Cannabis Prohibition Is A Leading Cause Of Premature Death

Cannabis is one of the very few drugs that does not cause death. But can use of cannabis also prevent premature death? A study out of Indiana, Cannabis use is associated with a substantial reduction in premature deaths in the United States, shows just that!

In fact, cannabis prohibition turns out to be a leading cause of death in the USA.

The study’s author, Thomas M. Clark is Professor and Chair of Department of Biology at Indiana University South Bend, His meta-analysis found:

Cannabis use is associated with decreased rates of

obesity,

diabetes mellitus,

mortality from traumatic brain injury,

use of alcohol and prescription drugs,

driving fatalities, and

opioid overdose deaths.

Obesity threatens human well-being across the planet. Especially in the USA, but also now world wide, this plague of pounds drives degenerative diseases and health care costs. Obesity is a chronic low-grade inflammation, inflicting insidious damage daily. Fat cells displace organs and produce cellular toxins. Obesity kills at least one out of eight Americans.

Diabetes is the key metabolic disease killing Americans. Dr. Clark writes:

Evidence strongly supports reduced obesity and diabetes mellitus in people who use Cannabis. The most common finding of studies to date have shown lower BMI, waist circumference, or rates of obesity in Cannabis users.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an all-too-frequent cause of premature death, but a condition responsive to medical marijuana. Clark notes:

Cannabinoids have well known neuroprotective effects, reducing damage from excitotoxicity, Ca++  influx, free radical formation, and neuroinflammation following traumatic brain injury (TBI), ischemia, and neurotoxins.

Dr. Clark reports lowered rates of premature death for alcohol and opioid addiction and death in cannabis users, reduced rates of dangerous deaths, and lives saved from cancer.

Clark concludes,

Conclusions: Cannabis use prevents thousands of premature deaths each year, and Cannabis prohibition is revealed as a major cause of premature death in the U.S.

Premature death reduction is basic to harm reduction, the strategy smart governments are using to address drug problems. At the same time, the USA is now poised to renew its decade-long war on marijuana, a drug nearly harmless while hugely helpful at reducing premature death.

Prohibition of access to medical cannabis is a violation of human rights. Such prohibition is a moral evil, not only because it subjects people from arbitrary abuse from the state, but also because it denies them a crucially effective medication, leading to premature death.

Cannabis as the “exit gateway” drug.

Exit © ufotopixl10 - Fotolia.com

Exit © ufotopixl10 – Fotolia.com

Cannabis prohibitionist bureaucrats have always argued that marijuana is a gateway drug leading to abuse of hard drugs. This fiction should have been put to rest with the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Now, with nearly 15 years more medical cannabis experience in the country, it turns out that cannabis may be an excellent exit gateway or reverse gateway drug, useful in helping people reduce and avoid use of dangerous drugs such as narcotics and alcohol.

Cannabis offers many advantages to people wishing to quit dangerous drugs. Foremost, cannabis is one of the safest drugs in existence, one of the very few that can not cause death. Aspirin can and does kill. Even drinking too much water can be fatal. There is no lethal dose of cannabis. As DEA administrative law judge Francis Young noted in 1988,

“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.” This is perhaps the last time any truth has come out of the DEA regarding cannabis. Judge Young also declared that to not reschedule cannabis down from Schedule I would be, “cruel, arbitrary and capricious,” the exact behavior of the DEA in the ensuing 25 years.

As a candidate for a safer substitute drug, cannabis excels also in the area of lack harms against others. Cannabis reduces violence, especially in contrast to alcohol.  The main area where cannabis use causes hardship to family and community is when the cannabis consumer run afoul of the war on drugs and is arrested and perhaps imprisoned. These harms are from the persecution of the drug consumer by the forces of prohibition, not from the mild effects of cannabis itself.  Cannabis has little additive potential with few withdrawal symptoms when unavailable. Unlike some addictive drugs, lack of cannabis does not cause compelling need.

The third reason cannabis serves well as a substitute for dangerous drugs is the positive effects of the mild euphoria cannabis use can provide. The “high” associated with cannabis is uplifting, not debilitating.  If a person is using drugs to escape a negative mental or emotional state, the feelings of well-being produced by cannabis use are therapeutically useful and appropriate.  As a matter of fact, the introduction of pharmaceutical drugs which had the opposite effect of the cannabis high (cannabinoid antagonists such as rimonabant) were blocked in 2006 by the negative and suicidal reactions to the psychological “low” the drug produced. Indeed, it may well be that many people predisposed to using dangerous drugs are cannabinoid deficient, either with minimal levels of natural cannabinoids such as anandamide, or suffering from insufficient cannabinoid receptors. In such cases, cannabis use would serve a homeostatic role, restoring this imbalance.

