The Coeur d’Alene Press has published an op-ed from an Athol resident entitled, “Don’t let legalized pot get foothold in Idaho.” It is such a shotgun scattering of every debunked anti-marijuana talking point that listing them all here should provide a good primer for our audience on how to respond to the falsehoods and mischaracterizations our opponents are bound to throw at us.
In every state that has legalized, it started first with legalization of CBD oil, (which Idaho was late in doing); then it moved to legalization of medicinal marijuana, and finally to recreational marijuana. There is a system being used; nothing is ever achieved without methodology and slippery slopes.
FALSE Legalization of (low-THC) CBD oil began with Utah in 2014, so none of the medical or legal states before then could have possibly started with CBD. South Dakota in 2020 leapt straight from prohibition to legalization in one election without going through medical marijuana first.
But to the point: is there a “slippery slope?” Well, if there is a natural progression from CBD to medical marijuana to legalization, it is because once exposed to a form of legalized cannabis, a state’s voters see the sky doesn’t fall, so they’re more receptive to further reform.
Flip it around. If CBD were so terrible, wouldn’t a state then learn its lesson and reject medical marijuana? If medical marijuana were so terrible, wouldn’t a state then learn its lesson and reject legalization? If legalization were so terrible, wouldn’t a state then learn its lesson and repeal it?
Proponents of marijuana love to say that cannabis is safer than alcohol. This has long been the popular refrain, but it is statistically and scientifically untrue. There are two main points to demonstrate the false argument comparing alcohol to pot. Alcohol is NOT as addictive. Studies have proven marijuana far more addictive. There is a degree of control that can be maintained with alcohol, that is not found with marijuana.
According to a study from 2015 published in the journal Scientific Reports that compared relative harms of drugs, “alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin fall into the “high risk” category… the rest of the compounds except THC fall into the “risk” category… and cannabis (low risk).”
Marijuana is Not Harmless, But it is Less Harmful
The author next cites numerous harms from marijuana she cribbed from an article in the Heritage Foundation.
Before we debunk them, let’s remember that marijuana is not harmless. It can cause problems for some people. But even if marijuana were as harmful as alcohol or tobacco, that doesn’t mean we should lock people up over it.
Marijuana impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs’ immune system to fight off infections. (Like we need lower immune systems, at this time in our history.)
Marijuana use impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information.
It increases heart rate by 20% to 100% which increases the risk of heart attack.
MISLEAD So does walking up a flight of stairs.
Cannabis alters moods, resulting in artificial euphoria, calmness, but sometimes turning to anxiety, or paranoia.
OPINION What is “artificial” euphoria? One feels euphoria or one doesn’t. “Artificial” seems to connote a value judgment here.
TRUE Anxiety and paranoia can occasionally happen. A good remedy for this is to sniff peppercorns (seriously) if you feel that onset of anxiety. Using strains higher in CBD or supplementing one’s cannabis with CBD can help as well.
Marijuana has toxic properties that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory system damage, brain damage, and stroke.
FALSE “Toxic properties?” The only neonatal condition linked to heavy cannabis use by mothers is slightly lower birth weights, which is hardly a “birth defect.” Cannabis doesn’t cause pain, it is one of the best analgesics for neuropathic pain we know. Long-term cannabis use can lead to cough or bronchitis, but it does not lead to lung cancer. And far from causing brain damage, cannabis is also being found to have many neuroprotective properties.
It causes cognitive degradation – think early onset dementia.
FALSE It most certainly does not—think Dr. Carl Sagan, Ph.D., astrophysicist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, host of the original Cosmos TV show, and composer of the “golden disc” representing humanity’s message to the universe that was attached to the Voyager space probe. He was also a lifelong cannabis smoker.
It has a residual effect on cognitive ability that lasts beyond intoxication because it is stored in organs and fatty tissues for days or even weeks after use. Common sense will tell you that causes greater need and increased side effects.
FALSE The effect on cognitive ability from cannabis comes from THC. That molecule is metabolized in the process of “feeling high.” Once it is metabolized, it becomes THC-COOH, an inactive molecule that does not get you high. That is the molecule that is stored in organs and fatty tissues for days or weeks and shows up on a urine test for a job.
It results in lower education. (Due to that learning thing.)
MISLEAD This misleading stat comes from looking at the educational attainment of non-cannabis users and comparing them to cannabis users, but ignoring how getting caught with cannabis can get you expelled from school and cost you your financial aid.
Advocates for marijuana, also love to say that marijuana smoke is not as harmful as cigarettes, when the exact opposite is true. Smoking three marijuana joints is as bad for your lungs as one pack of cigarettes.
Marijuana smoke contains higher levels of toxic substances, like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, than tobacco smoke.
MISLEAD Yes, but marijuana smoke also contains a bevy of chemicals called cannabinoids that tobacco smoke lacks. Chemistry matters. Hydrogen is an flammable gas. Oxygen is something you breathe. But combine two hydrogens and an oxygen and you get water, something you can’t burn or breathe.
The Zombie Lie of $4.50 Marijuana Costs
Proponents love to point to the revenue that will come into the state upon legalization. But that simply isn’t true. As examples: When Colorado legalized, taxpayers found that for every dollar taxed, approximately $4.50 was spent to deal with the problems that came with legalization. Healthcare and education were the highest costs.
