Right On: Proposition 2 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; vote no

Composite image, St. George News

OPINION — Looking through the smokescreen put up by advocates, Proposition 2 is all about getting Utah on the road to recreational marijuana, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Many of the proposition’s sponsors are undoubtedly seeking relief for legitimate sufferers. But ask yourself why so many previously-unengaged people have suddenly become advocates for those with debilitating illnesses.

Would these advocates-of-convenience be there if relief were available through a more traditional source?

Many of those in Proposition 2’s heart-rending photos are children. The implicit message to all the state’s young people: Marijuana is safe.

Yet marijuana has known and demonstrable risks for young people, adversely affecting brain development. Studies show that it is a gateway drug to other addictive drugs for younger, socially-vulnerable users.

Furthermore and despite what you read, marijuana is addictive. More on that later.

It’s certainly true that potentially useful medicine can be derived from marijuana. One derivative in particular, CBD oil, shows near-term promise.

CBD oil is not addictive but only recently has been subjected to rigorous testing by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Just a few months ago, the FDA approved its first and so far only marijuana-based medication, Epidiolex. It has approved two other drugs with synthetic formulations of marijuana chemicals.

All Americans rely on the FDA to ensure that the medications we receive are safe, effective and pure. Should marijuana derivatives be any different? Are CBD oil-based medicines harmful for children? The FDA doesn’t know.

Despite the lack of adequate FDA research and despite the cautions of a vast majority of the medical community, 30 states now allow wide use of marijuana for medical purposes. Utah allows its use in more limited circumstances.

These marijuana products are not being safety-tested like pharmaceuticals; measured and dosed like food products; subjected to agricultural-safety and pesticide standards like crops; and held to labeling standards like alcohol.

Yet Proposition 2 asks Utah to jump onto this bandwagon heading toward a very uncertain future. Undoubtedly some sufferers would benefit but at what risk to the public at large? We don’t know.

Utah’s Drug Safe Utah coalition does not oppose the medicinal use of marijuana. Instead the coalition supports the Utah Legislature in its well-considered and incremental steps to make marijuana-based medicines available to those in need while ensuring public safety.

But Proposition 2 isn’t about recreational marijuana in Utah, right? Wrong.

Proposition 2 supporters wave their arms about how only those with legitimate medical needs will have access to marijuana drugs. But its sponsors oppose restricting production to a single, state-run facility, instead allowing it to be home grown. Why? They oppose requiring a doctor’s prescription. Why? They oppose limiting distribution to licensed pharmacies. Why?

Disclaimers to the contrary, Proposition 2 would lead to an explosion of “victims” allowed to have medical marijuana prescribed by “candy doctors.”

Recreational marijuana is being legalized in a number of states. Why is Utah trying to “hold back the tide?”

One answer: marijuana is addictive.

So says the liberal Atlantic magazine in an authoritative article titled “America’s Invisible Pot Addicts.” Here is a sampling of what the article’s marijuana skeptics have to say.

Ziva Cooper, a Columbia University professor of clinical neurobiology, notes, “A lot of these concentrates can have up to 90 percent THC,” whereas the kind of flower you could get 30 years ago was far, far weaker.

New York University public policy professor Mark A. R. Kleiman says that marijuana is a “very abusable drug,” noting that 40 percent of users reported daily or near-daily use, up from nine percent 25 years ago.

Stanford University professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Keith Humphreys reports that, “In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke it say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it. I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’”

Humphreys goes on, “There are plenty of people who have problems with it, in terms of things like concentration, short-term memory, and motivation. People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”

The federal National Institutes of Health reports that “nearly 3 of 10 marijuana users manifested a marijuana use disorder in 2012-2013.”

The Atlantic article points out that marijuana “is not benign, even if it is relatively benign compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by.”

After Oregon legalized marijuana for those over age 21, there was a dramatic rise in its use by college students under 21, especially those who were heavy alcohol drinkers. As reported on NPR, these are the people most likely to suffer brain damage.

Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration official, says, “The mantra about how this is a harmless, natural, and non-addictive substance – it’s now known by everybody. And it’s a lie.”

Thousands of businesses, as well as local governments earning tax money off of sales, are now literally invested in that lie.

Sabet continues, “The reckless way that we are legalizing marijuana so far is mind-boggling from a public-health perspective. The issue now is that we have lobbyists, special interests, and people whose motivation is to make money that are writing all of these laws and taking control of the conversation.”

