Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis - Paul Armentano
Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know
The government and mainstream media like to push studies touting the purported dangers of marijuana, while ignoring scientific evidence that demonstrates the opposite.
While studies touting the purported dangers of cannabis are frequently pushed by the federal government and, therefore, all but assured mainstream media coverage, scientific conclusions rebutting pot propaganda or demonstrating potential positive aspects of the herb often tend to go unnoticed. Here are five recent examples of scientific findings about pot that the mainstream media (and the Feds) don’t want you to know about.
1. Cannabis use is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with psychotic disorders
In the years immediately prior to the passage of the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, exploitation journalists routinely, yet unfoundedly, claimed that cannabis use triggered psychotic and violent behavior. For example, a news story from the July 6, 1927 edition of the New York Times pronounced, “A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life.” While virtually every American readily dismisses such absurd claims today, nonetheless, decades later many of these same sensationalistic contentions continue to make their way into the mainstream press. A case in point: within hours after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, ABC News Philadelphia reported that shooter James Holmes’ rampage was likely brought on by smoking marijuana. Similarly, weeks earlier, various media outlets speculated that cannabis may have motivated the unfathomable actions of Rudy Eugene, the so-called “Miami Cannibal,” after toxicology reports found trace levels of marijuana byproducts in his system.
Conversely, mainstream media outlets often turn a blind eye to scientific studies refuting the notion that pot causes psychosis or in any way exacerbates mental illness, such as a 2009 Keele University Medical School study which found that increased levels of cannabis use by the general public is not associated with proportionally rising incidences of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. This was the case, again, in May when an international team of investigators from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Inje University in South Korea determined that the use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.
Writing in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, investigators assessed the impact of a lifetime history of substance use on mortality in 762 subjects with schizophrenia or related disorders. Researchers “observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis-users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and antipsychotic treatments." They speculated that this association between marijuana use and decreased mortality risk may be because "cannabis users may (be) higher functioning" and because "cannabis itself may have some health benefits."
"To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychotic disorders),” the study’s authors concluded. “This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk ... in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies.”
A ‘novel’ and ‘interesting’ finding indeed; too bad no one in the corporate media cared enough to report it.
2. The enactment of statewide medical marijuana laws is associated with fewer incidences of suicides
Can cannabis use quell thoughts of suicide? Not a chance, claim the mainstream media and the Drug Czar. But a little-noticed discussion paper published this past February by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany provides dramatic evidence to the contrary.
Researchers at Montana State University, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University assessed rates of suicide in the years before and after the passage of statewide medical marijuana laws. Authors found, “The total suicide rate falls smoothly during the pre-legalization period in both MML (medical marijuana law) and non-MML states. However, beginning in year zero, the trends diverge: the suicide rate in MML states continues to fall, while the suicide rate in states that never legalized medical marijuana begins to climb gradually.”
They reported that this downward trend in suicides in states post med-pot legalization was especially pronounced in males. “Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males,” they determined.
Authors theorized that the limited legalization of cannabis may “lead to an improvement in the psychological well-being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides.” They further speculated, “The strong association between alcohol consumption and suicide-related outcomes found by previous researchers raises the possibility that medical marijuana laws reduce the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption.”
They concluded: “Policymakers weighing the pros and cons of legalization should consider the possibility that medical marijuana laws may lead to fewer suicides among young adult males.”
Predictably, no federal policymakers – many of whom recently voted in support of the Justice Department’s efforts to aggressively undermine existing state medicinal marijuana laws – have yet to comment on the study’s findings.
3. The effects of cannabis smoke on the lungs are far less problematic than those associated with tobacco
Inhaling any type of smoke is never particularly advisable. That said, when it comes to the purported effects of pot smoke on health, the corporate press can’t help but become hysterical. Such was the case not long when Reuters declared, ‘Cannabis is a bigger cancer risk than cigarettes.’ In a story carried internationally in hundreds of mainstream news outlets, the news wire pronounced, “Smoking a joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk,“ before concluding that “an ‘epidemic’ of lung cancers linked to cannabis” was on the horizon.
This past January, investigators writing in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that exposure to moderate levels of cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.
Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20-year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities. The study’s researchers "confirmed the expected reductions in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) and FVC (forced vital capacity)" in tobacco smokers. The effect of cannabis smoke on the lungs, however, was a very different story. Investigators found: "Marijuana use was associated with higher FEV1 and FVC at the low levels of exposure typical for most marijuana users. With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function."
