Feds Continue Marijuana Hypocrisy as New Studies Show Health Benefits and No Cancer Threat

blueberry_kushI wrote an article a while back highlighting and debunking much of the federal government’s hypocrisy in regards to marijuana. I found it extremely disturbing that the White House could publish what they call a “fact sheet” on marijuana legalization which chooses to ignore all facts in favor of fear and propaganda. So I debunked several of their points with actual scientific research, and I’d highly encourage checking it out and passing it around.

A lot of new research has come to light in the short time since I wrote that piece. A new study being published in the June edition of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society shows there’s absolutely no risk of the development of either lung or upper airway cancer from light to moderate smoking of marijuana. The study also found that heavy, long-term smoking of marijuana doesn’t show a firm carcinogenic risk, which is made more noteworthy when considering the proven long-term risks of even light tobacco use. The study is just the latest of several which have found no increased cancer risks from smoking marijuana.

In fact, other studies have recently found that unique chemical compounds in marijuana actually fight lung cancer, as well as several other types of aggressive cancers. More research has also found that these compounds fight brain aging, and may even help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s. As TIME.com explains:

The latest review, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggests that activating the brain’s cannabinoid system may trigger a sort of anti-oxidant cleanse, removing damaged cells and improving the efficiency of the mitochrondria, the energy source that powers cells, ultimately leading to a more robustly functioning brain.

Previous studies have linked cannabinoids to increased amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that protects brain cells and promotes the growth of new ones. Since new cell growth slows or stops during aging, increasing BDNF could potentially slow the decline in cognitive functions.

Activation of cannabinoid receptors can also reduce brain inflammation in several different ways, which may in turn suppress some of the disease processes responsible for degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

This is in addition to other recent research which suggests regular marijuana users have “better blood sugar control” and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. Not to mention the numerous other scientific studies which have come to light over the past several years showing marijuana’s efficacy in treating, and even preventing, many other conditions. So with the overwhelming evidence continuing to prove the government wrong on risk — while showing groundbreaking findings on health benefits — why has our federal government continued to betray us by demonizing this plant?

In a recent poll of 1,003 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, only 6% of those surveyed said that people found smoking or in possession of a small amount of marijuana should face jail time, while almost 90% preferred no punishment, paying a fine or attending counseling. A recent Pew Research Center poll also showed that a majority of Americans want marijuana legalized at the federal level. It’s clear that as more people are becoming aware of the scientific evidence showing marijuana’s usefulness, more and more people are rejecting the lies the government has fed us over the past several decades.

Yet we continue to have a war waged against states which have adopted medical marijuana laws, even after the administration made a promise to respect these states, as well as the growers and dispensaries operating in them. Just look at the disgusting betrayal of government trust that happened in Montana. As Eric Stern at Alternet reports:

When Cotter charged these citizens in 2011, he gave no credence to a very basic protest that they all made: they’d been assured in writing, by Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, that they could grow medical marijuana and the feds wouldn’t prosecute them.

The defendants pointed to dozens of statements made by Holder and even the president, and specifically the now-infamous Ogden Memo. This was a publicly released document in 2009 document, written by David Ogden, Eric Holder’s deputy, that instructed federal law enforcement officers nationwide to leave medical marijuana growers alone as long as they were abiding by state law. This memo was reported in the national press, and local papers too, as a virtual ceding of jurisdiction by the federal government. “U.S. Won’t Prosecute in States that Have Medical Marijuana,” heralded a New York Times headline.

Since then, the DEA has cracked down on and raided dispensaries in several other states — including multiple raids throughout California — blatantly disrespecting state law while touting that federal law is all that matters. It’s time for the madness to end. Marijuana users are normal people, many choosing to consume cannabis in the even more beneficial edible and smokeless forms as opposed to smoking it. They’re our bosses, our neighbors, our lawmakers and even Beverly Hills moms. Regardless of whether or not they’re consuming it for a particular medical need or just for their own personal benefit, our federal government needs to stop with the nonsense. They’ll never admit that they blatantly lied, but the least they can do is admit that they got it wrong — and follow through with getting it right going forward.

