‘Marijuana Meltdown’ Panel: Just The Facts
The Flower Mound Area Republican Club recently hosted a panel discussion entitled “Marijuana: The Meltdown of our Country” and we brought you coverage of the event. Now we present to you just the facts of what was discussed that evening.
Andy Graf has analyzed the statements given during the panel by Denton County Sheriff William Travis and Judge Kimberly McCary along with a PowerPoint presentation presented by Travis, and below has provided a comprehensive response to inaccuracies presented during the panel.
The amount of information presented in the Flower Mound Area Republican club’s panel discussion titled: Marijuana: Meltdown of the Country is too much for a singular, first person article to analyze. While my previous article on the subject, is still a necessary part of this puzzle, my work is not finished. I have obtained the audio recording of the event as well as the slide show that Sheriff Travis was reading from and will be taking a closer look at exactly what was said. I will only be focusing on the two elected officials, Sheriff Travis and Judge McCary, as their jobs depend on our votes. My goals are twofold: first to give the attendees of that event a comprehensive, well-cited analysis of the facts from that evening, and to demonstrate a small slice of the ignorance and greed of Sheriff Travis, and the ignorance of Judge McCary, stressing the danger of re-electing them in March.
Parents of that event, please read this with an open mind. Do not assume that because something is said by an authority figure that it is factual. Consider the evidence that I present, and weigh it against what they said. Remember that because something is illegal, it doesn’t imply that it is right or wrong. Remember that the holocaust and segregation were completely lawful, though immoral. And in the same way that those ideas hurt society, so does the prosecution of drug users.
I will be starting with Travis, going chronologically with the recording of his speech and his slideshow. This is the link to the audio from that night!
“We’re not about putting people in jail, we’re about solutions.” (9:50)
According to the FBI’s crime statistics from 2014, the largest percentage of arrests is drug abuse. Violent crime is roughly half the number of non-violent drug arrests. And to further question this statement, a vast percentage of arrests are for possession alone, roughly 4.9 times the number of manufacturers/distributors. Since 1990 the number of marijuana arrests nationwide have more than doubled. In Denton 269 have been arrested for marijuana related crimes last year. With only an increase of arrests and most focused on the user, not the sources, it seems that their “solutions” are either non-existent or just plain ineffective.
This is the first of several slides without citations. A brief few words on the subject of addiction, according to the popular consensus of where that statistic came from, alcohol is almost twice as addictive and heroin 3x as addictive. While I can not find anything backing up his comment about the number “doubling in adolescence” There is evidence that after the age of 25, the chances of new-onset dependence is almost zero. For the record no one is advocating the use in children. As with all drugs, legal and not, it is best to speak with a medical authority or be of legal age to make the informed decision. Again due to lack of citations, I am unsure what the withdrawal symptoms are, except a list of symptoms that can be cured with medical marijuana.
Again no citations. I’m not going to waste my time going through each of these claims to sort out the validity of most of these claims. Without the citations, and counting his spelling error, we can just assume he pulled these lists out of the air. I will point out that the most recent study by the Journal of Neuroscience found no long term brain damage associated with long term or daily use of cannabis by adolescents or adults. And finally the bottom question begs to know whether or not Travis believes that both should be illegal due to bad side effects. This of course opens a massive can of worms, which would lead to banning all things that are potentially dangerous.
“Alcohol is .5% consumption on the side of the bottle, well marijuana if you go to certain places it can be up to 38% THC…that’s a big increase since the 70’s when it was 3-6%.” (13:00)
This is a strange statement that makes no sense on few levels; first there is no mention of the quantity consumed. While some beer is 5% ABV (I’m assuming he didn’t mean to mention the decimal) Liquor is 50% ABV. This is why beer comes in a 16 oz pint glass and liquor comes in a 2 oz shot glass. When consuming something of greater potency, you adjust the quantity of intake.
Secondly, comparing alcohol and THC in anyway other than that they are both inebriants that people like to consume, is a waste of time. There is no way to quantify how drunk you get on THC, or how high you get on alcohol. They aren’t the same. It would be like trying to determine how far your car will travel on a full tank of wiper fluid. Travis is aware of this, “It’s quite a bit of difference if you’re driving a vehicle with alcohol or out there driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, it’s quite a bit of difference.” (13:25) But he still makes the comparison.
We should also address this common statistic about marijuana from the 70’s and now. Cannabis is a plant and limited by genetics. Just like the capsaicin levels in peppers, the THC levels can be adjusted with breeding, but the limits are its own genes. Cannabis hasn’t magically gotten stronger. But it has become less imported, and therefore not bricked, growing techniques have improved. And in addition to all of that, the samples taken in the 70’s weren’t as diverse as they are today and contained a lot of samples from low quality “ditch weed” from Mexico, which brought down the averages. These sort of statistics aren’t to be feared. As a matter of fact, stronger cannabis leads to smoking less, which has obvious positive health effects.
