing it without much thought at all.

          Between 1960 (earliest crime rate data readily available) and 1991 (crime rate highest ever) the nationwide crime rate increased a whopping 212.516% or it’s also valid to say that the 1960 crime rate was 68.002% lower than the 1991 crime rate.

          The 2012 crime rate (most recent crime rate data readily available) was 44.961% lower than the 1991 crime rate. Lead paint in newly built dwellings was outlawed in 1978 so it certainly appears that the theory has statistical correlation. I won’t forget that correlation doesn’t prove causation if you won’t forget that causation does result in correlation.

          We can also entertain the argument that even today poor people are significantly more likely to live in dwellings that still have lead based paint on the walls. Rich people can afford to have the walls stripped and repainted on a whim so higher crime rates among the poor are also consistent with this theory.

          I think that it’s also smart to keep in mind that only an idiot would believe that our Federal government is competent enough to implement public policies which would result in slicing the crime rate almost in half in just under a quarter century. I believe that it’s much more likely that happened in spite of government policies than because of them.

          People who suffer from confirmation bias are going to want the credit the elimination of parole and discretionary probation in some States and the Federal system. While I’m certain that has played a role I don’t see that role as anything more than a minor contributing factor.

          I don’t recall where I read it but since the theory is still nothing more than educated speculation you may take my word for it, go Google it yourself, or dismiss it out of hand, whichever your preference.

      • DdC says:

        WSU researchers link DDT and obesity across generations

        Ancestors’ exposure to DDT may contribute to obesity, study says

        If DDT is so bad, which it is. Then why is Monsanto still getting government subsidies for their latest untested “invention” GMO’s? Why not bust them for selling dangerous, truly dangerous drugs? Or their saccharin, agent orange and dioxins, pcb’s and aspartame. Already listed as a hazardous substance and then like magic. Fast tracked into kids cereal and soft drinks. Maybe because Donald Rumsfeld was CEO. Or Cliarence Thomas was a lawyer for Monsanto defending them from restitution for victims of dioxin they dumped into the Mississippi River. All of the dangerous poisons they spray onto Colombian farmers over spraying the coca. Or the same onto the cotton crop, not used on Hemp. Throughout the bible belt. Aborting babies and not a word from the anti choice drug worriers. Dangerous drugs sold in garden shops or grocery stores but the one thing these deadly drug poisons don’t do is get you high. That seems to be a major priority in determining if it is dangerous enough to lock people up over.

        Same Monsanto killing off bees and buying seed banks. I’ve never heard of the study on DDT and obesity. But it is still showing up in polar bears and I don’t think they do much farming in the Arctic. Through the food chain. Like the crude oil plastic trash in the ocean or Koch polluting water sources at their Georgia Pacific. paper from dead trees with all of its chlorine while they keep hemp as a schedule#1 narcotic. I’ve read saccharin was made from coal tar. They outlawed burning coal in home fireplaces because of the pollution. The cage Ganja growers for helping sick people find relief and yet subsidize corporations for making us sick and then they sell us pharmaceuticals to treat it. Ganja is being used for treating obesity as well as wasting syndrome. Bringing the body back to its normal. But it too is a schedule#1 narcotic kept out of competition by the same people bringing back DDT for mosquitos and Malaria. Seems when the corporations come into third world countries they leave a lot of bulldozed land that doesn’t drain properly and makes a fine breeding ground for mosquitos.

        Rockefeller got rid of ethanol for farmers with the Christian Temperance League as a diversion and hobgoblin manufacturer. Or Hearst in the 30’s removing cannabis. Or fast tracking nukes in the 50’s, still no insurance company will sell a policy on. Corporations buying the politicians is an age old tradition. The same as getting rid of Ganja with Calvina scarecrows. Yet I’m supposed to believe all this incrementalism is just the business of politics as usual. That these international corporations profits have nothing to due with prohibition? Or the prohibition direct profits in bloated budgets and forfeitures etc. Knowing what we know and they still just say no. A society can only dumb down to an eventual vanishing point of no return. Then there is no one to teach and slavery and exploitation is easier. I don’t think we have that far to go. Especially with the cheerleaders still legislating profits over common sense and decency. But does seem easier to hide in the land of the Denialists. Just say no it isn’t. Then damn your lying eyes.

        Monsanto Sucks, I approve this message.

        Koch-Owned Georgia-Pacific Environmental Crimes

        Wasting Obesity on Ganja
        The future of weight loss: A ‘marijuana’ diet pill?

