Calgary 420 Cannabis Community
The New York Times
Share your views on the Editorial Board's call to repeal the federal ban on marijuana.
In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.
Liam is six years old. He is Canada’s youngest medical marijuana user.
The day before Liam began using marijuana, he had 67 violent seizures, each lasting three to four minutes. In the 10 days after he began using it, he had one small seizure. He was riding horses, going on boat rides, and doing all the regular stuff you’d hope a six year-old gets to do. Google him. He gives the Jerry Maguire kid a run for his money.
Drug warriors insist we still don't know enough about its possible therapeutic properties. It's simply not true
Despite the US government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the last five years according to a keyword search on PubMed Central, the US government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research. Over 1,450 peer-reviewed papers were published in 2013 alone. (By contrast, a keyword search of “hydrocodone,” a commonly prescribed painkiller, yields just over 600 total references in the entire body of available scientific literature.)
For the book, titled "Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media, and Justice," Boyd examined 2,500 articles from four major daily newspapers in British Columbia from 1995 to 2009.
She found news coverage about cannabis enforcement in B.C. frequently contained inaccurate information or exaggerated claims about the size and scope of the underground marijuana industry, the sorts of people associated with grow-ops, and the industry's connection to gangs.
Assertions by police - particularly the RCMP, which is responsible for policing in much of B.C. — were left unchallenged, she says, and politicians, in turn, relied on such misinformation to push for stricter drug laws.
For example, the news articles she examined repeatedly asserted marijuana grow-ops are inextricable linked to gangs and other criminal organizations. Police spokespeople were frequently quoted explaining that modern-day grow-ops are not "mom and pop" operations.
But Boyd says the federal government's own research does not support that claim.
She cited a Justice Department study that was completed in 2011, obtained by a reporter through an access to information request, that examined a random sample of 500 marijuana grow operations. Of those, just five per cent had apparent links to gangs or organized crime.
"This study wasn't released by our federal government, and you could see why," says Boyd.
"It doesn't fit with their Safe Streets and Communities Act, which frames marijuana grow-ops as always being associated with organized crime and gangs. I would say it's probably the reverse."
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