Tuesday, 15 October 2013

E-reefer madness

The gateway theory is demonstrable nonsense. Snus hasn't been used as a gateway to smoking in Sweden and there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are being used as a gateway to smoking in the UK or anywhere else.

In the mind of John Banzhaf, however, e-cigarettes are a gateway to heroin. There have been a few articles about this recently, including this by Jacob Sullum (an article that appears to have been taken literally by some people), but Ban-ban-banzhaf's press release is by far the funniest. Strap yourself in as we revisit 1950s reefer madness.

Experts are also worried that, with some 10% of middle and high school students already using e-cigarettes to ingest the addictive drug nicotine, it's only a matter of time before they move up to using these new e-cigarette cartridges to get a marijuana high without the characteristic marijuana smell in their rooms, or on their clothing or breath, thus making it more difficult for parents or teachers to find out.

Yes, "it's only matter a time". Just as it's only a matter of time before smokers of tobacco become smokers of marijuana, right?

Both Forbes magazine and Medical Daily have reported how such use can easily lead to a heroin addiction.

Medical Daily is a website that will seemingly publish anything and the Forbes article was making fun of the idea.

Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, the head of the Narcotics Unit for the Nassau County PD, doesn't beat around the bush: "For young people, marijuana is a gateway. The next thing you know they’re doing acid, molly, even heroin. I don’t like it that people are giving it a pass."

Note that the detective has already made the leap of faith that e-cigarettes lead to marijuana use. "The next thing you know", they're on heroin. Never mind that about of third of the population has tried marijuana and less than one per cent has tried heroin.

Marianne Chai, a Manhattan-based addiction psychologist, said e-cigarettes make it harder for parents to look for the old signs that their teens are using drugs, presumably including marijuana leaves and buds, the sharp and distinctive odor of marijuana smoke, and other similar signs.

What about being stoned? Isn't that the main sign that someone's been using drugs? The red eyes, slowed speech and dopy grin?

Interestingly, as the Chicago Tribune points out in "HOW E-CIGARETTES LEAD TO HEROIN": "But [NBC] got scooped on this story by anti-smoking activist John Banzhaf, who more than three years ago added facilitation of cannabis consumption to his list of reasons for fearing and loathing e-cigarettes."

Bear in mind that this is a press release written by the rampant self-publicist, ambulance chaser and anti-nicotine fanatic John Banzhaf. The stuff he was writing three years ago is as nuts as the stuff he writes today. Along with a load of BS about 'thirdhand smoke', he warned of the perils of secondhand vaping. For example...

If you don’t want people sitting next to you – in a waiting room, restaurant, bar, or any other area where smoking is now prohibited – using one of these devices to get around smoking bans, and forcing you and your loved ones to inhale deadly nicotine – please help now!

This guy is such a plonker even the likes of Chapman and Glantz have nothing to do with him.

While most of the articles and experts have emphasized the danger marijuana e-cigarettes pose to kids – a kind of "candy cigarette on steroids" as Banzhaf puts it – he stresses the risk when adults are able to get high without being detected. "Imagine automobile or even truck drivers tooling down the road happily inhaling the active ingredient in marijuana. Even if a cop does stop them before they kill or injure someone, there's no telltale odor to create probable cause to even detain them, and no other signals such as the slurring of speech which can signal driving while intoxicated with alcohol," says Banzhaf.

You could say the same about people driving on cocaine, heroin or 'molly' (MDMA). Banzhaf seems to think that the presence of physical smoke is the key to cracking these cases and therefore preventing them. It really isn't.

Equally worrisome is the specter of workers operating dangerous factory machinery or construction equipment getting higher and higher as they work, with nobody able to detect it. 

Does this ever happen? Have there been a spate of workplace injuries and road accidents since the e-reefer madness erupted? Or are these, in fact, the wild speculations of a warped and idle mind?

Even in states where marijuana use has been decriminalized, nobody would want these totally unnecessary dangers to third parties, says Banzhaf.

Perhaps not, but then we're talking about a fantasy scenario that is based on totally unproven assumptions. In places which have legalised marijuana it is, I assume, still illegal to drive under the influence and it is still, I assume, against company policy to operate heavy machinery whilst stoned.

In places which have not legalised marijuana, it would be wholly consistent to ban the sale of e-cigarette fluid which contains THC—if, indeed, it exists. Banzhaf, by contrast, wants to ban the device rather than the fluid because he's not really interested in drug use, he just hates smokers, but doesn't want them to stop smoking.


Neal Asher said...

The man is a complete idiot if he thinks it even possible to ban the devices. They're not exactly rocket science.

nisakiman said...

As I understand it, it is possible to vape marijuana, but it requires a different type of e-cig, which is designed specifically for that purpose. I believe it has something to do with the viscosity and vapour point of the THC distillate, although I'm not entirely sure, not having studied it. To my knowledge, there doesn't exist an e-liquid containing THC that can be used in standard e-cigs.

So basically, any 'kid' who wanted to get stoned via vaping would have to invest in a whole new technology to be able to do so. His e-cig simply isn't up to the task.

Junican said...

I have only ever tried marijuana once in my life. It was outside a pub when I was having a cigarette. This guy that I know offered me a puff.
Think now about what the smoking ban has done. It would have been suspicious a few years ago if a person had gone outside "for a fag". Now, people using marijuana can mix with puffers outside with impunity.

Unintended consequences ....

Denzil Vallance said...

Most damaging drug use is mcat & other plant food/ legal/ formerly legal high type crap, etc. Is cheap, possibly very harmful, habit forming in susceptible types. Every time they make it harder to get booze, fags etc, they make it easier to get mcat by comparison. It's in our nature. They might as well try to ration masturbation.

Markfezzer said...

The truth is stoners were vaping Hash, weed and oil long before ecigs came onto the market and the devices for doing so make am much better job of it than an ecig ever can. Ecigs are probably the least effective and practical way to use cannabis. Also good luck with anyone ever trying to hide the smell as it's just not going to happen. I'd guess if anything or anyone would drive someone to drugs it would be Johnny boy's inane ramblings.

He's a great teacher though apparently http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=430556

Diesel said...

Hmmm, I never thought about using an e-cig to take cannabis/marijuana. And its only a matter of fixing the viscosity of the distillate?

Sounds like a fun couple of days of experimentation. Thank you Mr Banzhaf for your suggestion.