Lies About Marijuana Drive People to a Much More Harmful Drug -- Booze
Continued from previous page
In 1988, Francis Young, an administrative law judge at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), following hearings to determine whether marijuana should be placed into a less restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act, wrote that marijuana should be moved from Schedule I (the most restrictive category) to Schedule II and it would be “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious” to conclude otherwise. More than 20 years later, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug.
A recently as February 2007, an administrative law judge at the DEA issued an opinion concluding that it would be in the public interest for the agency to grant a license to the University of Massachusetts to grow a limited amount of marijuana to be used to study its potential therapeutic benefits. Faced with this seemingly rational opinion, the political powers at the DEA sat on it for nearly two years and then rejected it by formally denying the University the license in the very last days of the Bush administration.
Of course, ignoring fact- and evidence-based advice about marijuana is just one part of the game our government has played over the past four decades. It has also gone out of its way to promote and spread myths about the drug – from the “gateway” theory to marijuana’s supposed connection to cancer to the notion that “potent pot” is somehow more dangerous than “your father’s marijuana.” Each one has been debunked or proven wrong or misleading, but there is no doubt that they have helped keep marijuana illegal.
Yet there is one myth more insidious than the rest. And it is one that is as devastating as it is subtle.
You see, whether intentional or not, the government’s greatest achievement when it comes to keeping marijuana illegal has been its ability to convince a majority of Americans that marijuana is as harmful as, if not more harmful than, alcohol. By doing so, it has secured alcohol’s place as the recreational substance of choice for the vast majority of the public.
Influenced by the government’s anti-marijuana propaganda, a large segment of our population is comfortable with a system that bans the use of marijuana but allows – and even celebrates – the use of alcohol, despite the fact that alcohol is objectively far more harmful.
Let’s consider just a few facts about the two substances. For starters, alcohol is far more toxic than marijuana. Just ten times the effective dose of alcohol can be fatal. Yet there has never been a recorded marijuana overdose death in history. The highly toxic nature of alcohol is also what leads to the all-too-frequent occurrences of nausea and vomiting from over-indulgence.
Over the long-term, alcohol consumption is also far more likely to lead to the death of the user. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, between 33,000 and 35,000 Americans die annually from the effects of alcohol. The comparable number for marijuana? Zero. The supposed cancer-causing properties of marijuana? Non-existent.
Perhaps most disturbingly, as almost anyone who has been exposed to the two substances could tell you, alcohol is far more likely to produce dangerous and socially destructive behavior. It is cited as a contributing factor in 25-30 percent of violent crimes in this country and in about 100,000 sexual assaults on college campuses annually. These kinds of negative associations simply don’t exist with marijuana.
As mentioned at the beginning, facts like this were quite familiar to Professor Nutt. Even after his firing, he endeavored to spread the truth about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol and urged parents to be especially wary of the one that posed the greatest potential for damage.