Why Cannabis is Not a Recreational Drug

A Position Paper By Dennis Peron


It’s now just 10 days before the November 8, 2016 elections and as a long time cannabis activist I find myself contemplating what I have learned from the latest initiative, Prop 64: The Control, Regulate and Tax the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. First, the good. What Prop 64 has done well is prove that at the state level, the powers have endorsed an approach to the further mainstreaming of cannabis. The other thing Prop 64 has done is that it has brought spirited debate among those of us who have an interest in cannabis. Since it’s a long and complex document, it has forced us to closely consider the details within it and decide if, on the whole, Prop 64 represents cannabis law that is right for us personally and for fellow citizens. Unfortunately those positives don’t outweigh the fundamental problem with Prop 64 in that it attempts to make cannabis “recreational” which I have an issue with. What the rest of this paper will explore is why no law should exist that puts cannabis in a non-medical or recreational classification.

I co-authored Prop 215 back in 1996 which made it legal to use, possess and cultivate cannabis for medical reasons. I have never been an advocate of non-medical cannabis. I have always seen cannabis as a medicine. If we were to define medicine as a substance taken to provide relief, repair or prevention of an ailment or condition, cannabis would fit neatly within all three of those categories.

The implied definition of Cannabis as non-medical or recreational creates enormous problems when attempting to craft a regulatory framework that must provide equal protection under the law for both types of uses. So why wrestle with defining cannabis in either a medical or recreational context in the first place? Why spend spend all this time, money and energy to force the same plant being used for medical purposes into some type of legal framework that would it allow it to be marketed as recreational when it is no different in either form? It comes down to control and power over the plant and the control and power over the people who desire access to that plant. By creating a recreational classification for the same plant those who seek to control cannabis are gaining that control by invalidating the medical use of cannabis. The issue simply is that one substance cannot have two sets of laws applied to it and still claim equality when enforced.

The sad fact is that those globalists who refer to cannabis use as recreational, want to profit from it. Controlling cannabis in a recreational market provides the ruling class with a new vehicle for control of society and a new revenue stream. In spite of all the reasons that have been cited here to maintain a medicinal use only cannabis market, there may be a form of cannabis that could be distributed as an “over the counter” drug; one that has such a low percentage of THC that it would be in a class such as cough syrup; where certain genetics could be grown to meet that market? That I believe is an idea worth exploring and one that the 1% would quickly corner the market on. To that I say, “Have at it!”

Another thing to consider when attempting to classify cannabis as recreational is that it would be categorized association with other recreational drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. There is a fundamental disparity in that logic. Alcohol does not have any medicinal value. It only has a recreational value which, when taken in excess, that value deteriorates to addiction. By simply being over a certain age you are not limited to how much alcohol or tobacco you can buy. With medical cannabis, a physician interface is a legal requirement prior to being given the right to cultivate or possess. Since cannabis does not present toxic threats that might occur with over consumption of alcohol or tobacco, then hypocrisy would exist if cannabis was accepted as “recreational” and in the same category as alcohol or tobacco where a physician’s recommendation is not required.

Cannabis should never be categorized as “recreational” and treated equal to alcohol. For that precise reason I have long advocated that cannabis be treated as a medicine. The fact that since 1996, with the passing of Prop 215, in the eyes of the State of California cannabis has been seen as a legally beneficial medicinal drug which puts it in a category that alcohol can not rise to. It’s not asking too much that cannabis remain a medically supervised drug with all the benefits realized under Prop 215. Under Prop 64, medicine to one person is seen as recreational to another. It makes no sense.

When considering the intent and purpose of any law that would control, regulate and tax cannabis, let’s not forget in the past 80 years, we have been imprisoned, lost jobs, lost families and paid heavy dues for pursuing the benefits of cannabis. While the passage of Prop 215 was an early sign of the people and governments recognition on the value cannabis holds to those who need it, the reality is we have continued to suffer by a government and legal system that has not taken Prop 215 seriously. If they had we would have built upon Prop 215 with additional framework, standards and protocols, such as: determining allowable pesticide toxicity limits; create pathways for bringing cannabis cultivation out of the shadows and into a regulated framework for the protection of farmers, employees and patient, especially in municipalities with discriminatory zoning laws; provide sick, disabled and dying patients fundamental rights to cannabis without aggressive prosecution; and introduce legislation that reduces and expunges sentences for cannabis related charges. Instead, government inaction has led us to an “all or nothing” vote on a proposed draconian fix which is Prop 64 that if passed would disembowel the freedoms that we earned under Prop 215.

