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Monday, January 30, 2023

Follow the science: do not codify fate

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If you have a Real Science sign on your lawn and support the legalization of recreational marijuana, you should do some reading. The evidence categorically does not favor rationing.

A good place to start is “Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” (2021) by Kevin Thabet of Yale University School of Medicine, who is a drug policy advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Includes 355 margins for medical and social scientific research. Here are some vital points:

• Frequent use of high potency marijuana disrupts brain development in adolescents and young adults (brains develop until at least 25 years of age). Pot impairs academic performance, and can lower intelligence.

• Marijuana is linked to psychosis – paranoia, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Admissions to psychiatric hospitals increase sharply after legalization.

• Contrary to what we have been told, marijuana is addictive. Compulsive use can cause all kinds of illnesses, including emesis (chronic vomiting), depression, and suicide.

• Fatal car accidents in which the driver tested positive for THC (the psychoactive component of potency) increased sharply after legalization.

The primary risk is potency. Today’s marijuana is not the Woodstock weed of years past (1% to 3% THC). Genetically engineering has resulted in plant potencies above 17%, and concentrates (in foods, vapors, and other products) can approach 99%.

The idea that bureaucratic regulation will reduce efficiency is laughable. Illegal dealers thrive in states that have set out to legalize recreational pot. They sell dispensaries for less because they don’t pay taxes, and they attract buyers precisely because their pot is stronger than the regulated pot.

The flag arc is clear. Sabet says 20,000 peer-reviewed studies show pot-related physical, mental, or developmental impairment. So why has legalization enjoyed such success since the first states legalized pot entertainment in 2012?

The answer is massive promotional efforts funded by billionaires and big corporations. In 2020, when five states legalized, proponents outperformed their opponents by $19.8 million to $1.3 million. These enormous monetary differences overwhelm science.

Billionaire promoters are from all political backgrounds. They include anarchist George Soros, Trumpist Peter Thiel, and the late insurance tycoon Peter Lewis. Soros alone appears to have spent $200 million to legalize it.

Meanwhile, Big Tobacco has repositioned itself to sell marijuana. The makers of Marlboro and Winston cigarettes are major promoters of pot. Sabet mentions several other giant corporations that have poured waterfalls of cash.

We all know how these forces have created messaging and marketing to legitimize. They renamed the coarse cannabis “hashish” to make it sound refined. They declare that everyone does – that rationing is inevitable and resistance is pointless. They broadcast pictures of cheerful young people buying and selling food in dispensaries and bars.

This abject failure to protect the consumer is much like the cigarette fiasco of the 1950s. Also at that time, the science was clear: Lung cancer was killing thousands of people, and cigarette smoke was the culprit. But Big Tobacco disputed the evidence, and massive advertising drowned out science and naturalized cigarettes.

Thabet says normalization is pivotal. Placing the Crucible in bars and storefronts, promoted through high-tech advertising, sends the message that it is safe. Young people’s perception of risk drops dramatically in countries with a legal pot. The law should warn that pot is a health hazard and is not a form of entertainment.

Thabet argues that we should decriminalize and expunge past convictions for personal use, but ban the cultivation and sale of marijuana. This gives us a fighting chance of keeping the malignant genie in the bottle while scientific studies progress and educational efforts continue.

Constant, by the way, defies stereotypes. He is an ethnic and religious minority (Iranian-Yemeni; Baha’i). He is a huge fan of Barack Obama. His instincts are clearly those of a Democrat, and he is baffled when the Democrats march steadily toward legalization.

The Democrats pride themselves on being the party of science, consumer protection, and the scourge of tobacco. The commercialization of marijuana is completely detrimental to these values.

We need some brave Democrats in the Minnesota legislature to break away from Soros, Thiel, Big Tobacco, Jesse Ventura, and the rest of the Prudingnagian parade leading us toward legalization. decriminalization. wipe. But don’t market and normalize marijuana. Science is fighting for this approach.

John Hagen is a lawyer and writer from Minneapolis.

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