Archive for the ‘Reefer Madness’ category
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on ‘Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws’August 26th, 2013
As I told staff this morning in an email, last night and this morning have been surreal being inundated with media requests for interviews on two totally disparate topics related to cannabis:
-Chicago moving forward with cannabis decriminalization for possession
-Media headlines (and some experts’ claims) that cannabis might have caused a guy to kill and chew his victim’s face off
Talk about one topic being ‘good’, the other one being ‘bad’ (if not totally bizarre)!
It is one thing for the media to report on the toxicological results from the autopsy of the guy who did this strange and gruesome maiming in Miami last month, but to read a professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami pop off to the Associated Press that maybe it was the strain of cannabis that might have caused this guy to become a cannibal strikes me that this professor is totally incorrect beyond belief and that her comments as an ‘expert’ are going to be repeated in any future news stories, radio and TV shows on the matter of cannabis’ safety.
Time.com’s Maia Szalavitz has an excellent look at past media-hyped ‘drug scares’ here.
A NORML supporter contacted the organization this afternoon with his email to the U of Miami professor Patricia Junquera M.D. quoted in the AP piece, and my reply to both of them can be found below.
Hello Dr. Junquera and Mr. X,
Thanks for your email.
Self evidently cannabis does not cause people to become violent in general, and it specifically does not cause people to mutilate others.
Humans have been using cannabis en mass for at least 3,000 years. Federal data from the US indicate that 40 million consumers use cannabis annually; 7-8 million are regular consumers. Cannabis is consumed billions of times a day across the earth safely with little-to-no credible or verifiable ill effect on the individual, let alone to induce savage violence towards others.
To say such, or to insinuate in a media interview that a strain of whole-smoked cannabis (there are over 500 strains of cannabis commercially available in the US) could possibly cause violence in humans is not only unsupported in the medical, sociological and demographic literature, such ignorance surely smacks of a new and even more perverse version of ‘Reefer Madness’.
As DEA chief judge Francis Young ruled in NORML v DEA:
“In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.
Like most all drug compounds that are psychotropic, cannabis can be abused. But what cannabis has not shown historically throughout the entire scope of humanity is the capacity to encourage a human being violent towards anything more than a bag of Doritos or a container of ice cream that will not readily open.
Of all the hundreds of thousands of ‘drug’ compounds humans interface with annually—botanical and pharmaceutical—cannabis maybe one of the safest bar none.
-Allen St. Pierre
Dear Dr. Junquera:
I think that the reason the scholarly world often gets criticized is because of the fantastic and unfortunate conclusions its members often draw. There are a number of fields where no matter how well versed a person is that without practical, first hand knowledge it still only amounts to mere opinion.
I find it so hard to believe that as a representative of your profession that you would have the face to actually try to explain how marijuana may have affected Rudy Eugene in causing him to act so unbelievably violent.
I often try to stay away from making assumptions. However, I can say, without any doubt whatsoever, that it is obvious that you have never used marijuana. You have no idea how ignorant you sound to the rest of the world that have experienced the effects of sativa and indica.
You also have no idea what kind of impact your ignorant statements can make! You are only adding fuel to the fire in a country where so many have already made up their minds that marijuana is dangerous. This type of mentality is what continues to criminalize marijuana and perpetuates this comical idea of a lawless land if it were to become legal. Thousands are currently detained because they were apprehended using, buying, or selling marijuana and this is causing a terrible burden upon our penal system and economy. A drug that is actually less dangerous than alcohol! Yes, this is true, it is less dangerous than alcohol and if you ever tried marijuana you would realize this.
I cringed when I read this article (referenced below). I know that so many people will take your assessment and conclude that marijuana can potentially turn you into a savage and even worse yet, maybe even a cannibal!
You have a responsibility to choose your words wisely, especially when speaking to the media, because many may think that because of your various degrees and position that you actually know what you are talking about!
Statements, such as the ones you made, takes away from the little progress we have made pursuing the legalization of marijuana.
I hope next time you find yourself in this position that you will think twice before you make another irresponsible comment.
Thank you for your time.
Another Pot Advocate
I almost attended University of Miami several years ago but I decided to go elsewhere. I now feel better about my decision. Thanks.
“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.