Thomas Barr

Thomas Barr

Thomas Barr is a writer, editor and activist who's passionate about progressive ideals, with extra attention given to the fight for universal health care, medical marijuana, and saving our nation from decades of devastating trickle-down policies. Thomas is also a dedicated advocate for Type 1 diabetes research and education.
Be sure to check out his archives on Forward Progressives for more of his viewpoints.
Thomas Barr


Facebook comments

  • kgibbs53

    Bravo! My sentiments exactly…. A lift of the ridiculous prohibition is way over due. I say decriminalize, across the board. I don’t want to see it regulated or controlled by self-serving fat cats either.

    • Charles Vincent

      They need to be regulated just like alcohol and tobacco. Other than that have at it.

    • Starky

      But you know they’ll try, because they’ll still try to claim that it’s as dangerous as alcohol, even though there’s no evidence that anyone’s died from using it.

  • janet Janes

    I live in Mo.and my brother who is in his fiftys ,was involved in a fender bender ,one in which he thought the car he nicked rolled backwards into him .He made the first mistake of calling the police ,because the owner was not there.The police arrived and became suspicious of his demeanor ,he is in poor health and suffers from COPD.They handcuffed him took him to the hospital and drew blood for a tox screen .It was early am and brother had been sober for years,apparently however he did smoke some Pot about a week before and the blood test showed THC antibodies .in the mean time about two weeks later I got a call from another brother ,he informed me he had taken my brother to the ER he was having trouble walking and was walking into walls .The Dr.there did nothing he did not address the ambulation only the COPD .Then the next day my other brother called me and said Hal was no better and they were taking him to Joplin .I went with after a brief neuro check they determined something was wrong ,they sent him for a cat scan and it showed a mass ,surgery and a biopsy showed a gleoblastoma .he had a long series of chemo and radiation .He still has not been to court on the DUI ,they have post poned it twice ,until August then it will be 10 months what happened to a persons right to a speedy trial .It looks as if my brother may loose because apparently in Mo any trace of THC Metabolites in your system if you are in an accident even a fender bender ,where you call the police .you are guilty of being under the influence even if use was over a week at the time of the incident ,no wonder so many in Mo are taken for blood tests and not given breathalizers etc .They don’t really care if you are guilty of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs but only if your guilty of smoking pot in the last week or so .

    • Caralot

      so sad, hope your bro is able to live free of the bs!! here’s to his health!

  • Adam

    Whether or not I believe marijuana should be legalized, There are problems with this article. This author uses correlation as causation in his claims made about some of the studies and some of the people cite are only advocating medical use. He also ignores the negative studies about cannibis (which there are many in the journals of psychology about memory loss and addiction), and the problems with there being a shortage of long term studies about the effects of marijuana on the body.

    We need to have the discussion about the whole of the issue to make an informed decision about what to do with marijuana not simple propaganda as this ends up being just like a lot of articles about marijuana. I really would like people to present the whole issue, not just an opinion with supporting facts for the opinion. without recognizing the problems with an argument, you don’t allow the argument to stand up to informed scrutiny

    • greg

      This fight isn’t about marijuana… It’s about the government trying to control us. If I wanna eat rocks, there is no law saying I can’t. So why is there a law keeping me from growing, smoking, eating, or anything else with something the earth provides naturally… The fact is, marijuana is better for the treatment of every medical disorder than half of the pharmaceutical bullshit that causes cancer, and it promotes free-thinking… Those two things are a no-no in the governments’ eyes.

      • Adam

        please tell me that you find that line of logic problematic. the problem comes that it is a substance that there should be a serious conversation about how to control it because it does cause an altered state of mind. We have no clue what the long term effects are, and it doesn’t just effect you.

