More Fuzzy Drug-War Math 

More Fuzzy Drug-War Math 
Posted by FoM on May 22, 2001 at 10:15:00 PT
By Joel Miller
Source: WorldNetDaily
Yesterday I took issue with the bogus numbers cited by former drug czar William J. Bennett to back up his claim that, before Clinton came to town, the drug war was moving along swimmingly. Misleading numbers are the stock and trade of drug warriors, it seems. Arguing against medical marijuana in his April 2 column, for instance, Don Feder rattles off an alarming statistic: "According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network," says Feder, "marijuana use accounted for 87,150 emergency-room admissions in 1999, up 455 percent from a decade earlier." 
First off, this is a red herring, since the discussion is not about all-purpose marijuana use, but medical. The DAWN data are not controlled for why an emergency-room patient may have been using marijuana; it only records the presence of the drug in his system. So to use this statistic as an argument against medical marijuana is meaningless. Given the discussion, the target population should be medpot users, but DAWN makes no distinction, lumping in anyone with a trace of pot for whatever reason. Then there's the question of causation. Feder says that "marijuana use accounted for" the spike in ER admissions. That claim is not, however, warranted by the data. All DAWN shows is that a trace of the drug can be found in the patient's system when admitted; it doesn't give any leeway in postulating about the relation of the drug to the accident that landed the sorry chap on an ER gurney. Considering the way evidential traces of pot can linger in a person's system, the patient could have, after all, used marijuana a week before the accident -- the pot could have less than nothing to do with the accident. Since DAWN only reports the presence of a drug, there is no way for Feder to argue with anything approaching legitimacy that marijuana accounted for anything. More thorough research would have to be done to determine what actually accounted for what. To be sure, Feder has a scary statistic, but it doesn't do much to back his case, since he's drawing a conclusion from the data that the data do not support. This is nothing new. DAWN's statistics have suffered a lot of misuse over the years. Back in the middle 1980s, when cocaine fright was a growth industry, fearmongers used the DAWN data to paint a dire picture of chemical chaos caused by the Peruvian poison. "Emergency rooms nationwide report incidents of overdose and other drug-related emergencies to DAWN," explains journalist Dan Baum in his invaluable drug-war history, "Smoke and Mirrors," going on to explain that, "The numbers are notoriously inaccurate because if cocaine is found in the body of a heroin addict who overdoses or a drunk who passes out and never wakes up, the incident may be recorded as a 'cocaine death.'" It doesn't take an MIT grad to figure out that using the DAWN numbers made overstating the nation's cocaine problem a cinch for drug warriors -- much like Feder's use of the pot stat. To this day, people look back on the so-called cocaine and crack epidemics of the '80s as if we narrowly escaped unspeakable doom and destruction by the skin of our teeth -- which is utter hogwash. The 1984 DAWN stats, so hyped by the media, showed 604 deaths in which cocaine was "mentioned." As Baum reminds, however, "That doesn't mean cocaine killed that many people, just that the drug was present in the bodies of 604 people who died suddenly from substance abuse." Some of them could have very well died of alcohol poisoning, which, as WND columnist Alan Bock points out in "Waiting to Inhale," is fingered in the DAWN data more than any other drugs combined. The funny thing about the 1984 data, however, was that no one was talking about an epidemic in aspirin or flu, which -- to use Feder's word -- "accounted" for more deaths that year than cocaine. In fact, strangely enough, the drug warriors weren't at all concerned with the "epidemics" of ulcers, choking on food, car wrecks and handguns that killed far more people in 1984 than cocaine, either. It was these types of overblown, misinterpreted statistics that helped to fuel a decade of drug fear. To show you how bad the scaremongering could get, Newsweek Editor in Chief Richard M. Smith wrote in July 1986 that afoot in America is "an epidemic  as pervasive and dangerous in its way as the plagues of medieval times." Perspective anyone? Baum reports that in 1986, 1/400,000 of the U.S. population owed their deaths to cocaine. Consider for comparison the words of one Henry Knighton, writing between 1348 and 1350 about the Black Death: There died in Avignon in one day one thousand three hundred and twelve persons, according to a count made for the pope, and, another day, four hundred persons and more. Three hundred and fifty-eight of the Friars Preachers in the region of Provence died during Lent. At Montepellier, there remained out of a hundred and forty friars only seven.  