Debunking a Plethora of Pot Prohibition Falsehoods in the Coeur d’Alene Press

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.

A little late to stop those footholds on the border.

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.

It’s all a part of a diabolical strategy we call “telling the truth.”

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.

I can find you a room full of recovering alcoholics in a church basement in any town in America who would strongly disagree with the author.

FALSE According to American Addiction Centers, their top five most addictive drugs, in order, are cocaine, heroin, alcohol, nicotine, methamphetamine.

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.

You can ride the roller coaster, the race the dirt bikes, and bungee jump off the bridge, but we absolutely cannot let you read a book—it’s too dangerous!

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.)

MISLEAD At this time in history, there is promising research showing that CBD may be an effective support drug against COVID–19.

Marijuana use impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information.

TRUE When you’re high. When you’re not high, your short term memory is just fine.

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.

As opposed to the real euphoria of making back home from your interstate road trip to buy legal marijuana.

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.

We think these kids turned out OK despite what must have been heavy marijuana use in their parents’ lives.

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.

Carl Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the American space program since its inception. He was a consultant and adviser to NASA since the 1950’s, briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon, and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperatures of Venus (answer: massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (answer: windblown dust), and the reddish haze of Titan (answer: complex organic molecules).

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.

That’s why we always double-tap our joints.

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.

FALSE As noted earlier, pulmonologists have found no link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer. They’ve even found a suggestion that marijuana use may reduce the risk of lung cancer.

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.

No, really, someone tried to claim legalization in Colorado cost the state over a billion dollars a year.

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.

Wouldn’t you think that if marijuana legalization resulted in the horrible outcomes the author predicts that at least one of these states would be repealing these laws?

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.

It’s not as if legalization invents cars and weed. If it were a problem, we’d know by now.

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?

Canadian cannabis activism legend Dana Larsen presents the definitive response to the argument “this ain’t your father’s Woodstock weed.” It’s a thread worth reading.

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.

Actually, one state’s legislature tried in 2011 (Montana), but the governor vetoed it. Since then, voters there have approved greater expansion of medical marijuana and passed recreational legalization.

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.

Might as well ask the Department of Transportation to approve medical marijuana.

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.

Why should any patient have to wait for the government to approve a non-toxic herb?

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.

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  1. Pingback: Coeur d’Alene Press: POT: And now, some facts – Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis

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