Quick history of the failed war on drugs: First there was opium, which white society decided was bad for society as opium addicts would live wretched lives and rape white women, so it was declared illegal. So a German chemist came up with morphine which is hundreds of times more potent than opium, and easier to conceal. Morphine was outlawed, for the regular unwashed folks anyway, and soon heroin, which is way more potent than morphine, was created to replace morphine. Now we are at the end of the road with Fentanyl and Carfentanil, each one more potent than everything that came before them. When will this end?
Remove politicians from the debate and allow health exerts, scientists, to guide and regulate the new market where you can obtain these dangerous drugs at your local pharmacy.
May 19, 2017
The numbers show that the crisis in Alberta continues to grow in both size and scope.
By comparison, there were 70 fentanyl-related deaths in the first three months of 2016.
The latest statistics, released Friday by Alberta Health, show that 363 people in Alberta died from fentanyl overdoses in 2016. Those numbers reflect the most recent data available. In its update, Alberta Health said the numbers are subject to change because certification about the cause of death can take six months or longer.
The Alberta Health statistics report shows that fentanyl, 100 times more powerful than morphine, is by far the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths in the province.
But deaths related to another, even more powerful drug, are also rising sharply.
Carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, was detected in 21 deaths in the first three months of 2017. That drug, commonly used by veterinarians to tranquillize large animals, was detected in 29 deaths during all of 2016.
Soon after the latest numbers became public, Alberta opposition parties renewed calls for the government to take stronger action.
“This is an issue where we have to start marshalling the resources of this province,” said Wildrose mental health critic Mark Smith. “And one of the things that we could be doing that we’ve called for is declaring a public health emergency. They’ve done that in B.C. But mysteriously, we’re not sure why the NDP seem to be very reluctant in calling a public health emergency.
“We need to start addressing this through many different areas, through a public health emergency, by making sure we’ve got our doctors and nurses trained to deal with this. We need to start attacking this with the seriousness in which the numbers in this report indicate.”
Dr. Karen Grimsrud, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the Alberta government will continue with public education campaigns and will work to make sure that naloxone, a medication used to block the deadly effects of an opioid overdose, is easily accessible.
“Alberta has had a strong take-home naloxone program, but we could improve it and we are working to try to increase that access,” Grimsrud said. “We continue to see too many people die from overdose deaths due to fentanyl and other opioids, so the questions we’re asking ourselves is what more can we be doing?”
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann renewed his call for the province to declare a public health emergency to deal with the growing problem.
“We are starting to see the same trends here as in British Columbia, but without our government taking the same emergency measures,” said Swann, a former medical officer of health in southern Alberta. “This is a mistake.”
Swann also called on the province to reinstate the province’s chief addictions and mental health officer. Dr. Michael Trew, a long-time psychiatrist, was appointed to that position by the Progressive Conservative government in 2013 to help deal with psychological assistance for flood victims.
His contract was not renewed in September 2015. At the time, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the work to help flood victims had been largely completed and the position was no longer needed.
The Liberal leader also questioned the timing of the latest report on overdoses.
“I find it highly disrespectful to concerned Albertans to release such important information without formal commentary from the minister on a Friday afternoon, and, in this case, just ahead of a long weekend,” he said. “It hints at an NDP government that is more concerned about biding its time, protecting its political skin, and avoiding accountability for a crisis that it clearly does not have a handle on despite its best efforts.”
The statistics released Friday show that more than 90 per cent of the deaths in the first quarter of 2017 occurred in larger urban municipalities.
During that period, 51 overdose deaths were recorded in the Calgary health zone, and 36 in the Edmonton zone.
During a 15-month period, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and end on Mar. 31, 2017, the province has averaged more than one overdose death every day.
In 2016, there were 443 overdose deaths in Alberta. Almost seven in ten, 68 per cent, were caused by fentanyl or another opioid.
The numbers further show that opioids and other drugs resulted in 9,037 emergency room visits in Alberta hospitals. That total represented 6,866 individuals.
