The world is in love with cannabis, claiming that the plant and its popular oils can cure virtually anything that ails you. But, do the facts back up the claims?
While we don’t hear the term as often as we used to, modern life suggests we should embrace it again: Snake oil. In eighteenth-century Europe and America, peddlers sold snake oil “remedies,” claiming they could heal everything that ails you—despite much evidence to the contrary. In time, the term “snake oil” came to describe any fraudulent health product for which exaggerated claims were made, sold by individuals interested in nothing but money.
Cannabis is controversial. Why? And why do people who have no interest in “getting high” suddenly support it? Much of the answer involves what is often called “medical marijuana.” What do we need to know about this ever-evolving subject?
Two ingredients in marijuana receive the most attention: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the intoxicating, hallucinogenic ingredient, while CBD alone has no such effect. CBD is legal in many jurisdictions and should not be confused with the intoxicating aspect of cannabis—and therein lies much of the problem. As one highly advertised brand states, “CBD is not marijuana.” Medical News Today clarifies the difference:
CBD comes from the cannabis plant. People refer to cannabis plants as either hemp or marijuana, depending on their level of THC. Hemp plants that are legal under the Farm Bill must contain less than 0.3% THC. Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds…. However, hemp farmers have rarely modified the plant. These hemp plants are used to create CBD oil (“Everything you need to know about CBD oil,” July 27, 2018).
Nevertheless, the intoxicating, THC-heavy marijuana plant has been widely conflated with the hemp plant used to derive CBD. Why? As we shall see, by linking and confusing the two plants and their primary ingredients, those seeking legalization of the intoxicating marijuana are winning a well-conceived propaganda war.
We will explain this further, but let us first look at CBD. Those promoting it give the impression that there is scientific proof of its benefits and its ability to treat various medical conditions. However, articles written by objective medical sources and promoters of the product are filled with subtle phrases such as “Studies suggest that CBD may help,” “Studies indicate that CBD may help reduce symptoms,” and “CBD shows promise.” Is all of this a scam, or is cannabis good for you?
Medical marijuana has been heavily promoted over the last decade, and the number of ailments it reportedly “helps”—and even “cures”—is astounding. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program lists 21 conditions for which it can be prescribed legally:
AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.
Despite this, one distinguished member of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, Dr. Gary Wenk, wrote the following in Psychology Today:
If you suffer with one of these disorders, the most important question to ask your recommender is whether you can to [sic] benefit from using marijuana. If your recommender says “yes” then you can be certain that he or she is ignorant of the current state of medical research on marijuana. Simply stated, there is no reliable clinical evidence to support the use of marijuana for any of these conditions—none at all (“What Medical Marijuana Is, and Is Not, Good for,” July 15, 2018).
Dr. Wenk goes on to say that he believes the ideal medical advisor in such a case is one who admits to not truly knowing whether medical marijuana is helpful or not—someone who is open-minded, but duly cautious.
He points out that much of the evidence for medical marijuana is anecdotal, involving testimonies from individuals rather than the findings of objective and carefully performed scientific studies. He also mentions the very real placebo effect: People who think they will get better often do—not from the “medicine” (often mere “sugar pills,” unbeknownst to those taking them), but as a result of the mind at work. Dr. Wenk notes that some animal studies suggest cannabis has some promise in lessening pain—but, as someone of his stature knows from experience, what works in mice does not necessarily work in humans. He is open to possibilities on the subject, yet rightfully circumspect and hesitant to draw unjustified conclusions.
His approach stands in stark contrast to so many uninformed enthusiasts, who jump to the defense of marijuana without asking some fundamental questions: Does anecdotal evidence qualify as proof? Or is it the main ingredient of a snake-oil sales pitch? Is cannabis the only route to go? Or even the best one? What dosage is appropriate? What are the side effects? How does it interact with other medicines or foods?
In the midst of it all stands a statement by Dr. Wenk that must not be dismissed: “Simply stated, there is no reliable clinical evidence to support the use of marijuana for any of these conditions—none at all.”
It may be that the derivative CBD has some remarkable potential in medicine. But many of those promoting legal marijuana carelessly take “it may be” to mean “it’s a sure thing.” Some go so far as to promote it as “the sacred plant”—a God-given miracle medicine that cures just about anything that ails you.
What is the problem with all of this?
The average person is probably not familiar with High Times, an American magazine devoted to the drug culture. Tom Forçade founded High Times in 1974, but suffered from something all too common among heavy pot users—mood swings and paranoia—and he ended his life with a single bullet to the head in 1978.
Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune interviewed the executive editor of High Times and wrote in a March 30, 1987, column that “the magazine’s founder, Thomas Forcade… had wanted High Times ‘to do for drugs what Playboy did for sex, and what Rolling Stone did for music’” (“What to Read If You Just Don’t Say ‘No,’” ChicagoTribune.com).
Keith Stroup is another prime promoter of hallucinogenic marijuana. In 1970, Stroup started the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in response to a friend’s arrest for possession. He originally wanted the “R” to stand for “Repeal” but realized that most Americans were not in favor of legalizing pot.
Stroup claims he was more anti-jail than pro-marijuana, but like so many during the 1970s, Stroup himself dabbled with weed. At that time, most marijuana contained very low levels of THC, often less than 1 percent and rarely more than 2 percent. However, Stroup was introduced to a much more powerful supply, and experienced paranoia, which brings us to something many do not recognize: Today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the Woodstock generation. It is more typical today for marijuana to have 20 to 25 percent THC!
Alex Berenson was a reporter for the New York Times and a self-described “libertarian” when it came to marijuana—until a conversation with his wife, a psychiatrist who works with the criminally insane, raised questions in his mind. That conversation drove him to do some serious research, which led him to write Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. In it, he explains the following:
Stroup and NORML had won when they framed their fight as about civil rights and fairness in law enforcement. Once they were perceived as advocates for getting high, the public turned on them. The way to get traction for marijuana legalization was to make the argument about everything other than the reason that people used the drug. Stroup had realized that fact before anyone else. Then he’d forgotten—and his movement had paid the price (Berenson, p. 46).
This marijuana controversy would be easy to sort out if advocates looked at CBD and THC separately, but they deliberately do not. While much of the “medical” discussion concerns CBD, the real goal of marijuana users and advocates is to legalize THC, and what many fail to understand is that a huge cannabis lobby is at work with millions of dollars, painting the bandwagon with glowing colors. How many know that billionaire George Soros has pumped $100,000,000 into the sales pitch?
Activists have mounted different public opinion campaigns at different times, such as making the claim that the war against cannabis, and against illegal drugs in general, is racially biased. They have promoted the idea that the war on drugs is a waste of resources, and that it ruins “ordinary” people’s lives by making them criminals for enjoying a supposedly harmless pleasure. But the goal of their most recent and most successful campaign is to convince ordinary people like you and me, people who have no interest in “toking up,” that cannabis is medicine. After all, who wants to be against medicine? On top of this, people wrongly believe cannabis is natural and safe, unlike chemical pharmaceuticals.
What far too many ordinary people do not realize is that they have been pawns in the hands of individuals who are waging a well-orchestrated campaign to legalize recreational marijuana. That is their game. As Berenson explains:
Linking legalization to medical use has proven the crucial step. It encourages voters to think of marijuana as something other than an intoxicant. In reality, except for a few narrow conditions such as cancer-related wasting, neither cannabis nor THC [the intoxicating ingredient] has ever been shown to work in randomized clinical trials (pp. xvii-xviii).
Numerous medicines are derived from plants. Opioids come from poppies and are welcome relief to patients suffering excruciating pain, but they come with a price. Over 2016 and 2017 alone, opioid overdoses killed more Americans than the Vietnam War.
One of the claims of advocates is that cannabis, whether THC or CBD, cures cancer, or at least lessens the unpleasant effects of cancer treatments. However, as Dr. Wenk wrote:
According to The National Cancer Institute… there is insufficient evidence to recommend using marijuana as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or cancer treatment–related symptoms or cancer treatment–related side effects. Yes, marijuana can kill cancer cells; however, so can many other chemicals, such as nicotine, but no one is going to recommend that you start smoking cigarettes to treat your lung cancer.
I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on television. Neither do I swallow all the claims of the pharmaceutical companies. But one point should be obvious: Medicines have short-term and long-term side effects, and this includes CBD as well as THC. Television stations air ads that promote the latest miracle drug, followed by ads for law firms planning to sue the drug companies for their previous miracle drug. Drugs help some individuals, but kill others. That is a fact of life—and death!
When people speak of “medical marijuana,” it is important to understand what they truly mean. One should also ask, “Why do we hear so much about legalizing medical marijuana when CBD is already legal in most jurisdictions?” The answer is obvious. Medical marijuana advocates want THC legalized, not just CBD. These snake oil salesmen have done a bait and switch. Notice the progression in one jurisdiction after another: First legalize medical marijuana, then legalize recreational marijuana.
