WASHINGTON (CNS) — Opposition to the legalization of marijuana is on “the side of science and the side of fact,” said William J. Bennett, a former U.S. secretary of education and former federal “drug czar.”
He called it “remarkable that there are so many in denial” about the harmful effects of pot.
Bennett made the comments Feb. 9 in discussing his new book on the topic at an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
The book, “Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America,” was co-written by attorney Robert A. White.
It discusses both the statistics and stories surrounding the current debate on marijuana legalization, the advocates for which are “well-organized, well-funded and on their way to harming America, especially our children,” according to White.
The talk focused heavily on statistics and studies on legalization and medical use of pot.
“The research on this is overwhelming. You don’t have to believe all of the science; only half or a third of the science will do,” said Bennett, a Catholic.
White and Bennett cited research that shows marijuana use been associated with permanently lowered IQ levels, diminished motivation, impaired short-term memory, cognitive impairment, addiction, and diminished life satisfaction and achievement.
They also said that on average, cannabis is about 300 percent more potent today than in the 1970s. To illustrate those different levels of the intoxicating chemical in pot, the authors said it is like the difference between the alcohol content in a 12-ounce beer and in a 12-ounce glass of vodka.
“Good idea?” asked Bennett. “It doesn’t seem so.”
Bennett and White then addressed the campaign to broaden legalization of marijuana for medical use, saying it is another area where the public has been misinformed.
“Advocates for this have been using anecdote and emotion to push the notion that this is a compassion issue,” said White.
“The two words people love to use in those kinds of positions are ‘bigot’ and ‘heartless,'” added Bennett. “They say things like, ‘how could you keep this medicine from this little girl,’ when our data shows us that most people seeking marijuana for ‘medical’ reasons are males between the ages of 18 and 30 and it’s for ‘severe pain,’ rather than glaucoma, cancer or MS,” he said.
He said research shows that, in some cases, as few as 5 percent of medical marijuana license applications had to do with those four diseases.
Physicians have better ways to treat patients’ pain than recommending marijuana, according to Bennett. “What I hear over and over when I talk to doctors,” he explained, “is that they say that if you have a medical degree and specialty, it doesn’t make all that much sense to tell a patient in this day in age to set some dried leaves on fire and inhale the smoke.”
However, what concerned the authors the most were the implications of legalization for children.
“What we’re expecting, in places where it’s legalized, is a business model that similar to big tobacco’s; it’s one that relies on addiction and aims a great deal of advertisement at children and young people,” White told the audience ,while showing picture after picture of colorful advertisements and wrappers of cannabis-infused candies.
According to White and Bennett’s findings, states where marijuana has been legalized have seen higher levels of consumption in children between the ages of 12 and 17, as well as massive spikes in drug-related school incidents and suspensions.
While marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, a patchwork of state pot laws exists. Four states have legalized the use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. Voters in the District of Columbia approved a pro-marijuana initiative, but Congress has to review it before it takes effect.
In several other states, the use of recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal or at least decriminalized. For now, pot remains illegal in 23 states.
While the Catholic Church has largely stayed neutral in the public debate over the issue, several church leaders have spoken out regarding drug use and marijuana legalization efforts. In June 2014, Pope Francis said that legalizing marijuana and other “recreational drugs” has never curbed addiction rates and has little impact on criminal drug trafficking organizations.
“No to every type of drug use, it is as simple as that,” the pontiff remarked to an audience of 450 representatives of national and international drug enforcement agencies. “Let me say this in the clearest terms possible: The problem of drug use is not going to be solved with drugs,” he added.
Attempts to deal with the use of drugs by legalizing them are not a solution, “but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon,” Pope Francis said.
In December 2013, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila posted on the Denver Catholic Register’s website an essay by E. Christian Brugger, a moral theologian at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
Brugger discussed some of the legalization issues, including a long list of negatives associated with pot smoking, especially for teens.
“Moral psychology indisputably shows that desire arises from the senses: from seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and feeling,” Brugger wrote. “Children, especially adolescents, who see their peers, their neighbors, or worse, their parents smoking pot, who smell the distinctly sweet odor, who hear about the ‘merits of getting high,’ are much more likely to desire it, try it and become users.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.”
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Bennett is one of the fascist, prohibitionist parasites who helped turn the so-called “land of the free” into the world’s leading jailer, the least free country on the face of the Earth! Anyone who supports the criminalization of drug use, especially that of cannabis, is an enemy combatant against our lives and liberties more dangerous than every violent criminal combined multiplied a thousand times over — ending the Prohibition of cannabis is the least we would need to accomplish in order to have any hope of restoring American Freedom! There is no sanction too extreme to use in ridding our nation of such filth.
Cannabis is far and away the safest euphoriant known to man, and it is a medicine.
With all due respect… as a life long Catholic and a national advocate for the sick and suffering to have the right to use cannabis therapy I have to strongly disagree with Mr Bennett.
The laws on cannabis prohibtion were put into place for racist purpose in 1939 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/marijuana-prohibition-racist_n_4590190.html
Richard Nixon fearing the counter culture and change of power dynamics of the times went against his own commission http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jul/24/war-on-drugs-40-years
Today here is a dose or reality about the war on cannabis http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/06/opinion/branson-end-war-on-drugs/
So as a person of faith who is involved with the cannabis industry ( http://www.veteransforcompassionatecare.org Here is our Veterans program to ease pain and suffering ) it is important that common sense and HONESTY about cannabis be brought forward.
Mr Bennett is a cannabis prohibition profiteer who has supported the for profit prison industry and the ever increasing Draconian laws to keep the devils cabbage from the children… Old drama that has no legitimate role in today’s society for cannabis to be restricted and treated as a dangerous drug. The only criminality in cannabis is the old racist laws from the 1930s.
I would encourage an honest and science based discussion about cannabis and the role of the prohibitionists and their profiteers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4el6EGqcUw Please watch and listen to the dying pleading for safe access to a medical cannabis therapy program and then ask yourself why anyone would support those old racist laws from the 1930s.
Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?
Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.
The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.
If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!
Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?
Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.