Then that most grievous pestilence penetrated the coastal regions [of England]  and people died as if the whole strength of the city [Bristol] were seized by sudden death. All told, the accepted figure of the Plague's impact in Europe is one-third of population killed by the Black Death, leaving the continent in utter devastation and disarray for years to come, as Knighton makes clear in his account of the events. So, cocaine kills 1/400,000; the Plague kills one-third -- and who says Smith isn't a comedian? Whether by misreading the numbers or an outright deceptive desire to hoodwink the nation, drug warriors conjure statistics and figures that twist reality and display a vision of the world that is far off kilter. Drug abuse, for certain, is nasty business and kills many, but to inflate or misrepresent the fact in order to whip up the public into an antidope frenzy the way prohibitionists did in the 1920s and before with alcohol is utterly loathsome. Unless we seek to mimic the legacy of Bill Clinton, outright lies and misrepresentations should have no place in America's public policy -- not even to excuse a war on drugs. Joel Miller is the commentary editor of WorldNetDaily. His publishing company, MenschWerks,recently published "God Gave Wine" by Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. Newshawk: Joel MillerCommentary EditorWorldNetDaily.comhttp://www.WND.comSource: WorldNetDaily (US Web)Author: Joel MillerPublished: May 22, 2001Copyright: 2001,, Inc.Contact: letters worldnetdaily.comWebsite: Articles:Bennett's Fuzzy Drug-War Victory Medicine Out of Joint - Spintech Magazine Should Cancel Prescription for Marijuana Articles - Joel Miller 
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Comment #12 posted by dddd on May 23, 2001 at 07:29:50 PT
Yup GreenFox,,I like what you said about the age factor.I guessI would qualify under the old Hippie clause as an "us",but I'm prettysure that alot of the people here are like me,,formerly known as"thems",wanderin' towards the golden years...I'm pushin' 50....I remember when I could count my age on allavailiable appendages,,,I couldnt imagine having anything in commonwith "older people"....times have changed...indeedddd
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Comment #11 posted by greenfox on May 23, 2001 at 07:01:19 PT
Thanks everyone
You know, it's really nice.... er... nice isn't quite the word.... umm.. it's really COMFORTiNG to know that there are people, like myself, who can engage in intelligent conversation without being caught up by the variables. In this I mean, age, sex, race, whatever....Here we have a gathering of people who share one vision, yet are so very different. A soldier, a poet, a doctor, a student, and yes even a grower ;) .......All of us make cannabis news great. And I also think that all of us comfort each other; provide relief in a society where there is "zero tollerence" for us. People like us, ideas like ours. When I first started smoking pot, I used to think that all people that smoked pot, (save for a few old hippies,) were my age (or around it.) The 18-26 bracket. Us. And I thought that anyone who wasn't part of "us" was part of "them" (no disrespect meant for Mr. Waters or the rest of Floyd). ;) But comming here and reading your insightful views helped me to understand that I'm not alone. I'm not the only "doped up stoner" here. ;) And in addition to realizing that I am not alone, I also realize that you, too, are not alone. We all have each other, no matter how corny or crazy it sounds. It may be text on a screen to some of you, but I know to others (myself included,) it is reassurence that there is sanity in an insane world. If we are the crazies, the "druggies", then so be it. I'd rather be a crazy druggie than a republican. ;)(no offense to any ol' GOPs here, which I think there are none, but hey...)sly in green, you know the rest...-gf
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Comment #10 posted by dddd on May 23, 2001 at 05:36:46 PT
GreenFox.I join Dan,FF,and Kap .......I consider you a highly respected commentator....I enjoy your writings....Keep on keepin' on,,,dont beshy in green................May JAH continue to shine on you.Sincerely............dddd
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Comment #9 posted by Blanch Friend on May 23, 2001 at 05:27:27 PT:
My sister
Do not be fooled by my evil sister Mary Friend.She is not a friend,and she is not very friendly.Both her and Frances have gone off the edge of reality in their insane anti drug crusade.
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Comment #8 posted by kaptinemo on May 23, 2001 at 05:05:33 PT:
GF, never mind the typos
Guess what? I don't use a word processor to check my spelling, as I'm too busy trying to get my thoughts into words in this little Comment box while my Muse is shouting in my ear. I just follow Emperor Claudius's rule: what a man says is more important than how long he takes to say it. Or type it, in this case.Your sentiments are received, loud and clear. And actually quite eloquent. Don't let vocabulary slow you down, just say your piece.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 22, 2001 at 20:33:30 PT
Thanks Freedomfighter!
Thank you freedomfighter for saying CannabisNews Rocks! We have good people who care that comment here. We learn new things everyday by articles and people's knowledge that they share. I wish Mary Friend would talk to us like we are talking but I don't think it will happen. When people post in anger their minds are made up so I don't expect them to understand. But maybe she will think that we aren't that bad of people by our behavior. That's how they will know we are serious and not mean. I could be doing other things with my life but I have always been the type of person to do one thing and put my heart into it. When my son died I knew it would be about marijuana because he never had a chance to benefit from using it and that haunts me. I can't help him anymore but maybe someone else will be spared in this insane war.