May 17, 2017
Photo Credit: sruilk / Shutterstock
Legalized pot sends more teens to the ER in Colorado, study finds. So claimed CBS News and numerous other mainstream media outlets this month in response to a May 4 American Academy of Pediatrics press release. But in actuality, no published study exists. And the data highlighted in the AAP presser provides little evidence to substantiate these alarmist headlines.
In fact, what headline writers across the country inaccurately referred to as a ‘study’ was no more than preliminary data presented during the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. These data sets, which assessed year-over-year trends in the prevalence of marijuana use among patients ages 13 to 21 who were admitted to the emergency room of a Colorado children’s hospital, have yet to be peer-reviewed or accepted for publication in a scientific journal. Yet one would have to skip to the final sentence of mainstream media coverage like this in order to be aware of these facts.
Furthermore, despite the misleading headlines, the data never addressed the question of whether marijuana played a causal role in patients’ ER admissions. Rather, researchers simply reported an increase in the number of ER patients who acknowledged either having used pot in the past or who tested positive for it on a hospital authorized urine screen. But this result is likely because Colorado hospital staff is placing a greater emphasis on marijuana detection today than they did a decade ago. Furthermore, it is likely that patients are more willing to acknowledge their use of cannabis to hospital employees now, post-legalization, than they were when pot was illegal.
Nevertheless, researchers opined that their data provides new evidence to support the claim that the legalization and regulating of marijuana for adults is having a “significant public health impact on adolescent populations.”
But more well established research casts serious doubt on this claim. For example, state survey data compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment dismisses the notion that teens’ use of marijuana has increased in the years following legalization. In fact, youth marijuana use rates in Colorado are lower today than they were in 2009 — several years prior to the establishment of adult use regulations. National survey data similarly refutes allegations that more young people are engaging in the problematic use of cannabis. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the number of adolescents reporting marijuana-related problems declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2013.
In addition, legal cannabis products sold by Colorado retailers are seldom making their way to the underage market. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs, licensed retailers strictly adhere to statewide regulations forbidding sales to minors. It determined, “Compliance with laws restricting marijuana sales to individuals age 21 years or older with a valid ID was extremely high and possibly higher than compliance with restrictions on alcohol sales.” Authors concluded, “The retail market at present may not be a direct source of marijuana for underage individuals.” Studies from other jurisdictions also report no link between the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries and increased pot use by teens.
Moreover, studies have largely failed to identify a significant causal link between marijuana use and ER visits. Specifically, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed patterns and correlates of drug-related ER visits in a nationally representative survey of 43,093 residents age 18 or older. They reported, “[M]arijuana was by far the most commonly used (illicit) drug, but individuals who used marijuana had a low prevalence of drug-related ED [emergency department] visits.” A Canadian study published this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence determined that marijuana use did not increase subjects’ likelihood of hospitalization in the hours immediately following its use. Other studies assessing drug use patterns in smaller cohorts have even reported that cannabis use is inversely associated with injury risk.
This is not to say that cannabis use is without potential risk, particularly in instances where it is consumed by younger or more naive subjects. Marijuana can elevate blood pressure and in some users trigger tachycardia (rapid heart beat). Higher potency cannabis may also cause paranoia and other feelings of dysphoria. In patients with certain pre-existing psychiatric disorders, there also lies the potential for pot to exacerbate a psychotic episode. Any of these side effects may result in an ER visit. However, these sort of severe adverse reactions to cannabis are atypical. Further, none of these conditions are life-threatening and the symptoms almost always subside after a few hours.
Nevertheless, retailers and regulators in legal cannabis states ought to take steps to try and mitigate consumers’ risk of experiencing such unpleasant reactions, many of which are the result of overconsumption. These steps include better product labeling, potential limits on THC potency per serving in edible products, and greater efforts to encourage consumers to moderate their cannabis intake — particularly if they are consuming pot-infused edibles or concentrates. Such efforts are not only in the best interest of public safety, but they will also result in greater consumer satisfaction and awareness.
