On the EDge: Fake news and pot prohibition

Stock images, St. George News

OPINION — You can really blame this one on fake news. Go ahead, I’ll back you up.

Only thing is, this fake news goes back some 80 years to the days before the mass hysteria of the internet, social media and, of course, Fox News.

Nonetheless, that old school fake news – it used to be called “yellow journalism” – sowed the seeds of ignorance that fueled the tumultuous cannabis prohibition that seems to be, thankfully, getting an ignoble lashing. State by state, reasonable people have had enough and moved to legalize, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Those who have been the most vocal opponents of legal cannabis are now among its most ardent supporters.

Former House Speaker John Boehner announced just the other day that he will join the board of directors at Acreage Holdings, which describes itself as “one of the nation’s largest multi-state actively managed cannabis corporations.”

Once one of the staunchest anti-cannabis legalization voices in the House of Representatives, Boehner said in a prepared press release that his thinking on cannabis, “like that of millions of other Americans, has evolved as I’ve learned more about the issue.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, a longtime Republican, announced that he, too, will join the board of Acreage Holdings.

So it’s changing, and even some of the reefer madness proponents are understanding that there are many benefits – from physical and emotional relief to revenue generation – to legalization.

They are understanding that descheduling cannabis can only be a good thing as it becomes available to veterans with PTSD, chronic pain sufferers who are being fed life-threatening opioids and yes, the casual user who will use it to alleviate the day-to-day stresses we all face.

Only the diehards with cultural and societal hangups rooted in the racist and economic reasons for the original cannabis prohibition are hanging onto this losing battle.

That would include Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah Medical Association and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to mention but a few.

You see, according to recent polls, 77 percent of Utah voters are in favor of legalization of medical cannabis at the very least. As a result, there is great fear among the reefer madness crowd that a measure seeking medicinal legalization will not only make the November ballot but be overwhelmingly approved by voters.

That’s why the stuffed shirts of the UMA, the reddest of the red doctors in one of the reddest states in the Union, came out with a statement criticizing a rather tame green initiative because of fears that legalization of medicinal use would fling open the doors to full-blown recreational use because… well, the kids.

That specious argument has been disproven in states with full recreational legalization, by the way, so instead of worrying about things that do not occur, how about expressing some urgency about better controls over the dangerous opioids out there ruining lives?

Nonetheless, the LDS church has glommed on to the UMA statement and given Herbert a hearty pat on the back, congratulating them both for sustaining the belief that the strongest thing on the Utah menu should be a Mountain Dew served with a side of watery green Jell-o.

This ongoing reefer madness thing can be traced back to 1938 newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his relationship with the DuPont family.

Hearst had vast timber holdings to produce the raw materials to mill the paper his publications were printed on. Hemp was a great, cheaper alternative to be sure, but there were two problems.

First, Hearst’s friends, the DuPonts, were developing synthetic petroleum-based materials. Hemp just didn’t fit into the equation – especially revenue generation – because there was much more money to be made using petrochemicals. So even though Henry Ford wanted to use hemp products to build his earliest automobiles and fuel them, he had to give way to more traditional means and materials because of the control the Hearsts, DuPonts and other privileged fat cats held at the time.

The second and most insidious reason for the prohibition was Hearst’s racism.

Hearst had an inborn hatred for minorities, which was exacerbated during the Mexican revolution when Pancho Villa relieved him of about 800,000 acres of timberland. It fanned the flames of Hearst’s racism, and as more and more migrants came to work the fields in the United States, he went on the attack.

He claimed they were rapists, thieves, killers, drug addicts – stop me if you’ve heard this somewhere before – who were using cannabis to fuel their violent behavior and turn our women into helpless sexual victims.

Except there was no leap in violent crime, women were becoming the backbone of the pre-World War II military industrial complex and Hearst was off his nut, cavorting with fascists Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who wrote columns for his newspapers.

But the fake news of the day perpetuated the claims of aimless reefer-induced insanity that was then attached to the blues and jazz singers of the era. This condemnation continued on through the generational chasm of the ‘60s when the cultural shunning expanded to include not only black jazz musicians and migrant workers but the hippies who may have been white but weren’t white enough and who had the temerity to build a counter-culture.

It came to a head during the Richard Nixon administration when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 and lumped cannabis with heroin, cocaine and some other nasty drugs.

Even though science has repeatedly proven otherwise, there are still “those guys” like the UMA, Gov. Herbert and the top officials of the LDS church who have never made it past the reefer madness hysteria or even Nixonian fervor for whatever reason, whether political, spiritual or practical.

