Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


When first experimenting in the 1970s, I immediately began reading 
everything I could on the subject of marijuana. And right from the 
beginning, what I was finding, especially the material coming from 
the newly minted Drug Enforcement Agency, was not in sync with what I 
was experiencing with the product.

My favorite from that period is the old saw about marijuana robbing 
you of incentive. While it might have been a familiar stereotype back 
in the "be sure to hide the roaches" days, it didn't correspond to 
anything that was happening to me. If anything, I was toking up and 
getting really motivated. Once you got past the "I got stoned, and I 
missed it" cliches and Cheech and Chong routines, cannabis was no 
hindrance to motivation, and I found it laughable - still do - that 
it was even part of the conversation. If a person wasn't naturally 
motivated, pot might not work positively, but it wasn't the drug's 
fault. As an artist told Sanjay Gupta on one of his "Weed" specials, 
"It's my favorite way to work."

So I have been suspect of anything that has been written or 
disseminated officially about cannabis. All scientific research on 
its medical possibilities was halted decades ago in the United States 
(it has continued in other countries), and the application process 
was made so onerous that none could even be attempted here. And if 
there's one thing I've learned writing this column for a couple of 
years it's that the old bullshit I smelled back then still often 
permeates the discourse about marijuana legalization today.

Read the headlines. Marijuana can give you cancer. It causes 
schizophrenia. It damages your heart and arteries. It's a "gateway" 
to harder drugs and as addictive as heroin. It's stronger and more 
dangerous than it used to be. It impairs cognitive functionality and 
can make you quit school or your job. It even lowers your IQ, for 
goodness' sake.

The new scare tactics include that legalization will increase the 
availability of cannabis and lead to a "large and rapid" epidemic of 
marijuana users, start a major crime wave and put thousands of stoned 
zombies loose on our highways. So why shouldn't there be a suspicion 
in any American that with all that "evidence," some of it must be true?

Thankfully, there are others more wise than me who are helping 
separate fact from fiction. Organizations like the Drug Policy 
Alliance and NORML have websites filled with up-to-date information 
about marijuana and its myths, and there are dozens of other 
publications already acting as watchdogs coming online all the time.

Just this month, while the major news media have been slobbering over 
Donald Trump, it slipped by that the National Cancer Institute, which 
is part of the Department of Health, admitted that cannabinoids can 
be used to inhibit cancer cells without harming healthy ones (a major 
side effect of chemotherapy and radiation).

Yes, you read that correctly, and it's worth repeating. From the 
cancer institute's own website: "Cannabinoids may be useful in 
treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Other 
possible effects of cannabinoids include a) anti-inflammatory 
activity, b) blocking cell growth, c) preventing the growth of blood 
vessels that supply tumors, d) antiviral activity and e) relieving 
muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis."

It also advises that "cannabinoids are useful in treating cancer and 
its side effects by smoking, eating it in a baked product, drinking 
herbal teas, or even spraying it under the tongue." Nowhere does this 
government website say that cannabis causes cancer.

The disturbing part is that the Department of Health has disavowed 
this for years, and that it has persisted in its denial and kept 
marijuana on Schedule 1 even as its leaders have learned about the 
research over time. Bills are circulating in both the U.S. House and 
the Senate to change it to Schedule 2 so research can be resumed.

Finally, I can't help but find it amusing that the ingredient in 
marijuana that seems to inhibit cancer growth in cells is THC, the 
very same cannabinoid that produces the "high" that anti-pot 
advocates are willing to spend billions of dollars to deny to the rest of us.

Perhaps large pharmaceutical companies, which profit from 
chemotherapy and radiation therapies and narcotic drugs that get 
people high, are already seeking to separate the buzz from the THC. 
We wouldn't want people who are healing to enjoy themselves, would we?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom