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New Zealand Church Can’t Find Advertising Regulations in King James’ Edition

1:23 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

A page from a personally annotated bible, with verses highlighted and notes.

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority favored honesty over religion.

In America, where Christians have the hobby of lobbying the courts and their legislators for all kinds of special treatment, the faithful, with little green papers stamped with the words “In God We Trust” in their pockets, listen to all sorts of self-appointed (and often finely appointed) ministers who advise the poor and sick that god really wants them to be wealthy and healthy, and who promise that they can be all helpy — while separating the faithful from their dollars in a manner that’s stealthy.

In New Zealand, where the government attempts to encourage even those who claim spiritual motivation to make honest representations as they ply their wares (or scares, as the case may be), the governmental agency that monitors advertisers’ claims, the Advertising Standards Authority, has ordered an evangelical church to cease advertising so-called “healing sessions” due to the fact that there is no medical evidence that prayer is capable of healing the health problems that their adverts suggest it can.

The Universal Church for the Kingdom of God in New Zealand passed out brochures promising that praying to the universe’s head doctor in their chapel will bring relief to “people who suffer with constant pain, deteriorating health, can’t work due to illness, incurable disease, doctors who don’t know what’s wrong, dependent on pills, recovering from injury, weight problems (and) sick children.”

The Advertising Standards Authority’s Complaint Board ruled that the church’s claim as absolute fact, as opposed to an opinion, that prayer can cure or mitigate disease and sickness violated the country’s advertising standards and ordered that the church discontinue its advertising blitz.

The church pointed out to the government authority that it only conducts prayer ceremonies and that they believe, “God can heal the sick, and it is He who heals.” The church also reminded the governmental authority that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was “no different from any other church in this regard.” The authority found, however, that the church’s claims could quite possibly “mislead and deceive vulnerable people who may be suffering from any of the illnesses listed in the advertisement.”

The authority received a complaint from an organization called the Society for Science Based Healthcare, that advised the government that the church’s claims violated New Zealand’s Therapeutic Products Advertising Code, thereby “failing to uphold the high standard of social responsibility” required under the law.

At the time of publishing, Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn were unavailable for comment as they were spending the day at Florida’s “Holy Land Experience” theme park enjoying rides on the “Immaculate Conception” water coaster and noshing on “Last Supper” funnel cake.

God also could not be reached for comment, as She was at Her doctor’s office for Her yearly physical.

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HillBilly on the Same Page as Prohibitionist-in-Chief

6:19 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

 

Over the course of the past couple of weeks and culminating recently in an interview on Meet the Press, it appears that the woman who would be king and her first-mate to be, the HillBilly (sm), have laid out their dry-doper vision for speaking to the concerns of both Americas’ dire-medication needers and its life changing arrest-recorded-pocket-carrying weeders – “Who cares what you think”, in a manner of speaking and referencing a quip of the highly quotable GWBush.

What we have heard from the HillBilly is language that they know is crowd tested to seem mildly progressive in tenor and even hopeful (tm – Barack Obama), that cannabis may be medically useful and that the states are “laboratories of democracy”.

Thanks HillBilly, but we were already aware that the National Institutes of Health said in 2003 that cannabinoid “compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell-signalling pathways,” and then went further in 2012 when the NIH stated firmly that the properties of cannabis have “anti-cancer activities.” And, that in states such as Illinois where cannabis has been made legal for medicinal purposes, politicians agree with the medical establishment that asserts that cannabis is medicine that helps patients who are suffering from a long list of crippling and permanent medical maladies including these diseases that the HillBilly most assuredly do not have or do not want to contract or become afflicted with:

Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency, syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I), Causalgia, CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II), Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain,” as well as “any other debilitating medical condition” recognized by Illinois Department of Public Health as being treatable with the useful and important medicine called cannabis.

Hooray for the forward march of science.

And, HillBilly (sm), we are also aware that the states can indeed be “laboratories of democracy” – as we have seen over the past decades, where obstructionist politicians who are keenly concerned with pandering to the rubes (so as to keep their jobs) have labored to reduce Americans’ access to abortion, enable citizens to carry high powered rifles into restaurants and shopping malls, forestalled equality in marriage and voted over and over to ensure that we do not follow “shria law” in places like Oklahoma and Florida. And we have seen even in the past year, in states that have legalized cannabis usage for medical and recreational purposes, state level prohibitionists and suburban township cultural custodians effectively stymie the will of the people by imposing ridiculous “home rule” restrictions on the sale of cannabis for no other reason than to make it difficult for the citizens who they represent to use the legal substance.

Hooray for small “d” democracy.

When I hear the HillBilly talking like this, it’s hard for me to say hopefully that the statements that have come from both of the soon-to-be first couple reflect a growing “evolution” on matters related to cannabis. I think rather the stance is nothing more than self-serving dry-doper kick-the-can cowardly narcissistic bullshittery.

I am certain that the cynical liars HillBilly know full well that the current dry-doper in the White House has used this exact fake-assed framing throughout his tenure (when he wasn’t actually publically making fun of those Americans who understand the medical usefulness of cannabis and are cognizant of the bigoted pogrom that is the war on cannabis in America, by using his ‘bully pulpit’ as a dais from which to be a bully), as in when Obama told a New Yorker writer earlier this year that, “it’s important for it to go forward…And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

Hooray for “evolving.”

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Dopey Prohibitionist Could Accidentally Legalize Cannabis in DC

6:10 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

Cross posted at mLaw

Portrait f Andy Harris

Andy Harris hates cannabis so much he may legalize it by accident.

A republican end-around to derail cannabis decriminalization in Washington DC seems to have backfired. A neo-prohibitionist lawmaker who sponsored a bill to remove funds from DC that it might have spent to carry out the decriminalization effort inadvertently created a situation where cannabis could be technically legal in our nation’s capital.

The DC decriminalization measure established that police can only give $25 dollar tickets (i.e. as opposed to arrest records) to people caught possessing small amounts of cannabis in the city. The measure to decriminalize cannabis possession was enacted by the city council because treating cannabis possession as a crime in DC resulted in the arrests of great numbers of minorities and very few white people. 9 out of 10 cannabis possession arrestees in DC were African Americans – a significant statistic due to the fact that the percentage of cannabis use across all races is similar.

The move to stymie decriminalization was made by Andy Harris, a Republican representative from Maryland, who appended a rider to a broad financial services bill that prevents DC from spending money “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with possession, use or distribution” of cannabis.

The prohibitionist law maker, however, failed to replace the decriminalization rule creating a circumstance where police could not ticket cannabis possessors, as this would violate the prohibition of spending monies to “carry out” the decriminalization rule, and DC could not act to re-criminalize cannabis, as doing so would also violate the provisions of the law.

The situation may lead to, as Dr. Malik Burnett the Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance described it to the DCist news organization, the “de facto legalization” of cannabis possession in the district.

Although the legal catch-22 will certainly be spoken to by Congress with future legislation, as it stands today (technically) the citizens of the District of Columbia may be able to thank Rep. Andy Harris for ensuring that they can’t be profiled or arrested for holding on the hill.

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Jesus can’t get a few winks and God can’t buy Infiniti

12:00 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

 

Cross posted at the demise

Alarmed at the thought of poor shelter-less citizens invading the public’s well-kept city benches, citizens in Davidson, NC motivated by their “concerned for the safety of the neighborhood” have reported to local officials that a vagrant has set up camp in front of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.

The vagrant, an art installation by Timothy Schmalz, is a life size bronze of a man, sheltering himself against the cold with a makeshift blanket, sleeping on a park bench called “Homeless Jesus”. An indication that the bronze sleeping vagrant is the Christ, the homeless wandering religious philosopher of the first century who challenged the people of his time to “give up all you own and follow” and, in later centuries, was exalted as the “king of kings”, are nail wounds on his exposed bare feet. The bronze is accompanied by a plaque with the gospel verse from Matthew; “as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.”

Rev. David Buck, St. Alban’s minister, told USA Today that the life-size statue that beckons viewers to become part of the work by leaving space on the ‘park bench’ for a single person to sit “makes people think about their faith commitment and the plight of the homeless in this country.” Rev, Buck feels that the art work, which is on church property, reflects the church’s commitment to social justice. Buck said that it is important to remember that “faith expresses itself not in beautiful buildings only, but mainly in care for those less fortunate, the marginalized.”

The artist had originally attempted to gain the cooperation of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (both Catholic churches) to display the art work, but had been turned down by both churches.

Concerned citizen Cindy Castano Swannack, who called the police to report the loitering artwork, when advised that the homeless person was actually art that had found a home, said she disagreed with the depiction of Christ as a vulnerable fellow human stating that Jesus was “not a vagrant” and not someone “who needs our help.”

As North Carolina citizens were coming face to face with a homeless Jesus, God himself sued the national credit reporting company Equifax for taking actions to prevent the deity from accessing Infiniti.

God Gazarov, who has a godly credit score of over 720, states in court documents that Equifax has prevented him from securing financing for the Infiniti that he wants to jump in and take for spin around the known universe, or at lease Brooklyn.

Gazarov, a Russian citizen who shares his first name with his grandfather, claims that Equifax has blocked him from accessing his credit file and score because security measures that the company uses refuse to accept that his given name, God, is his real name.

Gazarov says in his complaint that the company has denied his existence for more than 2 years, and his credit history, as reported by the company, is as empty as Christ’s tomb, preventing Gazarov from getting approved for credit cards and loans. Gazarov said that Equifax customer service personnel have even suggested that he change his first name to facilitate smoother credit transactions.

Equifax said that it was working with God to resolve problems with his account. The company says it “has processes in place to help ensure that businesses and individuals requesting access to credit are who they say they are. These processes flag standalone names that generally may not be associated with the valid openings of credit accounts.”

Gazarov’s attorney said that the company now, after the revelation of the court action, may indeed be ready to acquiesce and admit the existence of God.

Jesus schools taking US taxpayers for fools

9:05 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

Creationist decorated car: Evolution? The Fossils Say NO! Evolution is a Fairy Tale For Grownups

Are tax payer dollars supporting creationism in schools?

Reporter Stephanie Simon writing for Politico has reported on her findings after reviewing government subsidies granted to parents who choose to abandon public education and instead send their school age children to private schools, including hundreds of theological schools. Simon reports that in 2014 US taxpayers will pay nearly $1 billion to subsidize the private education, and in many cases this means the religious education and indoctrination, of grammar and secondary school children across America by providing publicly paid for “vouchers” to their parents.

The movement to expand the subsidization of private school religious indoctrination has been pushed by evangelical politicians who knowingly misrepresent their support of evangelical indoctrination by suggesting that they are simply lending a hand to parents who want to save their children from the terror of “failing public schools,” when their efforts are intended to fund ecumenical education at the expense of all Americans and to the impoverishment of the country’s public school systems.

While it is true that some political supporters of the concept of funding private schooling with US tax dollars are inspired by their support for the get-rich-quick-with-guaranteed-government-income-streams-and-bust-unions-at-the-same-time schemes also known as “charter schools” (Democratic mayor of blue state Chicago Rahm Emmanuel is a big supporter of the charter school projects that enrich private companies with tax dollars that otherwise would be spent on public schools), Simon focused her investigation on Christian institutions that that receive government dollars to teach American children and some of the educational (sic) materials that are used in in these theological schools. What Simon found in her review is that the materials and course outlines of publicly funded Christian learning centers “nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists.”

Simon reports that one set of Christian textbooks that is widely used in private ecumenical schools refers to the theory of evolution as “a wicked and vain philosophy” and another is derisive of “modern math theories.” Simon goes on to report that, while most Americans may be aware that Abrahamic religious folklore is taught alongside the theory of evolution in Christian academy biology courses, many are not aware that Christian theological doctrine is infused through all course study in such schools. Simon advises that she found that math instructors take time away from teaching math to teach “biblical numbers” (presumably studying the biblical Book of Numbers) and in language classes students are taught spelling and language skills using example sentences such as; “Many scientists today are Creationists.”

Simon reports that a private school in Pennsylvania that is subsidized with taxpayer dollars advises potential students and their parents that they teach their students that their “understanding is not complete until we filter it through God’s word,” so that students will be able to “disprove the fake and vain philosophies of the world,” and a private Christian school in Georgia uses science classes to train students on how they can refute and argue against established scientific theories.

Furthermore, religious schools are not required to ensure that their curricula conforms with the educational standards that states set for their public grammar and secondary schools and religious schools are often exempted from state school testing regimes that public schools must adhere to.

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Gaming the System: Guns & Ganja in Georgia

3:16 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

The state legislature in Georgia has adjourned failing to pass a well-supported law allowing young sick Georgians to seek relief with cannabis medicines as US citizens in 20 other states are allowed to do.

The Georgia State Capitol dome

Georgia legislators chooses guns over sick kids.

A bill legalizing heavily restricted sales of cannabis to child patients who suffer from seizure disorders in Georgia landed on the trash pile after elected officials failed to move on the legislation.

The senate version of the medical cannabis bill was encumbered with an amendment that ensured that the measure would fail in the republican dominated senate. The amendment, which upon analysis by any compassionate American should have increased support for the measure, would have mandated insurance company coverage for the treatment of autism.

A supporter of the concept that the medical condition of autism should in fact be recognized and covered by health insurance companies who sponsored the amendment in the state’s house, Republican Representative Allen Peake, correctly predicted that the insertion of the amendment in the senate bill would lead to its demise in the state’s senate due to the fact that small businesses would fight the autism amendment perceiving that providing coverage for children afflicted with the tragic aliment would increase business costs.

While the state failed to address the needs of sick and young patients, Georgia’s politicians did extend the rights of gun toting second amendment misinterpreters allowing them to carry loaded weaponry into establishments of spirit worship and of the worship of spirits. The legislature passed a bill that allows conceal and carriers to bring their weapons into bars and taverns and churches and chapels.

The new Georgia law allowing partyers and pray-ers to be armed and dangerous does allow individual bar owners to determine if they want liquored up sharp-shooters in their drinking establishments and allows church congregations to decide if they are comfortable with having prayerful potshots in their houses of worship.

The OK-to-carry-loaded-weapons-anywhere law also allows the Georgia’s “hunters” to use silencers on their high-powered rifles.

Republican State Representative Rick Jasperse, the lead sponsor of the gun-toter measure in the state’s house, celebrated the measure’s success stating, “For the past two years we’ve worked hard to improve the Second Amendment rights of Georgians. It has been a long and winding road.” Republican State Senator Fran Millar lamented, “We did nothing for kids, but we passed a gun bill.”

Sarah Caruso, the mother of a 5-year-old girl with epilepsy and cerebral palsy said that “silly political games” had caused the failure of the measure supporting the provision of medical cannabis to sick children. “We were only asking not to be prosecuted for getting our child the medicine that she needs,” the mother told reporters, her cheeks stained with tears. “There will be kids who will die during this year,” due to the inaction of the gun-loving legislature, Caruso promised, and, “I will be back with their pictures.”

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South African church leaders have seen this all before

3:01 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

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Christian church leaders in South Africa have extended their support for the upcoming Israel Apartheid Week, an effort to publicize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The South African Council of Churches urged its member churches to “campaign for greater awareness on all Palestinian struggles in general and the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular,” and requested that member congregations “dedicate Sunday services on March 16th during the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign to reflect and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.” The ecumenical group made the appeal after its Triennial Conference which took place in February.

Reverend Dr. Moss Nthla, pastor of the Ebenezer Bible Church and General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa said in a video statement of support of Israeli Apartheid Week that he personally reviewed the situation on the ground in Israel and occupied Palestine on a fact finding mission and was traumatized by what he observed.

Nthla said that the desperation of the subjugated Palestinian people that he witnessed firsthand caused him to “relive the experiences” he had in apartheid South Africa. “From my own experience and many of us who’ve been in the struggle against apartheid,” Nthla said in the video statement, “the similarities are as clear as anything – there’s no other way to describe what we’ve seen in Israel. Many Christians around the world, including in South Africa, are not sufficiently informed about what is going on in the Middle East and what Israel is doing to Palestinians. Israeli Apartheid Week is a good opportunity to raise awareness.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu joined the Council of Churches in supporting Israeli Apartheid Week 2014 noting in a statement, “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign was initiated in 2005 by more than 100 Palestinian non-governmental organizations. Now celebrating its tenth year, Israeli Apartheid Week is an international effort to bring awareness to the BDS movement that aims to end Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Arab lands, grant equal rights to Palestinians who live in Israel and promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties that they have been driven from. All of these goals are the subject of UN resolutions.

Tutu said in his statement, “I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under Apartheid. I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”

The courageous stance taken by members of the Council of Churches in support of Palestine has led to criticism of the effort. Reverend Dr. Frank Chikane, president of Apostolic Faith Mission International, and vice president of the South African Council of Churches said in the video statement that his likening the situation in occupied Palestine to apartheid South Africa caused critics to assert that he was “against the Israelis or the Jews.” Chikane reminds his critics, “I love the Jews and the Palestinians alike. When I look at what happens I look at it from the perspective of justice.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said he supports Israeli Apartheid Week and the BDS movement because, as was the case in apartheid South Africa, “People who are denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings. Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Tutu added, “It doesn’t matter where we worship or live. Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Atheist; Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Gaza – we are members of one family, the human family, God’s family.”

Muslim Leaders Issue Fatwah against Critter Killers

12:34 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

Indonesia-243

“All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions,” are forbidden under Islamic law.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), Indonesia’s highest Islamic clerical body, has issued a fatwah (a religious decree) outlawing the illegal poaching and trafficking of the country’s endangered wildlife species and the wanton decimation of wildlife habitats in the island nation. The religious council deemed illegal hunting of threatened wildlife to be “unethical, immoral and sinful.”

Over the course of the past 20 years vast swaths of Indonesian forests have been leveled by lumber interests to make room for palm oil plantations and other agricultural development. The destruction of the nation’s forests has threated the habitat of many endangered species, including orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants.

Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, the secretary of the council’s commission on fatwas, told Agency France Press; “All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions,” are forbidden under Islamic law. Sholeh said that the theologians concluded that illegal hunting and trading of endangered animal species threatens future generations of the species. Sholeh said the clerical body concluded that whoever “takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God’s other living creatures, especially if they die in vain.”

The World Wildlife Fund released a statement in support of the declared religious prohibition of hunting endangered species, calling the world’s first religious law protecting threatened wild creatures “a positive step forward,” which “provides a spiritual aspect and raises moral awareness which will help us in our work to protect and save the remaining wildlife in the country such as the critically endangered tigers and rhinos.” Read the rest of this entry →

Money, Medicine, Marijuana and Moonbeams: Comcast Airs Pot Advert

7:05 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at mLaw

The national cable network Comcast has begun running what is the first advertisement regarding medical cannabis of the post-prohibition era. The advertisement, that has begun to run in markets where medical cannabis has been legalized through acts by state legislatures, including in Illinois and New York, will be rolled out into additional markets that are served both by Comcast Cable and by elected officials who understand the humanity in providing medicines to our sick neighbors.

The paid advertisement promotes Marijuanadoctors dot com, which is a business that connects doctors who have experience prescribing medical cannabis with sick patients who are unable for many reasons to get the medical authorization to purchase prescribed medications in their state. Even though cannabis has been legalized as medicine in 20 states (with 13 additional state legislatures considering legalizing medical cannabis), many patients still have difficulty finding a doctor who is willing to prescribe medical cannabis leading to the dangerous, untenable and perverse consequences of, for example, a horribly sick Parkinson’s Disease patient turning to the illicit market to obtain needed medicine. In effect, turning deathly ill Americans into criminals who have to risk both arrest by police and theft and injury by drug dealers in pursuit of life saving and pain ending medications.