        And yes, i do have a stake in you being healthy and not eating/doing self destructive things because your healthcare costs ultimately come back on me, whether it is the increased risks that insurance companies see and then jack up rates, or through government subsidized healthcare. That’s why vaccines are so important, and the idea of preventative care. yeah, you can do whatever you want to yourself in your own home, but when you’re out in public and can affect my potential children by driving under the influence (of any substance) or distributing ‘natural remedies,’ I have a stake in it, and the government does need to look after the interests of all its people.

        now, this isn’t to say that I think you would be that irresponsible, but that’s why we have limits on alcohol intake, why you can shout “fire” in a crowded place, and why we don’t have general access to high powered explosives

      • JamesKelso

        Lets talk yoga. Performing yoga also alters the mind. Apparently it makes one feel at peace. If everyone is suddenly overcome by the peace we may have to lay off police officers and jail guards all over the country. The next thing you know they’ll be calling for Peace on Earth and start recalling all of the troops. That would devastate the arms industry the FBI, NSA the DEA. Let’s ban Yoga.

      • Adam

        so my economic argument about you being healthy got turned into, “economic issues are more important than world peace.”

        That’s a huge leap especially because i’m talking about what’s good for our whole society instead of every single person getting to do whatever they want however they want. I’m not even condemning smokers, I would simply rather there be real information instead of no propaganda like this article is right here

      • James

        Then why don’t we make cars illegal? And fast food. And while we’re at it, let’s make peanuts illegal, since people can have allergic reactions to those and go to the hospital. Tons of people die in car accidents, but you don’t see the government trying to make cars illegal. And one of the biggest causes of death in America is heart attack. What causes heart attacks? Cholesterol and other crap that builds up from eating fatty, unhealthy foods. So let’s just make all unhealthy foods illegal and force people to exercise, since we need to make sure everyone is healthy. Freedom was fundamental in the development of our country. If freedom doesn’t include the ability to explore our minds and experiment with our own consciousnesses, then I think we need to change our definition of freedom.

      • Adam

        reductum ad absurdem if i’m getting your logical fallacy right. Not going to dignify that with a response.

        I have addressed all your points in the last post. You know cars are heavily regulated, it is not mandatory to say whether peanuts are in anything (because it harms folks), and there is a lot of push to allow people to be educated on how their fast food will effect them. We know very little about marijuana and most of the good effects are coming from single isolated compounds, but we do know smoking weed in formative years lowers IQ, heavy use of weed reduces short term memory, and is correlated with an increase risk of schizophrenia (please note I am not saying that weed causes schizophrenia). Weed also causes an altered state of mind, and has the 2nd worst rate of addiction treatment outcomes (2nd only to tobacco).

        There are good things about cannabinoids, and I don’t discount the use of medical marijuana, but lets have an informed discussion about where it should be because it certainly shouldn’t be criminal, but I don’t know if it should be legal

      • William Carr

        Would you care to support that claim that Cannabis has the second worst rate of addiction treatment outcome?

        Because you carefully didn’t say MJ is addictive.

        It isn’t.

        It’s like saying people who cut back on beer to lose weight have a tendency to eventually go back to drinking beer… it’s a pointless statement that means nothing.

        There have been claims that early used of MJ reduces IQ, but they aren’t supported in the general population.

        You could probably prove that early use of alcohol causes the exact same effect, but we have rules and regulations on minors using alcohol, but adults are free to use it.

        As for the schizophrenia, that’s probably people self-medicating themselves.

        It turns out that Cocaine is the perfect treatment for ADD, so you get people self-medicating themselves.

        That’s not an effect of the underlying problem, and is therefore irrelevant.

      • Adam

        my response was moderated. this is easily googleable in free papers by The Scientist, and Daily Science. all my claims are verifiable

      • Adam

        and yes there are addiction rates for marijuana. that’s one of the things you should probably google.

      • DW

        You obviously don’t want to have an informed discussion and instead want to “inform” others.

        Pedagogues man… I swear.

      • William Carr

        We have “no clue” what the long term effects are?

        People have been using Cannabis for centuries.

        I think if we went to a retirement home we’d find plenty of research subjects that have used it all their lives, and we could rapidly build a database for statistical study.

