Clarifying poll results

A lot of sources (in fact, from a quick search of Google, just about all of them) have been reporting a new ABC/Wall Street Journal poll and have been saying things like “Americans rank marijuana less dangerous than sugar.”

Yes, it’s probably true, and Americans may believe that, but that’s not really what the poll showed.

Here are the question and results from the survey of 1000 adults:

Q25 Which of the following substances would you say is the MOST harmful to a person’s overall health (RANDOMIZE) (IF ALL, THEN ASK:) Now, if you had to choose just one, which substance would you say is the MOST harmful?

Tobacco...................................... 49
Alcohol ..................................... 24
Sugar........................................ 15
Marijuana..................................... 8

   All (VOL) ................................. 3
   None are harmful (VOL) .................... -
   Not sure................................... 1

The poll specifically asked people what one substance was the most harmful of these four specific substances. It did not ask people to rank them. So the actual correct point that we get from this survey is that more Americans think that sugar is the most harmful of these four substances than those who think marijuana is the most harmful of these substances (which, of course, makes for a lousy headline).

Theoretically (though unlikely), most could think that marijuana was the second-most harmful substance (and just very few think that it was the most harmful) and these results could still be true.

I don’t like it when the other side misuses data. I don’t want to be part of the misuse of data on this side.

Maybe we can ask them to actually rank them next time.

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19 Responses to Clarifying poll results

  1. darkcycle says:

    That would be the MSM trying to squeeze a headline out of a worthless poll. You know, a solid 54% of all people who read headlines probably can’t even decipher what they are trying to say. And ** percent of telephone poll respondents are trying to feed their two year old, and just keep pressing 1 to every query. That’s how I like to answer those.

  2. Plant Down Babylon says:

    Rarely do I answer unknown numbers, but when I hear a non-person (computer) on the other end,


  3. cj says:

    this reminds me of a segment in a great documentary. it comes pretty early. if you have the time, please check it out, i try so hard to get this documentary out to people. Its on youtube if you search “the truth about heroin documentary”. The documentary is pretty much about how safe heroin can be and how villified the users are… but in one segment they do talk about how sugar is worse for you, it comes pretty early in the documentary, please give it a look, again you can find it by going to youtube and searching “the truth about heroin documentary.”

  4. DdC says:


    Almost Forgotten, the role Hemp Cloth played preventing and helping to counter act the spread of the Bubonic Plague.

    A Graphical History

    Governmental Censorship as it relates to Medical Cannabis Studies


    WSJ/NBC poll:
    which is most dangerous to health
    49% say tobacco,
    24% alcohol,
    15% sugar &
    8% Cannabis.

    People know

  5. Crut says:

    My Monday newspaper did not make me happy on the front page:

    Every story is about some stupid irresponsible neglectful parent. But they are blaming it on the drugs. WAKE UP. Even if the drugs weren’t there, they would still be stupid, irresponsible and neglectful.

    I’d write a letter if I thought it would make a difference.

    Is it 16:20 yet?

    • Frank W says:

      St Patrick bless you, you stated it more beautifully than my shamrock-addled head could have.

    • Nunavut Tripper says:

      Well written Allan. I think your buddy Go Ducks is suffering from a cannabinoid deficiency.

      • allan says:

        thank, I try. I suspect ‘Go Ducks’ is our old friend John English… tho’ I can’t read the comments (disqus sucks)

        • Plant Down Babylon says:

          Go_Ducks_Native_of_Eugene • 12 hours ago

          Really???….” bigotry”? “racism”? Just two examples of the lame, yet common buzz words a sure sign of having no valid argument to make. A stoners ideological bankruptcy is the brain drain of playing the last card in their deck. A rather obvious sign someone needs to enter a drug treatment program marijuana…Get a clue!

    • Plant Down Babylon says:

      Good piece! You are chucking grenades from the front line, Allan.

      Me thinks that ‘go ducks’ character reeks of LEO status, especially with that ‘stoner’ and ‘get treatment’ comments.

      Maybe the gov should follow him around and check his blood-sugar levels.
      He might need ‘treatment’….

      • allan says:

        I’m guessing John English. A local locksmith, he’s been at this for decades, something about his kids making stupid decisions with it being all the drugs fault. When Conde was holding his HempFests old John was the lone protestor down at the nearest intersection. He belongs in the same class w/ miz Linda T.

  6. allan says:

    more OT… from Mother Jones:

    The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming


    Today, a work crew is hauling away the detritus by helicopter. Our little group, which includes a second federal officer and a Forest Service flack, hikes down an old skid trail lined with mossy oaks and madrones, passing the scat of a mountain lion, and a few minutes later, fresh black bear droppings. We follow what looks like a game trail to the lip of a wooded slope, a site known as Bear Camp. There, amid a scattering of garbage bags disemboweled by animals, we find the growers’ tarps and eight dingy sleeping bags, the propane grill where they had cooked oatmeal for breakfast, and the backpack sprayers they used to douse the surrounding 50 acres with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The air smells faintly of ammonia and weed. “This is unicorns and rainbows, isn’t it?” says Mourad Gabriel, a former University of California-Davis wildlife ecologist who has joined us at the site, as he maniacally stuffs a garbage bag with empty booze bottles, Vienna Beef sausage tins, and Miracle-Gro refill packs.

    According to federal stats, trespass grows in California alone account for more than one-third of the cannabis seized nationwide by law enforcement, which means they could well be the largest single source of domestically grown marijuana. Of course, nobody can say precisely how much pot comes from indoor grows and private plots that are less accessible to the authorities. What’s clear is that California’s marijuana harvest is vast—”likely the largest value crop (by far) in the state’s lineup,” notes the Field Guide to California Agriculture. Assuming, as the guide does, that the authorities seize about 10 percent of the harvest, that means they would have left behind more than 10 million outdoor plants last year, enough to yield about $31 billion worth of product. That’s more than the combined value of the state’s top 10 legal farm commodities.