Medical Marijuana Information
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Comment #6 posted by freedom fighter on May 22, 2001 at 20:08:48 PT
Cannabisnews does Rock and Roll!
GF,I do not know about others but I read each and every postings the posters may have to say..Sometime simple words get the meaning across more than any complex writings that one may write. What so unique about Cannabisnews is that we all can say what we would want to without really offending anyone other than the drug warriors such as Mary Friend, etc...Wither if it is simple or a complex concept, words are far more deadly than any weapon put together. Let us choose our words so ever carefully for we are the people we would want to be. In my book, it is Peace to all of us and Love to all human beings. Cannabisnews does Rock and Roll!\/ff
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Comment #5 posted by Dan B on May 22, 2001 at 15:15:21 PT:
Green Fox
I, for one, always read and enjoy your comments. Please, keep 'em coming. You're right on the mark, as far as I am concerned.And, frankly, I am not concerned with typos or structure. The main point is the idea, and I think you get your ideas across wonderfully.Dan B
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Comment #4 posted by greenfox on May 22, 2001 at 12:50:32 PT
I need to verbally blast the man at the mast for a moment, here. Let's talk.Despite the cries for reform, Bush turns a deaf ear. It was a promise made to the states that we, the people, would respect state rights. However, he puts a drug-monger in the seat that McCaffrey's sullen ass has still left warm. Lukewarm. Why, you ask, through tear-stained eyes, would Bushy Wushy DO such a thing?VESTED INTERESTSBushy Wushy doesn't mind marijuana arrests, (as long as a conviction is assured). Why?VESTED INTERESTSThe prisons fill, new prisons must be built. And who better to do the job?Bushy Wushy. A cokehead, you say? Probably. Daddy's spoiled little bitch? Definately. Two-faced spoiled little bitch? MOST definately. But as far as medical pot goes?Not while he still has...VESTED INTERESTSlegalization?haha...VESTED INTERESTSGiving a shit about ANY democrusties or person(s) who oppose his energy VESTED INTERESTS plan?never. never ever. the environment?protecting it isn't possible- it infringes on his VESTED INTERESTSComming from the man who literally mocked a dying woman, you expect compassion? ha. ha. cough. ha.I wish I had the ability to prose my ideas as Kaptinemo and OBSv. so passionately do. I wish my writings on this forum were more read, more respected, the typos seen through. Perhaps the STRUCTURE of what I say is in turmoil- but the underlying facts never change. truth is truth.VESTED INTERESTS are VESTED INTERESTSand of courseBushy Wushy will always be ...Bushy Wushy.sly in green, foxy in kind.-gf
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on May 22, 2001 at 12:27:56 PT:
Me, too ...
I have also emailed O'reilly and gotten nothing. He is a champion of what HE believes, nothing else ...
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Comment #2 posted by observer on May 22, 2001 at 11:48:50 PT
In Their Own Way, As Dangerous As _______
 To show you how bad the scaremongering could get, Newsweek Editor in Chief Richard M. Smith wrote in July 1986 that afoot in America is "an epidemic -- as pervasive and dangerous in its way as the plagues of medieval times." Perspective anyone? Seems to have a familiar ring to it, reminds me of phraseology a July 2000 San Diego Union Tribune editorial:These, after all, are the new enemies of security and stability in the Western Hemisphere. In their own way, they are every bit as dangerous to democratic prospects and the rule of law as the guerrilla insurgencies and terrorist movements of the past. They should be dealt with as such.The Cartel, San Diego Union Tribune (CA), July 9, 2000 
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on May 22, 2001 at 11:05:04 PT:
You're on a Roll, Joel!
(See . . . I really am a poet!)Joel Miller once again proves his point by shooting at the heart of drug warrior lies. I love this guy's writing, and I love it that he's publishing these articles on what can arguably be described as one of the most conservative news sites on the web (note that rabid prohibitionist Bill O'Reilly also publishes articles there, for example).Keep it up, Mr. Miller. You're doing great!By the way, I sent an email to ol' Bill O'Reilly about a week and a half ago regarding his recent love-in with William Bennett. I denounced his arguments using the government's own statistics. This will come as no surprise to many of you: he has neither replied to me via e-mail (even to acknowledge receipt of the message I sent), nor has he (to my knowledge) used it on his show (I watched for several days afterward, and it just wasn't there).So, for outright courage I would have to give Joel Miller the award of the year. Sorry, O'Reilly--cowardice will get you nowhere.Dan B
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