5 Things the Corporate Media and Government Don't Want You to Know About Marijuana
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Last September I penned an essay for Alternet entitled Five Things the Corporate Media Don’t Want You to Know About Cannabis. In it I proposed, “[N]ews outlets continue to, at best, underreport the publication of scientific studies that undermine the federal government's longstanding pot propaganda and, at worst, ignore them all together.” Nearly one year later little has changed.
Here are five additional stories the mainstream media doesn't want you to know about cannabis.
1. Long-term marijuana use is associated with lower risks of certain cancers, including head and neck cancer.
The moderate long-term use of marijuana is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancers, according to the results of a population-based case-control study conducted by investigators at Rhode Island's Brown University and published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
Authors of the study reported, "After adjusting for potential confounders (including smoking and alcohol drinking), 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma” compared to subjects who never used pot.
Researchers further reported that subjects who smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol and tobacco (two conclusive high risk factors for head and neck cancers) also experienced a reduced cancer risk compared to non-cannabis users. “[W]e observed that marijuana use modified the interaction between alcohol and cigarette smoking, resulting in a decreased (cancer) risk among moderate smokers and light drinkers, and attenuated risk among the heaviest smokers and drinkers.
"Our study suggests that moderate marijuana use is associated with reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” investigators concluded.
Similarly, a 2006 UCLA study of more than 2,200 subjects reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tract – even among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime. Researchers further noted that among some users of the drug, cannabis smoking appeared to have a cancer preventive effect.
Nevertheless, mainstream U.S. media outlets exhibited little-to-no interest in reporting on the Brown University findings, which failed to even garner a mention locally in the Providence Journal. One month following the study’s publication, international media wire service Reuters did devote some half-hearted coverage, which it published under the overtly skeptical headline “Could smoking pot cut risk of head, neck cancer?”
2. Most Americans acknowledge that pot is safer than booze.
Despite over 70 years of government propaganda alleging that cannabis is far more dangerous than alcohol, the reality is that few Americans believe it. Nor should they.
According to an August 2010 national Rasmussen poll, fewer than one in five Americans believe that consuming pot is more dangerous than drinking alcohol. By contrast, fifty percent of respondents, including the majority of those who said that they drank alcohol, rated the use of marijuana to be less dangerous than booze.
By all objective measures the majority is correct. According to a 2009 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (which, not surprisingly, also went unreported by the mainstream press), health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. It stated, "In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user."
A previous analysis commissioned by The World Health Organization agreed, stating, “On existing patterns of use, cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies." So then why is the federal government still insisting on arresting and criminally prosecuting adults who consume pot in the privacy of their own homes? And why hasn’t the corporate media ever demanded that our elected leaders answer this question?
3. The enforcement of marijuana laws is racially discriminatory.