Comcast has taken the bold step to be the first media outlet in America to run medical cannabis advertisements because, as Comcast told the on-line news journal the Verge, “It went through our legal department, and they approved it.”

With nothing more from Comcast to analyze, the company’s effort (that is historically the first advertisement that has been presented to Americans on their TV screens involving the nascent commercial cannabis market) may have been inspired out of an altruistic concern for its viewers some of whom are sick and need the relief that medical cannabis can provide them and advertising the services offered by Marijuanadoctors has not been outlawed, or the motivation could have come from the company’s desire to cash in on a truly new and massive market – one can only speculate. But the historic advert does indicate we are living in a changed world.

When the sick and diseased have easily satisfied needs, when suburban moms are lobbying statehouses in red and blue states to repeal prohibition, when international political leaders are finding their courage to confront failed drug warriors, when hippies and international corporations arrive at commonality, when state level politicos and cable company honchos realize the cash that they may be leaving on the table, the finger wagging and tut-tutting of dry-doper politicos and cultural custodians who are intent on maintaining cannabis prohibition are revealed to all as obvious self-serving, self-exculpating and legacy burnishing talking points that have only the effect of consigning more minorities in our country to lives with arrest records and more patients in our land living out lives in pain and desperation – arrests that don’t have to happen and pain and desperation that can be ended by compassionate Americans.

Breaking: Obama’s Deputy Drug Czar admits that cannabis is less of a public health threat than prescription drugs and alcohol

5:01 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

“I don’t dispute that fact.”

In an exchange at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s congressional hearing on marijuana policy today, an elected representative and an appointee of an elected representative squared off over a non-political truth about the relative safety of cannabis compared to America’s legalized drugs, specifically prescription pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

The appointee, Michael Botticelli, the Deputy Director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, was asked a series of non-vague questions by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) who demanded non-evasive answers or propagandized conjecture on the subject of whether or not cannabis is safer than alcohol from the White House spokesperson in light of President Obama’s recent comments suggesting that the president believes that cannabis is “no more harmful” than alcohol.

Connolly asked Deputy Director Botticelli for a direct answer to an unambiguous question; “How many people die from marijuana overdoses every year?” To which the deputy drug czar answered, “I don’t know that I know. It is very rare.”

Connolly persisted with the line of questioning by asking Deputy Botticelli, “Very rare. Now just contrast that with prescription drugs, unintentional deaths from prescription drugs, one American dies every 19 minutes…nothing comparable to marijuana. Is that correct?” Deputy Botticelli agreed with the congressperson’s analysis.

Connolly continued, “Alcohol – hundreds of thousands of people die every year from alcohol related deaths; automobile (accidents) liver disease, esophageal cancer, blood poisoning…Is that correct?” Deputy Botticelli did not respond to the congress person’s question, but instead offered an off-topic point of personal analysis by reiterating the Obama Administration’s stance on cannabis legalization, stating that the “totality of harm” that is associated with cannabis demonstrates to appointed policy minions such as himself (as opposed to doctors and scientists) that cannabis is dangerous, even though the government itself reports year after year that cannabis causes no deaths of Americans.

Botticelli’s non-substantive and medically inaccurate waffling led Representative Connolly to comment out of frustration in attempting to pin down the administration’s policy person on a simple and straight forward question about widely known scientific fact, “I guess I’m sticking with the president – the head of your administration – who is making a different point. He is making a point that is empirically true. That isn’t a normative statement (that marijuana is good or bad), but he was contrasting it with alcohol and, empirically, he is correct.”

Botticelli continued to dodge the direct question by again waffling into administration talking points that have been used for going on five years by the Obama administration to justify its conscious inaction with respect to the legalization or reclassification of cannabis, prompting Representative Connolly to interrupt Botticelli and demand a specific answer to the following question;

Is it not a scientific fact that there is nothing comparable to marijuana? And, I’m not saying it is good or bad, but when we look at deaths and illnesses, alcohol, other hard drugs are certainly – even prescription drugs – are a threat to public health in a way that just isolated marijuana is not…Isn’t that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?

To which Botticelli responded sheepishly, “I don’t dispute that fact.” Read the rest of this entry →