The UCSF researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana ... may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”
The study's results were consistent with previous, yet equally underreported scientific findings determining no demonstrable decrease in pulmonary function associated with moderate cannabis smoke exposure. Notably, a 2007 literature review by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reported that pot smoking is not associated with airflow obstruction (emphysema), as measured by airway hyperreactivity, forced expiratory volume, or other measures.
And what about Reuters’ similarly specious claim of a coming cannabis-induced cancer epidemic? Bullshit, says the results of the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking, which concluded that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime.
4. Cannabis use is associated with only marginal increases in traffic accident risk
“Cannabis drivers ‘twice as likely to cause car crash.’” So declared a BBC News headline in February, following the publication of a meta-analysis of nine studies assessing drug use in drivers involved in auto accidents. But a more thorough systematic review and meta-analysis of additional traffic injury studies published in July in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention reached a different conclusion.
An investigator from Aalborg University and the Institute of Transport Economics in Oslo assessed the risk of road accident associated with drivers’ use of licit and illicit drugs, including amphetamines, analgesics, anti-asthmatics, anti-depressives, anti-histamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, opiates, penicillin and zopiclone (a sleeping pill). His study reviewed data from 66 separate studies evaluating the use of illicit or prescribed drugs on accident risk.
After the author adjusted for publication bias (editors’ tendency not to publish studies that fail to show significant risks), the study found that cannabis was associated with minor, but not significantly increased odds of traffic injury (1.06) or fatal accident (1.25).
By comparison, opiates (1.44), benzodiazepine tranquillizers (2.30), anti-depressants (1.32), cocaine (2.96), amphetamines (4.46), and the sleeping aid zopiclone (2.60) were all associated with a greater risk of fatal accident than cannabis. Anti-histamines (1.12) and penicillin (1.12) were associated with comparable odds to cannabis.
The study concluded: “By and large, the increase in the risk of accident involvement associated with the use of drugs must be regarded as modest. … Compared to the huge increase in accident risk associated with alcohol, as well as the high accident rate among young drivers, the increases in risk associated with the use of drugs are surprisingly small.”
Although the previous review, which appeared in the British Medical Journal, garnered worldwide, screaming headlines, to date no mainstream media markets have reported on the more recent, contradictory findings published in AAP.
5. The schedule I classification of cannabis is a lie; the science says so
Congress’ present classification of cannabis and its organic constituents as Schedule I substances under federal law, which defines said substances as lacking any therapeutic value and possessing health risks on par with those of heroin, is no longer a subject of legitimate debate. It is scientifically inaccurate and untenable. Those were the conclusions drawn from a multi-million dollar series of FDA-approved, gold-standard clinical trials, conducted over a 12-year period at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which reported, “[S]moked and vaporized marijuana, as well as other botanical extracts indicate the likelihood that the cannabinoids can be useful in the management of neuropathic pain, spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, and possibly other indications.”
Summarizing this body of research in May in the Open Neurology Journal, the program's director, Dr. Igor Grant of UC San Diego concluded: "Based on evidence currently available, the (federal) Schedule I classification (of cannabis) is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking."
In particular, the CMCR’s findings rebuffed the Obama administration’s recent rejection of an administrative petition filed by AAMC, NORML and others that sought federal hearings regarding the present classification of cannabis. In its rejection, the administration alleged, “The drug's chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.” None of the Obama administration’s justifications hold any merit in light of the CMCR’s scientific findings.
Nevertheless, the corporate media have by and large responded to the CMCR data, and its obvious implications on federal marijuana policy, with little more than a collective yawn. By now, why would we expect much else?
Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).
The Bottom of the Mind: Depression by Kay Lee
I've agreed to lay my pain to paper only because my miracle medicine is still illegal.
Before 1992, twelve doctors proved in a court of law that Cannabis was vital to their patient's medical care. The people representing NIDA and Health and Human Services still provide the seven living patients with an ongoing monthly supply through their pharmacy. The rest of us go to prison.
It's important that you understand marijuana reform is not 'cheech and chong,' but a dead serious effort to tell the truth: Marijuana can be used as medicine to drastically raise a sick person's quality of life. The plant does not take lives, and in some cases it can actually save a life: I know... because it saved mine.
Now, due to unfair, immoral, and possibly illegal prohibition laws, I can go to prison any day for nothing more than using a God-given plant that heals me.