This will all change, of course, even among the diehards, after the November initiative passes and subsequent tax revenues are counted.

But that’s what happens when red states go green, and no amount of fake news will ever change that.

There is absolutely no way they will be able to just say no to all that cash.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela 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: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

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

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  • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Puff Daddy famously said “its all about the benjamins”. Unless the LDS church makes money from marijuana, I am sure we will be the last state to legalize any version of it. It’s a good thing Mesquite is such a short drive from St. George.

  • John April 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Fake News = Special Eddy and Special Eddy = Why Pot should be prohibited! First time he got the title right..hahahahahaha!

    • No Filter April 18, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I’ll smoke one for you on Friday Lumpy! 4/20

  • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Excellent points, Ed. Hard for me to add anything that wouldn’t be redundant.
    As someone who lived in California and voted for Prop 215 when it passed, I knew it would snowball from there. Albeit VERY slowly. But much progress has been made. Utah is going to be the hardest nut to crack. The ties to the medical industry alone are a formidable opponent. BigPharma loves Utah. Gary Herbert can, thankfully, be voted OUT of office.
    The LDS Church shouldn’t even be involved and needs to start minding its own business and learn ‘separation of church and state.’ They can “oppose” all they want. It doesn’t mean that voters will listen. Especially when you have a near 80% approval for medical cannabis statewide. This is a no-brainer. Lawmakers will have to bend to the will of the people sooner or later. We can’t all keep going to Nevada or Colorado for our medicine forever!!!

  • Real Life April 17, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Ed has never written an article for this site that doesn’t attack A. Trump, B. Fox News, or C. Conservatives. Just an observation.

    • John April 17, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      That’s because ed is gullible and only repeats what the MSM plants in his head. He probably eats too many tacos too !

      • Death Valley April 18, 2018 at 7:41 am

        Hmmm, let’s see Johnboy. Do we respect someone like Ed who is informed on this topic? Or do we respect you? An ill-informed oafish fool who can’t be bothered to educate himself and, instead, spouts nonsense and gibberish.
        Yeah, Ed owns your head.

        • No Filter April 18, 2018 at 8:07 am

          Dang Lumpy, you just got burned!!!

  • russell9001 April 17, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    So are you sure you’re not sharing fake news?? Because the last I heard there is much scientific evidence that marijuana is not good for us. There is research on Vets with PTSD that shows marijuana increases negative symptoms. There is also anecdotal evidence that suggests legal recreational marijuana has increased social problems and the tax revenue does not compensate for additional spending to manage the problems it creates. It seems to me that many people that want to use marijuana make claims that minimize marijuana’s problems based on pseudoscience. This is then perpetuated by confirmation bias from people wanting to justify using marijuana rather than looking at the available science.

    If we vote to legalize it, then fine, but let’s stop pretending that marijuana is a harmless substance that gets a bad wrap only because the establishment doesn’t like it. We should legalize it if it is found beneficial AFTER adequate research, not before just because 18-35 year olds want to get high.

    • John April 17, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Pot does cause brain damage.. look at ed..https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/smoking-marijuana-causes-brain-damage-resembles-schizophrenia/

      • bikeandfish April 18, 2018 at 7:20 am

        “Pot does cause brain damage”

        That’s not really what the scientific paper says that the Mens Journal article discusses. This is one of the problems with non-scientific journals publishing scientific research, ie they don’t deal in the nuances inherent to such studies. From the paper’s authors, “The investigators note that their data are cross-sectional and therefore cannot indicate causality”. Notice they explicitly state “cannot indicate causality” which is inconsistent with your claim, quoted above.

        Marijuana is associated with negative effects within certain populations, in this case minors who smoke heavily/daily. There is significant neural plasticity before the age of 21, around the time the brain “fully” develops, and many behaviors can affect brain structure and function at those ages. We’ve known this for a while with other substances and even marijuana I believe. But this is not an appropriate study for discussing negative impacts on the general population, especially given most laws restrict user access to individuals 21 and older. I am not aware of any such findings for occasional recreational use or the the dosages commonly prescribed for non-terminal patients, ie shorter duration (this study was individuals with daily use for 2-3+ years).

        Marijuana like any substance can be harmful. We should heavily restrict access to minors given various factors, including brain development. We shouldn’t this particular study to be reflective of an average citizen’s risk factors. We should increase scientific literacy in this country so folks know how to properly analyze medical research.