Dear Britain, how can you trust a doofus politician who does not know how to interpret science studies? And you will make this ignorant fool your leader?
May 17, 2017
The Brexit leading Prime Minister of the United Kingdom recently went on ITV News for a live Fabebook chat and started spewing canna-bigotry lies and reefer madness nonsense about marijuana. Her comments border on hysteria and are reminiscent of Donald Trumps constant, stupid comments that get him into hot water regularly.
Theresa May, the conservative Tory party leader, trotted out the typical lies that are repeated by ignorant prohibitionist fools, like Mary Fallin’s recent comments in the U.S.A. Conflating marijuana use with drug abuse, the British leader displayed her ignorance for the world when she answered a question from Emma, a Facebook viewer who wanted to know why she can’t support cannabis legalization:
“There have obviously been some studies into the use of cannabis or the derivatives in relation to the medical use, but the reason I don’t believe in legislating … making cannabis use legal … is because of the impact that I see it having on too many people in terms of the drug use, and I think what we’ve seen is stronger forms now being used. I think it can have a real impact impact on people in terms of their mental health. But, it can also, of course, lead to people going on to harder drugs.”
“There’s a wonderful woman in my constituency, Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, who runs DrugFam which supports families … One of her twin sons—they both started on cannabis when they were at school—went on to heroin and one of her twin sons committed suicide. This has a huge impact on families.”
Lets unpack this short but ridiculous comment this ignorant and truly uncaring leader said.
“There have obviously been some studies into the use of cannabis or the derivatives in relation to the medical use…” commented May. That is the WHOLE point Prime minister! You just ignore the studies that show the rest of your statement is full of lies and fear mongering.
“I don’t believe in legislating … making cannabis use legal … is because of the impact that I see it having on too many people in terms of the drug use…” she said further, which sounds like a compassionate position, but it’s based on falsehoods and lies. It does not matter what you think, Prime Minister, because your opinion is irrelevant to facts. You should consider the evidence and not anecdotes from people that blame cannabis for the demise of their children. There are likely a lot of reasons the “people” you see having trouble with drug abuse and none of the factors pushing those kids to drug use are related to cannabis.
“I think it can have a real impact impact on people in terms of their mental health…” is another stupid comment not based in fact and based in conjecture and reefer madness. There is no evidence that cannabis makes people crazy or causes mental health problems in normal people. In fact, we know from “some studies” relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have shown cannabis greatly benefits people suffering from that “mental health” problem.
“It can also, of course, lead to people going on to harder drugs…” is an old red herring that is often used and now considered to be a completely fallacious. The gateway drug theory has been destroyed by numerous studies. It turns out, Prime Minister, that drug abuse is not caused by the drugs, but by the person using them. The tendency to move from one drug to another is not due to the drugs, it is due to the personality of the abuser. If a person is susceptible to addictive behavior, it’s only normal to start with a legal and acceptable drug, like alcohol or cigarettes, and then move on to more serious drugs that have a stronger effect. The gateway drug theory was just that, a theory, and it has been discredited by most doctors and quack science today.
“They both started on cannabis when they were at school—went on to heroin and one of her twin sons committed suicide.” Those final comments are beyond the pale. For a national leader to use the death of a man from heroin as the reason to disallow cannabis is beyond disingenuous, it is the definition of “reefer madness”. That “wonderful woman” in your constituency has blamed the drugs for her son’s death. Both of you have decided that cannabis is evil because heroin kills people? That makes no sense at all. I understand that it’s easier to blame the drugs for a loved ones death under the horrible circumstances she described, but to blame cannabis, or even the heroin, instead of the individual who made the choices is simply removing the responsibility from the individual. The truth is that cannabis provides a way for addicts to stop using opioids, and that is also backed by “some studies”.