Another reason cannabis is being used as a substitute for dangerous drugs is its ability to relieve pain. Pain relief is the main reason for most doctor’s visits. The opioids most available as pharmaceuticals come with a host of adverse effects including, “respiratory depression, sedation, sleep disturbance, cognitive and psychomotor impairment, delirium, hallucinations, seizures, hyperalgesia, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.”  Opioid drugs can kill by stopping breathing; cannabis can not.  For some types of pain, especially neuropathic pain, caused by damage to nerves from conditions such as diabetes, the opioid drugs provide little pain relief. Cannabis is very effective in reducing neuropathic pain. It also makes for an excellent adjunct pain therapy for use in conjunction with other pain drugs, allowing these dangerous substances to be used in lesser amounts.

The American federal government blocks nearly all research into the medicinal use of cannabis, but with more US states asserting medical exemptions, we can increasingly expect more Americans to substitute safer cannabis for dangerous drugs.

 

George Will gets it wrong: Cannabis laws make a mockery of justice.

George Will

George Will

This writer knew something was wrong when conservative pundit George Will wrote two opinion pieces with which I could agree. The first was regarding Afghanistan where, regrettably, Will makes more sense for leaving than Obama does for escalating. The other was for his recent criticism of the war on drugs. However, in a November 29 Washington Post column, Rocky Mountain high, Will returns to his authoritarian, neocon roots with criticisms of Colorado’s medical marijuana program.

Those wishing to disdain the medical value of marijuana typically put the term “medical” in quotation marks when the word is followed by marijuana. George Will goes further, when belittling the conditions for which medical cannabis may be used, he includes “chronic pain” (quotation marks his). It may be news to George, but pain is the primary reason people go to the doctor, and indeed was the core reason the medical profession came into being! Yes George, pain, especially chronic pain, is a good reason for seeking medical care and medication.

Cannabis has been used for pain relief for at least 5,000 years and is proving in new studies to be highly effective in lessening many types of pain. It is also the least toxic of any pain relieving substance. Indeed, cannabis is the safer choice for pain relief, far safer than Oxycontin, far safer than Vicodin, safer even than aspirin. Aspirin causes several hundred deaths each year, marijuana causes zero deaths. Typically, use of dangerous, mind-altering opioid pain relievers is greatly reduced when cannabis is added as an adjunct analgesic.

Yet George Will and the authoritarian wing of the Republican party would deny Americans their personal freedom of medical choice for pain relief, if that choice happened to be marijuana.

  • How did the Republican party, supposedly the party of small government, transform itself into a tyranny that controls and punishes American citizens needlessly?
  • How did the Republican party, supposed for keeping the government out of people’s lives, still seeks to deny Americans the freedom to make their own safer medical choices?

Will gets off on the wrong foot by lauding prohibitionist Colorado attorney general, John Suthers, calling him honest and thoughtful. Actually he is a bureaucrat protecting his turf, a law enforcement official extending his domain over the medical choices of his fellow Coloradans. Because of his prohibitionist efforts, Coloradans may be forced to give up the right to choose safer, cheaper medications. Hopefully, Colorado citizen Mason Tvert of SAFER will educate the authoritarian George Will on the “thoughtfulness” of the hardline AG.

Americans should rightly bristle when self-serving bureaucrats deny them medical choices. The police should not be lobbying against the medical freedoms and choices of their fellow citizens, just because costs them enforcement turf, as is the case with medical cannabis. George Will allowed Suthers to feed him age-old platitudes about current marijuana being “seven, eight times as concentrated” as pot used to be. Even if this old saw were true, it would only make it “seven, eight” times safer, requiring less consumption for equal medical benefit.

George almost misted up when revealing that Suthers claimed that in a recent survey, “non-using young people revealed that health concerns did not explain nonuse. The main explanation was the law: We underestimate the number of people who care that something is illegal.” Great rationale for continuing the current marijuana laws devastate the lives of the 800,000 people arrested each year in the USA! Such reasoning is contradicted by the Dutch who have a much higher level of “nonuse” of cannabis than Americans, but have much more lenient laws against the plant substance.

Will concludes, “by mocking the idea of lawful behavior, legalization of medical marijuana may be more socially destructive than full legalization.” Gee, George, the arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious laws against marijuana have been dissed and disobeyed for more than 40 years now by Americans who knew the restrictions were unjust. These laws have been willfully broken by tens of millions of Americans for decades, mocking the law, flaunting legislators who passed them and viewing as enemies the police that enforced them. Respect for the law demands laws deserving respect.

As far as legalization of marijuana being socially destructive? Not in the least. The recent experience of Portugal proves that. The social destruction of the last 40 years of failed drug war has been the 20 million cannabis arrest casulties inflicted upon Americans by their government. The unneeded, counterproductive and failed war on marijuana users has produced maximum harm and is the mockery of American justice George Will should be protesting.