Friday, February 23, 2007

Lou Dobbs Demonizes Marijuana—Again!

On Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN) a couple of nights ago, a segment on marijuana proves once again that neither the government nor mainstream media can be trusted to report factually accurate information about marijuana.

Brookhaven National Laboratory, a government nuclear physics research facility in New York, conducted research into how long-term marijuana use might affect the human brain. Consistent with US policy over the past 30 years, BNL looked for only the negative effects of marijuana. Where their findings weren’t negative enough, a little help from Lou Dobbs, CNN correspondent Bill Tucker, anti-drug warrior Steven Steiner, and Dr. Stephen Dewey, of BNL, skewed the facts to make them conform to the desired results.

What follows are excerpts from the original transcript of CNN’s marijuana segment. I’ve added my own comments regarding each quote, and linked them to relevant articles where appropriate.

"Researchers now say marijuana may cause long-term brain damage and cancer.” —Lou Dobbs, CNN

Now say? Actually, marijuana foes have said essentially the same things for 30 years, and repetition hasn’t made them any more credible.

Last year’s UCLA study, which contradicts Dobbs’ statement, showed that smoking cannabis does not cause lung cancer but may, in fact, prevent it.

“Political maneuvering has intensified the debate over medical marijuana and the growing evidence about its detrimental and dangerous effects.” —Lou Dobbs, CNN

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Now get the rest of the story.

“And it's becoming an increasingly familiar ballot initiative. Minnesota, New Mexico, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut are all considering some form of legislation to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. It is a drive that opponents say has no merit.” —Bill Tucker, CNN Correspondent

The opponents are wrong. A recent study proved that cannabis has medical value, even when smoked.

“You've got to remember something. This whole legalization movement isn't just about marijuana. These people want to legalize heroin, meth, cocaine for recreational use. Make no mistake about it.” —Steven Steiner, Americans For Drug Free Youth

Not specifically for recreational drug use. Read the real reasons.

“Not only does it alter the structure, the brain's chemistry, but you run the risk that the alterations that you produce today will manifest themselves in ten years or 20 years.” —Stephen Dewey, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Must all changes to the brain be automatically presumed to be negative in effect? And if no changes manifest in 10 or 20 years, then the only risks were imaginary. Why not do the research before jumping to conclusions?

“Impaired memory and feelings of anxiety are more than just jokes. They are reality. So, too, are frequent respiratory infections and there is concern that the cancer risk of marijuana users is higher, which is why the American Cancer Society does not endorse, smoke marijuana, nor its legalization.” —Bill Tucker, CNN Correspondent

Higher cancer risk in marijuana users is not supported by facts.

“Well, marijuana, thought to be harmless by many, particularly baby boomers, who have been associated with drug for decades. It's now known to be a dangerously addictive drug and it's long-term effects are still being studied.” —Lou Dobbs, CNN

Dangerously addictive? The facts (and personal experience) say otherwise. But why not get some research from unbiased sources?

“We don't fully understand the potential ramifications of using the drug today and what it can do 20 years down the road.” —Dr. Stephen Dewey, Brookhaven National Laboratory

It’s possible that marijuana killed my father-in-law. He died, cancer free and of sound mind, at age 82 after 50 years of heavy marijuana use.

“The research on marijuana for 30 years has been -- I think the research has been — I think the best way to say it is mixed. Why is there such an ambiguity? And I'm not talking about in terms of weight, but an ambiguity among all the research conclusions on marijuana in the country over the last 30 years?” —Lou Dobbs

The only ambiguity comes from Lou Dobbs, BNL, DEA, FDA, ONDCP, and other anti-marijuana groups. See what other researchers have to say.

“ . . . it's very difficult to find people who just use marijuana. You know, you have to tease apart marijuana use with alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD. You have situations where it's not straight forward looking at just a marijuana user because they're poly-drug-abusers.” —Dr. Stephen Dewey, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Another disingenuous statement that’s pure bullshit! Most of the people I know who use marijuana use marijuana exclusively. They don’t mess with other drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Don’t construe this to mean that all marijuana users abstain from other drugs; obviously, they don’t. I’m only saying it’s not at all difficult to find people who just use marijuana.

Read the entire transcript of Dobbs’ marijuana segment. (Scroll down the page slightly more than halfway.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Energy Innovations

For the April 17, 2006, issue (#29) of Petey’s Pipeline E-zine, I wrote a short article titled “Innovative Ideas Lead to Energy Independence.” In it, I suggested that converting human fat into biodiesel is one of several practical ways for America to achieve energy independence by reducing our need for imported fossil fuels.

Apparently, I’m not the only one to reach that conclusion. One of the story lines on last night’s episode of Boston Legal featured an unrepentant Denny Crane (William Shatner) going to trial for—you guessed it—trafficking in human fat. Although the prosecuting attorney makes a plausible argument on behalf of the plaintiff, defense attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) delivers a brilliant summation to the jury that gets his client off the hook. At the same time, Shore’s case provides some additional insights into the subject, thus substantiating my own logic and lending a degree of vindication to it.

Boston Legal proved once again that it’s not only one of the funniest shows on television, it’s also one of the smartest.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Carbon Sequestration Problem Solved

Richard Branson, a British tycoon, is offering a $25 million prize to anyone who can develop cost-effective technology for capturing and containing atmospheric carbon dioxide. So, while the rest of you envision elaborate energy-sucking machines to capture carbon dioxide from the air and sequester it, I’ll make my own modest proposal.

Plant hemp. Okay, okay! Legalize it first, then plant it. Plant it everywhere. In yards and gardens, in fallow fields and freeway medians, on clear-cut hillsides, beside rivers and streams. Plant it across America and around the world.

Why hemp? Because hemp is carbon-capturing-and-sequestering technology that already works. When it comes to photosynthesis and carbon dioxide absorption, hemp is one of the most efficient plants known to man. Hemp produces more than four times as much biomass per acre, over a score of years, than do trees. Few plants outside of a South American rain forest grow faster than hemp. And few plants are as useful.

By integrating hemp into our agricultural model, we can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, improve human health and nutrition, grow our own clothes, preserve old-growth forests, build more energy-efficient houses, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop a sustainable economy while saving the environment.

So, Mr. Branson, now that I’ve accepted your challenge and proposed a viable method for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, will you be sending me a cashier’s check for $25 million, or should I bill you via PayPal?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Farewell to a Friend

Last week, I lost a beloved friend to cancer.

Although I never met Molly Ivins in person—she was ranked near the top of my “friends I haven’t met yet” list—I was familiar with her work. She was the quintessential political pundit who understood, better than most, the malevolent machinations of government; she was one of the brightest lights shining into the dark corners of American politics to expose the corruption that festers there.

Each week I looked forward to Molly’s column in The Oregonian, and many weeks, during the past couple of years, I read those same columns, again, on AlterNet. Always, Molly informed, enlightened, and entertained. Hers was one of the few voices linking sanity and reason to a world that’s increasingly devoid of both. Now, that voice is silent.

It’s true that Molly wrote with style and humor and wit and wisdom about things that matter, but the thing I most admired about her was her courage to speak truth to power. It was her courage that best defined her character. Her audacious temerity in calling Bush “Shrub” may have rankled the President, but it made the rest of us laugh.

Molly’s gone, but not forgotten. Her brief stay on Earth made the world a better place; her passing made it poorer. Like other great humorists (Mark Twain and Will Rogers come to mind), Molly will be long remembered for her many contributions to society, not the least of which was her wish that her many readers " . . . keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it.”

Good golly, Ms. Molly, I’m truly going to miss you.