        • leigh April 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm

          Nice to see a comment on how real science can be misunderstood and exploited to “prove” things that the research doesn’t actually even address.

      • Death Valley April 18, 2018 at 7:36 am

        It’s really pathetic when the least informed and ignorant people try to link to articles with ZERO substance.
        You’re pathetic, John. Thank you for proving that you are without a doubt the biggest LOSER in the comment section. Don’t bother responding. We all know you’ll say the same things over and over. We’re all gullible, empty-headed morons, and hahahahaha, right? It’s too bad we can’t call you out for what you REALLY are because they will censor it.

        I’m going to write a letter asking that you be barred from further commenting. You contribute NOTHING to the conversation but lies and misinformation and can’t form a single opinion of your own without linking to idiotic articles that only address your twisted views. Get a life.

        • John April 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm

          Just because your little feelings are hurt snowflake , it does not give you the right to tell St George News what or who they should censor. You are one crybaby millennial and a clueless one at that.

      • No Filter April 18, 2018 at 8:15 am

        Your study states that they looked at people who smoked “heavily as teenagers”, this study could have had the same results for teenagers who drank heavily as well. If you use prescription pain medications very heavily as a teenager it could cause medical problems as well. Pretty lame reference lumpy. People who use marijuana to help with pain and PTSD don’t use it “heavily” like a teenager or college student would. People who are against legal marijuana can’t get the stereotype out of their head.

  • jaltair April 18, 2018 at 2:16 am

    “Substantial evidence suggests cannabis use is associated with the development of psychoses and schizophrenia, but studies also show that the substance may have benefits, including alleviating chronic pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea, according to a wide-ranging new report on the benefits and harms of cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS).”

    “The study was sponsored by Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Arizona Department of Health Services, the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Foundation, the US Food and Drug Administration, the Mat-Su Health Foundation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Oregon Health Authority, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, the Truth Initiative, and the Washington State Department of Health.”  (See above link.)

    Individules who use marijuana regularly have changes in the brain that influence behavior as well as the processing of thought, and chamges in personality.


  • thoughts1 April 18, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Marijuana is not harmless, especially for young people. They are made to believe from so many sources, that marijuana will have no negative affects on them, and that is simply not true. Marijuana may not be highly physically addictive, but it definitely can be psychologically addictive. I have seen the negative affects of marijuana addiction in my home. I have watched this extremely talented, kind hearted, smart person, who was liked by so many, and who has so much potential in life, turn into a different person. This family member began using marijuana as a way to self medicate to deal with depression. They were told it was a natural plant, and therefore it couldn’t cause harm or addiction. Unfortunately marijuana has done both to this person. This individual has continued to deal with depression, been suicidal, and almost hospitalized. Failing grades, truancies, money taken from family to support the marijuana use, ruined relationships, and legal trouble, replaced what was once the daily life of this family member.
    I think marijuana has some possible medicinal benefits for some, if it’s controlled and prescribed by a medical doctor. But I do think it’s important for society to understand that marijuana is not as harmless as so many claim it is. Until you experience addiction with someone you love, it’s hard to comprehend the heartache that comes with it. Addiction is not an individual problem, it affects entire families and communities.
    I know that sharing my experience is not welcomed or wanted by marijuana users, but I feel that it’s important for people to understand all aspects of marijuana.

  • dedicateddad April 18, 2018 at 8:06 am

    My son Holden is a chronically ill child who’s greatest, and sometimes only, relief from severe and horrible symptoms of Intractable Epilepsy comes from the amazing and healing varieties of the cannabis plant. I will only speak about my actual experiences in hopes you can better understand what our reality was like living as a member of the medical cannabis community in Colorado. At the end of 2013 we uprooted our lives and moved to Colorado and became medical refugees in a pursuit to ease Holden’s suffering and slow down the advancements of his condition because existing pharmaceutical options failed. As soon as we got his Red Card we started trialing oils, topicals and other forms of cannabis. Over the years we have trialed different strains, different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, cannabinoid ratios and different methods of administration and learned as we went. We learned how important this plant is, not just to the epilepsy or special needs community but to everyone. We know what can help Holden by reducing and stopping seizures, which is typically CBD, CBN, THCa and in emergency situations THC as well. We also learned that patient treatment plans need to be very individualized, which is how I feel all medicine should be approached in my opinion. We witnessed miracles in our son and had the pleasure to witness hundreds more within the medical cannabis support groups across the world, but especially in the close circle of friends we developed in Colorado as we all journeyed down this path together, those friends are now like family to us and we would do anything for each other. We lived in Colorado for over 3 years and were blessed the entire time. We lived deeply ingrained in the medical cannabis community and in our experience never once witnessed the pursuit to get high, only the pursuit to get better and live a better life. We witnessed adults suffering from conditions like MS, Fibromyalgia, migraines, cancer and many other issues find healing and a better life; like freedom from a wheelchair and now back on a bicycle, freedom from prescription drugs and their many side effects. We saw dozens and dozens of pediatric patients whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to cannabis. I am talking about a mental awakening for many, total clinical remission for Crohn’s and cancer patients, seizure reductions and for some even seizure freedom. Chronic pain eased and mobility gained as well as decreased anxiety and increased focus. We have seen amazing things for kids with autism including ability to live a full and fun social life and relief from extreme self harming symptoms too plus so many more amazing things that we saw and experienced. The cannabis community as a whole is one of compassion, caring and love.