What can we do about our current situation and where do we go from here? We begin by stopping Prop 64 in its tracks. This symbolizes the voters desire to see Prop 215 protected and not be taken over by a new initiative that allows a 2/3 majority vote of the Assembly to change or amend the voter intent. Prop 64 has such language. That type of language in any initiative/law is dangerous. What stops the government from later taking that 2/3 majority rule and turning into a simple majority rule? Nothing! It’s a slippery slope and one we as voters should never allow to happen, just because it seems convenient.

Prop 64 is a perfect example of how to write a bad cannabis law. It is and will remain priceless information for those of us who seek to maintain our freedom, civil liberties, human rights and sanity when we actually consider the benefits, or lack thereof, from any law that would attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole by forcing a “recreational cannabis” model into the framework of our “medical cannabis” industry. It doesn’t work for a very simple reason. Cannabis is not a “recreational” drug.



Dennis Peron


5 thoughts on “Why Cannabis is Not a Recreational Drug

  • Dennis Out Spoken TRUTH Is The Heart Felt Original Intent Of Preposition 215. More than 22 years ago, he plus numerous courageous compassionate beings gathered at a ranch in Ojai to form this world release from a paradym of ignorance and fear.
    He brings participatory access to awaken from a dark destructive approach to Life versus Awareness Regard Peace.
    As one of those in attendance, moved to do all We Can to eliminate Suffering, one of many opening to Timeless Reality. Healing In All Ways!
    See What Evolution Is.
    Walk In Balance
    Be Well
    Your Own Self
    Rev. Randy Hurley

  • Cannabis is nutrition we need period..no talk of our Endocannabinoid System here. ..all ages bodies require. It’s food…it’s eaten for health..even medically it’s eaten…smoking g it is just another use and an option .

  • I have a similar position to you, and I am very concerned about how we are legalizing marijuana. I am a scientist and a former member of MAPS.org. I have floated the idea of a possible clinical trial for psychedelic drugs. Toward that end, I taught a UC Davis extension class in psychedelic drugs, and for about 6 years I have been running an independent project to try to collect adverse events with these drugs where death occurred.

    The more I have studied it, the less I am a fan of marijuana, and there is a huge amount of myth propaganda from the pro-legalization side. I’ll go through those myths here.

    Myth: Cannabis never kills directly.
    Reality: Healthy young people in their twenties and teens have gone into cardiac arrest and died under the acute influence of cannabinoids[1, 2, 3]. Cannabinoids in high dose dysregulate the heart and raise blood pressure.

    Myth: Cannabis doesn’t cause cancer.
    Reality: Lung cancer is an issue with cannabis[4] with roughly half the cancer risk of tobacco. Marijuana smoke has known carcinogens at concentrations similar to tobacco[5]. Yes, there is a meta-study showing no effect, but those are easy to game by manipulating the acceptance criteria. There is no rationality to that position. It just doesn’t make sense.

    Myth: Cannabis cures cancer.
    Reality: If this were true, how did Bob Marley die of cancer when the man was pickled in ganja? Cancer patients have been using cannabis for decades, and dronabinol was FDA approved in 1985l for use in cancer to stimulate appetite. No obvious effect of marijuana use has overwhelmed cancers. But specific cannibinoids have some effects in some cancers. There are reports of cannabidiol slowing proliferation in some metastatic cancers[6]. The cannabinoids are part of the apoptosis pathways, and have some antitumor effect[7]. But that is a far cry from “cannabis cures cancer”. Dronabinol and other cannabinoid preparations should not do harm in most cancers.

    Myth: Stronger cannabis drugs are better because you need a smaller dose.
    Reality: This has not worked for heroin or fentanyl. Kids are now doing shatter and honey oil and becoming psychotic. These concentrates are up to and sometimes over 90% THC. Stronger drugs = more overdoses. Dose of a hallucinogenic drug is not just about lethal dose, but psychosis also.

    Myth: Marijuana is safer than alcohol.
    Reality: Cannabis and its extracts are implicated in thousands of motor vehicle accidents and damage adolescent psychosocial development[8]. There is consensus on that. THC in high doses causes psychotic symptoms in normal people[9]. The common rebuttal about kids who become psychotic is along the lines of, “Those people/kids had other issues. It’s not the marijuana.” That is tautological reasoning and against the science.