“The liquor companies are salivating. They can’t wait to come in full force,” says Matt Karnes of Green Wave Advisors. He adds that Big Pharma is targeting the medical market, with Wall Street, Silicon Valley, food businesses and tobacco companies aiming at the recreational market.

The latest example: The Coca-Cola Company is considering adding a “marijuana element” to drinks. Why not? Coca-Cola was founded adding a “cocaine element” to its signature product, hence its name. Marijuana is coming to a vending machine near you.

Canadian marijuana companies’ stocks are booming like the Internet did in the late 1990s.

The message in all this, especially to our young people: marijuana is safe, fun and increasingly legal.

Vote no on Proposition 2. Passing a proposition doesn’t make a drug a safe medicine.

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: hsierer@stgeorgeutah.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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30 Comments

  • iceplant October 4, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    LIes, lies, lies, and MORE LIES.
    Buddy, you don’t know the first thing about cannabis as medicine and that’s blatantly obvious in the words you have written.
    I honestly can’t even pinpoint one specific lie because there are SO MANY. Let’s just concentrate on your first lines.

    “Proposition 2 is all about getting Utah on the road to recreational marijuana, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

    Wow. Did you formulate that BS all by yourself? Because that’s NOT what this proposition is about. You did absolutely ZERO research into this and it shows. Sounds like you’re all wrapped up in latter-day preaching. You claim “cannabis is addictive.” Absolutely FALSE. I’ll tell you what’s addictive. The ability to go to a doctor’s office and lie to get more pain pills in the blink of an eye. I know because I DID. And the doctors never questioned it. These are respected local doctors too.

    I spent 9 miserable years addicted to LEGALLY PRESCRIBED opiates for back and spine pain. I was in deep and I had to go through rehab just to get off of them. Wanna know what’s saving me from living with intense pain now? Cannabis is. And I haven’t touched a pain pill in 3 years. But I’m sure you’ll dismiss that as “anecdotal evidence” and can’t possibly take someone like me seriously. Right? I guarantee you’ve never touched cannabis in your life. How do I know this? Simple, it’s written in every word of your absurd assessment.

    I will be voting YES. All of my friends are voting YES. I have neighbors up and down my street with VOTE YES signs in their front yards. But you go right ahead and try to convince people that you know what you’re talking about. Those of us actually using this as medicine know you’re full of crap. This opinion is misinformation and blatant lies. You should be ashamed. How about you start formulating your “opinions” based on facts instead of regurgitating what your church leaders have told you? People who know that cannabis heals and saves lives might take you seriously.

    YES ON PROP 2!!!

    • Blumpking October 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      DId you even read the proposition? Its just a good facade. I will be voting no. My neighbors will be voting no. Not all of us are brainwashed that Marijuana is a miracle drug that has been hiding right under our noses for decades. It helps with some things but Its funny how people like you are convinced it can be used to treat everything. I have seen the devestating effects of Marijuana in other states(medical and recreational). All the medical term means is that you need a doctor to label you with something like PTSD so you can use it recreationally. It needs to be well regulated. Prop 2 is a hastily written proposition and is a very very poor choice. Lets do it right the first time.

      • Happy Commenter October 4, 2018 at 6:25 pm

        Iceplant does not allow facts to get in the way of making an asparagus out of himself. I will be voting “NO” also.

      • Red2Blue310 October 4, 2018 at 8:09 pm

        Try it for cancer and muscle cramps. You will get off your opioids and live a more full life. It’s good for arthritis too. Anyone who is opposed to recreational use or medicinal use of CBD oil is ignorant of its uses. Perhaps you don’t realize you can buy recreational cannibus in both our neighboring cities of Nevada, Colorado and California. And thus, CBD/THC oils anytime you want. This is a dumb LDS argument.

    • RBen October 4, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      WOW..You pretty much nailed it iceplant.

    • mshaw October 4, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      His bishop put him up to it!!

    • jaltair October 4, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      Very true. I will be voting “yes” for all the same reasons.

  • bikeandfish October 4, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I thought republicans believed in personal liberty, accountability, etc. It seems to be conservatives like Howard only believe that when its them exercising personal liberty and not when others act in ways inconsistent with their own moral/ethical beliefs.

    And the linked website doesn’t actually display studies that “show that it is a gateway drug to other addictive drugs”. The relevant citation, 46, can be found here in full detail:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291295/

    When you read the article, and not just the link and summary, you see that study did not meet the 95% threshold for statistical confidence. What they describe is an association at best or more simply descriptive statistics of how many people go onto use other illicit drugs. Its important for authors not to exaggerate or take scientific research out of context as it intentionally misleads readers. This is a sham and needs to be called that at every step.

    Howard has regularly failed to support his arguments under even basic scrutiny. Its one thing to believe in your personal ideology but its another unethical issue to provide fallacious evidence. Even a superficial reading of this essay exhibits that reality at large. For example, he never once shows evidence of a true trojan horse in the proposal which is ironic as that is his entire thesis. Its all empty rhetoric.

    • bikeandfish October 4, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      Actually, I have to correct my statement and apologize. The scientific citation is supported statistically, it was an error in my browser. Almost all groups met the confidence interval standards. Didn’t discover until I tried to download the article instead of viewing in browser (some how only saw an upper threshold when standard deviation was included). Sorry for the error.

  • xbcmc059 October 4, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Well said iceplant.

  • Redbud October 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I’m going to vote NO just out spite!

  • Neil October 4, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    This Op-Ed is pure misinformation and propaganda. Howard, you are either a fool that has been misled yourself or you are acting as a proxy for the LDS Church that desperately wants this prop defeated to protect their vast stock holdings in pharmaceutical corporations. Not all Americans rely on the FDA to know what is safe and what is not. Some of the most deadly, highly addictive drugs are FDA approved. However, American drug corporations do rely on the FDA to create and maintain their monopolies. I’m really getting tired of having people like you force their religious and political views down my throat in the form of legislation. If you want to practice a belief system that you think will benefit YOU, by all means do it. But STOP trying to force me to participate in your chosen life style. This prop is going to pass because the majority of people want it to.

    • Happy Commenter October 4, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      Vote NO… This bill is deliberately worded to pave the way for recreational use. Neil, no the majority of people do not want THIS BILL to pass. Most of us are not sheep trying to do the “right” thing as defined by the pot lobby. This needs much more regulation attached to make sure only the people who really need it will be using it. Until that happens this will crash and burn every time! Who will be regulating and supervising the “grow at home” option for example?

      • Neil October 5, 2018 at 6:29 am

        People that cannot control their own emotions must try to control the behavior of others. Maybe you should focus on the former and not the latter.

      • Ricki October 5, 2018 at 7:01 am

        Have you read the bill for yourself? Actually it’s obvious that you have not but your ridiculous comments. It’s a short bill in comparison and if your going to voice your opinion so loudly you should read the bill so you dont sound like such a fool.

        • Happy Commenter October 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

          You’re right, neil didn’t read it!

          • Neil October 5, 2018 at 4:50 pm

            I read it. In my opinion it doesn’t go far enough, but it’s a good start. If you consider me a fool for wanting to end the war against a plant, so be it. Drug addiction is a cry for help. Criminalizing and incarcerating those in need is not only foolish, it’s inhumane.

  • commonsense October 4, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Let’s be honest enough to admit that marijuana is fun, it makes you feel good. There is a reason you keep using it. Yes, pain pills are bad. They also make you feel groovy. People lie and steal to get any of these psychotropic drugs. All of them interfere with natural brain neurotransmitters. Lump alcohol in there too.

    If we can conduct our lives without any mood altering substances, that would be ideal. If you need something then marijuana gives you another option. Don’t think big business isn’t behind marijuana legalization. Growers, stockholders, dispensers and the addicted user all have a big istake in marijuana.

    If an element of marijuana helps children with epilepsy, sure but we don’t have the long term studies to show safety in the developing brain. It appears to have a dumbing down effect on adults who started using as a kid but everything has tradeoffs.

  • and October 4, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Is this the stuff that is grown and processed by the government for restricted medical use or is this just allowing you to grow some plants in your yard for “Medical” issues? Coming from San Diego, this medical marijuana nonsense is nothing more than trying to legalize marijuana so the recreational users can get some phony medical marijuana card and smoke weed. Much to my dismay, the LDS church (Of which I am not a member of) is caving to the pleas of the MM proponents. I have seen first hand how medical marijuana is an excuse for people to engage in their favorite illegal habit under the guise of treating some pseudo-medical issue. Other than anecdotal accounts of some miraculous results obtained by some unidentifiable person (Which story always invokes the requisite child, old person, terminally ill person) is there any medical peer reviewed studies showing that there are some benefits or is this like the essential oils / anti-vaccination propaganda?

    • Happy Commenter October 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      Thank You!

    • LocalTourist October 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Prop 2 doesnt allow for growing your own.
      Prop 2 doesnt allow for smoking.

      Welcome to Utah.
      Now, read Prop 2 before you embarass yourself further, by comparing Utah to Orange County.

  • RBen October 4, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I’m not sure what the big deal is, the LDS church just finished writing the new bill and
    delivered it to Governor Herbert so he can call a special session in November. That way the Legislature can gut Prop-2. The funny thing about the Prop-2 is the church has been driving all the hysteria about how bad Cannabis is, I know a lot of people involved in marijuana over the years and they are all good law abiding citizens except for the marijuana use. For all the naysayers here in Utah you probably know someone that uses marijuana or has used it without you knowing that they do right now.Howard Sierer.As for this article please get the facts straight.

    • LocalTourist October 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Okay, I know the people involved…and the LDS Church dod NOT “just finish writing a new bill”. They wrote as much of this compromise as I had in writing D &C.

      You say “the legislature will gut Prop 2″…if you read the compromise, it is 90% Prop 2.

  • KR567 October 4, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    OMG …this article should of been put on the comic page ! ….lol

    • LocalTourist October 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Best quote today!

  • commonsense October 5, 2018 at 6:40 am

    If you really care about marijuana risks, then do some reading.
    If you just want it at any cost, then dismiss the facts Howard presents.
    My biggest concern is legalization of marijuana gives the impression that it is safe and beneficial. Just because alcohol is legal, it is certainly not healthy or safe, in fact is a major cause of auto deaths. In some states marijuana is the second leading cause of fatal auto accidents. Stoned driving isn’t safe and stoned people aren’t productive.

    • LocalTourist October 5, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Howard is NOT quoting facts, he’s quoting Nancy Reagan. Kevin Sabet is a clown who make money giving anti-cannabis speeches, and refuses to examine any current research.

      True, cannabis is present in more Colorado traffic deaths, but it doesnt mean the dead person was stoned… it means they used weed in the past 2 weeks. A person could use cannabis on Friday, and get killed on their way to work next Wednesday…and when someone dies in a crash, their blood gets drawn. Then the cops, especially “Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area”, a federal bureau that Southwest Utah Public Health worships (even thought they’ve been caught fudging stats)….those cops look at the presence of cannabis in the dead guy’s blood, and even though he wasn’t stoned they say “AHA!!!! Another marijuana-related traffic death!” It’s comical, and it skews the numbers…and skews the facts.

      As far as stoned people not being productive, you’d be surprised how many people you interact with each day that are “functioning addicts”… but that’s okay, because the doctor lives in the ward and wrote the prescription. If 23 people are dying of opioid overdose every month, think about that… ad think about how many stoned people it means are in your neighborhood.

    • iceplant October 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      commonsense my backside.
      Your biggest concern is that it makes you feel uncomfortable knowing that people benefit from a medicine that YOU personally consider abhorrent. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, chief. You’re fighting a losing battle.
      Get with the times or get left behind.

  • utahdiablo October 5, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Vote No…just floow the money, the only reason the Govenor is wanting to work together is to pad all their pockets with more taxes….same thing with Prop 1, the child / school tax of .10 cents on every damn gallon of gas you ever buy for the rest of your life? Nope, guess they forgot to tell you Sitla already is giving the schools another 82 Million next year from land sales? Oh didn’t hear that huh…yeah Vote no on Prop 1 & 2

  • Carpe Diem October 6, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    OMG! Reefer madness!

    Oh, my heck. What a brainstorm of BS that has washed up this summer. Haven’t seen the COJCOLDS get so fuzzy since Kirtland Temple was taken over and the Saints chased out of town with pitchforks. Or maybe the other time they were shot out of town. Or the other time they got kicked out of of Navooo and sent packing out of the USA. You get the picture. Regardless, they have been telling everyone, “MJ, Not until we are good and ready!” and…. now that the PEOPLE are going to do it regardless, they are finally GOOD AND READY!

    What a wagon load of manure.

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