Rebutting One Georgia Speaker’s Reefer Madness

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The Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald reports on a talk given by Dr. Godfrey Pearlson, the director of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center and a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Yale University about marijuana.

It turns out that even though the cannabis plant has been used by humans for thousands of years and nobody has died from it, according to Dr. Pearlson, we just don’t know enough about it.

What the hell is this vegetable material? Has anybody ever tried burning this and inhaling the smoke? It might be dangerous!
What the hell is this vegetable material? Has anybody ever tried burning this and inhaling the smoke? It might be dangerous!

Let’s knock these softballs out of the park, shall we? Dr. Pearlson, you say…

“there’s a lot we just don’t know about marijuana”

A search of PubMed.gov for “cannabi*” will yield you 31,044 published studies. If you search “marijuana”, it’s 24,496. “Acetaminophen” gives you 20,092. “Adderall” brings back just 197 studies.

Just what is it you think we don’t know about marijuana?

“marijuana’s effect on developing adolescent brains”

We know about that. It’s bad for them if done to excess. Which is why we propose taking the market for marijuana out of the hands of criminals who do not check IDs. Alcohol is far worse for their brains; that’s why we make its sellers check ID and run stings to catch those who fail to check ID.

mtf-2015-12th-grade-access

If you’re worried about teenagers on pot, you’d better check Monitoring the Future’s dataset showing at least 4-out-of-5 12th graders have had “easy” or “fairly easy” access to marijuana during the entire War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs.

“its public health implications, such as driving while stoned”

Legalization does not invent cars and marijuana. Both have existed for quite some time and even as the use of marijuana has increased and decreased, the roads have gotten safer and safer.

But please, go on about why we must cage people over marijuana use while I slam this shot of tequila and smoke a Cuban cigar… something about public health implications?

“commercial and drug policies”

I’m not even sure what you mean. Advertising and imaginary Drug-Free Workplaces? So far, every state that has passed legalization has heavily regulated the advertising into questionable anti-free speech territory and allowed employers to continue to discriminate against workers over the content of their piss.

“long-term health and cognitive effects”

Lemme ask 83-year-old Willie Nelson what he thinks about marijuana’s long-term health and cognitive effects. Wait, sorry, he’s busy talking to 78-year-old Tommy Chong about 84-year-old Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s publishing of an essay by daily pot smoker and actual freakin’ rocket scientist Carl Sagan.

Three former weed prisoners reminding you that breakfast is the most important meal of your @stoneysunday

A photo posted by Russ Belville (@radicalruss) on

Sure, I know, those are just anecdotal examples. So I’ll just wait while you think of four comparable anecdotes about four active, accomplished senior citizens and an astrophysicist who drank liquor on a daily basis.

“and what medical roles it might play”

If only we had somebody using marijuana for medical purposes in 28 different states, we could just ask them.

“Pot contains hundreds of chemicals, and some of them have opposite effects.”

Warning! Contains: Ethanol Propyl acetate 2-Methylpropyl acetate Propanol n-Butyl acetate 2-Methylpropanol 2-Methylbutyl acetate n-Butyl propanoate n-Butanol n-Pentyl acetate 2-Methylbut-3-enyl acetate 2-Methylbutanol 3-Methylbut-3-enyl acetate 3-Methylbut-3-enol 3-Methylbut-2-enyl acetate n-Pentanol n-Hexyl acetate E-Hex-3-enyl acetate Z-Hex-3-enyl acetate Hex-4-enyl acetate E-Hex-2-enyl acetate n-Hexanol Z-Hex-3-enol E-Hex-2-enol n-Hexyl-2-methylbutanoate n-Heptanol Camphor n-Octanol n-Oct-2-enol 1 -Methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)-benzene
Warning! Contains: Ethanol, Propyl acetate, 2-Methylpropyl acetate, Propanol, n-Butyl acetate, 2-Methylpropanol, 2-Methylbutyl acetate, n-Butyl propanoate, n-Butanol, n-Pentyl acetate, 2-Methylbut-3-enyl acetate, 2-Methylbutanol, 3-Methylbut-3-enyl acetate, 3-Methylbut-3-enol, 3-Methylbut-2-enyl acetate, n-Pentanol, n-Hexyl acetate, E-Hex-3-enyl acetate, Z-Hex-3-enyl acetate, Hex-4-enyl acetate, E-Hex-2-enyl acetate, n-Hexanol, Z-Hex-3-enol, E-Hex-2-enol, n-Hexyl-2-methylbutanoate, n-Heptanol, Camphor, n-Octanol, n-Oct-2-enol, and 1 -Methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)-benzene.

And yet, in seven thousand years of people using all those chemicals in whole plant form, nobody has died!

“there’s no simple, reliable driving impairment test for pot, as there is for alcohol”

Huh. I wonder, then, how there have managed to be thousands and thousands of convictions nationwide for the past forty years for driving under the influence of marijuana?

If someone is driving in a way that makes you suspect they are impaired, you pull them over and give them a field sobriety test. If they fail it, you arrest them. If they aren’t driving in a way that makes you suspect they are impaired, what, exactly, is the problem you’re trying to solve here?

“The risk of a motor vehicle accident probably doubles after someone uses pot – compared with a five-fold risk for drinking alcohol.”

Well, that’s not true. A large portion of regular pot smokers are males between the ages of 18 and 25. Guess who, statistically speaking, are the worst drivers? Males between the ages of 18 and 25. It turns out that when you correct for that, you find no discernible difference in risk of accident between drivers with THC in their system and those without.

marijuana-driving-risk

“we don’t know how long it is until it’s safe for a pot smoker to drive again”

We accept that drinkers can drive their cars to bars and then we trust that they’ll judge their own impairment level based on some color-coded chart of their weight and consumption. But we can’t extend that trust to pot smokers who NHTSA says have no added risk of crash?

“Long-term users might have developed compensating strategies”

It’s called “tolerance”.

“Another complication is the recent development of synthetic marijuana”

Yes, synthetic cannabinoids that were developed because the natural ones are Schedule I, and are now abused because the natural ones are detected on drug tests. We really ought to do something about that, huh?

“Marijuana was used as a medicine, prescribed by doctors, up until the 1930s. That’s when federal lawmakers outlawed it, over the objections of the American Medical Association.”

One thing about reefer mad… wait, what? Yes, that is absolutely true! Let’s leave this post on a bright note!

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.