    My position:
    As we decriminalize or legalize drugs we need to be clear – this will require a huge investment in drug treatment. The drug war has destroyed credibility of real discussion of dangers of drugs, by branding all drug use at any dose in any setting as equally bad. That is as wrong as its converse position that THC is harmless.

    As we legalize and decriminalize drugs, we should provide explicit treble damages liability on manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of recreational drugs sold outside of the FDA system for the negative effects those drugs have on anybody who gets hold of them and uses them. So, if, for instance, someone has a motor vehicle accident under the influence, the entire supply chain will be liable for the consequences. If a child gets and uses a drug, the entire supply chain would be fined. If that child suffers adverse consequences, the entire supply chain will be liable for treating the consequences, up to and including lifetime psychiatric inpatient care, or cost of prison. To some extent, this liability could be mitigated, to the degree that the supply chain educates the buyers on the risks.

    I suggest that each vendor and manufacturer could be assigned a unique chemical “barcode” to add to their product to identify it. This could act similar to the stamps that hard liquor have.

    If we explicitly assign civil liability and create product tracking through the supply chain, then there will be strong incentive for purveyors to: A.) Provide accurate information on risk. B.) Execute diligence in preventing materials from getting into the hands of minors. C.) Be effective at treating adverse events.
    This will also create an insurance industry to cover liabilities.

    1. Bachs & Mørland 2001. Acute cardiovascular fatalities following cannabis use.
    2. Sattout & Nicol 2009. Cardiac arrest following cannabis use: a case report.
    3. Hartung, et al. 2014 Sudden unexpected death under acute influence of cannabis.
    4. Aldington, et al. 2008. Cannabis use and risk of lung cancer: a case-control study.
    5. Moir, et al. 2009. A Comparison of Mainstream and Sidestream Marijuana and Tobacco Cigarette Smoke Produced under Two Machine Smoking Conditions.
    6. Ramer, et al 2012. Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1.
    7. Galve-Roperh, et al. 2008. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids: involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation.
    8. Hall & Degenhardt. 2009. Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.
    9. Morrison, et al. 2009. The acute effects of synthetic intravenous Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol on psychosis, mood and cognitive functioning.

    PS – There are more references, but like a good journal article, I have picked fairly recent papers that I think are representative

  • First of all, Cannabis is an herb, not a drug. Drugs don’t make seeds. Herbs do. “Every herb” was given to mankind by the “God” in the Bible recognized in the US legal system. Our elected officials swear their oaths on the King James Bible.

    There are many significant differences between herbs and drugs that make Cannabis prohibition, and attempts to “control” marijuana counter-productive to the stated objectives.
    Even if Cannabis was dangerous to the human body, prohibition is not effective in doing other than creating a vicious black market, corrupting public servants, and creating a “forbidden fruit” that is more attractive to rebellious youth.

    Human social evolution has been retarded by Cannabis prohibition in so many ways, at such profound levels, that attempting to construct regulatory frameworks based on paternalistic, institutional protectionism takes people further away from a normal relationship with Cannabis based in individual responsibility and respect for Nature.

    Can Cannabis kill? Sure it can, if an individual behaves irresponsibly with marijuana, then any number of negative outcomes can occur. This is also true of water, air, food…

    The fact is, Cannabis is an “herb bearing seed” with many essential properties. Imposing scarcity of an essential, god-given agricultural resource is beyond the moral accountability of any court. Attempting to regulate, tax or prohibit Cannabis has become a danger to mankind’s existence. Cannabis is our best chance for mitigating many problems at the same time. Climate change, economic disparity, food insecurity & malnutrition, hard drug addictions & alcoholism, political corruption, can all be effectively addressed by making individuals responsible for their own behavior, rather than attempting to generalize a one-size-fits-all framework that just creates more problems.

    Our freedom to farm “every herb bearing seed” is the first test of religious freedom. Trading our natural right to grow “every green herb” for a false sense of security is a bad deal. You’d think that after almost eighty years of failure, the “smartest species on this planet” would be able to figure that one out.

    Cannabis has never been truly illegal because it is essential to mankind’s existence on this planet. Our functional interface with the Natural Order, Cannabis will survive long after our species has achieved extinction by our failure to respond to essential resource scarcity in a meaningful way, in the time we may have left to make a difference.

    Our children will suffer the worst for their parents’ failure to “think outside the bong.”

    Paul von Hartmann
    California Cannabis Ministry
    Project P.E.A.C.E. – Planet Ecology Advancing Conscious Evolution

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