“Everything I say is coming from these sources. I’m not sitting at the office with my feet up on my desk making all this stuff up” (14:16)
Out of the 16 slides that contains information presented as facts, only 8 had citations. Blogs are not quality citations. Of the twelve total citations, two are from usnews.com/blogs, and one of those only links to the long list of articles in their “education” section. It also seems that he never actually read some of these citations because they give information that is contrary to his point! Let’s looks at this slide in particular:
While I declined the opportunity to purchase “Cannabis Use and Later Life Outcomes,” It is interesting that the pages in the citation are written backwards ( see above picture). This was also a study from New Zealand, and it makes little sense to compare our rate of dropouts with theirs, there are WAY too many conflicting factors to account for those statistics (assuming they are in that article). The other citation was also clearly not read, because Travis missed these parts of that source:
“Psychosocial problems might be more a cause than a consequence of cannabis use, especially with regard to associations between use and mental illness.”
“Exposure to cannabis use and experience of psychosocial problems might have been associated with bias that could affect the apparent association between cannabis use and harm.”
“The relation between cannabis and harm might simply be a marker, rather than a cause, of a life trajectory more likely to involve adverse outcomes.”
And finally: “There are no completely reliable means to identify confounded associations within observational data, and instances where apparently robust observational evidence has later been shown to be seriously misleading are common. The importance of this issue to the epidemology of drug use might have been underestimated. In particular, the extent to which confounding can be overcome through statistical adjustment seems to have been overestimated…only three studies [of 200] included in our analysis had any prospectively measured indices of the early life factors that may convary with both cannabis use and harm. It seems unlikely that even these measures were complete or precise.
This was the most entertaining slide because of the exploding building. I have little to say about this fear mongering slide, except that there are several other ways to make hash, than with butane and it is far easier, economical, and more practical to find and purchase the extracts than it is to make them. These other ways do not involve explosive gases. The other noteworthy aspect of this slide, besides its lack of citations, is the word “overdose” In his speech he doesn’t mention it, but I bring it up in the question and answer section and will be discussing his response further into this article.
“It’s like 5x worse than taking 36% THC” (20:49)
While discussing the quote (which seems like a weak, and out of context quote) from this slide, Travis makes an farcical claim that honestly doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. 5x worse? How? What quantity is being consumed? What method? Not only is this an uncited claim, it is a series of words that seem to make a complete sentence, but doesn’t contain a complete thought. It is literally grammatically correct gibberish.
The citation on this slide is from a blog. I am not going to waste my time fact checking it. Although, as stated earlier there is definitely a correlation between starting at an older age and not becoming “addicted.” Same is true for tobacco and alcohol.
“I would say 85% of the people who come into our jail have started their career in marijuana.” (21:49)
This was his final unsubstantiated claim. Again, he pulled this figure seemingly out of the air. He even predicates the sentence with the phrase “I would say…” So this “statistic” is at best observational and if he would have read his own source, that I quoted earlier, he would know that observational assumptions are NOT equivalent to statistical facts.
I have very little to say about this slide, without citations. But the phrase “swallowed by plants.” appears on it. I can’t even fathom what that means. I just mention it in this commentary because it strikes me as strange and adds one more link in the list of fear-mongering jiberish and propaganda that spewed forth from his mouth that evening.
Speaking of “spewing forth,” we have finally arrived at the next speaker that I promised, Judge Kimberly McCary. She didn’t have a slide show, all of her information is from children and their families. “I get my information from continuing education, from the sources that the sheriff mentioned, from listening to other people talk, but the only things I’m telling you tonight, a true promise, is what I got from talking to kids and families in my court.” (33:54) Do we need to discuss the sources of the sheriff again?
Her trust in children is cute and all, but why would this be an issue? Let’s discuss the “woman came into her court, and and she will swear up and down her son got leukemia from synthetics.” (39:58) First, this isn’t a discussion about synthetics, they come up again later, and it is a red herring. Synthetics and Cannabis are not the same, or even equatable. Secondly, that woman, likely is not a medical professional or a scientist. She very likely doesn’t have the qualifications to make that a substantiated claim. But that’s not all! Let’s discuss the kids who say “‘Judge McCary, I smoked pot on Friday, but I have never done LSD.’ ‘Well, you have acid in your system.’” (42:03) Or the child who wrote that well written self-evaluation (48:53). Kids, even stoned ones, are not dumb. They will say anything to get in as little trouble as possible. Of course they would plead ignorant to worse accusations, like other drugs or stealing. Blame the pot. Of course they bought their drugs from a shadowy figure they’ve never seen before, in the dark, decrepit, parking lot of the school, and the first one is free. That is how all drug deals go down. (45:17) More on that in a moment.
“Marijuana is easier for kids to get that alcohol and that is amazing to me.” (35:29) This comment was made after discussing how adults use alcohol to deal with anxiety and stress. Unfortunately for this article, my recorder didn’t work when I approached her after this discussion and asked her about that fact. I asked that if alcohol was harder to get because you have to be 21 to buy it, and you because you have to buy it from a licensed dealer. She agreed. I asked why then not treat marijuana the same way and regulate it. She politely dodged the question and respectfully disagreed with my opinion. But history has shown that the way to make sure that A: criminals aren’t controlling or altering the product and B: keep it out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have it, is to end prohibition and start regulation.
