Friday, January 15, 2010

Group Tells Kids Alcohol is Safer than Marijuana

After seeing an ad on Facebook for a "free marijuana information packet" created by the Foundation for a Drug Free World, I thought I'd check out their website. Then I watched this video:

Of course, I had to order the information packet after watching that action packed PSA complete with plenty of screaming, guns, smashing things and scary looking young people (actually, the first video I saw was marijuana specific but they didn't put that one up on YouTube...).

I received the packet this week. Inside was a little booklet titled "The Truth About Marijuana: Behind the smokescreen from a drug that destroys from the inside out."

This little booklet contains the usual misinformation and scare tactics you'd expect to find from any organization with the words "drug free" in their title. But there was one part that left me flabbergasted: Alcohol vs. Marijuana. Wow. They really want to take this one on? Here's what they have to say:
Is smoking a joint the same as drinking alcohol?

You decide. Here are the facts:

Alcohol consists of one substance only: ethanol. Marijuana contains more than 400 known toxins and cancer causing chemicals.

Alcohol is eliminated from the body in a few hours; THC stays in the body fat for months, possibly longer. Thus, a person who smokes 2 to 3 joints a week is constantly under the influence of the drug.

THC damages the immune system. Alcohol does not.

There is no intention here to minimize the dangers of alcohol abuse, which can be equally harmful. Alcohol, however, can be used in moderation without causing severe damage. Cannabis, which is used almost exclusively as an intoxicant, is far more dangerous even when used in small amounts because it's active agent continues to build up in body fat.
I could waste my time rebutting these "facts" but anyone with half a brain already knows these are flat out lies. Besides, Steve Fox, Mason Tvert, and Paul Armentano have written an entire book on the safety of marijuana in comparison to alcohol.

The claims made by the Foundation for a Drug Free World in this booklet easily make this one of the most irresponsible attempts to manipulate and lie to young people that I have ever seen. They should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. They're also funded by the Church of Scientology.

Here's what people who live on this planet have to say about the possibility of a drug free world:

FAMM Recaps 2009

FAMMGram, Winter 20102009 was a great year for the drug policy reform movement. All of the organizations that work side by side with SSDP to promote sensible and compassionate drug policies should be celebrated for their contributions.

For me, one organization really deserves a standing ovation. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), as the name implies, has a pretty direct mission: putting an end to devastating mandatory sentences for drug offenders.

Check out FAMM's newest newsletter for a rundown on all the progress they have made in 2009 and a profile on Sen. Jim Webb and the National Criminal Justice Commission Act.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Register for SSDP's 11th Annual International Conference

This is shaping up to be SSDP's greatest conference to date. Hundreds of students from all over the world have RSVPed and the registrations are pouring in!

Register before January 16th and you'll save $10 on the registration fee, so act fast!

We can't wait to see you all in San Francisco, CA this March!

Replacement for Prof. David Nutt Also Said Cannabis Should be Legalized

I guess I should be writing "legalised" for this one.

Surely you remember Prof. David Nutt making international headlines late last year after the UK government drug policy adviser was fired for saying that marijuana should be legalized. Five other members of the advisory council he chaired quit in protest to his firing. Nutt has just been replaced by Professor Les Iverson who, ironically, has made similar remarks regarding cannabis' legality.

He said: "Cannabis should be legalised not just decriminalised because it is comparatively less dangerous than legal drugs alcohol and tobacco."

Iverson now claims to have learned more about marijuana and changed his point of view.

"I don't remember saying that, it's certainly not my position now. That was a view I had in 2003 and a great deal has happened since then. I think it's quite free for a scientist to change his mind when faced with new facts."

Or when faced with a new job opportunity...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CA Assembly Committee Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill

Unfortunately, it's likely the bill won't go any further after today's monumental 4-3 victory in the Public Safety Committee. The bill needs to make it into the Health Committee before a legislative deadline this week and it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

But so what? We won! This is the first time that any legislative body in the nation has voted to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use. In October, SSDP members from SJSU and UC Berkeley attended the first hearing on the bill and participated in the public opinion, voicing their support for the bill and citing specific harms caused by marijuana prohibition.

SSDP had a strong presence at this hearing too and it was exciting to be in California's capitol as the Assembly Committee on Public Safety voted YES to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana throughout the state.

Afterward, we attended the press conference organized by law enforcement and the California Alliances for Drug Free Youth condemning the Assembly's vote. They gave a lot of scary reasons to fear legalizing pot. Some of these people are well intentioned. Others I'm not so sure about. But they're both wrong.

What I liked about AB 390 was that it would have taken tax dollars from marijuana sales and put them into drug education and prevention programs for youth. These types of programs are underfunded as it is and if they are realistic and honest (not DARE) they can make positive differences in young people's lives. So naturally it seemed absurd to me that Republican Assemblyman Danny Gilmore, who voted nay on the bill, expressed his distaste for that particular aspect of the legislation:

''We're going to legalize marijuana, we're going to tax it, and then we're going to educate our kids about the harms of drugs?'' said Gilmore, a 31-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol. ''You've got to be kidding me.''

We're not joking. But that sure is a funny position to take when we know that this is exactly what some states do with alcohol and tobacco taxes. And it works. A study at the University of Florida showed “statistically overwhelming evidence” that raising taxes on alcohol reduces the level of drinking. As alcohol gets more expensive, people will drink less frequently and drink less when they do.

Just think about that. AB 390 would impose a $50 tax per ounce! $50 per ounce folks. So not only would the price be going up dramatically and likely to increase over years but the tax dollars go toward prevention programs! Seems plain as day to me...

Check out this video for a great rundown of what happened today (you even get to see me start things off by fumbling some words!).