Prime Minister May, it turns out that Mary Fallin will have company in the underworld when she finally is removed from this planet. I am certain the devil has plenty of room for both of you, right along side Harry Anslinger, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and your own Margaret Thatcher for how they handled the drug war and the imprisonment of millions of people under draconian drug possession laws … and most were minorities. All jailed for making a personal choice that hurt no one but themselves.
Which nation is the greatest purveyor of weapons, war and destruction on planet earth? The United States.
John W. Whitehead, Guest
“The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” ― James Madison
Who designed the malware worm that is now wreaking havoc on tens of thousands of computers internationally by hackers demanding a king’s ransom? The U.S. government.
Who is the biggest black market buyer and stockpiler of cyberweapons (weaponized malware that can be used to hack into computer systems, spy on citizens, and destabilize vast computer networks)? The U.S. government.
What country has one the deadliest arsenals of weapons of mass destruction? The U.S. government.
Who is the largest weapons manufacturer and exporter in the world, such that they are literally arming the world? The U.S. government.
Which is the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon in wartime? The United States.
How did Saddam Hussein build Iraq’s massive arsenal of tanks, planes, missiles, and chemical weapons during the 1980s? With help from the U.S. government.
Who gave Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida “access to a fortune in covert funding and top-level combat weaponry”? The U.S. government.
What country has a pattern and practice of entrapment that involves targeting vulnerable individuals, feeding them with the propaganda, know-how and weapons intended to turn them into terrorists, and then arresting them as part of an elaborately orchestrated counterterrorism sting? The U.S. government.
Where did ISIS get many of their deadliest weapons, including assault rifles and tanks to anti-missile defenses? From the U.S. government.
Which country has a history of secretly testing out dangerous weapons and technologies on its own citizens? The U.S. government.
Are you getting the picture yet?
The U.S. government isn’t protecting us from terrorism.
The U.S. government is creating the terror. It is, in fact, the source of the terror.
Just think about it for a minute: almost every tyranny being perpetrated against the citizenry—purportedly to keep us safe and the nation secure—has come about as a result of some threat manufactured in one way or another by our own government.
Bio-chemical attacks. The nuclear arms race.
Surveillance. The drug wars.
In almost every instance, the U.S. government has in its typical Machiavellian fashion sown the seeds of terror domestically and internationally in order to expand its own totalitarian powers.
It’s time to wake up and stop being deceived by government propaganda.
We’re not dealing with a government that exists to serve its people, protect their liberties and ensure their happiness. Rather, these are the diabolical machinations of a make-works program carried out on an epic scale whose only purpose is to keep the powers-that-be permanently (and profitably) employed.
Case in point: For years now, the U.S. government has been creating what one intelligence insider referred to as a cyber-army capable of offensive attacks.
As Reuters reported back in 2013:
Even as the U.S. government confronts rival powers over widespread Internet espionage, it has become the biggest buyer in a burgeoning gray market where hackers and security firms sell tools for breaking into computers. The strategy is spurring concern in the technology industry and intelligence community that Washington is in effect encouraging hacking and failing to disclose to software companies and customers the vulnerabilities exploited by the purchased hacks. That’s because U.S. intelligence and military agencies aren’t buying the tools primarily to fend off attacks. Rather, they are using the tools to infiltrate computer networks overseas, leaving behind spy programs and cyber-weapons that can disrupt data or damage systems.
As part of this cyberweapons programs, government agencies such as the NSA have been stockpiling all kinds of nasty malware, viruses and hacking tools that can “steal financial account passwords, turn an iPhone into a listening device, or, in the case of Stuxnet, sabotage a nuclear facility.”
And now we learn that the NSA is responsible for the latest threat posed by the “WannaCry” or “Wanna Decryptor” malware worm which—as a result of hackers accessing the government’s arsenal—has hijacked more than 57,000 computers and crippled health care, communications infrastructure, logistics, and government entities in more than 70 countries already.
All the while the government was repeatedly warned about the dangers of using criminal tactics to wage its own cyberwars.
It was warned about the consequences of blowback should its cyberweapons get into the wrong hands.
The government chose to ignore the warnings.
