Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hitler finds out Michael Jackson has died

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Second-hand smoke is good for you

When you drink tequila at a bar, you don't get those around you drunk, but when you smoke pot indoors you DO get those around you high with second-hand smoke. The argument against smoking cigarettes in public is that you're spreading cancer. Inarguably bad for you. Having woken up stoned out of my mind simply because someone smoked pot in my bedroom while I was asleep, I'd argue that getting someone high when they don't want to be, like spiking the punch with LSD, is a rude and potentially dangerous thing to do. However, now that we know marijuana smoke not only doesn't cause cancer but may actually prevent and cure it, the argument could also be made that public tobacco smoking must be accompanied by equal amounts of pot smoking - just to counter the cancer effect.
To understand the insane disconnect between science and policy concerning marijuana, just check out these two articles. See if you can figure out which one contains actual science (hint, it's boring).

Marijuana Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer, UCLA Expert Dr. Tashkin Concludes Protective Effect "Not Unreasonable"

Marijuana smoking -"even heavy long-term use"- does not cause cancer of the lung, upper airways, or esophagus, Dr. Donald Tashkin reported at this year's meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society...

Stephen Sidney examined the files of 64,000 Kaiser patients and found that marijuana users didn't develop lung cancer at a higher rate or die earlier than non-users. Of five smaller studies on the question, only two -involving a total of about 300 patients- concluded that marijuana smoking causes lung cancer. Tashkin decided to settle the question by conducting a large, population-based, case-controlled study."Our major hypothesis," he told the ICRS, "was that heavy, long-term use of marijuana will increase the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers."

The Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program provided Tashkin's team with the names of 1,209 L.A. residents aged 59 or younger with cancer (611 lung, 403 oral/pharyngeal, 90 laryngeal, 108 esophageal). Interviewers collected extensive lifetime histories of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, and data on diet, occupational exposures, family history of cancer, and various "socio-demographic factors." Exposure to marijuana was measured in joint years (joints per day x years that number smoked)...

There was time for only one question, said the moderator, and San Francisco oncologist Donald Abrams, M.D., was already at the microphone: "You don't see any positive correlation, but in at least one category, it almost looked like there was a negative correlation, i.e., a protective effect. Could you comment on that?" [Abrams was referring to Tashkin's lung-cancer-only data for marijuana-only smokers in 1-10 j-yrs category.] "Yes," said Tashkin. "The odds ratios are less than one almost consistently, and in one category that relationship was significant, but I think that it would be difficult to extract from these data the conclusion that marijuana is protective against lung cancer. But that is not an unreasonable hypothesis."

And this one...

State rules marijuana smoke is a carcinogen, may require dispensaries to post warnings

Joints and baggies sold at California's medical marijuana dispensaries will soon carry a new warning label. Next to tags like "Purple Haze" and "White Widow" will be the advisory: Contents may cause cancer when smoked.

On Friday, California added marijuana smoke to its official list of known carcinogens, joining the ranks of arsenic, asbestos and DDT. Pot brownies, lollipops and other non-inhalables are not affected by the new ruling.

Scientists found the pungent smoke shares many of the same harmful properties as tobacco smoke, warranting its inclusion on the Proposition 65 warning list. The law requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, and businesses and government agencies must post warnings when they use such chemicals or sell products containing them.

"Marijuana smoke is a mixture of different chemicals, and a number of those were already on the Prop. 65 list," said Allan Hirsch, chief deputy director of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which made the designation.

Okay, that last one was boring too, but it was also absolutely insane. Ignoring the science showing pot may prevent cancer, they declare it a carcinogen because it "shares many of the same harmful properties as tobacco smoke." That doesn't prove anything. Here's how their logic works. You can make orange juice from oranges. Oranges are a fruit. Apples are also a fruit, therefore you can make orange juice out of apples.

Just because two things share properties doesn't make them equal, otherwise Battlefield Earth and Pulp Fiction would be equally bad for you just because John Travolta's in both of them.
It can be hard to grasp things that are counterintuitive, the earth going around the sun despite the intuitive fact that the sun obviously goes around the earth. It's got to be explained in a rational manner before anyone will abandon their instincts.
It's just common sense that smoke isn't good for your lungs. People die of smoke inhalation all the time. When people die in fires, it's often the smoke that kills them, so it's perfectly rational to presume that the smoke of anything, whether trees or leaves or an occasional book, won't be doing your lungs any good. Smoke anything rolled in paper and you're smoking a bleached and pulverized tree with the tobacco or pot. Throw a book burning and you'll rapidly discover that the smoke you create from Shakespeare is just as toxic as the smoke from Hitler, at least as far as your lungs are concerned.
It's perfectly rational to presume if the smoke of one plant causes cancer, the smoke of all plants causes cancer. It's just not logical. There's a perfect kind of smoke that's actually good for you. That's counterintuitive. It's also true.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Krassner vs. King