Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. It kills 480,000 Americans each year. Another 16 million Americans suffer from tobacco-related diseases.
Nicotine is one of the deadliest poisons known to humanity and horribly addictive. Cigarettes contain a total of 250 harmful chemicals, of which 69 are known carcinogens.
Cigarettes are completely legal in the U.S. And Republican politicians have no qualms about this at all.
Alcohol use is the 3rd leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. It kills 88,000 Americans each year – more than twice the number of deaths from the Opioid Crisis.
Alcohol use also generates numerous/severe legal and social problems. Alcohol use costs the U.S. economy $179 billion per year in lost productivity alone.
Alcohol is completely legal in the U.S. And Republican politicians have no qualms about this at all.
Then there is cannabis. Cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. It is non-toxic and non-addictive. Cannabinoids, the active ingredients in the cannabis plant, are produced naturally within the human body.
We now know these cannabinoids are essential to human health. Mothers milk naturally contains cannabinoids which are passed to infants in breast-feeding to promote infant health.
But when it comes to cannabis, many Republican politicians still live in the Twilight Zone. And they refuse to leave.
In recent examples, anti-cannabis Republican Senator John Cornyn was the first to flaunt his total ignorance of cannabis.
“It’s a new ballgame, with higher concentrations of the drugs, the challenges that brings to public safety, to individual mental health and also the consequences of being a gateway to some of these other drugs, certainly interacting with criminal organizations that peddle illegal drugs.”
There are no “mental health” issues associated with cannabis use. That myth has now been buried by real science.
There is only one reason why cannabis was ever a “gateway drug” to genuinely dangerous drugs.
It’s because our governments (and the media) lied to us about the imaginary dangers of cannabis. Young people trying cannabis – and discovering it was safe – would assume that the (real) dangers of using other drugs were also government fabrications.
Legal cannabis is “a gateway drug” in a different sense. It offers a safe alternative for both alcohol and tobacco users – with the potential to save more than ½ a million American lives per year. It is also a gateway drug to get people off of opioids, since medicinally cannabis is a safe substitute for opioids.
But Cronin comes across as practically a Renaissance Man compared to Alex Azar, the Republican dinosaur in charge of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration. Azar recently said this to Fox.
“What we’re doing is making sure that adolescents, that pregnant women and the doctors and teachers and parents who care for them are aware of the grave risks to them of marijuana use.” [emphasis mine]
Of course Azar couldn’t actually specify which “grave risks” he was referring to, because there aren’t any. The myth that cannabis use impairs the development of adolescents has also been shattered by real science.
Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.
Indeed, a study on long-term cannabis usage suggests that cannabis can actually help to reverse some forms of cognitive decline.
As for the effects of cannabis on pregnant women (and their fetuses), there is naturally very little scientific data. Here is what one researcher found.
Dr. Melanie Dreher studied women using cannabis during their entire pregnancy and then studied the babies one year after birth. She found that babies of the women who had smoked cannabis daily during their pregnancy socialised more quickly, made eye contact more quickly and were easier to engage.
Should we be recommending that pregnant women start consuming cannabis based on this one finding? Of course not. Obviously further research is necessary.
Should elected officials be publicly claiming there are (unspecified) “grave risks” to pregnant women using cannabis – without a shred of real evidence to support this? Of course not.
What these dinosaurs still fail to acknowledge is that cannabis Prohibition is (finally) going to end – with or without their cooperation. In 2019, when these anti-cannabis zealots fabricate imaginary “dangers” associated with cannabis use, they will get called out now.
There is no rational universe in which alcohol and tobacco use is legal, but cannabis use (a completely safe substance) is illegal. It’s time for the anti-cannabis dinosaurs to vacate the Twilight Zone.