    We were blessed by State programs in Colorado that truly support the special needs groups and very blessed by the public-school systems that rallied around these medically fragile kids and fought to ensure they had access to the cannabis based medicines that they needed, even at school. We had neighbors and friends that loved our family and supported us. In fact the only thing missing in Colorado was quality time with our family, which was a weekly if not daily occurrence before relocating. After receiving so much support for choosing to go down this path, from people all over the country, and taking the time to find the best products that work for Holden, some of which we can legally order and have shipped anywhere (like specific hemp oils), we decided to move back to Utah and closer to family again thinking the overall perception of cannabis has changed and had been accepted among the majority of the country. We have only been back for a year now but it didn’t take long to realize the majority of the population here in our State still don’t understand cannabis and the importance it has medicinally. My hope is that our experience can help bring awareness and open people’s mind and hearts to the truth about cannabis. I will continue to advocate for a medical cannabis program here in Utah, not just for my son but for everyone. We are smart people and we can create a responsible comprehensive program for those that deserve the option to try this healing plant based medicine.

    Now I understand and appreciate the perspective of the parents that worry about the rest of the kids in Utah, and that you fear they might be more likely to try cannabis if a medicinal program exists. To you I say the chances are no greater then than they already are right now, if they want it they already know how to get it, so it just comes down to all of us stepping up as parents and having consistent discussions with our kids about staying away from controlled substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, and other substances that should never be abused for recreation. The good news is I know we are a community that has those discussions with our kids regularly. If any kids still try to experiment with it then that is where parental discipline comes into play, nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes and can pay the consequences for it. The topic can be approached the exact same way you teach them about alcohol. It’s not complicated.

    What is complicated is how a medically fragile patient can get safe access to reliable cannabis sources that are grown in a clean environment, that are free from molds, pesticides and other toxic contaminants that could exacerbate the conditions we are trying to treat. A medical cannabis program can help create safeguards to ensure the products are lab tested, clean and consistent.

    It is easy for people to say to us, “you now know where and how to get it so just go get it and bring it back.” What you don’t understand is the risk that puts us in. If we were to do that we would be breaking federal laws and risking prison, and our child being taken from us, and that isn’t something any person should have to face for treating an illness with a safe and effective product. It is absolutely unjust that we have to live like this.

    There is a good chance that you or someone you love is facing a chronic medical condition right now. I invite you to personally research how medical cannabis could impact you or your loved one’s life that is currently suffering, there are thousands of studies that already exist in support of what I am saying, reference the endocannabinoid system and how it works with your immune and nervous systems. This isn’t a “cure all conditions” remedy but it is an “improve many conditions” remedy and that improved quality of life is immeasurable. So Utah, please help thousands of chronically ill patients gain safe access here in our state. I know we are a state of compassion and intelligence so let’s put those two things together to support this great program.

    We now have the opportunity to support a responsibly written bill in 2018. The Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Please visit UtahPatients.org to learn more.