  9. Duncan20903 says:


    Alaskan cannabis law reform advocate say that they’ve jumped though all the hoops required to get their re-legalization proposal on the Election Day 2014 ballot. Organizers say they have more than enough signatures to get pot legalization vote on ballot

    Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

    • DdC says:

      More Incremental Retardation…

      I thought Alaska was legal with their Constitution…

      Use or display of any amount or possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine up to $2,000. However, if the use, display, or possession was for personal use and occurred in the confines of the offender’s private residence, there is no penalty and this act is protected under the Alaskan constitutional right to privacy. It is class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000 to possess 1 ounce or more but less than 4 ounces of marijuana. However, if the possession was for personal use and occurred in the confines of the offender’s private residence, there is no penalty and this act is protected under the Alaskan constitutional right to privacy.

      So they want to tax it, as if there was never a real threat to health. Or the threat doesn’t out weigh the taxes. Still can’t sell it with a state Constitution because the Feds own it with the Raich decision. But like Nixon, let’s pretend. So in essence they are daring the Feds to waste funds busting them. These almighty law and order people seem pretty selective on laws they choose to follow. When it does not qualify as a Federally Controlled Substance by any of the thousands of papers written and available. Barter with Insanity. Now its the perception it might cause the kids. The message was bogus but it looked good enough to fool boomers but not these next generations?

      a nearly complete package of legislation that regulate how the state grows, processes and sells the drugs. It also outlines the uses of the drug in Alaska.

      Does that really need comment? The state?

      The petition also suggests a $50-per-ounce tax at the retail level.

      Mason Tvert, with the Marijuana Policy Project, said the laws presented in the Alaska petition booklets puts Alaska’s tax in line with Colorado and Washington state, the only two states where voters have decided to make marijuana legal.

      The last statement is total Bullshit Mason and you know it. CA is the only state without limits or conditions making it the only state legal for recreational purposes by the people, without no stinkin bodges. Not to please the tax man or cops or to maybe hand out to the prisons for their loss. Ridiculous, and I’m still waiting for an answer. Desperation for laws? Break that down to those who will treat the sick with Ganja and those waiting for laws and watching them suffer in the meantime. Not the America I grew up in. Nixon lied, it is not a hazard, menace or unhealthy. It has medicinal value and too many have walked away to say its addictive. Everybody knows. WTF is the problem? Why aren’t the 58% demanding truth and reality instead of these lawyer games step by step inch by inch… Niagara Falls!

      There’s also a local option in the Alaska petition’s proposed laws, meaning local communities could vote to ban the sale of marijuana.

      CA supreme court ruled selling it was not under the jurisdiction of the state and they could not raid dispensaries. I don’t see how this Federal jurisdiction can be any different in any state. Waste more taxes. I do see what the initiative grants Calvina Inc. if they don’t like it? What in the hell happened to this place? It’s the fucking safest god damn substance in the enfuckingtire pharmacopoeia, going back to the late 1800’s Indian Hemp to La Guardia, Whooton and Heath busted for sabotaging brain damage tests Reagan flaunted as proof. Knowing they hid and banned research on brain tumors. Knowing it reduces seizures in children and they just sit on their god damn asses?

      And now this is becoming a joke…
      Maybe a prank from Ed?

      Fourth California Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed

      I want some answers! Some secret plot, whatever, but this shit is causing real people to suffer. Every month a new threat, a new temporary fix and all the drama without science. People who have absolutely NO business being concerned with other individuals seem to still get media attention. Proof of dumbing down that even the basics. Vested interest being a conflict of interest, has no apparent relevance. Profiteers like Lieman and Sabet the elephant boy, Welfare Queen Calvina or Califano rehabilitation asylums. Piss tests cop forfeitures and confiscations, anal cavity searches for running a stop sign. This total lack of respect for the citizens from the militarized police acting like its their turf and we should be damn lucky they let us live here. Bullshit! This land is made for you and me not no damn international corporation selling more synthetics with Hemp out of the picture. That some act as if its just a big ole fat coincidence. Or international Pharmaceutical conglomerates with subsidiaries in the farm poisoning and gmo business not having to share or lose profits to we peoples growing it in our herb garden or organic fields. Tangible reality ignored and the “excerpts” just say no.

