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Written by Brenda Shoop   
Sunday, 14 January 2007

Hi Everyone!

I thought I would share a debate I've been having via email with some of those lunatics that are caught up in the hysteria surrounding "drugs." I originally went to the site to read a story, but when I read the readers responses, I just had to comment. You'll see why. Just pay attention to the "facts", and I use the term loosely, that these people spout off without even thinking twice.

Here's the original article text: It's Time for Marijuana to be Reclassified...

Good points, Dr Lundberg. After that, I read the readers responses. The one that really got me going was the first one. Notice all the names with all the letters behind them. You would think that this was a professional response, but you'd be wrong. Read it here>>

So here's where the debate starts. I sent a reply to the writer of the piece, Dr Lundberg, and he sent it on to the writers of the letter.

Here's what I wrote:

This is in response to another response! I only wish I had found this earlier. The record needs to be set straight!

Regarding the letter published by Deforest Z. Rathbone, Jr.,
Your references are weak.

In fact, here is the section from the source you referenced on current and lifetime marijuana use by students;

"The percentage of students who reported lifetime and current marijuana use increased significantly from 1991–1997 (31.3%–47.1% and 14.7%–26.2%, respectively) and then decreased significantly from 1997–2003 (47.1%–40.2% and 26.2%–22.4%, respectively)." [CDC Morbidity and Mortality Report Surveillance Summaries May 21, 2004 / Vol. 53 / No. SS-2 Page 29]

 a quote from Deforest's letter..."With this nation currently suffering 26,000 overdose deaths a year, nearly all of which started with a shared joint of marijuana from a schoolmate..."

What? That's a very bold statement to make without citing where those "facts" came from. Where did that 26,000 number come from? Are you including alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, prescription drugs, etc?

Please find me one, just one case of a marijuana overdose and I will listen. Until then, please keep your "facts" to yourself until you can find relevent sources for your claims. The source you cite does not hold up your side of the issue.

 another quote... "...considering the current level of damage that the population is experiencing from its use..."

Again, where is this information coming from? What level of current damage are you speaking of? I always thought that healthcare professionals were to reserch their materials before even thinking about publishing them. Were you alseep at the switch?

Keep up the good work, Dr Lundberg....eventually we'll set straight the professionals who are supposed to be advocating for their patients instead of succumbing to the hysteria surrounding this issue.
I have more referenced research material on this subject on my website

Brenda Williams-Shoop, RN, BSN
"usin' my brain for something other than a hat rack"
"not believin' everything I read"

Okay. A little scathing, but hey, I get passionate when dealing with liars. So sue me. Here's the response I received, with my remarks in bold:

Response number 1
     You wrote, "Please find me one, just one case of a marijuana overdose..."
     We are not saying that kids are dying from pot overdose.  But many parents I know who have lost children to drug overdose almost invariably say that their kids started their illegal drug use with marijuana during their teens. 

Just because people who have used more dangerous drugs started with marijuana doesn't mean that all marijuana users will do hard drugs. And I don't have researched materials to prove this, but I'll just bet that everyone who smoked marijuana started out with cigarettes. But, yet cigarettes are still legal. So the argument just doesn't make logical sense.

Please see the attached press release of ours for the DEA Vigil held last summer to memorialize the many people lost to drugs.  Also see the attached drug death graph based on CDC mortality reports citing drugs only; alcohol and tobacco deaths are much higher.

The drug graph looks like it came from a website called the CEDAR Project. I found no such graph on the website, nor numbers to substantiate the claims made on the graph. As you'll see, I found information on that same website that substantiates my side of the debate. Plus, he states right there that "alcohol and tobacco deaths are much higher." Why not intervene at the tobacco stage?
     That's why we in the parents' drug prevention movement advocate health screening all kids for drug use in school random drug testing programs, to identify kids in need of professional health care that can prevent or treat the potentially deadly disease of drug addiction.  Unfortunately, many hide-bound medical professionals are stuck in old ineffective, prolonged and uncertain clinical screening by interview, written questionnaires, etc, and have not yet fully accepted the new high-tech chemical testing that can quickly and with high levels of objectivity and certainty confirm suspected dangerous substance abuse by children.  On the other hand, open and fair minded medical profession leaders like Dr. Lundberg have generously allowed us from the health care consumers' perspective to present our opinions on drug abuse in their professional journals-- such as you responded to.  I hope you do not find fault with such fair and open debate on this important health issue.

Clinical screening is the only tool that doesn't invade people's rights. Mandatory drug testing violates personal freedom rights. And while I agree that children should not be using "drugs," this is a very slippery slope in regards to personal freedoms.
     I realize that many people who smoke cigarettes, drink to excess, use illegal drugs, etc. believe those substances are harmless- or they wouldn't be doing it.  But that belief unfortunately also makes some of them doubt that those substances could hurt others.  Former NY Times editor Abe Rosenthal said about drug-using journalists, "Having used drugs and gotten away with it, they believe everybody can."  Do you suppose there could be any like that within the medical profession?

I have no idea what the point is here.
     As a long term drug prevention activist, I and my nationwide associates have accumulated a wealth of scientific documentation on the harm of drugs-- including marijuana-- and evidence of the effectiveness of drug testing to help reduce drug abuse.  Please feel free to contact me for any of that information you may be interested in seeing.  Thanks for your interest and your response to Dr. Lundberg that has allowed me to respond to your concerns with this note.
Dee Rathbone

Do you suppose he never thought about making tobacco and alcohol illegal since he stated that "see the attached drug death graph based on CDC mortality reports citing drugs only; alcohol and tobacco deaths are much higher." This guy just seems to think that since drugs can be at the end of the tunnel, they always are and by God, we need to stop the drugs. Still the argument doesn't make logical sense.

Response number 2
Death by overdose might be a blessing compared to a life time of paranoia and schizophrenia. 
Drug induced deaths are still a minor portion of deaths caused by drugs.  For example, statistically, more driving deaths are associated with marijuana than alcohol, and I suspect those statistics don't include the innocent victims that are killed in those same accidents caused by a driver under the influence.

Statistically, more driving deaths are associated with marijuana than alcohol? Who says this? Where did these statistics come from?
In the case of my drug addicted step children, marijuana was their first drug of choice before moving on to meth.  I am forever torn with the subject who suffers most:  parents whose children have died, or those of us who have lived with the horror of addiction in our own families for 25 years.  In the first case, at least healing begins.  In our case, the anger and frustration continues along with the horrible anticipation that we will one day get a phone call saying that our kid has arrived at an early grave, or caused some other innocent victim to die.  It is pathetic that we feel relief that they are just in prison again.

Addiction is the problem, not the substances people are addicted to!
Marijuana doesn't have to kill by overdose to kill and destroy.  
Roger Morgan

Hmmm...let's see what nurse Brenda has to say about these responses....

Mr Rathbone, could you please "cc:" this to Mr Morgan?
(plus, I'd really like to know where the "statistics" are from that he cited
concerning traffic fatalities and marijuana)
Brenda Shoop

Mr. Morgan, my sincerest sympathy regarding your experiences with addiction.
It is a horrible disease that affects many families. 

Mr. Rathbone, I pray that my letter didn’t give an impression of anger.
I can be a very passionate writer at times.

After much of my own research on this subject, using the professional research skills taught to me by my professors in nursing school, I have come to the conclusion that we the American public, have been lied to our entire lives about marijuana. The reasons why it’s illegal (thank William Randolph Hearst). Why it’s still illegal (thank the power handed over to the UN by our government). Why we’re so hysterical about marijuana (thank Harry Anslinger). I could go on and on. It really can be used medicinally to help a wide range of conditions. (you can find lots of research on that too) 

I’m just feeling the need to feel angry at someone, anyone, but who? So, the un-referenced information in your article really lit me on fire! So I did more research. I found some information you may find interesting.

I would encourage you to read some of the findings at the CEDAR Project. That’s where the table you sent me looks like it came from. (I couldn’t find the table)

One of the published journal articles I read pointed to tobacco use as the first predictor of other substance use. Here’s the link:

Maybe, if it is determined that drug testing in schools is a good idea; we should start in elementary school with nicotine tests. That would actually make more sense from the “catching it early” standpoint. (I never actually thought about it that way, but since reading that article, I don’t think I could agree more.)

Please believe me; I am not in favor of anyone putting anything synthetic into their bodies. So please don’t think I have any problem with your goals. And yes, while I do agree that most "hard-drug" users started with marijuana, that doesn't mean that all who use marijuana go on to the "hard stuff." It's identifying the addictive behavior early that's key here.

The only issue I have is the lack of references in the blazing comment that was left on a very objective report based on facts. 

Brenda Williams-Shoop, RN, BSN
"usin' my brain for something other than a hat rack"
"still not believin' everything I read"

Fair enough, in my opinion. Let's see what response comes in now.

     One of the links I have to impairment of driving under pot is:  Hope this helps.  Thanks for asking.

This link took me to a research study done in Australia called "An Evaluation of the Standardised Field Sobriety Tests for the detection of impairment associated with cannabis with and without alcohol." You can look at the 126-page document yourself, or you can believe me when I tell you that I couldn't find anything to substantiate the claims made here. In fact, this source gave me more ammo. You'll see.
     You are entitled to be angry; but you ought to be more angry at the professional pro-drug advocates whose false information has lured so many otherwise intelligent people like you into believing that pot is harmless or even therapeutic.  Attached is an op-ed I wrote in 2002 debunking their dangerous falsehoods, especially about RSDT.

Otherwise intelligent? Should I be offended?

To that, my latest reply...

Mr Rathbone,
Thank you for your reply. I'm still not satisfied with your responses. You haven't convinced me of anything. In fact, the more I research your sources, the more I find that you are really on the wrong track by singling out cannabis in your campaign. Maybe if you could look past the hysteria surrounding "drugs", you could see the REAL problem. And no one ever said that it was okay to drive while impaired.
You stated, "For example, statistically, more driving deaths are associated with marijuana than alcohol..."

