In the live-free world that is considered 2016, the fight for marijuana legalization is bigger than ever. Just last week, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to solidify the use of medical marijuana for selective patients. Business continues to boom for Colorado and celebrities are more vocal with their use, hence, Whoopi Goldberg’s new “canna-business” venture to counter menstrual cramps with medicinal marijuana products.
Sneaking away under bleachers and Wal-mart parking lots can soon become a thing of the past, but one Cali group isn’t having it.
Anti-marijuana coalition CalmUSA (Citizens Against Legalization of Marijuana) is not just working to end marijuana use in the youth, but also advocating against the use of the drug in the medical field. Despite the testimonies of cancer and glaucoma patients who swear by its use, the group believes otherwise. “The legalization industry wants to keep the misinformation flowing and some desperate parents looking for any way to help their children can be sucked in by the snake oil salesmen,” Scott Chipman of CalmUSA says over the phone.
On the arguably glorious holiday that is 4/20, we chatted with the group about their collective and why they dislike the happy world of blowing trees.
VIBE: Tell us about Calm USA. Where did the idea come from and how did you get involved?
Scott Chipman: CALM is a coalition of coalitions. We are a volunteer group of individuals, parents, business owners, medical professionals, crime and safety officials, young and old – all working to defeat the legalization of marijuana in California and other targeted states. We are a political action committee. The executive committee have a wide variety of experiences that have brought them to this work. Some have been involved in drug prevention work 40 years, some have engaged in the last few years. In 2009, California was facing the likelihood of a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for the November 2010 election. Several of us met at a conference on marijuana and determined to start the organization statewide and offer help to others. We are a group that has many years of researched experience in the issue and understand the negative impacts of marijuana use for individuals, families, communities and our society.Last week, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize (medical) marijuana usage. Lawmakers are reportedly hoping the law would help reduce opioid usage. The state stands at No.9 for the highest rate of drug overdoses in the U.S.
Last week, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize (medical) marijuana usage. Lawmakers are reportedly hoping the law would help reduce opioid usage. The state stands at No.9 for the highest rate of drug overdoses in the U.S. Do you think there is any intersection between the increase of drug laws on marijuana and the underlying problem of other drug users in the country?
Our society has a serious problem with drug abuse. Having uninformed legislators or voters determine what is a medicine is irresponsible and dangerous.The entire “medical” marijuana movement has been an intentional step by step process to legalize marijuana for “just to get high” use. (We don’t call it “recreational” marijuana because recreation has a positive connotation and we don’t think there is anything positive about zoning out from life on marijuana). The strategy to legalization was: first get it identified as a medicine. Then get it normalized in our society and finally get it legalized.
We definitely see a connection between marijuana use and other drug overdoses. We have about 125 overdose deaths a day in the U.S. Virtually all those individuals went through marijuana or were still using marijuana when they overdosed. When kids start using marijuana they are much more likely to get introduced to harder drugs. And adults and teens that are susceptible to addiction tend to use more and stronger doses. This can often lead to a downward spiral where the user loses hope.
We also have to look at the underlying societal issue. Why are there so many that want to alter their state of mind on a drug? What is so bad in someone’s life that they need this escape? We are not educating to the dangers of drugs and encouraging people with ways to get through life meeting challenges sober and alert. I know of no life problem that is improved with illicit drug use. Drug use is a social and mental health issue that we are not addressing.
There are dozens of stories of parents who are for legalization because of the diseases their children are facing. As a parent, why do you think some parents look towards medicinal marijuana use with such conviction?
We have to separate the conversations between general marijuana use and FDA-approved, scientifically proven effective drugs. The FDA and dozens of national medical associations continue to reaffirm year after year that botanical marijuana is not medicinal. It does not cure cancer. It is not good for glaucoma, etc. There is more misinformation about marijuana as medicine than documented science-based information. The legalization industry wants to keep the misinformation flowing and some desperate parents looking for any way to help their children can be sucked in by the snake oil salesmen.
We currently have several FDA-approved drugs that can be considered cannabis-based such as Marinol and Dronabinol. There is also Epidiolex that currently has orphan drug status that may have benefit for some seizure disorders. However, early outcomes for the drug show approximately 25% of patients benefit, 50% have no benefit and 25% are harmed by the drug’s use. Epidiolex is based on Cannabidiol (CBD) notTetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD does not get you high. Over the years, marijuana has been hybridized to increase THC to provide a stronger high. Parents should be warned that many illicit CBD products contain high percentages of THC and can have devasting side effects.
What would say are CalmUSA’s biggest milestones? Also, what is the group’s overall mission besides reducing/eliminating marijuana use?
CALM is both and educational and political organization. We measure our success based on informing more and more people and letting them know legalization is not inevitable and defeating legalization. We have informed local legislative groups why they should create local controls that keep marijuana out of communities. Over 250 cities and counties in California have banned marijuana sales. People may not know that most of Colorado is marijuana free due to cities exerting local control. We helped defeat legalization in California in 2010 and 2015 in Ohio. We have won 9 local elections in California where pot industry leaders collected signatures to force the sale of “medical” marijuana on ballots in cities and counties. In each of those elections, even the “medical” distribution of marijuana was defeated with over 60% of voters saying NO. Fewer and fewer people are fooled by the “medical” marijuana rues and more and more people are seeing the devastation that comes from increased marijuana use.
I noticed in your FAQ’s there is a breakdown about marijuana with the suggestion that it is “stronger” today than the 60’s. If this is true, would CalmUSA exist if marijuana was the same as it was in the past?
That is a hypothetical question that I don’t think is relevant.
If you had to, can you see any good elements in marijuana legalization?
NO, not one.
The FDA hasn’t approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug, but there was the popular drug Chantix that the FDA regulated that caused over 500 suicides and 1,869 attempted suicides in users. What does this say about the FDA’s reliability on marijuana usage?
We must error on the side of caution. The two examples are not comparable. We wouldn’t want the FDA to be less careful because they weren’t careful enough previously.
What is next for CalmUSA and its message?
We are engaged in defeating legalization in California and other targeted states and continuing to educate and warn about marijuana use.
What do you think of the pot-lover “holiday” 4/20?
It is sad and indicative of the drug culture. I grew up in the 60s.