That’s exactly how the 9/11 attacks unfolded.
First, the government helped to create the menace that was al-Qaida and then, when bin Laden had left the nation reeling in shock (despite countless warnings that fell on tone-deaf ears), it demanded—and was given—immense new powers in the form of the USA Patriot Act in order to fight the very danger it had created.
This has become the shadow government’s modus operandi regardless of which party controls the White House: the government creates a menace—knowing full well the ramifications such a danger might pose to the public—then without ever owning up to the part it played in unleashing that particular menace on an unsuspecting populace, it demands additional powers in order to protect “we the people” from the threat.
Yet the powers-that-be don’t really want us to feel safe.
They want us cowering and afraid and willing to relinquish every last one of our freedoms in exchange for their phantom promises of security.
As a result, it’s the American people who pay the price for the government’s insatiable greed and quest for power.
We’re the ones to suffer the blowback.
Blowback: a term originating from within the American Intelligence community, denoting the unintended consequences, unwanted side-effects, or suffered repercussions of a covert operation that fall back on those responsible for the aforementioned operations.
As historian Chalmers Johnson explains, “blowback is another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows.”
Unfortunately, “we the people” are the ones who keep reaping what the government sows.
We’re the ones who suffer every time, directly and indirectly, from the blowback.
We’re made to pay trillions of dollars in blood money to a military industrial complex that kills without conscience. We’ve been saddled with a crumbling infrastructure, impoverished cities and a faltering economy while our tax dollars are squandered on lavish military installations and used to prop up foreign economies. We’ve been stripped of our freedoms. We’re treated like suspects and enemy combatants. We’re spied on by government agents: our communications read, our movements tracked, our faces mapped, our biometrics entered into a government database. We’re terrorized by militarized police who roam our communities and SWAT teams that break into our homes. We’re subjected to invasive patdowns in airports, roadside strip searches and cavity probes, forced blood draws.
This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.
We can persuade ourselves that life is still good, that America is still beautiful, and that “we the people” are still free.
However, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the moment you tune out the carefully constructed distractions—the year-round sports entertainment, the political theatrics, the military’s war cries, the president’s chest-thumping, and the techno-gadgets and social media that keep us oblivious to what’s really going on in the world around us—you quickly find that the only credible threat to our safety and national security is in fact the government itself.
As science fiction writer Philip K. Dick warned, “Don’t believe what you see; it’s an enthralling—[and] destructive, evil snare. Under it is a totally different world, even placed differently along the linear axis.”
In other words, all is not as it seems.
The powers-that-be are not acting in our best interests.
“We the people” are not free.
The government is not our friend.
And America will never be safe or secure as long as our government continues to pillage and plunder and bomb and bulldoze and kill and create instability and fund insurgencies and police the globe.
So what can we do to stop the blowback, liberate the country from the iron-clad grip of the military industrial complex, and get back to a point where freedom actually means something?
For starters, get your priorities in order. As long as Americans are more inclined to be offended over the fate of a Confederate statue rather than the government’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and human rights, then the status quo will remain.
Stop playing politics with your principles. As long as Americans persist in thinking like Republicans and Democrats—refusing to recognize that every administration in recent years has embraced and advanced the government’s authoritarian tactics—then the status quo will remain.
Value all human life as worthy of protection. As long as Americans, including those who claim to value the sanctity of human life, not only turn a blind eye to the government’s indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians but champion them, then the status quo will remain.
Recognize that in the eyes of the government, we’re all expendable. As long as we allow the government to play this dangerous game in which “we the people” are little more than pawns to be used, abused, easily manipulated and just as easily discarded—whether it’s under the guise of national security, the war on terror, the war on drugs, or any other manufactured bogeyman it can dream up—then the status quo will remain.
Demand that the government stop creating, stockpiling and deploying weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, chemical, biological, cyber, etc. As long as the government continues to use our tax dollars to create, stockpile and deploy weapons of mass destruction—whether those weapons are meant to kill, maim or disable (as in the case of the WannaCry computer virus)—we will be vulnerable to anyone who attempts to use those weapons against us and the status quo will remain.
