New Battlegrounds In The War Against Marijuana

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It's a fact: the public no longer believes marijuana poses a serious health risk. Those that would like to maintain marijuana's illegality have lost their most potent public relations tool in the war on weed. Those crafty conservatives are always planning ahead, and they have cultivated a new crop of scary stories to maintain the American soccer moms' fear of the ganja.

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1. Environmental holocaust from outdoor growing

This eco-distraction seems poised to take center stage in the anti-marijuana debate. Famed newsman Dan Rather produced an episode of his show 'Dan Rather Reports' on marijuana farms committing ecological havoc.

Much ado has been made about Mexican cartels growing fields of marijuana in our national forests, and large-scale cultivation efforts in some California counties has resultedin streams diverted to growing operations, deforestation and erosion. If mainstream media reports are to be believed (and they do not have a stellar reputation when it comes to representing the marijuana issue fairly) and these issues are real, they still have no relation to the efforts to legalize marijuana use or to protect the medicinal use of cannabis for patients.

The environmental issues are problems, but they are localized and should not have a bearing on marijuana policy reform's national dialog. Gardening on public land is illegal and not supported by any marijuana organization; any damage occurring at private farms is the result of a few individuals, not the vast majority of marijuana farmers.

More significantly, these situations prove that legalization of cannabis is the most realistic solution. Adding more Forest Service helicopters or drug task force agents is not an option- the government can't even fund the effort to fight wildfires in our national parks. Any additional financial expenditure to seek and destroy marijuana farms, instead of properly funding firefighters and paramedics, is a resource allocation error. What we can do is normalize the business of cultivation; allow inspections and establish criteria for operations that are not restrictive while ensuring local issues are satisfied, like the diverting of streams.

2. Marijuana farming is a violent activity that threatens average people

standard argument against relaxing marijuana laws is that growing marijuana is somehow inherently bad. The media like to show people standing in front of fields of marijuana plants while holding a rifle; if they have a ragged bandanna covering most of their face to hide their identity, all the better. These pictures create an image of marijuana production that just doesn't fit with the vast majority of modern growing operations.

The vision of cultivation described above is a symbol of marijuana's illegality; the image of legal marijuana farmers in 20 states most often involves an indoor growing operation that the public cannot accidentally encounter. Throughout Michigan's four-year-long medical marijuana program there have been reports of plants stolen from licensed gardeners but there are no reported deaths at indoor gardens. Michigan has 125,000 medical marijuana patients, each of whom is entitled to cultivate cannabis,  and an additional 30,000 people are licensed to grow marijuana.  That's a lot of gardens and no violence.

3. Marijuana causes spousal abuse

That's the conclusion a new scientific study is going to prove, according to a news report. Sounds backward? The University of Buffalo project's lead researcher said, "Despite the commonly held belief that marijuana suppresses aggression, many studies have found a positive association between marijuana use and intimate-partner violence." The study is being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who has been accused by many scientists of representing a viewpoint biased toward proving drugs are harmful.

The government has given the researcher $1.8 million to conduct a study called Proximal Effects of Marijuana in Understanding Intimate Partner Violence. That title makes it clear that they already believe in the 'smoke pot-punch your partner' connection, even though a recently published study in the scientific journal 'Neuropharmacology' states marijuana reduces aggression and improves social interaction. If a study accomplishes a confirmation instead of reaching a provable conclusion, it isn't science- it's public relations.

4. Alcohol is safer than marijuana

Society has rejected the old drug war notion that marijuana is instantly addictive or that it will kill you. Recently the Marijuana Policy Project put up a billboard in a major city and used a giant roadside television near a NASCAR event to deliver the message that marijuana is safer than booze.

Government anti-drug agencies have developed slick ways to avoid the comparisons of health effects between marijuana and alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse dodged the question in an artful way by saying , "Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual." Quite a switch from their former 'marijuana kills people' attitude. Look for more confusing non-answers from government agencies as they evolve their rhetoric.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

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