    Cannabis is not harmless to everyone, all medicine has benefits and risks that need to be weighed: https://youtu.be/_MGYcAPI_o8

    • thoughts1 April 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

      I completly agree with the fact that marijuana has the potential of having a medicinal benefit for some. I also agree that none of us like to see our kids suffer. It has been very difficult watching every single one of my kids struggle with depression and anxiety, and some who have attempted to take their life as a result. It’s not easy watching two of my kids struggle with ADD. It’s also very difficult watching someone with cancer or chronic pain suffer. I know people who have children who suffer with epilepsy. None of these things are easy to watch someone you love deal with.
      I’m not pushing against medical marijuana, but I do think society in general, especially teenagers need to stop being fed the idea that marijuana is harmless. And generally speaking, even if a parent teaches their child in a loving home, and that child is being raised in a family where they are taught, supported, and cared for, it is no guarantee that they will not turn to drugs, especially when they’re trying to cope with other mental health disorders. My pain in watching my child deal with depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and now addiction to marijuana is just as real as your pain in watching your child deal with Epilepsy.
      Because we all have different experiences we can all decide to learn from each other. There needs to be a general understanding that marijuana could potentially have a meidicinal beneifit for some, but at the same time it also needs to to be understood that there are risks associated with marijuna use. Because society is so heavily pushing the idea of medicinal marijuana, teenagers are being sent the message that marijuana is harmless. I’m simply asking that if marijuana continues to be promoted as medicine, that equal attention be given to promoting the potential risks of marijuana use.

      • bikeandfish April 18, 2018 at 11:49 am

        I get the spirit of your statement and agree that accurate education is critical. That said, from my experience, the information leans heavily torward preventing use and fear mongering than teaching kids its harmless. I actually believe more abuse and addiction comes from poor education that instills a disproportionate amount of fear than from an “its totally fine” mantra, which I think is relatively rare on a societal level. And as I understand it teenage abuse of marijuana is stable or shrinking over time, not getting worse.

        I hope your children get help. Society should discourage self-medicating with drug and alcohol and sadly that’s even more important for those who struggle with mental health issues. Its a comolex issue that is going to take reevaluating alot of how society educates and codes issues including continuing to challenge the deep rooted history of stigmatizing those with mental health problems.

        Best of luck!

      • Dave April 18, 2018 at 11:57 am

        Thoughts1, don’t confuse the messages between medical cannabis and recreational. Medical indicates you have to have a qualifying need for it, not that it is harmless. It is not going to be available to anyone that wants it, you have to have a physician recommendation by your own primary care doctor or specialist. All medicine, including over the counter, have big risks associated with them and need to be used responsibly. This is for medicinal use only while working with medical professionals along the way, slowly titrating dosing and tracking symptoms in search of a therapeutic dose or strain. I am very sorry your child is struggling with mental illness and addiction and I pray he/she find the help and relief that is needed. Risks of cannabis should be discussed and so should the risks of pharmaceuticals. If your child looks into existing pharma options I hope you take equal precaution and thoroughly examine the risks of those medicines too, they are very dangerous too but can help when used appropriately and with the proper guidance. There are many people in the same boat as your child but that are hooked to prescription drugs and not cannabis, but those same prescription drugs are helping others too so they remain legal and continue to be prescribed even though there are associated risks. So I do understand your position but it applies to more than just cannabis.

        Your child matters, mine does too.

        Recreational would more imply that it is harmless and that is not what this initiative is about, even recreational though is restricted to adults implying it is not harmless and you are old enough to make that decision on your own. This initiative is not recreational, this is about true medical need.

        Good luck and God bless you and your family.

        • thoughts1 April 18, 2018 at 1:17 pm

          I understand the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, but teenagers in general do not. Most teens will lump the two of them together and will not differentiate between them.
          Because of the internet and social media, teens are very aware of what goes on in our society. They understand that marijuana is being used for some people medicinally, and unfortunately it does create for many teens a sense of security in using marijuana recreationally. What teens read online and what they hear from peers can influence a teens choices, even when they have been taught differently in the home.
          All that I’m asking is that with the promotion of medical marijuana, we also increase the education and understanding of the potential harmful affects of marijuana and make it very clear that medicinal marijuana is different than recreational marijuana.
          To me this is about our youth being properly educated in all aspects. Adults are big enough to make their own decisions, but our teens our still very impressionable. If they form an addiction in their teens because they had misperceptions of marijuana, many of them will carry those addictions into adulthood.
          It basically comes down to balance on all sides. With greater promotion, there needs to be increased education.
          Wishing you and your family the best!

  • vickbill April 18, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Ed is living proof why pot should not be legalized. He would be exhibited one in a court of law of the negative impact of Pot.

  • jaybird April 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Legalized weed in Utah would help stem the overwhelming urges of its populace to use opiods and xanax. Mothers against heroin.

  • DB April 18, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Why the unnecessary slap on the face at Fox News? It makes you sound biased 🙂 ALL cable news is garbage now and I watch little of it anymore. However, if that Malaysian 777 emerges from the black hole (per CNN), I’ll retract my entire post.

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