Finally, stop supporting the war machine and, as Chalmers Johnson suggests, “bring our rampant militarism under control”:
From George Washington’s “farewell address” to Dwight Eisenhower’s invention of the phrase “military-industrial complex,” American leaders have warned about the dangers of a bloated, permanent, expensive military establishment that has lost its relationship to the country because service in it is no longer an obligation of citizenship. Our military operates the biggest arms sales operation on earth; it rapes girls, women and schoolchildren in Okinawa; it cuts ski-lift cables in Italy, killing twenty vacationers, and dismisses what its insubordinate pilots have done as a “training accident”; it allows its nuclear attack submarines to be used for joy rides for wealthy civilian supporters and then covers up the negligence that caused the sinking of a Japanese high school training ship; it propagandizes the nation with Hollywood films glorifying military service (Pearl Harbor); and it manipulates the political process to get more carrier task forces, antimissile missiles, nuclear weapons, stealth bombers and other expensive gadgets for which we have no conceivable use. Two of the most influential federal institutions are not in Washington but on the south side of the Potomac River–the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. Given their influence today, one must conclude that the government outlined in the Constitution of 1787 no longer bears much relationship to the government that actually rules from Washington. Until that is corrected, we should probably stop talking about “democracy” and “human rights.”
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, where this article (America’s Reign of Terror: A Nation Reaps What It Sows) was originally published. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.
The European Union delegation to Manila says the Philippines will no longer accept grants from the EU following its criticism of his trademark drug war.
The Philippines will no longer accept grants from the European Union, the EU delegation to Manila says, following repeated tirades from President Rodrigo Duterte over its criticism of his deadly drug war.
“The Philippine government has informed us that they (will) no longer accept new EU grants,” the delegation said in a brief statement.
The decision will affect grants worth 250 million euros ($278 million), according to Franz Jessen, the EU’s ambassador to Manila.
Philippine government officials did not immediately comment, with the finance department saying a statement would be issued later on Thursday.
Duterte, 72, has repeatedly criticized European lawmakers and the EU for condemning his drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from critics of a crime against humanity.
The German government also expressed concern after Duterte last year drew parallels between his drug war and Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said, underestimating the number of people killed in the Holocaust.
Duterte later apologized for the Hitler reference but said he was “emphatic” about wanting to kill addicts.
Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after promising to end crime by killing tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts.
Police have reported killing about 2,700 people since Duterte took office at the end of June and immediately launched his war on drugs.
Unknown assailants have killed more than 1,800 others, while about 5,700 other violent deaths are under investigation, according to police data.
Partly in response to American criticism of the drug war, Duterte has also loosened the Philippines’ ties with traditional ally the United States.
He has instead embraced China, which has supported his drug war and sought to deepen economic ties by providing billions of dollars worth of investments and aid to the Philippines.
Duterte, a self-described socialist, has also forged warmer relations with Russia, and will travel to Moscow next week to meet President Vladimir Putin.
Man I am glad I live in Canada and not in those parts of the States that seem stuck in a time warp zone. Are these people really that ignorant? They remind me of other fundamentalists who believe THEIR interpretation of their holy books is the only valid one. These eejits don’t think that if they were born in Damascus they would not be chanting Aluah Akbar? Ignorance is not bliss, it’s a curse.
By the way, cannabis is a gift from the Gods to heal the aches of humanity. That has always been my position.
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
May 15, 2017
Lydia Decker couldn’t miss the man in the motorized wheelchair as he whirred down the aisles of a West Texas grocery store. As someone with lung problems herself, she noticed his oxygen tank and wondered about his illness and his meds. They got talking, and Decker mentioned Genesis 1:29, the organization she heads that uses religion to preach the value of medical cannabis. This was one conversion that wasn’t going to happen.