  10. Pretty good studies – here is a new one:

    Cannabinoids May Help Revive Individuals After Cardiac Arrest http://tinyurl.com/ksron7j

  11. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere says:
  12. Duncan20903 says:


    Does everyone recall the scene in Up In Smoke when the film’s protagonists were hauled in front of that lady judge and Tommy Chong accidentally exposed the fact that she was drinking vodka in the court room? This one is from the “life imitates art” category:

    Florida “Marijuana Court” Judge Drunk on the Job

    Florida judge Gisele Pollack apparently came to work drunk last week, causing such a scene that the chief judge had to deal with the matter.

    Pollack came up with the idea of a “marijuana court” that handles cases of misdemeanor pot violations to steer them toward treatment, basically decriminalizing possession. She was presiding over the court she founded when the incident occurred.

    • kaptinemo says:

      And there it is. The system’s zeitgeist in a nutshell. Dispensers of the law believing themselves above the law, drunk on both booze and power (why else would she think she could come to work drunk?) who’s been passing judgement on the lives of those whose intoxicant doesn’t cause anywhere near the social problems booze – and political power – can and do.

      And, of course, the Political Class looks after its’ own; instead of being arrested for at least ‘public drunkeness’, she gets a taxpayer-funded stay at a cushy rehab…while her victims got whatever.

      Typical. So typical.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        This one is from “the prohibitionist parasites are running out of straw men” category:

        Uruguay’s neighbors now considering legalization of pot

        The taboo is broken: Argentina’s new anti-drug czar says the country ‘deserves’ the debate, while Chile’s new president could ease marijuana laws.

        If this were an episode of the 1960s Star Trek television program Dr. McCoy would examine prohibition then he’d look up wistfully from the examination table and say, “It’s dead Jim.”

  13. Rand Paul’s Funny ‘Airing Of Grievances’ Tweets Leads To A Really Important Exchange About The War On Drugs http://tinyurl.com/mfuqcya

    I was impressed to see this. I hope something good becomes of it. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

  14. ezrydn says:

    To Pete, Mom, all my Brothers and Sisters that somehow all cram into this couch, have a Very Merry Christmas. Tis the Reason for the Season. It’s been a year which has given us much to be thankful for. Yet, it’s also enlightened us as to the course we must continue on. However, this walking downhill ain’t so bad. LOL And in 2014, remember “incumbent” is a dirty 4-letter word!

  15. primus says:

    Pete; love the couch, love what you’ve done with the place–very nice. One suggestion; I get that some days you just don’t have the energy to post anew, however sometimes the thread gets so long that finding the new comments becomes a tedious chore. Why not have an open thread on those low energy days, that way the discussion can continue in its freewheeling way? Anyway, have a wonderful Yule, and look forward to a new year full of freedom and possibilities.

    • darkcycle says:

      Primus…check the Comments feed. Click “comments” in the upper right hand corner. The most recent eight or ten will show.

      • primus says:

        That just so does not work for me; the comments come up, but they are not in context so they are meaningless. Should be possible to mark them as ‘read’ and have the color of the background change so it’s easy to see, then one could just scroll down and watch for the different color of the new posts, and read them in context. OK, so go develop that and get rich. I don’t mind.

  16. thelbert says:

    studying cannabis makes for a merry christmas. so i’m sure the couchmates will do their homework to the fullest. merry christmas everyone.

  17. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ve noticed that the prohibitionists have adopted a brand new meme. Why is that special? It’s not something they do every decade you know. I think that it appears that they’ve realized that they don’t have the “moral” authority to issue orders that could be expected to find people obeying them any more.

    Journal Times editorial: Let’s wait and see on marijuana legalization in Wisconsin

    IIRC this is the fourth “let’s wait and see!” article regurgitated by prohibitionists in the last week or two.

  18. allan says:

    the Solstice has passed, the sun begins its return. Rejoice!

    Holly jolly, rolly polly one up for me… when we light one, we light for all.

    Be safe, be warm, one love. Jah!

  19. I am going to have a very nice Christmas this year. Its the year I can celebrate having seen the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition. More than that, I feel some comfort in knowing that the young family members around that dinner table have a brighter future around the bend. This thought struck me while I was doing my usual tweeting frenzy.

    Thank you for having a wonderful place and all the fine people here on the couch, Pete. The world wouldn’t be the same without all of you.

  20. Windy says:

    Merry Christmas to pete and all my friends and compatriots here on Pete’s couch. May the day bring you every joy your heart can hold (and every toke your lungs can take).

  21. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere says:

    Fijne kerstdagen allemaal en een voorspoedig, prohibition-free Nieuw Jaar!

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