      • Adam

        there’s a program that aired on NPR science about a group that funds studies (also about the good and the bad about legal pot). the title of the program is “feds debate marijuana as medicine.” I’d link it but that’s what is getting my comments removed.

        but! just because people have been doing things for centuries doesn’t mean it is good. it was recently found out that a plant used in homeopathic remedies (Aristolochia) is extremely carcinogenic. for centuries, going to the doctor increased chance of death. historical arguments can have some validity, but when it comes to health that argument is useless especially with nothing to back it up. I don’t wanna return to the health we had even 30 years ago, so going back centuries for medical advice sounds like a bad idea

    • Hollie Joy Ottman

      Wow really? There is nothing more to discuss, you go drink your beer we got this. Yet another young life gone today, and many lives ruined over this failed prohibition. The only reason for there being a shortage of long term studies would be because of people like you, although I don’t think there is a shortage of any information about it at all! Everybody smokes pot!!! At one point or another, and everybody knows somebody that smokes pot. And it could be your mother, your brother..normal everyday people like me and YOU. The whole of the issue? FAILED! Personally I think that’s where this country started going to shit. Look at us now.

      • Adam

        Because of people like me? People who are hungry for information and who expect a certain amount of rigor? I am all for science that challenges the norms, but I have seen the research linked, and it is good, but those who have interpreted it have gone from, “This compound can fight cancer…” to “smoking pot is good for you.” I remain skeptical until someone actually addresses the science in context instead of manipulating the claims to push an agenda. We would all be better if people would report on the facts and what the implications to our lives could be (which could prove that cannabis is safe for infrequent use for adults). But until then I have to evaluate the science myself cause I can’t trust this author to be unbiased on this subject

      • Gregory Paul Smith

        Adam, quit wasting your time arguing against legalization when it is obvious your time could be better spent doing the research you say you want to do. The information is available on the internet LOOK IT UP!!! and STFU! You say it shouldn’t be criminal, but not legal? What kind of claptrap is that? Get real, do your research and come back when you can quit being such a troll.

      • Adam

        okay, so maybe that was a little vague. what I meant, and I apologize for the small amount of vagueness in my statement, was that the plant should not be a jail-able offense, but I don’t think it should be blanket legal. it has proven medicinal uses, but recreational use can be dangerous. I don’t concede that it is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco (because that would take a lot of consideration that I don’t care to make at this time), but that argument only supports the restriction of those substances

        yes I have looked up everything I have said. If you have a real criticism of any of my arguments please speak it, don’t just call someone a troll and think that you’ve made a point. you’re doing that stupid thing i hear from conservatives when they can’t argue with someone, “liberals don’t use facts.”

    • Raff

      I agree with your comment. While I agree with the artice inasmuch as it criticizes the federal government’s dishonest/hypocritical behavior towards marijuana growers, I do not agree with many of its blaket statements on the purported benefits andsafetly of marijuana use.
      The studies that show there to be a credible cancer risk, for example, as as numerous and as credible as those that show the opposite is true. I support legal marijuana on the grounds that legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol are as or more dangerous, but we shouldn’t blindly promote a strictly onr-sided ideology either demonizing OR deifying this plant in support of a political argumen. There are many reasons to criticize the administration and the federal drug policy towards marijuana, but, the hyperbolic portrayal of marijuana’s cure-all properties as incontrovertible “fact” is not one of them.

  • Carol Scott

    Why is there no mention of the numerous studies showing that long term use can increase the risk of paranoia & schizophrenia?

    • Caralot

      Why did I say something to offend you?? Kidding aside, I will check that out as I’ve never heard this.

      • Truth

        As far as I understand, long term use has no correlation with mental disorder. However, those pre disposed can have those pre-dispositions “activated” so the speak, even with minor use.

        I have known people like this. They tend not to enjoy smoking weed at all, and yet for some reason choose to continue to.

        Then we blame the drug instead of the person, because we are hysterical over this issue, because we’ve been programmed to be.