We at Tomorrow’s World do not deny that limited medical benefits from either, or both, of cannabis’ two main ingredients may someday be discovered and clearly demonstrated through proper medical and scientific testing. But we also recognize that the endgame for activists is to use medical marijuana to promote legalization of recreational use. This is a moral issue, rather than a medical issue. The rush toward legalization has already brought serious consequences, and the situation will only get worse.
Besides overdose deaths, one of the most serious consequences of marijuana use is amotivational syndrome: the loss of initiative. There may be exceptions—a few users who are highly motivated—but with today’s far more potent strains of marijuana there is a generational wave of unmotivated casualties. What can that do for a nation’s future?
A funny thing happened after medical marijuana gained acceptance. Entrepreneurs discovered that there is money in it! Not only is medical marijuana, whether THC or CBD, the wonder drug to cure what ails you, it is also the goose that laid the golden egg. Growers, distributors, and governments are cashing in.
Yes, marijuana is suddenly big business. Even former U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner has advertised seminars on how to cash in on the cannabis boom, and it’s all the rage in financial newsletters. One investment advisor recently wrote, “By 2020, cannabis is going to be bigger than chocolate… bigger than organic food… bigger than wine!” (“Why Cannabis Will Be More Popular Than Chocolate and More American Than Apple Pie,” WeissRatings.com, May 20, 2019).
Since legalizing marijuana, Canada is becoming a major supplier both domestically and internationally, exporting cannabis products to Australia, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa (“Global Reach,” Tilray.com).
One of the largest exporters is Tilray, which produces CBD products (the non-hallucinogenic extract from the cannabis plant) as well as a product called “Tilray 1:1,” which contains equal amounts of CBD and the hallucinogen THC. Twenty-one similar companies were publicly traded in Canada at the beginning of 2019. Nine companies are hauling in billions of dollars, with two boasting more than $10 billion annually.
“But I thought this was all about the greatest miracle drug ever discovered!” It may be. Only time will tell. If history repeats itself, it may prove to be one more bottle of snake oil the townsfolk are buying. While people decry the greed of the pharmaceutical companies, those who press for medical marijuana are in on the act, big-time! Can we not see that? When any “medicine” is promoted as curing just about anything and everything, should we not be a bit skeptical—especially when the main evidence for its effectiveness is anecdotal rather than the result of rigorous testing?
When hundreds of millions of dollars are pumped into a campaign that leads to legalizing an intoxicant with far too many side effects to list in this article, should we not be a little suspicious? When even such terms as “sacred plant” are thrown into the mix, are we not seeing a religious fervor taking over? Take note that, despite some misguided or ill-motivated assertions to the contrary, cannabis has been used in pagan religions for centuries, but never by the priests of the true God.
The late American folk singer John Denver spent much of his life in Colorado. One of his greatest hits was “Rocky Mountain High.” The 2014 legalization of marijuana in that state has given the song a connotation Denver never intended. Although some suggested that his song was about drugs, he plainly and clearly denied that before a U.S. Senate hearing:
My song “Rocky Mountain High” was banned from many radio stations as a drug-related song. This was obviously done by people who had never seen or been to the Rocky Mountains and also had never experienced the elation, celebration of life, or the joy in living that one feels when he observes something as wondrous as the Perseids meteor shower on a moonless, cloudless night, when there are so many stars that you have a shadow from the starlight, and you are out camping with your friends, your best friends, and introducing them to one of nature’s most spectacular light shows for the very first time (“Rocky Mountain High by John Denver,” SongFacts.com).
John Denver was describing a very different kind of high than merchants all over the city of Denver are now promoting. Yet a drug high will never truly satisfy. Experience shows that indiscriminate drug use destroys lives. There was an ancient king who experimented with hedonism, a philosophy espousing that the purpose of life is to give oneself over to physical pleasure. He sought meaning in wine, women, and song, but did not find it there: “Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the man do who succeeds the king?… Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:12, 17).
Sadly, very few indeed know the meaning of life. Are you finding life empty and lacking? Are you asking, “Is that all there is?” There is a purpose for our existence—and it is found not in hedonism, but in the pages of your Bible. You can learn about it in our free publication Your Ultimate Destiny. Knowing why you are here and working toward that supreme goal brings a far greater fulfillment than a not-always-so-cheap puff of smoke.
For a more complete discussion of this subject and the consequences of recreational marijuana, read our informative booklet Marijuana: What They Aren’t Telling You. You can read it online at TomorrowsWorld.org or request a free printed copy here.