Because my medicine, so vital to my health, is illegal, I have learned as much about the drug war and the inside of prison as is possible, considering I have never lived in one. I have made it my business to know because I could be arrested at any time for what I do: I must repeatedly ignore a bad law in order to stay alive and useful.
If I go to prison, I will exist in a cold concrete cell and my body will deteriorate. I will be deprived of marijuana, so my mind could sink into the small, cramped world of depression. But, my spirit is strong because of my years of use and I do what I have to do. So, never, ever believe a rumor that Kay Lee killed herself. I am much too strong for that now.
I wasn't strong in my pre-marijuana life. I was very fragile. Depression is like a gray thread woven throughout my family, so I had a high chance of living with it. My mother suffered from it, and when I say suffer, I want you to understand that mental and physical pain are the same: They both hurt.
I'd been kind of a loner, inside myself all my childhood years. I grew from a withdrawn child, one my mom labeled "moody," into a broken adult. By the time I turned twenty I was having rages, followed by lots of tears, followed by periods of silence, where I could not speak, could not eat, could not respond. I knew I was flawed, but had no understanding of what was happening.
By the time I sought help several years later, I weighed 75 pounds. Suicide had begun to dominate my thoughts. It seemed the only way to stop the horrible sadness. The early attempts were weak, using generic pills that made me vomit but did nothing to ease the pain.
My first real breakdown sent me on a seven year journey into hell. When I couldn't stop crying for several days straight, I landed in a psychologist's office and was given elavil, then switched to melaril. We knew it wasn't working when I failed at my next attempt. I took pills and laid in the tub, and when it didn't work, I dressed soaking wet and ran barefoot aimlessly for nearly an hour on the frozen February streets.
I came down with pneumonia, almost comatose despair, and was graduated to the heavy stuff, Lithium, Librium, all kinds of vicious chemicals. And the sadness grew worse and worse. I could see myself losing control, but I didn't know how to stop it. Neither did the doctors, but I had insurance, and they were willing, even eager, to experiment with expensive new drugs.
For seven years I tried to destroy myself. I hid in a closet and chopped my long hair off to the roots. I threw my beautiful paintings and art supplies into the river. I slept too much or too little, cried too easily... and raged. And I faithfully, obediently took their pills day after hopeless day.
I became repulsed when touched and that really hurt my children. When I began smelling myself and washing numerous times a day, I withdrew further from everyone. When I went to see the shrink, I sat way across the room. When he found out why, I was admitted to the psych ward of an expensive hospital. I stayed for a month and began the perfectly legal 'Haldol drool'. This stuff 'drug' me down so deep, I couldn't even remember to swallow.
For seven years I let them try whatever they wanted. Every time they took me off another medicine to get ready for the next, I'd have withdrawal. Each drug has its own hell, and some would set my arms and legs to twitching; some made me vomit. Haldol, my nomination for devil drug, did something to my brain. For awhile, I could see the words of a book, but I could not make any sense of them.
For seven years I grew sicker and sicker. As they changed my medicine, all the old leftover medicine had gone into a shoebox in the top of the closet, but it was as if someone else had put it there: I never consciously thought about the pills, even as I stashed them. Then one night, without awareness, I slowly consumed all of them as I bathed the children, put them to bed and meticulously cleaned the house.
Through a series of extraordinary interventions, which included my mother 2000 miles away, her neighbor, my doctor, and ma bell, I did not die, but I came as close to success as I was ever going to get.
I vaguely remember a fireman, who had broken down the door to get into my home, walking me, dragging me like a dead weight up and down the hallway. "Wake up....stay awake," he kept saying, but I retreated to nothingness.
The next memory I have is the blindingly brilliant emergency room, fighting to keep them from sticking the tubes into my nose and mouth. When I heard the ambulance driver say, "Opps... There's lunch," I gave up and sought sleep. I would not be allowed to die this time either.
Three days later, I came back to the world at the sound of my doctor's voice asking the nurse, "How long has she been like this?" My body was sitting up, alive, but my mind had been somewhere far away and quiet. He sat down beside the bed, and asked me simply, "Why?" I could not speak and had no answer I was willing to share because I did not understand either.
He told me that he had saved me this time, but that next time I did this, the state was going to lock me in their very unhealthy mental ward. I numbly told him it didn't matter, because it was the truth. Nothing mattered.
For the few next years, I lived in a fog. I quietly played my mother role, but I was numb from medication, nearly paralyzed by depression, just existing. I did what I had to do, but had lost hope that life would ever be more than bearable.