FALSE We’ve already written an entire article on this falsehood. It pretends that there were no costs from marijuana smoking before Colorado legalized, then attributes fantastical costs—like calculating the lifetime income lost by pot smokers as an annual cost or calculating the cost of a hospital admission from a pot smoker’s skiing accident—to marijuana legalization.
And Washington State has noted that the black market actually INCREASED with legalization, creating all kinds of additional problems, — financial and social.
FALSE How would that even be possible? Before legalization, there existed a black market that supplied 100% of all Washington’s marijuana purchases. After legalization, the legal market took a substantial portion of those marijuana sales—call it x%.
So, in order for the original black market to get bigger, it would have to increase by the x% it lost to the legal market, and we know how much sales that market produces—about $7.7 billion since June 2014. And according to a study from the University of Washington, “cannabis use both increased and substantially shifted from the illicit market since retail sales began in 2014.”
Fourteen states have legalized recreational marijuana, although it is still illegal at the federal level. This has caused massive problems (and money) for states due to red tape, and for law enforcement.
FALSE Sixteen, with New Mexico, Virginia, and Minnesota legalization imminent to boost it to nineteen. But there have been no “massive problems” that didn’t already exist under prohibition, since the federal government has largely abided by DOJ directives not to interfere with legal marijuana states.
DUI’s in all states have risen.
MISLEAD We assume she’s referring to just the legalization states, not all states. But does she mean DUI charges for all drugs or just marijuana? Many of these prohibitionists rely on statistics showing detected cannabis in fatality drivers, which have increased since legalization, but tell us nothing of whether a driver was impaired at the time. Detecting THC in the blood means you detected someone who smokes pot, period. Finding more pot smokers in car wrecks these days is no more surprising than finding more married gay people in car wrecks these days.
While the pot of 20 years ago had only 2 to 3 % THC potency, the product now has up to 99% potency.
FALSE… and laughably so. We’re supposed to believe that marijuana from 2001—five years into medical legalization in California—was below 3% THC potency? And everything going back from Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre in the 1990s to Cheech & Chong in the 1970s to Allen Ginsberg & Jack Kerouac in the 1950s to Cab Calloway & Louis Armstrong in the 1930s, was even less potent?
Yes, marijuana flower today can top 30% THC potency, cannabis concentrates exceed 70%, and the purest THC distillates can be up to 99% pure. But THC is non-toxic, so increased potency doesn’t lead to fatal overdose, it just leads to using less of the product to achieve the desired effect.
And for the greenies, CO2 emissions have increased dramatically, as has the use of plastic for packaging the product.
TRUE There’s no doubt that massive indoor cannabis warehouses do produce a large carbon footprint. Requirements that cannabis be placed in childproof packaging do increase the need for plastic.
But these problems can be ameliorated. Changing regulations and tax structure to incentivize outdoor sungrown cannabis will help. Fully realizing the potential of industrial hemp to produce carbon-neutral, environmentally-friendly plastics will, too.
The fact that they are starting with legalization of “medicinal marijuana” means nothing. The fraud that is occurring under that guise is overwhelming. It is simply the gateway to full legalization of this dangerous drug and everyone knows it.
FALSE Patients need cannabis as medicine, full stop. Whether one also thinks marijuana should be legalized for all adults is irrelevant—if you believed that, wouldn’t you have to believe it’s OK as medicine? Who in their right mind would say, “I think adults should be able to smoke marijuana for fun, but it should be illegal for sick people to use as medicine?”
Medical marijuana is its own issue. If the people of Idaho want to vote for that, it will become law. If someday there is a recreational marijuana initiative, that is also something the people of Idaho can decide. Nothing about passing a medical marijuana law forces Idahoans to then vote for a recreational marijuana law.
In Idaho, our strong belief in freedom and determination to protect it, will be used against us. Proponents of legalization will use this to try to paint a hypocrisy between demanding our freedoms, but restricting this. Some will sucker for that, but we must be careful to not let them distort common sense. We know that there must be laws against things that are dangerous and harmful.
WTF? This state trusts any non-felon adult with the freedom to conceal a handgun they can carry into the state capitol with no license or training whatsoever. We are allowed to buy fireworks that are illegal to shoot off in the state of Idaho and trusted when we sign a piece of paper acknowledging that. Any 21 and older can buy as much alcohol and tobacco as they choose and any one aged 18–20 can still smoke that tobacco.
There is a reason, it is still restricted at the federal level and not approved by the FDA.
MISLEAD Yes, Cannabis is still a Schedule I drug. However, the feds have maintained a hands-off approach to state marijuana reform since 2013, thanks to the Cole Memo. A series of amendments to the federal budget have denied the spending of federal dollars to interfere with medical marijuana states. The MORE Act and the SAFE Banking Act are likely to be passed and signed into law soon, decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing cannabis commerce throughout America.
And the FDA can’t approve cannabis—a plant material—because its job is to approve pharmaceuticals extracted from plants and made synthetically. Trying to approve marijuana through the FDA is like trying to fit a leaf-shaped block in a pill-shaped hole.
It’s telling that our opponents are still clinging desperately to these falsehoods in the face of almost a decade of marijuana legalization and over two decades of medical marijuana. Two-thirds of Americans realize this scaremongering is bunk. Hopefully more than half of Idahoans realize that, too.