“I don’t care what research study you read. I’m only telling you from the kids and families that come to my court, that marijuana is absolutely a gateway.”
But alas, she does not make her decisions on logic or research. She bases them on emotion, especially fear; “Marijuana scares me so so much. It scares me that other people aren’t scared of it…The reason it scares me for our kids is because marijuana makes our kids lazy. They don’t want to go to work, they don’t want to go to school, they don’t want to do their extracurricular activities…it scares me because it makes them stupid…it scares me because it makes them sick. It gives them diseases…it gives them ‘reproductive problems.’” (37:24) She uses the phrase “I think,” or it its equivalent, 17 times during her speech. Any time this, or “I feel” come into the conversation, we are at best discussing observational statistics, which as we’ve already discussed, are valued at nihl in factual conversation.
Even more concerning than emotional logic derived from children, is that she literally doesn’t care what any opposition says. “I don’t care what anybody tells you, based on talking to as many kids as I can talk to; Marijuana is addictive, at least it’s habit forming…I don’t care what research study you read. I’m only telling you from the kids and families that come to my court, that marijuana is absolutely a gateway.”
Alright, now a brief commentary, with citation on “gateway theory.” There is much research out there that discredits this ancient idea. More often than not, alcohol or tobacco are the first drugs used, and more associated with further experimentation. Like a flat Earth or alchemy, this idea needs to be filed away in the category “ancient lore.”
She was almost more concerned with laced pot, than with the benign base substance. “Marijuana is absolutely laced, and please don’t think it’s not…I believe in kids and I believe in what they tell me and they will tell you anything.” (42:03) She believes that instead of taking acid, that kids smoked it in their marijuana. “Do you think drug dealers are in the business to make money?…if drug dealer A is on this corner and dealer B on that one…every marijuana leaf you grow here is probably going to look like the one over here. What are you going to do? Use better soil over here?! I mean come on…so you wanna up your product, right? So what are you going to do to it? Buy Miracle Grow or lace it? You’re going to lace it!” (43:28) “To up their product and up their revenue they want the best ever.” (44:11)
While this is not an article on LSD, I would like to point out that the temperature in which it is destroyed is about 380 degrees fahrenheit, much cooler than a lighter or a cigarette burns. Smoking it would destroy the molecule and thus have no effect. It is a complete waste of time and money to combine marijuana and LSD.
“Marijuana scares me so so much. It scares me that other people aren’t scared of it”
Now let’s bring it home! Literally. “Marijuana brings criminals to our communities.” (44:47) “Marijuana leads to crime, because you have to steal to buy it.”(39:58) “I promise you this, I ask all my kids ‘who do I have to keep you away from? Where do they live? You cannot imagine how many times Flower Mound, Highland Village, and Lewisville is the address I have to keep them away from” (44:52) Seeing as those are all cities within your jurisdiction, I am going to guess that the answer is actually quite imaginable. My money is actually on it being in fact more probable that those cities are mentioned over others. But maybe now I am just being nitpicky.
Now let’s cap this article out the same way they did! With the question and answer section! Of course, it started with a friendly reminder (in case you forgot from when they announced it before) there would be no entertaining questions about the medical use or legalization of marijuana. I asked the very first question:
“On the slide with the building blowing up, it mentions the word ‘overdose.’ Would you mind elaborating on that? There was also no citation on that slide.” (59:40) Sheriff Travis’s response “the overdoses are generally from the point of using the high THC candy and things like that.” I chime in as the microphone was being taken away “What is an overdose?” Backed into a corner Travis says “overdose is when your body just can’t handle what you put into it. Pretty much. And it’s going to be wheels off. And…your heart rate is going to go to a level it’s never gone…and your body is going to start shutting down.” “I interrupted with a voice not to be stopped by lack of amplification and trained to cut through the clouds of bullshit: “So it’s killing kids?” And that was met by cries of “only one question!” Sheriff Travis responds “Yeah. You’re done.”
Good job not falling into that trap. Though it was a copout. Unfortunately, none of the other questions were interesting or revealed further information, feel free to listen to them yourself.
And finally it is over! It was hard to not speak up more but it seemed as though everyone had already bought into the fear. And there is no rationalizing those consumed in that fear. That is why I write this. Hopefully you, parents and members of the of Flower Mound Area Republican Club, click on my links, and think about what I said. Don’t take my word for it, but work it out for yourself. And hopefully you, voters of Denton County, will take heed when casting your ballot for either speaker I discussed. In only 10 minutes apiece, they managed to destroy all credibility that they might of had. Please don’t vote for those that profit from the illegalization and fear-mongering of drugs (Travis). And please don’t vote for a judge who bases her opinions on the words of children (McCary).
Andy blogs on the subject of cannabis and more at andybgraf.wordpress.com