According to the article you cited, that is simply not true:
"From 1990 to 1993, the percentage of drivers killed on Victorian roads with alcohol detected in their blood was 33%. This figure dropped to 26.9% from 1995 to 1996, and to 27.7% from 1997 to
1999. From 1990 to 1993, 22.2% of drivers killed tested positive for drug use. The drugs identified were: cannabis (10.9% of cases); benzodiazapines (3.4% of cases), stimulants (3.6% of cases) and
opioids (3.4% of cases). From 1995 to 1996 the percentage of drug-related deaths increased to 26.6%, in which 13.5% of cases had cannabis involved, 3.8% benzodiazapines, 3.5% stimulants, and 4.1% opioids. Finally, from 1997 to 1999, a high 30.1% of drug-related deaths involved primarily cannabis (15.6% of cases) followed by benzodiazapines (4.7%), stimulants (4.8%), and opioids (6.6%).

So, your sources have failed you yet again.

And from the website you cited in your rebuttal, this is what was on the statistics page: (These statistics show how sixth- and twelfth-graders responded, along with what their parents thought they would respond.)

Sixth-graders reporting use 
21% reported alcohol use
8.3% reported drug use
Parents saying sixth-grader uses    
5% said there was alcohol use 
0.9% reported there was drug use

Twelfth-graders reporting use
68% reported alcohol use
36% reported drug use 
Parents saying twelfth-grader uses  
41% said there was alcohol use
15% said there was drug use
Again, it looks like alcohol is your foe, more so than cannabis.
Thanks, but unless you can come up with something that can be substantiated, this debate must end. Sadly, you lost miserably. I'll bet you won't post any of this on your website, but you can be sure you'll find it on mine. And I am not angry, I'm just sad that otherwise nice people like you would want to put a 61-year old woman with cancer in prison for 41 months. (this just happened in California) I would encourage you to look at some of the other victims of this War on Drugs. You might be surprised to find nice people in prison all over the country. People who should be able to use a medicinal herb for relief without facing prison time.
Not all who use "drugs" abuse them. Addiction is the problem. Not the substances themselves. Gambling addictions destroy many families, sex addictions destroy many families, food addictions destroy many families, should I go on? We don't make sex illegal, we don't make food illegal. And do you remember alcohol prohibition? It didn't work either. We need to focus on the problem of addiction. Period. And stop all the finger-pointing already.
Brenda Williams-Shoop, RN, BSN
"usin' my brain for something other than a hat rack"
"still not believin' anything you write"

You know, I was really cheering for these guys once I heard some of their personal woes, but not anymore. These types of people only want to know what they think they already know. (slow down and read that again) Introducing any new information sends them spinning out of control into "statistics land." (still with no pertinent facts) Go figure.

I'll post a new reply if I get one, but I'm not hopeful.



Jan 14, 2006.....Here's an update

I did indeed receive a reply. Here it is...

     I'm not singling out cannabis in my campaign.  You're the one fixated on pot.  (the original issue was cannabis!) We just want all schoolchildren protected from all drugs including alcohol and tobacco.  And we don't want to put anybody in jail for using drugs, particularly kids.  Drugs create their own imprisonment.  We just want kids health screened for all drugs, alcohol and tobacco in order to allow parents to get them the professional counseling or treatment that can protect their developing brains from potential addiction that currently results in so many overdose deaths and many more dying or being permanently damaged from drug-related causes.
     If you want to see an example of drug legalization, visit Baltimore or Washington DC at night- if you dare.  Both of those cities have de facto legalized drugs by their crack-head politicians intentionally refusing to enforce the laws against drugs-- unless it happens in front of the police station.  And take a look at the proliferation of street people there, most of whose brains have been destroyed by drugs and alcohol.  (I did visit Baltimore on a Student Nurse's Association conference trip. And while there were many homeless around, there really weren't any more than what I've seen in other metropolitan areas. But even so, I never felt afraid for my safety walking around at night in the city.)
     I'm sorry you cannot see the terrible damage drugs do to people.  But that's precisely why all nations have come together in international treaties declaring drugs to be illegal.  And why so many druggies destroy themselves.
(These international treaties are what's keeping sick, dying people from using an herb that was given to us by GOD! The rights of the American people have been stripped away by these treaties. Democracy is dead on this issue. There is absolutely no provision for the American people to rise up and change these laws. Therefore, these treaties are unconstitutional! There is no "We the People" available for us here.)
     You are right; this discussion is going nowhere.  Let's terminate it.
All right, I just have to comment on this whole thing.
NONE of the insane claims were substantiated. Many of my questions were not addressed. And even when they were, the answers were just gobblygook. Using the resources this guy provided, I proved him wrong.
So now, what has this shown us?
1. Liars sometimes seem well meaning.
2. Liars will try to blow smoke up your you-know-what with fancy sounding statistics.
3. When you call a liar on his lie, he uses another lie to cover it up.
4. And when all else fails, a liar will retreat with his tail between his legs.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 September 2007 )
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