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5 WTF Marijuana Moments of 2014

Russ Belville

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It was a banner year for marijuana in politics, with market legalization in Oregon and Alaska, personal legalization in Washington DC and South Portland, Maine, decriminalization in two New Mexico counties and six Michigan cities, and medical marijuana in Guam and Florida (which would have passed in any other state, but Florida required a 60 percent vote).

That also means it was a banner year for the prohibitionists to take to the airwaves, print, and online media to proclaim the devastation wrought by legalization in Washington and Colorado and to forecast the destruction the new marijuana policies will bring. These are the five most reefer mad prohibitionist statements of 2014.

5. “Marijuana Legalization = Filthy Toilets.”

Christine Tatum is the wife of Dr. Christian Thurstone, who is a board member with anti-legalization group Project SAM and a Denver-area rehab entrepreneur. Tatum lamented the terrible customer service at her local Lowe’s home improvement store when a manager told her Lowe’s was understaffed because too few applicants can pass the pre-employment piss test.

“Wonder of wonders, Lowe’s doesn’t want people acutely or sub-acutely under the influence of marijuana operating forklifts, using circular saws, cutting ceramic tiles, driving company trucks — or cleaning its toilets,” Tatum writes, proud that her pristine ass never has to touch a Lowe’s toilet seat cleaned by a pothead.  (“Acutely” means under the influence of THC.  “Sub-acutely” means under the influence of THC-COOH, marijuana’s non-impairing metabolite.  So, yes, Christine Tatum thinks someone who may have smoked pot on the weekend would be too impaired by Monday to be trusted to clean a toilet safely.)

4. Use Marijuana and Your Brain Won’t Work Anymore.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, is the president of the American Society for Addiction Medicine and not, as I’d hoped, a funk deejay character in an Austin Powers movie. Gitlow explained, “If you use marijuana heavily prior to age 25, your brain won’t work anymore.”

If brain shutdown wasn’t bad enough, we also have to worry about the fatality potential of this brand-new, never-heard-of, no-historical-record marijuana stuff.  “Will you die young, as with tobacco? We’ll have to wait a generation to find out, just as we did with tobacco. Our children will be the guinea pigs.”

3. “Use Marijuana and You’ll Become an Islamic Terrorist.”

Cliff Kincaid writes in the ironically-named Accuracy in Media about “black thug” Michael Brown and “black juvenile delinquent” Trayvon Martin to demonstrate how the wacky weed turns teens into violent criminals. But Kincaid saves his best reefer madness for Canadian man “who was… a pothead” that infamously joined Islamic terror group ISIS and the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who “was not only a dope smoker but a dealer.”

“It may be too early to draw a direct connection between jihad, marijuana, and mass murder,” writes Kincaid, “but it is worth considering whether consumption of the drug can alter the mind to such an extent that jihad becomes appealing to some mentally unstable individuals.”

2. “Marijuana’s Not Less Dangerous as Meth, Crack, Cocaine and Heroin.”

Reps. Jared Polis and Steve Cohen, grilled the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, the woman who said a hemp flag flying over the White House was her lowest point in a 33-year DEA career. Here’s Rep. Polis questioning Leonhart under oath.

Polis: Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?
Leonhart: I believe all illegal drugs are bad.
Polis: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?
Leonhart: I don’t think any illegal drug is good.
Polis: (Slightly cutting off Leonhart) Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?
Leonhart: Again, all drugs…
Polis: (Cutting off Leonhart) It’s either ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘I don’t know.’  If you don’t know you can look this up.  You should know as the Chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

Rep. Cohen didn’t get much more of a response:

Cohen: Would you agree that marijuana causes less harm to individuals than meth, crack, cocaine, and heroin?”
Leonhart: As a former police officer, as a 32-year DEA agent, I can tell you that I think marijuana is an insidious drug.
Cohen: That’s not the question I asked you ma’am.  Does [marijuana] cause less damage to the American society and to individuals than meth, crack, cocaine, and heroin?  Does it make people have to kill to get their fix?
Leonhart: I can tell you that more teens enter treatment for…
Cohen: (Cutting off Leonhart) Can you answer my question?

1. “Marijuana’s Killed Five Young Infants in Colorado.”

As Oregon geared up to pass Measure 91, Dr. Ronald Schwerzler, the medical director of the Serenity Lane rehab chain, was called on by the No on 91 campaign as a medical advisor. He participated in the only televised debate over the marijuana legalization measure, where he uttered the most reefer mad statement of 2014.

“Let’s just concentrate on those [marijuana] edibles.  There have been five infant children deaths in Colorado that have picked up these drugs – from gummi bears, fruity pebbles – five young infants have died!  Now, if that’s not catastrophic, I don’t know what is.”

He should have known better than to say that in front of a Portland, Oregon, audience.  The crowd immediately began shouting “lies” and demanded a “source?”  When he heard someone yell “not true,” he responded, “yeah, it is.”

Schwerzler was forced to issue a retraction to the local newspaper and that retraction showed on screen as the televised debate was replayed for the Sunday morning talk show hour.

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