“Oh, that trash!” Decker remembered the man saying as she tried to reason with him in the pharmacy aisle. The nurse with the man “politely” asked Decker, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to leave. She did, but not before handing the nurse a Genesis 1:29 business card, which features a map of Texas covered with a large cannabis leaf and the words “One Mission End Prohibition!”
“Do you know he almost ran over me with the cart?” Decker said, laughing. “My goodness, he flipped a U-ee in the aisle.”
Decker, 49, tells anyone in Texas who will listen why cannabis is, in fact, a permitted therapy for Christians — not a sin. She hopes her openness will help generate support for medical cannabis among state lawmakers, and in April she submitted passionate testimony in hopes of swaying them. She described being rushed to the ER, “gasping for air” on New Year’s Day in 2014, when her COPD was first diagnosed, and the blur of medications and treatments she’s endured since then. “I live 80 miles from a legal state line,” Decker wrote, referring to New Mexico, where medical cannabis is permitted. She questioned why such treatment should be off-limits to her, “just because I choose to live and work in Texas, where I was born?”
Genesis 1:29, which Decker formed in 2010, is named after a Bible verse that’s oft-repeated by Christians in favor of medical marijuana: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” To Decker, a nondenominational Christian who follows the Bible’s verses in a literal way, it means that cannabis is “meant to be eaten, whether in oil, whether in an edible,” she said.
Obviously, not everyone in Texas is receptive to Decker’s interpretation of the Bible — none of the laws covering medical or recreational cannabis were likely to pass before the legislative session ends in late May.
“People in the Bible Belt say, ‘You’re using the Bible to promote drugs,’” she said, drawing out the word “drugs” for emphasis. Decker disagrees. “We’re using the Bible to promote what God gave us. We say that God made the perfect medicine. Man is the one that made it illegal.”
The South is the last frontier for cannabis law reform. And it is no coincidence that it is also the most religious region in the country, according to Pew Research. It’s a place where interpretations of God’s word can be as powerful as law, and where preachers have long proclaimed the evils of marijuana. So as pot takes hold for medical use in more than half the country, and for recreational use in eight states and Washington, DC, both are nonstarters in much of the South. Only Arkansas, Florida, and West Virginia have full medical marijuana programs, and recreational use is not even on the horizon.
The president of the organization that represents the largest evangelical group in the US won’t budge on calling marijuana a sin.
“The scripture speaks against drunkenness, and marijuana is a mind-altering substance with the purpose of achieving, essentially, what the Bible would describe as drunkenness,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
To get the votes they need, pro-legalization groups can’t just preach to nonbelievers; they also need to court people of faith, says Morgan Fox of Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying group that is behind most of the cannabis laws in the country. Support from religious groups has become as key as support from law enforcement groups, addiction specialists, and parent groups. “I know that most of the major policy reform organizations are working on that right now — trying to build coalitions with faith-based groups,” Fox said.
After all, marijuana has never been more popular with young people — recent polls show the 18–34 crowd overwhelmingly in support of legalization. At the same time, young people’s church attendance is dropping. As much as pro-pot groups need religious support, religious leaders need to hold onto their flocks, and sometimes that means loosening opinions on controversial issues.
In Utah last year, the Church of Latter-day Saints weighed in on competing medical cannabis bills and made the unprecedented move of expressing support for one, albeit by backing the stricter of two pieces of legislation. And a group of Muslim undergraduate students at the University of South Florida, where medical marijuana was on the state ballot, tackled the question of whether cannabis use is haram last year during an event called “Contemporary Issues in Islam: A Discussion on Medical Marijuana.” Some faiths have expressed varying degrees of support for medical marijuana, including the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Unitarian churches. In New York, one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries had the cannabis blessed by a rabbi. And globally, to respect the traditional use of cannabis by Rastafarians, Jamaica legalized cannabis for religious use in 2015.
But to bring cannabis to the region of the US where states are deeply red and religious and where pot is both a social taboo and a ticket to jail, Decker and others are harnessing their devotion to their faiths to evangelize for it.