Pot, Truth and The DEA

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Colorado -- Colorado will be voting on whether to legalize possession of marijuana this November, and the Drug Enforcement Administration is not amused.
When Safer Colorado, the group sponsoring a statewide ballot initiative to legalize the possession of small quantities of pot (up to one ounce) for personal use, turned in petitions with 129,000 signatures last month - twice as many as necessary to make ballot - the DEA sprung, or more accurately slithered, into action.

According to a story in the Daily Camera, DEA agent Michael Moore sent out an e-mail to professional political consultants seeking a campaign manager for the drive to defeat the initiative. The e-mail, which was sent from a Department of Justice computer, claims that a group opposed to the initiative has $10,000 to launch the campaign, and that anyone interested should call him at his DEA office.

Asked to explain why a federal law enforcement agency was involving itself in the lawmaking process of a state, Jeff Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the DEA's Denver office, said “my mantra has been, if Americans use the democratic process to make change, we're in favor of that. We're in favor of the democratic process. But as a caveat, we're in favor of it working on based on all the facts.”

Huh?

The Drug Enforcement Administration is the last place on earth that anyone should turn to for accurate information on marijuana. The DEA and its predecessor agencies like the Bureau of Narcotics have a 70-year record of brazenly lying about marijuana.

Here are a few of the lies the agency and its predecessors have told since 1937:

Marijuana causes people generally and Blacks and Hispanics in particular to become violent. In 1937, Harry Anslinger, the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics, testified before Congress that Marijuana “is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” The truth is that marijuana is one of the least violence-causing drugs in the history of mankind and there is no known difference as to how different races or ethnic groups respond to it. When it comes to inducing violence, alcohol is drug of choice.

Marijuana is an addictive drug. Today the DEA has stopped claiming marijuana is physically addictive, but continues to claim it is psychologically addictive - whatever that means. The truth is marijuana is among the least addictive drugs known to man. Legal alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all more addictive. Moreover, marijuana is probably the single easiest recreational drug to stop using - far easier than alcohol or tobacco.

Marijuana causes cancer. Marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing tars than tobacco and users keep it in their lungs longer. Therefore the DEA surmised that marijuana use causes cancer. Bad surmise. The most recent study, conducted by Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA, who has spent a lifetime trying to prove that marijuana causes cancer but who is an honest scientist, found no link between marijuana use and cancer.

Marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to harder drug use. No it isn't. The gateway drugs are alcohol and tobacco. However - and this is important - illegal marijuana use is the principal gateway to illegal drug use. The way to close that particular gate is to make pot use lawful.

Today's marijuana is much stronger than the marijuana of the 1960s. It isn't, but even if it was so what? If it was, all it would mean is that people would smoke less of it to get stoned. Arguing that that the appearance of stronger pot is a reason that marijuana should be illegal is like arguing that the invention of scotch is a reason all alcohol beverages should be illegal.

Legalizing marijuana would send the “wrong message” to our kids. This may be the most self-serving lie of all. Kids aren't stupid. They can tell when adults are lying and being hypocritical, and they quickly tune out the liars and hypocrites. It's no secret that most drug education programs in the schools are at best limited successes. What do you suppose that has something to do with the fact that the instructors have to say a lot of things about pot that they know aren't true - and that contaminates the rest of their message.

Keeping pot illegal when it's clearly less harmful than the legal recreational drugs is the wrong message. And the chronic liars at the DEA are clearly the wrong messengers. The only role the agency should play in the Colorado marijuana initiative should be running corrective advertising for its past lies.

Paul Danish is a former Boulder City Councilman, Boulder County Commissioner and the former editor of the Colorado Daily. “Danish Plan” covers issues of local, state, national and international government and politics. The views expressed are Danish's alone, and not necessarily those of the Colorado Daily management or staff.

Source: Colorado Daily (UC Edu, CO)
Author: Paul Danish
Published: September 29, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Colorado Daily
 

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