Smear House

As I discussed in my previous article, the US government has a long history of smearing, misrepresenting and ignoring cannabis research results.  This White House is no different. According to BuzzFeed, the White House has developed a committee titled the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, to single out "data demonstrating the most significant negative trends" about cannabis and to suggest "threats" it poses to the US.  The so-called committee is intended not to analyze the research about cannabis and make an unbiased view but resembles the Shafer Commission of 1971 ordered by Nixon that was intended to find the negative effects of cannabis can find evidence that it was a "gateway drug."  Although that commission failed to deliver the intended negative results and instead approached cannabis with honest research, there is little to suggest this new commission will take an honest approach in the age of alternative facts.

A meeting summary, according to BuzzFeed states, "Staff believe that if the administration is to turn the tide on increasing marijuana use, there is an urgent need to message the facts about the negative impacts of marijuana use, production, and trafficking on national health, safety, and security."  So, yet again, the US government will systematically and deceptively parse negative data to try to turn public opinion away from favoring cannabis legalization.

Although, in terms of our government, we have entered an age where truth no longer exists and faction loyalty is the only standard in a Mad Max world, the public may not be so easily swayed as it was during the Nixon administration.  Then, fear surrounded cannabis and ignorance about it was widespread.  With the advent of the internet and the availability of data from states that have already legalized cannabis medically and otherwise, we know those states are not suffering widespread chaos, crime, and impairment.  There have been positive as well as negative results when it comes to legalizing medical or recreational cannabis but we must be honest in our cost-benefit analysis. 

Although the overall cost-benefit analysis of legalizing cannabis is complex, it does not help to create agencies or committees that are intended at the outset to only portray negative data with the express intent to sway public opinion.  Nixonian tactics such as these are dishonest at best and must be fought against by medical professionals, scientists, and the public. 

There are good examples that can be followed rather than repeat the mistakes of history.  Canada's Minister of Health has already announced "We’ve taken a public health approach to the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis to ensure that proper precautions are in place to protect Canadians, especially youth. The Cannabis Act and its regulations provide strict national standards and oversight for the production, distribution and sale of legal, quality-controlled cannabis, which will help protect public health and safety."  Rather than twisting the facts, we can be prepared to learn from those states and countries who are taking a rational approach by watching the results honestly and without bias.  These states and countries are real scientific, social, and cultural experiments and all we have to do is watch and learn, not set up dishonest commissions or committees designed to intentionally sway the public with propaganda.

Ethan Carruthers