Why Marijuana Won’t Become Another Big Tobacco
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Why Marijuana Won’t Become Another Big Tobacco
Posted by CN Staff on August 08, 2014 at 13:10:41 PT
By Christopher Ingraham 
Source: Washington Post 
USA -- I wrote earlier this week about the sophisticated ad campaigns recently launched by supporters and opponents of marijuana legalization. The two camps agree that marijuana is going mainstream but part company on whether this is an ominous development or cause for celebration.The argument put forth by the anti-legalization Grass Is Not Greener coalition is a novel one, and worth digging into. "If we’re not careful, the marijuana industry could quickly become the next Big Tobacco," its Web site warns.
"I think most Americans would be surprised to learn how quickly this industry has matured," Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and an outspoken legalization critic, told me. "Big Tobacco ignored major scientific findings about cigarettes, deceived the public, funded their own research, and devoted every ounce of their energy to one thing: increasing use for profit." He says the marijuana industry is doing the same today.Even if there is some truth to this, legalization opponents are on shaky ground when it comes to ignoring scientific findings and misleading the public. After all, the federal case for marijuana prohibition continues to be built on half-truths and the occasional deception. Grass Is Not Greener's Web site repeats many of these same talking points in a breakdown of "Facts" and "Myths" that takes considerable liberties with the definition of both.On the other hand, there's no doubt that the marijuana industry is becoming more sophisticated. There is a trade organization, the National Cannabis Industry Association, that promotes "the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry." There are at least two full-time pro-marijuana lobbyists working on Capitol Hill.It seems inevitable that marijuana will continue to get bigger, but a comparison point with Big Tobacco doesn't work. For starters, marijuana is simply less harmful than tobacco. Marijuana's addictive potential is less than a third of tobacco's. THC, the active compound in marijuana, is considerably less toxic than nicotine, which until this year was used as an industrial insecticide in the U.S.Currently the evidence is mixed on the prevalence of cancers associated with marijuana use, although it seems reasonable to conclude that inhaling flaming plant material into your lungs on a regular basis could produce negative health consequences down the road.Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor who studies drug abuse and drug policy, says that compared to tobacco, marijuana will be "a smaller industry and therefore less powerful. But I don’t think it will be less insidious." He thinks the alcohol industry is a better comparison, because the usage breakdown of alcohol is similar to marijuana's.Most of the alcohol industry's revenue comes from the top 10 percent of drinkers, who consume half of the drinks, Kleiman says. This tracks with the marijuana sales figures currently coming out of Colorado, which show that the top 20 percent of marijuana users account for 67 percent of the overall demand so far.The distribution of tobacco users, on the other hand, is different. The average smoker consumes about 15 cigarettes per day, or three-fourths of a pack. The tobacco industry is "appealing to the median smoker, and the median smoker has a drug problem," Kleiman says. Tobacco revenues are more evenly distributed across the user base, but marijuana revenues are likely to come largely from a smaller share of heavy users.While there's plenty of room for debate about whether it's preferable for marijuana to tread the path of alcohol or tobacco, there's no doubt that the stakes are considerably smaller. "The dangers of really bad cannabis policy simply aren't as great as the dangers of really bad alcohol policy," Kleiman says.A privatized marijuana industry's profit-making motives are almost certain to conflict with various public health interests. But conflicting interests don't constitute grounds for outright prohibition and criminalization - if that were the case we would have outlawed fast food, congressional lobbying, and much of the financial industry a long time ago.They do, on the other hand, make a compelling case for smart, cautious regulation. A recent Brookings institution report concluded that, from a governance perspective, the rollout of legal marijuana in Colorado has largely been a success (the report is agnostic over whether the actual policy of legalization is a good one). You can be sure that other states will be watching closely as they consider similar legalization measures in the coming years.Christopher Ingraham is a data journalist focusing primarily on issues of politics, policy and economics. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author: Christopher IngrahamPublished: August 8, 2014Copyright: 2014 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on August 11, 2014 at 09:12:43 PT
unreasonable reasoning
>>>Currently the evidence is mixed on the prevalence of cancers associated with marijuana use, although it seems reasonable to conclude that inhaling flaming plant material into your lungs on a regular basis could produce negative health consequences down the road.It might seem "reasonble" but it's wrong. The biggest study to date showed no "
negative health consequences down the road." Most studies show beneficial health effects from cannabis use.It's so hard for these bleating sheeps to think for themselves.  yes, it's true, everything the establishment has told you on this subject is blatantly, patently false! Wake up! The isn't the first time in history that oppressive rulers have brainwashed everybody. In fact, it happens all the time.
