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Radical Rant: The Curious Alternate Reality of Project SAM Oregon

Russ Belville

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How dedicated to Reefer Madness must one be to fight against marijuana legalization in a state that has already legalized marijuana by the greatest margin of any state to do so? Join me now for a look into the mind of one Randy Philbrick.

Randy is the head of the Oregon chapter of Project SAM, or as I call it, SAMUEL (Smart Approaches to Marijuana Use Except Legalization). I’ve been going rounds with him on social media for a while now, which, based on our follower counts, is a bit like Andre the Giant wrestling against a 2nd grader. Nevertheless, like a cat playing with a wounded mouse, I enjoy debunking his tired prohibitionist tripe, and I hope it can serve as a template for your arguments with the Reefer Mad people in your life.

Deflection = Addressing Out A Double-Standard

One of Randy’s favorite responses to anybody who points out how marijuana is far safer than alcohol is to accuse them of deflecting from the subject of marijuana and denying the “science” of marijuana’s harms, which includes a never-ending spiel of junk science gobbledygook like “half of the identified compounds of marijuana are carcinogenic [and] marijuana has 4X the amount of tar as tobacco… the main contributor to lung cancer.”

Never mind that the largest study ever conducted on the issue, done by a doctor with 30 years of data who intended to find the link between marijuana and lung cancer, found no link between marijuana and lung cancer and even a suggestion of a protective effect against cancer. Which leads to…

The Harmless Strawman

Randy likes to claim that marijuana legalizers say “marijuana is harmless.” If you know of anyone saying that, please let me know so I can correct them. What we do say is “marijuana is safer than alcohol” or tobacco or playing football, for that matter, which takes you back to the “deflection” point like a beginning programmer’s first “10: print hello; 20: goto 10” code."

The Black Market Strawman

Randy likes to also say that legalizers say that “legalization will eliminate the black market.” Again, if you find these legalizers, alert me, because what we do say is “legalization reduces the black market.”

Nothing can ever eliminate a black market; there are black market cigarettes, DVDs and purses, to name a few perfectly legal things you can buy cheaper illegally. Already we’ve seen numerous stories of Mexican marijuana farmers giving it up because there’s no profit in it thanks to legalization.

“Medical” Marijuana

Randy is stalwart in his belief that marijuana is not medicine, claiming it doesn’t meet the standards of science. When you provide him with links to double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed studies that say just the opposite, he’ll dismiss that by saying the studies are old, or just pilot studies. But if there is a study claiming there to be harm from marijuana, it could be written by a high school sophomore on the back of a napkin, he’d hold it up as proof.

Polls Don’t Mean Anything

When you confront Randy on his increasingly minority stand that marijuana isn’t medical, with polls reaching as high as 90 percent support for medical marijuana in some states, Randy just shrugs and says, “90 percent of the 1000 people or so that they polled support it,” but that doesn’t mean that 90 percent of everybody supports it. Yes, Randy’s grasp on the math of statistical probability is as tenuous as his grasp on the science of medical marijuana.

Pot’s Evil Infects All It Touches

Recently in Oregon we had a story where a group called Women Leaders in Cannabis donated food baskets to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving. The donation was rejected because it came from a pot group, something Randy cheered by noting, “It looks like they are trying to buy their way into the community, to try to buy acceptance.” That’s right, Randy would rather see poor people go hungry on the holidays than allow anyone in the community to think potheads have compassion and give to charity.

Pot’s Destroying the Environment

Randy laments the energy wasted by growing marijuana indoors without even a hint of the irony that it is his battle to demonize and criminalize marijuana that forces it to be grown indoors.

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?

Like any good moral busybody, Randy likes to cloak himself in the mantle of protector of youth, which makes you wonder why he support a system where drug dealers don’t check IDs and marijuana is so profitable that it’s worth dealing in schools.

He even joined the annual Halloween Pot Scare that supposes that adults who just bought a marijuana-infused candy for $10 at the dispensary will put that in a kid’s bag rather than a 10-cent Tootsie Roll, a scare that has never, ever come to fruition.

Poor Randy. Being a marijuana prohibitionist must feel like being the manager of a Blockbuster Video store these days.

(Photo Courtesy of Learn.Genetics)

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