“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”
She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”
Reefer Madness in America: Another Arrest Statistic Speaks To The Horror and Waste of Cannabis ProhibitionJune 26th, 2012
At NORML, we’re always a little hesitant to broadly publicize the plights of what are hundreds of thousands of victims annually of Cannabis Prohibition laws. NORML’s snail mail overflows daily with letters and pleas of help from our brothers and sisters incarcerated on cannabis-only related offenses and while the organization replies to all with 1) support and encouragement for them to keep persevering, 2) affirming to them that America’s cannabis laws are overly harsh and punitive, and 3) that their legal plight is recognized and, in turn, fodder to help educate the public, media and elected policymakers on the crucial need to immediately and forever end Cannabis Prohibition in America.
Below is an email I received yesterday from a mother traveling from California to Texas, who, unfortunately chose a travel route that exposed her to a federal government law enforcement checkpoint on the highway that resulted in her arrest, detention and now prosecution for possessing a small amount of medical cannabis (specifically hash). These very legally questionable federal roadblocks are done under the guise of ‘immigration control’ ensnare thousands of cannabis consumers annually on nothing but minor possession charges.
Fortunately, she was able to make bail and post a bond, otherwise, she would still be in the local jail…and self-evidently would not be reaching out online for assistance and guidance.
The account below is an unedited first person description of what they experienced, witnessed and heard when they became one of America’s approximate 820,000 annual arrests for a minor cannabis-related charge.
My personal reply follows…
Please join and support NORML and local NORML chapters to help reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws and to provide help and support to the victims of this long-suffering and wasteful public policy.
I just wanted to make you aware of an encounter I had with Border Patrol in TX and Hudspeth County Jail. It’s sort of a very rough account of my dealings. I’m being charged with a third degree felony for PCOS of hashish. I’m a CA resident and not that is matters, I have a dr’s recommendation for the state of CA.
On Tuesday June 12th I was on my way to pick up my son from Fort Worth, TX. He had been visiting with his grandparents the past 3 weeks. Heading around the bend of a mountain about 200 or so miles into Texas I spotted a permanent border patrol checkpoint. As soon as you turn the corner there are cameras pointed at your car, dogs walking up and down, and men with the border patrol stalking you.
As soon as I reached the front of the line they were alerted to my vehicle. I was asked to step out of my car and to grab my driver’s license after being asked if I’ve ever traveled through Texas before. The men and dogs tore through my vehicle as I was questioned and informed that I was under arrest for “narcotics.”
They took me into the border patrol building, without handcuffing. They filled out some paperwork and about an hour and a half after I was arrested I was read my miranda rights. I was thrown into a cage in the building and left to sit for about 7 hours. I was told a few times that the sheriff was on his way to pick me up.
The sheriff then took me away from the room I had been held in, asked me if that was my car parked out there, which I replied “yes,” and then I was put in the passenger seat of his car, again without handcuffs. The 5 minute drive seemed like eternity. Being in the mercy of this man with guns whose car smelled of burnt cannabis and hashish. I felt the corruption as soon as I sat in his car. I looked over at the time, it was about 10:30 pm.
When we arrived to the jail we both stepped out of the car and walked in. I was told to dress and give them my personal belongings that I had on me: cell phone, id, and $21. While I was dressing I over heard a woman night guard speak to the sheriff, “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls for her and it’s been annoying. We should throw her into solitary.” The sheriff and others laughed. I couldn’t tell if he had agreed until I was indeed thrown into a cage marked as solitary.
I looked around the filthy room, full of used feminine products, hair, dirt, and all sorts of debris. The room was lacking a bed roll, toilet paper, a blanket, and a cup. I asked several times to be provided with these items as I had been awake since 4 am that day and was extremely exhausted. Everytime I was met with the same thing, “when we get you booked.” What seemed like a few hours later I begged for toilet paper and a cup. After another hour of so I was provided with toilet paper and a cup filled with ice that I thought must have come from the male urinal. The next few hours I attempted to sleep on the metal bed frame with the toilet paper under my neck for support. I was shivering from the cold cell and lack of clothing.
A few hours after falling asleep I was woken up with a yell, “hey, get up.” I was then booked into the jail. I looked over at the digital clock in the room the guards were in: 3:45 am. A few more snide remarks were made about the phone calls as they asked me questions, took my hand prints, picture, and I filled out paperwork with them. One of the forms I filled out stated it was an acknowledgement that I received my bedroll, toilet paper, cup, spoon, blanket, etc. When I told the man those were items I hadn’t received yet, he said that I would obtain them when I reached my cell block.
