You have to hand it to the U.S. Government. Without the money, might, and monotony of this monolith, it would have been impossible to suppress and distort the truth about cannabis – a plant used beneficially by humans for the last 5,000 to 10,000 years.
But that’s in the past, because the truth — like a plant — has the habit of coming to the surface no matter how many times it’s stepped on.
Thanks to the Internet, the greatest information sharing and publishing facility in history, we now have access to a wealth of historical records, medical research, and user experiences about cannabis. The net result of all this information is that everyday people, not just people involved in the medical marijuana community, are starting to learn the truth. So this series of articles is a way for you to counter “official” lies, propaganda and misinformation with the kind of hard-hitting facts that just might change some minds, and perhaps save some lives in the process…maybe yours, or that of someone you care about.
Myth: Marijuana cannot be a safe or effective medicine, because the U.S. Government has determined it’s a dangerous drug with no known medical use.
Well, actually, the second part of that sentence is true. The U.S. Government has made that determination, but it stubbornly holds that position for political reasons, not because it’s factual.
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the DEA (along with things like heroin, PCP, and the so-called date-rape drug GHB), which means it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment, has a high potential for abuse, and there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision. Even opium and cocaine are Schedule II.
But this is all a big lie.
The U.S. Government knows that cannabis has medical uses, because it holds a patent on some of these uses. U.S. Patent #6630507, Cannabinoids As Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants, is assigned to The United States Of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services. Here’s how the patent is introduced:
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This newfound property makes cannabinoids uselul in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.
More recently, the National Cancer Institute (also part of the U.S. Government) updated its website to acknowledge many of the uses of cannabis by “cancer patients under medical supervision” (i.e. medical marijuana patients).
Even the Drug Enforcement Administration has gotten into the act, sort of. In what’s clearly one of the most conflicted webpages ever written, starting with the sentence “Medical marijuana already exists” and its use of scare quotes for the word “medical” in the title, the DEA manages to claim marijuana itself is dangerous, but that pure THC is safe, and that there’s no medical use for marijuana, but THC pills are just dandy, all in the same breath. It makes you wonder what they’re smoking.
Oxygen is necessary for life, yet we cannot safely breathe oxygen alone. Similarly, pure THC alone is not safe or effective medicine for most people. Yet so far, pure THC (in the form of Marinol) is the only marijuana-related drug that the FDA has approved. And, following the FDA’s almost spotless record of approving drugs that kill people, several people have died from using Marinol, even though actual marijuana is completely safe in that regard. Needless to say, Marinol has another Big Pharma attribute: it costs up to $1600 a month.
We Have All Been Here Before
The same cannabis medicines that people have rediscovered in the past 15 years were used safely by millions of Americans for decades. For instance, cannabis tinctures (also known as extracts), were manufactured by pharmaceutical firms such as Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly & Co. and available in almost every corner drugstore, often without prescription, until 1937. There was no huge problem with people getting high, no outcry from the public, no problems with it whatsoever. But in the space of a week or two, suddenly this useful and safe medicine was made illegal, to the consternation of the American Medical Association.
As far as safety, the fact is that in all of recorded history, not a single person has ever died from the toxic effects of marijuana, because there are virtually none. In terms of statistics, it’s literally safer than water: many people have died from hyponatremia (severe electrolyte imbalance often due to too-rapid consumption of water).
In terms of science, it’s been estimated that, in order for someone to smoke themselves to death, they would have to smoke 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 14 minutes, and hypoxia would probably kill them before the effects of THC would.
But you don’t have to take my word for any of this, since the DEA asked an Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, to rule on the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana in response to a petition filed to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. Here’s what the DEA’s own judge said (excerpts):
In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten 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 a supervised routine of medical care.
The administrative law judge concludes that the provisions of the Act permit and require the transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II.
Marijuana can be harmful. Marijuana is abused. But the same is true of dozens of drugs or substances which are listed in Schedule II so that they can be employed in treatment by physicians in proper cases, despite their abuse potential.
The DEA’s response? They ignored the findings of their own judge – just like Richard Nixon did when he rejected the recommendation of his own Shafer Commission to make marijuana legal again.
So why hasn’t it been rescheduled or legalized yet? Follow the money. The amount of money involved between Big Pharma, Federal drug enforcement grants to local law enforcement, private prisons and corruption (i.e. “corporate lobbying”) is astounding. Keeping a simple, harmless plant illegal is Big Business.