DEA Agent's Wacky Warning on Dope-Crazed Rabbits
Legalizing medical marijuana in Utah could lead to absent-minded rabbits and other animals who don’t feel their natural instincts, a special agent for the DEA has warned the state.
In testimony last week before the Utah state senate, and first spotted by the Washington Post, special agent Matt Fairbanks expressed “some severe concerns” about marijuana as a cash crop. “Now I deal in facts. I deal in science,” he said, citing his experience ranging Utah’s mountains as a member of the state’s “marijuana eradication” team to bolster his concerns.
“Deforestation has left marijuana grows with even rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana,” Fairbanks declared, suggesting that hares were yet one more of an unknown number of species to have succumbed to a cannabis addiction.
Leporine marijuana abuse was so severe, Fairbanks said, that “one of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”
“Personally, I have seen entire mountainsides subjected to pesticides, harmful chemicals, deforestation and erosion,” he added. “The ramifications to the flora, the animal life, the contaminated water are still unknown.”
Fairbanks did not say why marijuana cash crops would be any more destructive than the corn and wheat crops that grow in Utah and have similarly destructive consequences, also by way of the pesticides, deforestation and erosion that farmers inflict on the environment. Nor did Fairbanks present science from environmental researchers or biologists, despite his assertion that “I come to represent the actual science. I want the science studied and looked at and specifically gone over.”
The bill would legalize medical marijuana for people with severe conditions but would not go so far as Colorado’s legalization of the drug, and carries provisions that would ban “back-country” grows of the kind that Fairbanks warned against.
Jeremy Roberts, president of the company Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions testified to that point, beginning: “I was kind of shocked to find out the killer rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is actually in the Utah mountains.”
The bill would require medical marijuana be grown indoors, Roberts said, “so the concerns of our mountains being overrun with cannabis are a little bit of a hyperbole."
“In terms of the environmental impact we’re talking about water and electricity,” he said. Although pesticides and herbicides are “an absolutely valid concern”, he added, the bill would require a laboratory to test for potency, inorganics, pesticides, fungus and mold – and would make Utah only the second state to necessitate lab tests. Roberts argued that such testing and licensing would end the mystery of what chemicals are in the marijuana currently bought from illicit vendors.
“Evidently we hear that it makes rabbits go crazy if it’s grown in Utah, in the mountains, so one of the things we want to do is make sure we don’t have any crazed rabbits any more in Utah, and actually bring that into control into the Department of Professional Licensing.”
Utah’s senate also heard passionate, emotional pleas in support of the bill. Forrest Shaw, a 42-year-old man, spoke about suffering from terminal prostate cancer and his experience with marijuana. “I wanted to be able to relieve some of my suffering,” he said, “I’m horrified of being taken away from my family and having my home taken away from me because I just want to seek out a little bit of peace.”
Another man, Aaron Campbell, spoke of how three of his children have been diagnosed with a terminal neurological disorder, two of whom suffered failed bone marrow transplants. “It’s the stupidest thing ever for lawmakers to tell me what me and my doctors cannot do,” he said, before adding, his voice breaking, “I have full intentions of bringing cannabis into Utah and treating my daughter.”
“We are Utah, we can do this, we are not Colorado,” he said.
State senator Mark Mardsen also said that seeing children denied pain relief last year had helped move him to sponsor the bill. “I was frankly angry that public policy would have kept these kids for years from receiving something that was tremendous benefit to them and may well have saved lives.”
Those who testified in opposition to the bill largely called for patience, saying the state should not “short-circuit the FDA process” and should wait for more research. Physicians remain divided about the health effects of marijuana, vouching for its analgesic effects but calling for more research into its consequences and potential for abuse, especially among young people.
For most mammals – from squirrels to monkeys to dogs and deer – drugs have the same consequences as they do for humans; for that reason pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies had until recently tested substances on beagles and chimpanzees for decades. Monkeys have shown symptoms of alcohol addictionand heroin withdrawal, and edibles lying around a home can easily intoxicate cats and dogs.
But unlike the fermented fruits and coca leaves that animals might take a shine to in the wild, drugs such as the alcohol and the marijuana products consumed by humans sometimes contain chemicals that uniquely harm them (eg chocolate for dogs) in addition to their usual negative effects. And while rabbits and other wild creatures can suffer the effects of chemical inebriation, they remain unable to communicate with humans even on their sober days, and incapable of expressing even to experienced DEA agents exactly the degree of their high.