From time to time we are reminded just how much work remains when it comes to educating politicians and the public about cannabis. One of those times is now: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has warned a constituent via a letter that he doesn’t support medical marijuana legalization because, among other reasons, smoking pot can lead to death.
McConnell points out that the main ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is already available in pill form from Big Pharma for the treatment of certain illnesses.
|I’d be sweating, too, Mitch…
What he doesn’t mention is a fact of which he may well be unaware, given his general level of ignorance around marijuana: Marinol — besides being ridiculously expensive — has shown itself to be quite ineffective in relieving the symptoms of most patients. Its synthetic THC is not the same thing as real herbal marijuana, as pointed out by The Weed Blog.
Patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, often report that Marinol’s high cost limits their use of the drug, and physicians report that the cost of Marinol dissuades them from prescribing it.
The senator also said he was “troubled” by the fact that voting to make medicinal cannabis available would be “without following the scientific processes” of the Food and Drug Administration.
What he doesn’t mention is that the reason these “scientific processes” haven’t occurred is that the federal government — as in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) — have blocked marijuana research. “That’s like saying that the only way you will agree that something is valid is if it is researched more, yet never allow[ing]such research,” The Weed Blog notes.
McConnell then mentions Rep. Barney Frank’s medical marijuana bill, and raises concerns about what could happen it it became law: death.
“Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation,” Senator McConnell wrote. “The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.” (None of these conditions, other than some short-term memory loss, of course, has ever been documented with marijuana.)
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart lost no time in spinning the Senator’s statement, claiming McConnell was just making the case that “drugs in general” have detrimental effects.
“Everyone from the Obama administration on down agrees that drug use has had serious consequences, including deaths,” Stewart dissembled. “The letter makes that clear.”
The constituent who corresponded with the Senator posted the letter on a marijuana blog, grasscity.com
, and wrote a response to what McConnell had to say:
“Hi Blades, got a letter back from Mitch McConnell about legalizing marijuana. I’ll let the letter speak for itself. WOWZA.”
To actually overdose on marijuana, according to a 1988 DEA report
, you would “theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes.”
“If you have to lump marijuana together with all other drugs in order to make it sound scary, that would seem to indicate that it’s not actually very scary,” noted Dan Amira at New York
Following is McConnell’s complete letter to his constituent: