Mason Tvert, the main man behind SAFER, lives to promote the theory that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol -- and if he can hype his book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? at the same time, that's even better. These goals come together in Tvert's latest campaign -- challenging the idea that alcohol's less risky than weed by offering his tome for free to DARE instructors nationwide.
Tvert's latest campaign was inspired by a "Backers of Legal Pot Just Want to Get High," a San Jose Mercury News op-ed by Skip Miller, chairman of DARE America. The piece takes a stand against a pot legalization initiative headed to the California ballot in November.
In it, Miller writes about e-mails he's received from marijuana advocates -- but notes that "I have yet to see one that overcomes the body of scientific research demonstrating that smoking marijuana is harmful and does just one thing well: It gets people high. And that high comes with short- and long-term health risks that proponents of legal weed don't like to acknowledge."
Tvert took this assertion as a challenge. In addition to writing a sample e-mail complete with links to information that, in his view, puts the lie to Miller's claims above, he's pledged to give a copy of his book to every DARE instructor across the country, including those planning to attend the 23rd Annual DARE International Training Conference, which begins tomorrow in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Will minds be changed? Doubt it -- but the portion of DARE's website identifying alcohol as a "gateway drug" that can lead to more harmful substances does seem to soft-peddle booze risks in comparison to the organization's "Medical Marijuana Reality Check," which starts with this simple statement: "Simply put, the smoked form of marijuana is not considered modern medicine."
Page down to read that fact sheet, immediately following Tvert's release announcing his DARE offer and the sample e-mail to Miller:
It's time for the nation's largest drug education program to get its facts straight when it comes to the world's two most popular recreational substances.
In a guest column in opposition to the marijuana reform initiative on the ballot in California, DARE America Chairman Skip Miller goes off about how marijuana "mushes up your brain," "lowers inhibitions," and "makes users engage in risky behavior." Meanwhile, the DARE America website discusses how "[s]ocial drinking is an acceptable and pleasurable activity for millions of Americans," which "relaxes you, curbs stress, and chases away inhibitions."
DARE instructors from across the nation are gathering this week for the DARE International Training Conference. We can't help but assume they will be instructed to continue spreading this misguided and potentially dangerous message that alcohol is an acceptable form of intoxication for adults, yet marijuana is just too harmful, cannot be consumed responsibly, and thus should never be allowed as an alternative.
As a result, SAFER and Chelsea Green Publishing are offering every DARE instructor in the nation a FREE copy of Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? In order to reach Mr. Miller and the DARE organization as a whole, however, we need your help...
Take action today and send DARE a message!
CLICK HERE or visit http://tinyurl.com/3yfsw5e to send DARE America Chairman Skip Miller an e-mail, calling on him and DARE to admit that marijuana is safer than alcohol and incorporate this important fact into the DARE's curriculum.
In fact, Mr. Miller essentially challenged you to do so in his column:
As the chairman of DARE America... I have yet to see one [e-mail from a marijuana reform supporter] that overcomes the body of scientific research demonstrating that smoking marijuana is harmful and does just one thing well: It gets people high...
We have provided you with an editable e-mail to Mr. Miller that includes links to all the information he should need to arrive at the conclusion that marijuana is far safer than alcohol. We hope you will take a minute to fill out the quick form, send him an e-mail, and then encourage others to do so, as well. Needless to say, SAFER will also be sending Mr. Miller a complimentary copy of Marijuana is Safer.
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em>Subject: Please admit marijuana is safer than alcohol
In your recent column in the San Jose Mercury News, you went to great lengths to express your concern about the potential harms of marijuana. Yet you failed to address one key fact: every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is FAR less harmful than alcohol. For a quick review of the facts, please visit http://www.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/
I am writing to call on you and DARE America to incorporate this fact into the DARE curriculum. Marijuana and alcohol are by far the two most popular recreational substances in the world, and it's time we start telling the truth about their relative harms. After all, it's irresponsible -- and potentially dangerous -- to continue spreading the message that alcohol use is acceptable for adults and the use of a far safer substance is not.
On the DARE America website, you discuss how "[s]ocial drinking is an acceptable and pleasurable activity for millions of Americans," which "relaxes you, curbs stress, and chases away inhibitions." Yet alcohol is far more toxic, more addictive, and more harmful to the user and to society than marijuana. Why shouldn't we allow adults to make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana for those very same purposes?
I understand you will be receiving a complimentary copy of the book, "Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?" -- an offer that has also been extended to every DARE instructor in the nation. It's my sincere hope that you will review the scientific information it provides and incorporate it into the DARE program moving forward. You can also find a brief summary of this information at http://www.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/
DARE's "Medical Marijuana Reality Check:"
"We created Prop. 215 so that patients would not have to deal with black market profiteers. But today it is all about the money. Most of the dispensaries operating in California are little more than dope dealers with store fronts." -- Rev. Scott Imler Co-Founder of Prop. 215, California's Medical Marijuana Law Source: Alternatives Magazine Fall, 2006 Issue 39
What's wrong with permitted the use of smoked marijuana?
Simply put, the smoked form of marijuana is not considered modern medicine. On April 20th, 2006, the FDA issued an advisory concluding that no sound scientific studies have supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data support the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.
A number of states have passed voter referenda or legislative actions making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor's recommendation. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective under the standards of the FD&C Act.
While smoking marijuana may allow patients to temporarily temporarily feel better, the medical community makes an important distinction between inebriation and the controlled delivery of pure pharmaceutical medication. The raw (leaf ) form of marijuana contains a complex mixture of compounds in uncertain concentrations, the majority of which have unknown pharmacological effects.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for any long-term medical use, and a subsequent IOM report declared that, "marijuana is not modern medicine." Additionally, the American Medical Association, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society do not support the smoked form of marijuana as medicine.
Smoking marijuana may unintentionally cause serious harm to patients.
The delicate immune systems of seriously ill patients may become compromised by the use of marijuana. Additionally, the daily use of marijuana compromises lung function and increases the risk for respiratory diseases, similar to those associated with nicotine cigarettes. Marijuana has a high potential for abuse and can incur addiction. Frequent use of marijuana leads to tolerance to the psychoactive effects and smokers compensate by smoking more often or seeking higher potency marijuana.
In people with psychotic or other problems, the use of marijuana can precipitate severe emotional disorders. Chronic use of marijuana may increase the risk of psychotic symptoms in people with a past history of schizophrenia. Marijuana smoking by young people may lead to severe impairment of higher brain function and neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as a higher risk for addiction and polydrug abuse problems.
Existing legal drugs provide superior treatment for serious medical conditions.
The FDA has approved safe and effective medication for the treatment of glaucoma, nausea, wasting syndrome, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Marinol, the synthetic form of THC (the psychoactive ingredient contained in marijuana), is already legally available for prescription by physicians whose patients suffer from pain and chronic illness.
In Their Words: What the Experts Say:
The American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Based on reviews by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the Institute of Medicine and on available scientific evidence, the Task Force on Complementary Therapies believes that no scientific evidence has been found that demonstrates increased benefits and/or diminished risks of marijuana use to treat glaucoma compared with the wide variety of pharmaceutical agents now available." -- Complementary Therapy Assessment: Marijuana in the Treatment of Glaucoma, American Academy of Ophthalmology, May 2003
The American Medical Association: "...AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act...AMA believes that the NIH should use its resources and influence to support the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system for marijuana or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to reduce the health hazards associated with the combustion and inhalation of marijuana..." Policy Statement H-95.952, American Medical Association, http://www.ama-assn.org
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Studies completed thus far have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana or its derivatives provide substantiated benefits for symptoms of MS." The MS Information Sourcebook, Marijuana (Cannabis), September 18th, 2006
The Institute of Medicine (IOM): "Because of the health risks associated with smoking, smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for long-term medical use." Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, Institute of Medicine, 1999