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Comment #5 posted by swazi-x on August 10, 2014 at 15:39:05 PT
The Reasons
There's a couple of reasons a large cannabis industry won't "turn into big tobacco" - tobacco is addictive and kills. Cannabis is not addictive, and it heals. A large cannabis industry would have to work hard to pollute their product to the point that it actually harms anyone. As long as we protect our right to grow it at home during this transition out of prohibition, we won't be trapped by a cannabis monopoly that restricts our choice of where we get it. It's the beer scenario - you have Bud, you have your local brewpub, and you have home brewers - you choose as you prefer. Same with cannabis. Can we lose the Chicken Little click-bait of articles like this? 
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on August 09, 2014 at 13:04:02 PT:
(Wolf's grin) Hope, I've only just started
Because, for the first time in years, a prohib has dared enter the arena. And as we all know from the old saying, "Fools rush in..." To give you an idea of just how timid the prohibs have gotten, they've sent in a 'second string' player, not the first. A representative from CanadaSAM is taking the beating, not the 'home team' from Project SAM, USA. I guess they are afraid that if the 'home team' gets its rhetorical arse shot off, they'll lose major 'face'. So they sent in the 'B List' entertainment.And that's just what it is: entertainment. I'm genuinely having fun. I haven't crossed swords with a real, live prohib in years; they rarely come out during the daytime, preferring to defecate on your doorstep at night, and run. This one's been caught out, and is catching nine kinds of Hell from every direction, not just mine. And it's happening in a national forum, The WaPo, giving our side not only a chance to make our case, but score points off of the prohibs...publicly. And that makes them look nothing less than foolish - contemptuously foolish.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on August 09, 2014 at 08:57:10 PT
This must all be an unbelievable shock
to prohibitionists. Finally, the media is holding up the truth, right in the face of the prohibitionist's out right lies, exaggerations, fear mongering, and demonization. Finally, the "Watchdog" is at least growling a bit.For decades now, the media has just gone along with any outrageous thing the prohibitionists wanted. It was awful to see the nation's supposed "Watchdog" turn into a stupid, stinking, worthless, yapping lap dog for the prohibitionist. (Not that I have anything against lapdogs... but the media is supposed to be a watchdog, not a trained lapdog.)We've tried and tried to get congress to educate themselves to apparently little avail. With the big dog growling and forcing the issue right in front of them and God and everybody, maybe they will finally wake up and pay attention.This is wonderful.Excellent job, as usual, Kaptinemo, at the Washington Post site. Excellent.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on August 09, 2014 at 07:13:49 PT:
You might also find this article interesting
These 5 Groups Are Standing in the Way of You and Legal Marijuana
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on August 09, 2014 at 07:06:23 PT:
Thank you, FoM
You gave me the inspiration to visit the Webpage of the actual article at and fire a large torpedo into PSAM (as in "Pee, Sam!")'s side, by pointing out the hypocrisy of having the head of a major organization representing the 'treatment' industry (American Society of Addiction Medicine, or ASAM) while also being the medical director of a Big Pharma company called Orexo who serves as a PSAM board member.The hypocrisy of that is so blindingly glaring you'll need welder's goggles to protect your eyes.Like the old saying goes, Birds of a feather, flock together." As do thieves, as in "Thick as thieves". And thieves they are, part-and-parcel of the machinery that steals our freedoms, our rights, and our lives.We now know why Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet get so testy about questions as to where their funding comes from. Most of us had gathered that PSAM was crooked, taking money from shady sources...and having equally shady associations as a result. Here's the proof, and, I suspect, more is forthcoming.The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal; Opponents of marijuana-law reform insist that legalization is dangerous—but the biggest threat is to their own bottom line. 
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