  7. Duncan20903 says:


    There’s no doubt that cannabis is safer than sugar for the people who suffer from diabetes. From “Diabetes Health”:

    Marijuana May Help Blood Sugar Control, Study Says
    Clay Wirestone
    Mar 15, 2014

    So what does this new, widespread sale of pot mean for people with diabetes? On one hand, you might expect that it would cause problems. Most people have heard (or experienced first-hand, although we won’t be taking names here) of the “munchies.” How could that possibly be good for folks watching their blood sugar? Surprisingly, research suggests otherwise.

    Marijuana actually appears to have metabolic benefits. A study published last summer in The American Journal of Medicine looked at more than 4,500 adults, of whom 579 were using marijuana at the time. That subgroup had notably better fasting blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and waist circumference. According to the study’s abstract: “current marijuana use was associated with 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels . . . and 17 percent lower HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). . . . We found significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.” Murray Mittleman, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author, told Time magazine last year that “the most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers.”

    For those keeping score at home Prof. Mittleman is the researcher that sentenced us to forever hearing the classic piece of mandatory hysterical rhetoric: “Merrywanna increases the risk of heart attack by 4.8x!!!”

  8. Plant Down Babylon says:

    Wouldn’t this be an admission by the fed guv that merrywanna doesn’t belong in sched 1???!

    Seems THUDworthy to me, Allan.

    • allan says:

      Thudding is all personal choice… as yet I don’t believe we’ve worked up a formal criteria, but yeah, go Rick Doblin and MAPS! I suspect someone in the admin figured they better bow to this one. Start riling up the vets and troubles are bound to follow… and Israel has (thankfully) provided some cover.

      Thanks for posting PDB!

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Whoda puck woulda thunk it possible? Oh wait a second, the DEA can still put the kibosh on this research:

      Even with the latest green light from the Health and Human Services department, MAPS and the University of Arizona Professor Suzanne Sisley must still get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, though they expect that clearance to come more quickly.

      Unless MAPS and Prof Sisley have significant non-public information I’ll believe it after I regain consciousness from fainting from the shock of seeing it happen. I’d like to bet that the reported opinion was solely that of Prof. Sisley. Does anyone want to take the other side?

      But the Feds agreeing to let them do research is admission that it shouldn’t be schedule I? You should know that cannabis is the only schedule I substance with only a single authorized seller for research purposes. I think researchers into scheduled drugs must spend half their lives complying with the alphabet soup jackboots:

      Google “Prof. Lyle Craker” to find out why some people think that DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner may well have suffered the very same curse as DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young.

      But heck, maybe MAPS does know something that we don’t. After all their specific direct experience it’s either that or some previously mentioned professor is pathologically naive:

      Friday, January 9, only 10 days before the Bush Administration leaves office, the DEA has issued a final ruling denying a license to Prof. Lyle Craker, UMass Amherst, to grow marijuana for MAPS-sponsored medical research. The DEA is responding to a February 12, 2007 recommendation by DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner who found after extensive legal hearings that it would be in the public interest for DEA to issue Prof. Craker a license. The DEA is determined to protect the federal monopoly on the supply of marijuana that is legal for research that is held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA uses its monopoly to fundamentally obstruct research aimed at developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. For example, Chemic Labs has been seeking without success for over 5 1/2 years to purchase 10 grams of marijuana from NIDA for MAPS and CaNORML-sponsored research into the effectiveness of the Volcano vaporizer as a non-smoking drug delivery device.

  9. Thudfuck Worthington says:

    This bandying my name around has to stop,,it is time to start seeing large chunks of wall flying off,,,will the Democrats grab the green ring and retake the House while holding the Senate,,and unless the Republicans don’t quit picking on the poor instead of the rich they will keep the WH too.
    I don’t think we can budge TX off of red yet but there is a blue cloud on the horizon,,,and Abbot is catching hell over having Ted Nugent showing up at his political rallies,,,me thinks Ted is not as popular as a political dinosaur as he was a singer……
    It is a long time until voting booth day,,and many political debates and rallies to go,,,minds can be changed if we can get the crazy uncles dancing on the political stages.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Why in the world are you such a Ted Nugent hater? Man, I’d change my registration to Republican if I could vote for Mr. Nugent to be the Republican nominee for POTUS in 2016! For his campaign song he could just tweak the lyrics of Cat Scratch Fever, I can hear it now:

      Well I don’t know where their votin’ but they sure do vote
      I hope they’re votin’ for me!
      Yeah I don’t know how to do it but I’ll sure do it good,
      I’ll even do it for free!

      Bat shit crazy…wah wah wah wah
      you must be bat shit crazy ah ah ah ah ah

      Well I’ll make the liberals freak out with every stroke of my pen
      They’ll know they’re gettin’ it from me
      And they know just where they can go
      When they want a welfare check
      They’ll know I’m doin’ it for free

      I drive ’em bat shit crazy
      bat shit crazy
      They’ll go bat shit crazy
      bat shit crazy

      Just think, if he were elected he’d make everyone forget about George W. Bush and that’s no small feat. Now who’s going to be his VP? How about Massachusetts New Hampshire Senator Scott Brown?

      The ghost of Teddy Roosevelt no doubt. It’s just been too long since we had a POTUS willing to stalk and kill exotic animals just for the frackin’ pleasure of intentional zooicide.

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