Prohibition, Research

Marijuana Lounges in Airports?

June 25th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In the wake of repeated reports of alcohol-fueled cases of “air rage,” the Denver-based Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) has a novel solution: Allow marijuana use in airport smoking lounges.

It may seem like a silly idea, but SAFER is making a serious point. Alcohol is a proven cause of reckless and violent behavior, while marijuana tends to have the precise opposite effect. If air travelers substituted marijuana for booze, it’s entirely plausible that air rage incidents would decrease. As a review in the December 2003 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors noted, “Alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication–violence relationship,” while those under the influence of marijuana generally become less aggressive.

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Medical Marijuana

Side Effects of Cannabinoid Medicines & Deliberate Effects of Government Obstructionism

June 24th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

A systematic review and accompanying commentary in the June 17 issue of CMAJ, the medical journal published by the Canadian Medical Association, look at the side effects of cannabinoid medications. The results are generally reassuring.

Researchers reviewed published studies of various cannabinoid preparations, including Marinol, the THC pill, and Sativex, a marijuana-based oral spray (but not, unfortunately, smoked or vaporized whole marijuana). They found no increase in serious or life-threatening reactions to the drugs as compared to placebo. The less serious side effects that did occur were just what you’d expect — dizziness, for example. But the commentators expressed concern over the relative lack of data on smoked marijuana and on long-term use of other cannabinoids.

We could have such data if the U.S. government wanted us to. The Feds have been giving medical marijuana to a small number of patients for over 30 years in a program closed to new enrollment in 1992, but have never published any data on these patients, of whom only four now survive. And back in 1999 the Institute of Medicine raised the possibility of doing “n-of-1 studies” (for example, by reopening that closed federal program) in order to collect data while allowing access to medical marijuana for patients in great need. The suggestion was ignored.

Once again, our government is doing everything it can to avoid knowing that medical marijuana is safe and effective.

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Prohibition

Reliable Sources?

June 23rd, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The other day I had a lengthy discussion with two producers at a national TV network. It was an unnerving lesson in what we’re up against as we try to educate the mainstream media.

The network had just broadcast a completely uncritical story on a report from a private think tank that serves as a drug war cheerleader. It had reported completely preposterous claims about supposed dangers of increased marijuana potency causing lung cancer or sending thousands to emergency rooms as if they were undisputed fact. I’d called to complain, and to their credit the producers called back.

Also to their credit, they asked tough questions about the points I was making. I want reporters to do that, as I never make statements to journalists that I can’t back up with published scientific evidence. And I do think the discussion made some progress (which is why I’m not naming names). But it also became clear that they never applied the same level of skepticism to claims made by prohibitionists. 

As we discussed the evidence that marijuana smokers don’t have higher lung cancer rates and that THC and other cannabinoids have documented anti-cancer activity, I mentioned that the 1999 Institute of Medicine report stated that marijuana has not been proven to cause any type of cancer. “But that was 1999,” one of the producers said. “With the increased potency now, it’s a whole different drug!” 

She had no idea she’d just repeated a completely fictional White House talking point as if it were revealed truth. 

I patiently explained that the notion that the claimed doubling of THC levels makes today’s marijuana “a whole different drug” makes no more sense than to claim that wine is a different drug than beer because it contains about three times the alcohol — a notion no one would take seriously. I also noted that higher potency would decrease any lung cancer risk, because users would get more THC (which fights cancer) with less smoke, and it’s the smoke that contains any potentially carcinogenic compounds. 

The producers believed they had done due diligence in researching the think tank’s claims: “We checked them with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.” The idea that a government agency that has long been an integral part of the drug war might not be a completely impartial source regarding marijuana had not occurred to them.

They listened to me. I think they heard. I hope they understood.

 

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Video

New York City Medical Marijuana Benefit

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Check out some of the highlights from the Marijuana Policy Project’s medical marijuana benefit event in New York City. The event was a great success with celebrities Montel Williams, Kurt Loder, and John Stossel speaking to the crowd. The evening’s illustrious musical guest was Nicole Atkins & the Sea.

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Video

Why You Should Donate to MPP

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Have you ever wanted to get a closer look at how MPP operates? Want to see some of what we have accomplished over the years and see exactly where your donations go? Here are the answers to those burning questions…

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Video

Why is Marijuana Illegal?

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

This is an early short we created exploring some of the reasons why marijuana is illegal. Many thanks to Pete Guither of DrugWarRant.com for linking to this video and helping to make it so popular.

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Video

Marijuana Media Minute, Episode 3

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Nydia Swaby covers some recent marijuana-related news from California.

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Video

Marijuana Media Minute, Episode 2

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Sara Cannon takes a look at some of the top marijuana-related stories from the early months of 2008.

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Video

Marijuana Media Minute, Episode 1

May 27th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Nydia Swaby interviews MPP’s own Joe Haptas on the American College of Physician’s support of medical marijuana.

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