Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 1997
Source:	Daily Times - Salisbury (MD)
Author: Robert R. Ryan


A long time ago, a commission was formed by former President Nixon. The
task he gave to his commission was to study marijuana and provide some
solid information concerning the drug that was sweeping the country. The
commission he established was a blue ribbon commission containing doctors,
lawyers, legislators and chaired by a conservative republican governor. Two
years later the commission presented its report; Marijuana: A Signal of
Misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the report did not contain the
information he wanted to hear and so he refused to accept the report and
denounced his own commission.

It is too bad the president never took the time to read the report. The
report contains a lot of good solid marijuana information that is relevant
today. One very interesting section was the myths surrounding marijuana.
The report debunked several myths such as brain damage, gene damage,
addiction and more.

Today a new myth is being promoted. The new myth is that Marijuana is now
more potent; therefore it is a more dangerous drug than before. This new
fact is being aimed at parents like me, who grew up in the 60 and 70 s. I
suppose we are to feel remorse or guilt for our previous actions and
support the government current efforts to continue marijuana prohibition.

Well, this new myth has several problems. It is a misrepresentation of the
facts. The marijuana that was tested in the late 60 s and early 70 s was
taken primarily from a small number of samples of Mexican kilobricks.
Marijuana consumers of the time will remember that Mexican marijuana was
the cheap stuff. The better marijuana was known to come from Panama,
Columbia, or Hawaii. Some of the tobacco companies even trademarked some of
the common underground terms (i.e. Panama Red) for their secondary tobacco

A better data set to evaluate Marijuana s potency comes from the 1980 s to
the present. Starting in 1983 where the numbers of seizures exceeded 1000,
the average THC content was 3.2%. In the 90 s the potency was around 3.4%
and the number of seizure tested was over 3000. The 60 s and 70 s data had
a very small sample size of approximately 100 or less. There are some
individual samples that have much higher THC percentage, but then again so
did some of the late 60 s data.

The above data was obtained from the government s Potency Monitoring Report
prepared by the University of Mississippi. This institute is the only one
allowed to cultivate marijuana.

The federal testing lab s technology of handling marijuana has improved
over the last 20-30 years. They now have a great deal of experience in
preserving samples for accurate testing. Please note, a hundred years ago,
when tincture of marijuana was used by the medical community it was known
that it had an uneven potency and degraded easily due to poor storage

The second point of this new myth is therefore it is a more dangerous drug
than before. The logic in this statement is weak. It begs the question, was
it dangerous when it was less potent and how does that now make it more
dangerous? The real question should be; is THC, the intoxicating
ingredient in marijuana, dangerous?

Well, smoking anything is presumably deleterious to your lungs. I can not
imagine ingesting hot particles in to your lungs being good for anybody. I
would suggest the less you do, the better you are in the long run. Perhaps
smoking higher quality marijuana is better than smoking poor quality
marijuana, since you would naturally consume less smoke. This is definitely
something to consider, if we are truly interested in health.

The fundamental question is: do we believe the government s position on
marijuana? The government says marijuana is a drug that has a high
potential for abuse. That is medical/legal speak for it is addictive. I do
not ever remember hearing the term marijuana addict in a serious discussion
or in scientific/medical literature. According to the addiction clinics,
almost all of their marijuana clients come to them due to a court order.

The next statement from the government is that marijuana is a drug that has
no accepted medical use in the United States. That is most ironic, because
the United States government itself supplies several people with pre-rolled
marijuana joints from the same institution I mentioned earlier for various
medical conditions.

The last official statement from the government on marijuana is that it is
so dangerous that it can not be safely used even under medical supervision.
I contacted the hospital and asked how many Marijuana overdoses that they
have had. I was greeted with a laugh, "Come on, no one dies from marijuana."

So do we continue to believe in fairy tales and myths? I suggest we look at
the following facts. Over half a million people are arrested for marijuana
each year, homes are broken into by people who look like Darth Vader
searching for a few plants, mothers are stripped searched in front of their
children, military forces are being used to enforce civil laws, and
innocent civilians are shot in law enforcement accidents or trade disputes
among drug dealers. These are not incidents that happen somewhere else.
They happen right here, right now in places like Milton, Whaleysville and

Robert R. Ryan