City Desk

Our Morning Roundup: Marijuana Is so Going to Be Legal One of These Days Despite Hacks Like Charles Lane Edition

Good morning City Desk readers, and welcome to the dawn of a new era of freedom (Friday!). This week, the Justice Department announced that medical marijuana–and the people who sell it through dispensaries and the people who smoke it with a scrip–is no longer one of its concerns.

Do I want to be elated? You betcha. But then I had a total downer moment this morning, courtesy of the Washington Post's Charles Lane. In a post titled "'Medical Marijuana' Is a Trojan Horse," Lane argues that weed has very few medicinal properties and that we're all just using it for recreation, and that that's wrong because it's not honest.

Then he compares the medical case for marijuana to the scientific case for creationism.

For a guy who once edited The New Republic and teaches a class on journalism (yeah, going ad hominem here), Lane has an awfully inconsistent argument.

For starters, he first calls the findings of an American Cancer Society's literature survey "mixed," when they're not...actually...mixed. So, Mr. Lane, let me help you. The proven findings will be highlighted in black. The "possible" findings will be highlighted in red.

First, it found that scientific data indicate that cannabinoids, particularly THC, have some potential to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite. Cannabinoids probably affect control of movement and memory, but their effects on the immune system are unclear. It found that some of the effects of cannabinoids, such as reduced anxiety, sedation, and euphoria, may be helpful for certain patients and situations and undesirable for others. Based on the many studies reviewed, researchers also found that smoking marijuana delivers harmful substances and may be an important risk factor in the development of lung diseases and certain types of cancer.

Get that, Mr. Lane? There's plenty of evidence of marijuana's medicinal properties, much less for its harms. But what do you say next?

  • "This is especially pernicious when it involves selling phony remedies for real diseases (or real drugs for phony diseases)."
  • "I don’t know what you call it when a doctor “recommends” smoking a dried plant (perhaps under a brand name like “Afghan Gold Seal”) at a lounge where the dosage and purity of the active ingredient cannot be systematically controlled. It sure doesn’t sound like medicine to me."
  • "laws like California’s, which, in practice, permit people to get pot for practically any purported malady under the sun, show that the medical rationale is a cover for recreational use"
  • "Or does pot have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” as federal law provides — and, I would add, the evidence suggests?"

Wait! What does the evidence suggest again?

...have some potential to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite...some of the effects of cannabinoids, such as reduced anxiety, sedation, and euphoria, may be helpful for certain patients...

So, Chuck Lane, how does it feel to be a highly paid, well respected hack? You do realize, don't you, that Mexico is falling apart over this drug? That the United States locks up mothers and fathers and sons and daughters in cages–FUCKING CAGES, CHUCK–for possession of marijuana? You do realize, too, Chuck, that medical marijuana is cheaper and easier on the body–because there's more than one way to get your nug buzz on–than the immorally over-priced anti-nausea pills that cancer and AIDS patients have to empty out their fucking pockets to afford?

Take it back, Chuck Lane. Or better yet, just shut the fuck up until you have something worthwhile to contribute to the conversation.

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  • Alicia

    Job well done, Mr. Riggs!! I don't really smoke weed, but shit, let cancer patients get relief from an affordable (and fun!) source while they're going through the worst pain someone could possibly imagine.

  • RFWoodstock

    Valid medicinal value, it’s a victimless crime, the War on Drugs WAY too costly, too many arrests for simple possession, tax it and use the money to pay for health insurance and to reduce the deficit. Need I say more?

    Woodstock Universe supports legalization for a variety of reasons. Check them out and vote in our poll "Should marijuana be legalized?" at

    Current poll results: 96% for legalization and 4% opposed.

    Add your vote. Poll runs through October.

    Peace, love, music, one world,

  • revraygreen

    Chuck is such a POS.

  • Missippi Hippy

    Published or soon to be published medical studies and information (12,076 studies in all as of 22 Oct. 2009) are archived by the U.S. Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health.

  • Initiative 59

    This has the tone of a college sophomore's "legalize it" essay. The Riggs article, I mean. Go to PubMed and look up the actual studies. Things are not as simple as either Lane or Riggs would have us believe.

  • Andrew

    I liked this article, particularly the last paragraph.

    However, I hate that we always get so bogged up with the argument about marijuana's medicinal properties (or lack thereof). IMHO, in a free and open society that embraces the individual liberty of its citizens (that means the U.S.A., right?) it shouldn't really matter for what reason, medicinal or recreational, I choose to get blazed. Responsible, adult recreation, enjoyed in the privacy of one's home as long as it doesn't harm others, is no one's business. In that respect, the prohibition of marijuana is no different than the archaic laws against sodomy we struck down only a few years ago: puritanical and oppressive.

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  • Brayden

    remember when magic johnson said "You're the only one who can make the difference. Whatever your dream is, go for it. "

  • Marijuana

    I really don't think that marijuana's medicinal properties should even be a part of the argument. The alcohol/marijuana comparisons should be grounds enough to show that the marijuana prohibition is a complete joke.