Pubdate: Mon, 20 Sep 2004
Source: Abilene Reporter-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Abilene Reporter-News
Author: Paul Campos, Scripps Howard News Service
Note: Paul Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


TORONTO - The University of Toronto has just played host to an important 
conference, titled "The Politics of Obesity," at which scholars from 
various academic disciplines examined the claim that North America is 
facing a health crisis because of increasing weight. The consensus was that 
we are not: a conclusion that will only surprise those who rely on diet 
doctors, rather than on social scientists, for information on the topic.

America loves to export health hysteria, as illustrated by the comments of 
U.S. drug czar John Walters, who is upset by signs that Canada is 
implementing a rational policy in regard to marijuana. "The kind of 
marijuana coming from Canada is the crack of marijuana," Walters says. "It 
is dangerous. It is destructive."

Referring to recent Canadian legislation that has decriminalized possession 
of small amounts of marijuana, our drug czar fumed that, "The political 
leadership in Canada has been utterly unable to come to grips with this. 
They're talking about legalization while Rome burns."

Rome is burning, according to Walters, because the marijuana being sold 
today is vastly more potent than that of a generation ago - as much as 30 
times more powerful. "This isn't your parents' marijuana" (i.e., the kind 
smoked 20 years ago by a large proportion of the government officials who 
now prosecute the drug war), Walters warns our ever-vulnerable children.

Even by the abysmally low standards of truthfulness employed by public 
health officials in regard to drugs in general, and marijuana in 
particular, these statements are remarkable for their dishonesty. The claim 
that today's marijuana is 30 times more powerful than the schwag once 
enjoyed by our current leaders is true only in the Clintonian sense that it 
isn't 100 percent false.

This figure was produced by comparing the most powerful marijuana now 
available - which, because it is both extremely rare and extremely 
expensive, will only be smoked by a tiny handful of marijuana users - with 
the lowest-grade pot seized by police agencies 30 years ago: weed far 
weaker than that smoked by the average bell-bottomed Led Zeppelin fan.

The truth is that the average THC content of marijuana today (THC 
determines the drug's strength) is about 4.5 percent, as compared to about 
3 percent a generation ago. Thus the claim that today's marijuana is 30 
times stronger than the product Bill Clinton claims not to have inhaled 
exaggerates the situation by a considerably large percentage.

Even this understates the dishonesty of our drug warriors. There is no 
evidence that stronger marijuana leads those who use the drug to ingest 
more THC or that it increases the very modest health risks associated with 
its use (indeed, the biggest health risk - smoke inhalation - is lessened 
by stronger marijuana, because it requires less smoking to produce the same 

Last week, the academic year got off to an all-too-familiar start when 
Samantha Spady, a 19-year-old Colorado State sophomore, was found dead in 
the lounge of a campus fraternity. She apparently drank herself to death - 
something that almost anyone can do with a bottle of vodka and a fate that 
will befall many other college students before the year is done.

By contrast, an "overdose" of the "crack of marijuana" - the extremely rare 
and expensive stuff smoked by almost no one - will cause those who smoke it 
to fall asleep, and wake up a few hours later with a headache.

Tens of thousands of Americans are in prison today because we treat a drug 
that has never killed anyone as if it were far more dangerous than a drug 
that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Truth: the 
anti-drug-war drug.

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