    • Charles Vincent

      Those studies are on overuse/abuse. And everyone know overuse/abuse of any drug is bad for you.

    • Iforseti

      You really should read those “studies”. They examined schizophrenics who had and had not used cannabis and found that those who had habitually smoked had an altered brain chemistry from those who did not, the “obvious” conclusion was that the former developed the disease as a result of cannabis use. Junk science at best. If cannabis use caused schizophrenia I would be a raging psychotic by now, but I am not, I am a productive, tax paying member of society who seeks control over my own body.

      And to the clown above who talks about the increased cost of healthcare, where is your outrage over cigarettes, alcohol, mountain climbing, driving, scuba diving, football playing etc………

    • girlie

      I knew a man with hard core bi polar disorder and schizophrenia. He actually did better when smoking marijuana.

  • Caralot

    One word cigarettes, fine for the cancer industry, now since pot is reported to be non carcinogenic, I fear it has sent marijuana back to the “stone” age lol.

  • Sean

    Gotta love this article. YOu click on the links to find citations and what do you discover? A PRO POT website, without a single citation or study link!


    Well…not really.

  • Charles Vincent

    There is a much simpler point to be made here. If the government has no right to legislate when people imbibe alcohol, smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthy food, or interfere in a woman’s right to choose they also don’t have the right to tell you what illicit drugs you can use. Can they regulate it like alcohol or cigarettes? Yes. And they should its the responsible thing to do.

  • JamesKelso

    Everyone that has been convicted of a marijuana “crime” should file a class action suit against the government. All other taxpayers should demand that the war on drugs be called a loss and demand legalization.

  • Angela Bryant

    Yo, Mr Holder: How bout leaving pot smokers and whistle blowers alone; focus instead on going after some real murderers, rapists, wall street crooks and politicians trying to take voting rights away?

  • Duncan McNeil

    It’s time to legalize it, in the same way as alcohol or tobacco, which have both been proven to be more dangerous and also can be very dangerous for those around users.

  • rich

    its simple, the government doesnt want you on your drugs, they want you on their drugs. anyone against pot legalization, is a moron. like most of the republican idiots i see that for some reason frequent this site daily only to post their uneducated rhetoric. not one single OD from weed in the history of the world. it is nothing but another way to attack poor people. being an American nowadays is shameful. we have no control over our lives. we have become slaves thru wages and discriminatory laws like this. i truly hope with all my might, that a revolution begins.

  • Aaron

    Decriminalize it, then tax the hell out of it. It will drive drug dealers out of business while also supplementing tax revenues. I don’t smoke it, but if it means relieving some of the tax burden for me, then I don’t really care if others do.

  • Sheila Kotze

    Pot will be legal as soon as they figure out how to control it and tax it to make millions.. As it stands right now.. pretty much anyone can grown their own in their back yard… that is the real problem.

    • kdbow

      That may be a valid point! I wonder if it won’t become legal when big pharma can find a way to control it. When they do, I suspect that what will be available will be low quality, basically useless stuff, and small/independent growers will be sacrificed for the greater good of the almighty investors in big pharma…. kind of like what’s happening with the people’s request for GMO labeling which got defeated in WA due to insane campaign spending by Monsanto, et al.

  • Starky

    The government has no right regulating something that’s been used as a medicinal and recreational drug for some three thousand years. If they want to regulate something, maybe they should look into the things that actually hurt people. Arguing that the government needs to keep tabs on how much and how often it’s used or how it’s acquired is ridiculous. They’re just looking for yet another thing to control, ignoring more important issues than someone smoking a blunt.

  • DW

    “Yet we continue to have a war waged against states which have adopted medical marijuana laws, even after the administration made a promise to respect these states, as well as the growers and dispensaries operating in them.”

    Guess what organization falls under the Judiciary Branch of government, not the Executive Branch.

    The DEA. This administration doesn’t really have a say as to what the DEA gets up to. We have Separation of Powers for a reason in this country you know.