In 1977, when my 13 year old son drowned, the doctors asked me if I was a danger to myself. I told them that if a big Mack truck hit me, I could at least find out where my son was. So, they put me in the mental ward overnight.
I lay awake in the dark, hearing the moans and commotion of the disturbed people around me and their sounds were a reflection of the way I felt.
I went home and mechanically put together my son's funeral, but the essence of me was not there. I was 39 years old and I felt already dead.
After his cremation, an acquaintance handed me a joint and said, "it might help and it certainly won't hurt". Not only was I desperate, but I instinctively knew the truth. So, I sat out back alone on a stump and lit the marijuana.
I had taken only a couple of puffs and a humbling thing happened: I heard, felt, sensed a voice and it said, "If you can handle this [my son's death], you will be able to handle anything."
...And my closed and shadowed mind opened like the petals of a flower and was flooded with sunshine. I had not realized how dark it was in there until marijuana turned on the light. I felt warm and at peace for the first time in my life. I felt strong and clean and whole and capable of dealing with whatever was before me. The feeling of total peace stayed with me for three days, the humbleness forever, and the strength continues to grow with everything I 'handle'.
I didn't know to call it medicine back then, but I took that shoebox full of perfectly legal and very dangerous drugs that had slowly refilled and buried it deep, deep in the earth near the lake. And I have, never, ever looked back. I thank God and His plant for the healing. He said everything I needed was here and He meant it.
I made plenty of mistakes, but I raised my five remaining children virtually as a single mother, and did hard decent work to support them. I stood strong during one daughter's three month coma, and helped birth six perfect grandchildren. At the age of 50, I managed three years in college, mastering four honors courses.
I did in-the-trenches research and learned about the lies, until I realized that I was supporting harmful policies with my silence. When the last child was no longer dependant on me, I began my own journey for justice. I, shy grandma that I was, stood in public places talking about 'politically unpopular' truths, debunking the myths, challenging authority, and comforting the people whose lives had been or could be altered and destroyed by marijuana laws. I devoted myself to the plant, its creator, and its people. Can you blame me?
I rejoice in living without doctors, without debilitating drugs, without the constant overwhelming depression. My mind is no longer filled with cobwebs and fog. My God, why would anyone want to take this from me?
What could motivate anyone to want to throw me back into that darkness and make me useless to others?
I just don't understand...
If you don't know enough about marijuana to help change the laws,
Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama
Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Florida: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Illinois: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Bill Status of SB1381
Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Marijuana Bill Reaches House
Cannabis Compassion and Care Act
Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Bill Status of SB 627
Massachusetts: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law
New Hampshire: Considering a medical marijuana law.
New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act
Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act
Featured Recipe - Serenity Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes with Bud Butter by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD
Here’s another in my series on winter comfort foods. Actually, it’s great anytime of year. You can substitute many of the ingredients to taste. There have never been any leftovers of this mashed potato dish.
Three to four large Russet potatoes washed, peeled, and cubed
Four large heads of fresh garlic
Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
One tablespoon of basil
One tablespoon of cracked black pepper
One tablespoon of salt (to taste)
1\4 pint heavy cream (sour cream can be substituted)
4-6 ounces Ricotta cheese (cheddar cheese can be substituted or even goat cheese if you are adventurous)
Four tablespoons sweet butter
Four tablespoons bud butter
Roasted Garlic- Cut the top 1\2 inch off the garlic heads (I save these to make garlic oil). Add olive oil to the cut heads and sprinkle with basil. Roast in a 420 oven for 30-50 minutes (watch to make sure they don’t burn). The garlic is done when tender to a fork.
Potatoes- Boil the cubes potatoes in salted water until fork tender, then drain and mash lightly.
The mix- Add butters to potatoes and continue to mash. Add pepper, salt, cream, and cheese and mash until smooth. Squeeze the garlic into the mix and whip until smooth.
Extra’s!!!!- Cook 1\2 pound of sliced bacon and crumble into potatoes
Alternate method for stuffing!!!- When you prepare the potatoes, wash but don’t peel. Bake the potatoes instead of boiling at the same time you roast the garlic. Slice the cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the middles into a mixing bowl. Mix and mash the scooped potatoes with the other ingredients. Place the mixture back into the potato halves and top with crumpled cheese and bacon. Place the stuffed potatoes under the broiler and brown the tops. Yum!
Suggested beverage: Pinot Noir, Charles Krug 1995 (Carneros)
This recipe is tried tested and guaranteed to be fat free, cholesterol free, and low calorie. NOT!