News & Politics

Potheads Riled Up Over Senator's Claim that Medical Marijuana Is Just an Excuse to Get High

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Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) has angered marijuana activists and their pothead disciples with his dismissive comments about medical marijuana. In an interview with KOCO-TV, Lankford gave a stinging rebuke: “Marijuana is not used for anyone on chronic pain other than just getting high and to escape from the pain.”

Predictably, Marijuana Moment set down the bong long enough to string together a bunch of words expressing their dismay at the senator’s accusation. If you were unaware of the existence of Marijuana Moment until roughly three seconds ago, the site’s About section explains, “Edited by Tom Angell, a 15+ year veteran of the legalization movement, Marijuana Moment helps activists, industry professionals, consumers, policymakers and the public understand developments and trends affecting cannabis.”

Now, and in the issue of full disclosure, I find this whole kerfuffle slightly amusing. For starters, Sen. Lankford is tilting at windmills, but I’ll explain that in a moment. More importantly, in terms of my amusement, though, is the fact that the pull-quote from the senator contradicts itself. Notice that he concludes by saying that medical marijuana is used by those suffering from chronic pain, “to escape from the pain.”

What I find amusing about it is that Marijuana Moment chose to use a pull-quote that they could’ve actually spun in their favor as the platform from which they huffed and puffed at Lankford. Why not say, “Well, thank you, Senator. People who suffer from chronic pain do use medical marijuana ‘to escape the pain.'”

(It should be noted that contradictions in live interviews are often slips of the tongue and not slips in logic.)

Of course, Marijuana Moment didn’t point that out. Instead, in the article (linked above) the activist website chose to use the pull-quote as a springboard to point out how the legalization of medical marijuana is basically inevitable at this point. They also took the opportunity to acquaint their readers with Sen. Lankford’s frequent attempts to undermine the efforts of pro-weed people.

Fine. Whatever. I’m sure that the majority of Marijuana Moment’s readers didn’t finish the article anyway. No doubt a squirrel climbing a tree caught their eye which prompted the desire to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle. Eventually, through a chain of related yet nonsensically causative events, most of the site’s readers most likely ended up at a 7-Eleven gorging themselves on blue-raspberry Slurpees.

My point: I highly doubt that many of the words printed by Marijuana Moment were read by their target audience. Words that are mostly irrelevant anyway, because Marijuana Moment failed to interact with Sen. Lankford’s actual argument.

In the interview, Lankford pointed out:

I’m not opposed to medical marijuana when it is the derivative. So for instance, we see CBD shops popping up all over the state. Because CBD is a derivative of marijuana, but it’s in pill form. It’s in a medicinal form that’s set up, and it’s a controlled issue that’s already legal in Oklahoma right now… We already have legalized marijuana in CBD here. What people really want to is, “Can I smoke it.”

The FDA has been very clear. In fact, in the last three years the FDA has done three-quarters of billions of dollars in studies on medical marijuana, and they’re still consistent to say that they find no indication of medical benefit to smoking marijuana.

I have no issue when it’s a pill form and taking the derivatives out.

Marijuana Moment failed to interact with that portion of the Senator’s interview because, well, Lankford is correct. The medically useful properties of marijuana are able to be disseminated in a pill form minus the THC. And that’s important because the THC is the mind-altering  property that provides the high for recreational users of marijuana.

Senator Lankford is not wrong to accuse proponents of medical marijuana of mainly wanting to get high. He’s also correct when he points out that the legalization of medical marijuana in forms that include THC is a step toward the legalization of recreational marijuana. We’re seeing that claim play out in states across this country.

However, as I noted above, Senator Lankford is tilting at windmills. The legalization of the recreational use of marijuana is inevitable, not to mention the inevitability of the first step of legalizing medicinal marijuana. And, frankly, even though I share many of the senator’s concerns about marijuana, I don’t believe that the legalization of marijuana is a political hill on which to die.

Make no mistake: as the public tide continues to turn in favor of legalizing marijuana, conservative senators who speak out against marijuana may very well find themselves without a taxpayer-funded office on Capitol Hill. There are more important issues on which our conservative politicians should be spending their political capital.

I would urge senators like James Lankford to do a better job of picking their battles. No reason to poke drowsy potheads into action. Doing so will help usher in that blue tide that liberals keep predicting.