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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation" [NY Daily News]
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation”
[NY Daily News]

​From time to time we are reminded just how much work remains when it comes to educating politicians and the public about cannabis.  For an example of one of these face-palm moments, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) last year warned a constituent via a letter that he doesn’t support medical marijuana legalization because, among other reasons, smoking pot can lead to death.

In a February 4, 2012 reply to his constituent, McConnell ticked off some “serious concerns” he has about legalizing weed for medicinal purposes, the topic about which the constituent had written him, reports Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post.

McConnell points out that the main ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is already available in pill form from Big Pharma for the treatment of certain illnesses.

​What he doesn’t mention is a fact of which he may well be unaware, given his general level of ignorance around marijuana: Marinol — besides being ridiculously expensive — has shown itself to be quite ineffective in relieving the symptoms of most patients.

Marinol’s synthetic THC is not the same thing as real herbal marijuana. Patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, often report that the expense of Marinol (also known as Dronabinol) limits their use of the drug, and physicians report that its cost dissuades them from prescribing it.

Besides, new scientific studies have shown that all the cannabinoids work better together, synergistically, not as single extracted cannabinoids like THC, which is the only cannabinoid in Marinol.

The senator also said he was “troubled” by the fact that voting to make medicinal cannabis available would be “without following the scientific processes” of the Food and Drug Administration.

What he doesn’t mention is that the reason these “scientific processes” haven’t occurred is that the federal government — as in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) — have blocked marijuana research. “That’s like saying that the only way you will agree that something is valid is if it is researched more, yet never allow[ing] such research,” The Weed Blog notes.

McConnell then mentions Rep. Barney Frank’s medical marijuana bill, and raises concerns about what could happen if it became law: death.

“Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation,” Senator McConnell wrote. “The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.” (None of these conditions, other than some short-term memory loss, of course, has ever been documented with marijuana.)

Scientific studies have shown that marijuana, even with heavy, long-term use, doesn’t harm lung function, and may actually improve it, according to a major recent study.

Ironically, Sen. McConnell — hailing from the home of Kentucky bourbon — is one of the liquor industry’s biggest supporters in the Senate. Alcohol is responsible for about 2.5 million deaths per year worldwide, according to the World Heath Organization. At least 75,000 deaths per year in the United States are directly attributable to alcohol, according to a U.S. government study. (Marijuana has never caused a single documented death in human history.)

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart lost no time in spinning the Senator’s statement, claiming McConnell was just making the case that “drugs in general” have detrimental effects.

“Everyone from the Obama administration on down agrees that drug use has had serious consequences, including deaths,” Stewart dissembled. “The letter makes that clear.”

The constituent who corresponded with the Senator posted the letter on a marijuana blog,, and wrote a response to what McConnell had to say:

“Hi Blades, got a letter back from Mitch McConnell about legalizing marijuana. I’ll let the letter speak for itself. WOWZA.”

To actually overdose on marijuana, according to a 1988 report from the DEA itself (!), you would “theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes.”

“If you have to lump marijuana together with all other drugs in order to make it sound scary, that would seem to indicate that it’s not actually very scary,” noted Dan Amira at New York magazine.

For those who’d like to leave a little “feedback” on Sen. McConnell’s Facebook wall, you don’t have to “Like” his page to comment.

Following is McConnell’s complete, incredibly ignorant letter to his constituent:

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