Friday, June 19, 2009

And the drug hysteria continues: introducing SUPER POT!

While pro-medical marijuana advocates and activists are busy trying to legalize medicinal pot here and there, the latest trend that's causing such an uproar – or rather, a mouse-sized squeak – is an allegedly hyper-potent weed that's circulating around. It's even bad enough that one particular legislator is trying to mandate a sentence of 25 years for selling it – even if it's the dealer's very first offense.

(WGN-AM)- U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk will call for legislation Monday that would toughen drug trafficking laws regarding a highly-potent form of marijuana, with penalties of up to 25 years in prison for a 1st-time offense.

The law would target offenders who sell or distribute marijuana that has a THC content exceeding 15 percent, which is between 5 and 10 percent higher than average marijuana, according to Kirk's office. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main active ingredient in marijuana.

Don't get me wrong; in no way do I condone the general dealing of drugs. There's a reason drug dealers have such a bad stigma, but we're not talking cocaine or heroin or crystal meth here. We're talking weed. Weed is about as dangerous to you or others as any particularly bad song is, or as sitting in a chair in your living room. It's simply not gonna hurt you, and you're even less likely to hurt others. You'd be lucky to reach 10 miles per hour driving a car. Not exactly dangerous.

Slamming someone who sold pot in jail for twenty-five years ... That's just insane. Crack or meth or LCD, perhaps (though still way out-of-proportion to me) – but pot?

Not to mention that – of course – this whole affair is tired bullshit, as shown here on AlterNet:

Recently, the media have repeated dire warnings about alleged "super pot." In an attempt to frighten parents who may have dabbled in their day, our government claims that new strains of potent marijuana are far more dangerous than the innocuous grass of the 1960s or '70s.

It is true that pot is a bit less safe and harmless than it was a few decades ago, but that's not because it's stronger pot; it's the dealers who put all sorts of crap in it to make it more potent. But again, even then, it's really not all that different.

Many media reports repeat these claims uncritically. For example, a July 19 Reuters story warned, "Pot is no longer the gentle weed of the 1960s and may pose a greater threat than cocaine or even heroin."

More dangerous than cocaine or even heroin? Jesus, what are they smoking? What happened to Reuters' supposedly brilliant track record in accuracy?

First, high-potency marijuana has always existed. The average potency has increased slightly, but only because higher-potency marijuana has become a little more common. It is not a new phenomenon.

Second, there is precisely zero evidence that marijuana with a higher level of THC – the component that produces the "high" – is more dangerous. Indeed, a close look at the news accounts shows that claims of greater danger are based on speculation piled on top of conjecture.

To put this in perspective, the average potency of marijuana that has fueled this fire is seven percent THC. This is the marijuana that White House Drug Czar John Walters warns is horribly dangerous because of its super-strength. In contrast, Dutch government standards require medical marijuana sold in pharmacies in the Netherlands to be more than twice that strong. So a country where teens are actually less likely to use cocaine and heroin than in the U.S. wouldn't even use our marijuana to heal their sick. A recent report from the European Union noted that "a slight upward trend" in potency means little because the potency of U.S. marijuana "was very low by European standards."

Well, how's that for a larf? The Europeans are once again laughing at us: they wouldn't even use our supposedly hyper pot to treat their sick!

Not to mention that, even if the new "super pot" with it's THC percentile of 15–20%, is a sharp increase from "average" marijuana's 5–10% THC levels, it's still a laughable idea that it could possibly ever lead to serious problems for anyone. Perhaps the air will start smelling bad enough to make us choke ourselves to death, which is about the only way anyone would ever get hurt from pot, but other than that ...

The article then delivers a truly killer blow with this next bit:

Third, unlike the speculative claims of increased danger, peer-reviewed scientific data show that higher potency marijuana reduces health risks. Just as with alcohol, people who smoke marijuana generally consume until they reach the desired effect, then stop. So people who smoke more potent marijuana smoke less – the same way most drinkers consume a smaller amount of vodka than they would of beer – and incur less chance of smoking-related damage to their lungs.

Official warnings about "super pot" often accompany claims that huge numbers of teens are in treatment for marijuana "dependence and abuse," and that those numbers have risen dramatically. Such claims are utterly misleading. According to the U.S. government's own statistics, most teens in marijuana treatment are there because they were arrested, not because of actual evidence of abuse or dependence. Virtually all of the vaunted increase in marijuana treatment admissions stems from these arrests.

So, we arrest kids for smoking marijuana, force them into treatment and then use those treatment admissions as "proof" that marijuana is addictive. Somewhere, George Orwell is smiling.

That last paragraph nearly killed me, it did. Not only is there nowhere near the amount of kids and folks being treated for dependence because they actually have a problem with it as we're being told there is, but in addition to being just about harmless, stronger pot could actually be even less dangerous to your health than regular pot! Think I'm about to die from the overload of irony here.

And then, there's nothing like good ol' numbers and statistics to bring the shine out in reality:

This wave of marijuana treatment has nothing to do with actual dependence. According to the latest government report on drug treatment, called the Treatment Episode Data Set, more than a third of these marijuana "abusers" did not use marijuana at all in the month prior to admission. Another 16.1 percent used it three times or less.

So more than half of marijuana "abusers" used marijuana three times or less in the month prior to entering treatment – and this, we are told, is proof that we must be fearful of highly addictive "super pot"!

Couldn't have put it better myself. Once again: coke and crack and heroin and ecstasy and LSD and meth and all that shit = BAD. Pot = OKAY. (It's not "good", but it's just not "bad", either.) It really is the outsider drug.


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