After I was booked, I was taken to the cell block. Provided with a mattress, blanket, cup and spoon. I took the toilet paper from solitary.
The next day I asked every few hours when I was to be arraigned. I was told between 9am and 1pm. The female guard had told me it would more likely be around 1pm because the magistrate shows up later than sooner, usually.
1pm comes and goes. I get anxious and start asking the guards every 30 minutes when I was going to be arraigned. I kept getting told it would be a bit longer. It was about 3pm that I was arraigned by the magistrate. She had made a comment when she heard about the phone calls from my friends that she should have held me for 72 hours before seeing me. I told her, “My friends don’t like when peaceful people are caged.” She didn’t reply.
I immediately called my husband and asked him to bail me out. I had been away from my son for 3 weeks and I was afraid of any further mistreatment. My bailiff showed up around 4 pm and paid the bail. I kept asking when I was going to be released and was ignored for 2 hours. I find out after that, the reason for their delay, my clothing had been lost. I was furious and couldn’t stop sobbing. I was released about 7:30 pm to my bailiff when my clothing finally showed up. She took me to a motel room and I slept for the night after a hot shower.
As of this date, I have not received any more information regarding a court date. I’m unprepared financially and with knowledge to fight this. Any help you can provide would be great, even if it’s spreading the story about my horrible treatment over a healing plant.
Thanks for your email, though I’m sorry to read of the circumstances that precipitate your communication.
Indeed, every 38 seconds in America, a cannabis consumer is arrested (850,000/year…90% for possession only). I’m not entirely sure post-arrest what practical help NORML can be as 1) you’re correct that a recommendation for medical cannabis use from CA holds no legal sway in TX, 2) there are thousands of drivers/passengers a year harassed/arrested by law enforcement checkpoints in CA, AZ, NM and TX (the ones in TX have nabbed Willie Nelson and other celebrities too), 3) It is not clear what if any legal defense one can employ to challenge the search as, for the most part, these searches are deemed legally conducted by local and regional judges (and the dogs’ smell abilities are not much in question).
NORML has a few dozen members who’re also lawyers in TX…and you might want to contact one or more of them to inquire 1) what if any possible legal challenges are availed to you and 2) if there is no viable and/or cost effective way to challenge the search in court, then to try to mitigate the possible negative legal outcomes as much as possible is probably the best course (ie, plea bargain, drug court, etc….).
Also, you might want to be in touch with NORML chapters in TX too:
I’ve CCd NORML’s Legal Counsel to see if he has any further ideas or suggestions.
Your writing about a terrible event that has happened to you during this period of Cannabis Prohibition in TX is extremely well written and articulate. Thank you again for sharing what has happened to you, which only affirms the need for law reform groups like NORML to succeed in ending Cannabis Prohibition. And, please be in touch with local NORML chapters and lawyers in TX to maximize your information base, so that you and your family make the most prudent decision to get this Prohibition-related nightmare behind you…and to look to a future where you too help change these misguided laws as a genuine stakeholder.
Allen St. Pierre
Member, Board of Directors
NORML / NORML Foundation
1600 K St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
“Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation. The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.”
No, that is not a quote from 1936′s Reefer Madness, it came from the mouth of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and it happened in 2012.
Prohibitionist arguments have always been quite laughable, the government originally warned of the dangers of reefer addicted jazz musicians and immigrants corrupting our youth and harming women. However, we’ve come a long way since the 1930′s and the fact that a high ranking elected official in the 21st century can say something so blatantly untrue with a straight face is disturbing at best. Centuries worth of use and countless volumes of research prove Senator McConnell’s statement to be nothing more than lies and scaremongering. Perhaps the good Senator should do some research of his own, if he did he’d find that inhaled cannabis has been shown safe and effective in trials using FDA’s own ‘gold standard’ method.
As long as our representatives in Congress hold such archaic, patently false views on marijuana our efforts to end prohibition will forever be stymied. We need to hold our politicians accountable and if they continue to make statements such as these, they will lose our support come election time. Help us give Senator Mitch McConnell a #RealityCheck by tweeting your displeasure with his recent statements:
@Team_Mitch: Centuries of use and decades of research say you’re wrong. Deaths from marijuana = 0. #RealityCheck
More info and a link to the original constituent letter are available here.