Reefer Madness: Fountain Valley Edition!

Last night, OC Superior Court Judge Matthew Anderson and national drug policy expert, Dr. Kevin Sabet, teamed up for a presentation called “The Dangers of Marijuana,” a workshop intended to reveal the “truth” about cannabis. Nearly 60 adolescents, high schoolers, parents, seniors and other community members were in attendance, and by the end of the presentation, most were in agreement with the messages Anderson and Sabet conveyed. Much like the “Threat of Marijuana Workshop” that took place last January, where Sabet, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and others discussed the “horrifying” effects of marijuana, Sabet and Judge Anderson went about last evening with the same Reefer Madness mentality, ultimately hosting a heavily propagandized event.

“I’m sick and tired of people overdosing on drugs… and marijuana contributes to that,” said Anderson, as he kicked off the event. He went on to say that the marijuana industry, or as he refers to it “the other side,” doesn’t want people to know the truth about marijuana nor do they think people can handle it. The truth about cannabis, Anderson claimed, is that it is devastating to the body because it’s highly concentrated, addictive, dangerous and unregulated making it one of the most threatening substances to our wellbeing. Looking around the room a handful of people were nodding their heads, completely entranced with Anderson’s rhetoric.

“Who’s pushing this drug?” he asked the crowd. “Let me tell you: politicians, the so-called marijuana ‘patients,’ marijuana businesses, celebrities and all forms of the media. These folks are the super pact for the marijuana industry,” said Anderson. Directly after, he elaborated on the “so-called marijuana patients” and how they’ve, essentially, been duped by the industry because the term “medical marijuana” is a strategy and thus isn’t a real thing. Anderson explained that adding the word “medical” to marijuana is a red-herring, or something that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting. And the group he claimed is responsible for creating this red-herring? NORML. “This strategy began in the ‘70s with a person named Keith Stroup, one of the co-founders of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. NORML wanted to give marijuana a good name, which is why they added the word ‘medical’ in front of marijuana.”

Before Anderson handed over the microphone to Sabet, he spent the last portion of his presentation calling out the marijuana reporter at the OC Register. “The Register’s cannabis reporter wrote a story about how easy it is to get a marijuana license . . . doesn’t that mean anything to you? She told the doctor that she had headaches, and the doctor gave her what she wanted,” Anderson said with an annoyed tone. “I’m going to pick on the Register, the ‘so-called’ conservative newspaper, because you can go on forever with their pro-marijuana headlines. Their front-page stories about marijuana prove that the media has an agenda. The Register is a part of marijuana propaganda. [These stories] are intentional messages so that you begin to think that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable. I’m here to tell you that this is a huge public safety issue.”

The Reefer Madness continued as soon as Sabet took the floor. The first portion of his 90-minute presentation focused on making parallels between the marijuana industry’s marketing tactics and big tobacco. “The tobacco industry lied through their teeth about the effects of tobacco on the body in order to make billions of dollars, while making outrageous claims such as tobacco not being addictive and not causing lung cancer. Does that sound familiar? Guess when America discovered the link between tobacco and lung cancer? 1926, but the U.S. government didn’t admit it for 40 years,” said Sabet. “This is just history repeating itself.”

Throughout Sabet’s lecture, he made it a point to make eye contact with all the young people in attendance. He emphasized the fact that people between the ages of 10 and 25 are seen as nothing more than dollar signs to the marijuana industry. Sabet went on to reiterate what Anderson claimed about being lied to and manipulated. “We’re told that marijuana is natural and that it’s a plant. But you know what else is a plant? Poison Ivy, and I don’t think any of us want to smoke or ingest Poison Ivy.”

Sabet’s presentation focused on the psychoactive component of cannabis, or THC, and left out discussing the effects of CBD, as he claimed that “it doesn’t get you high” therefore he doesn’t care. He did, however, touch on the fact that CBD oils often have contaminants in them, such as pesticides, herbicides, fungus, bacteria and other harmful chemicals, ultimately taking away from the “so-called” medicinal benefits of the compound.

Although CBD does, in fact, offer therapy for those who suffer from epilepsy, arthritis, cancer, etc, Sabet’s point about the lack of purity, and thus, the lack of consistency throughout the industry in regards to products is fair. No one should ever have to ingest those contaminants. But that’s an argument for legalization and regulation, not continuing the failed U.S. war on drugs. 

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