.‘I Am Not a Scientist’

Ohio prohibitionists says the darnedst things

As cannabis grows more normalized every day, with states legalizing the plant for adult use and dispensaries popping up on street corners and in strip malls in legal states, resulting in none of the horrifying outcomes anti-weed types warn about, the declarations of prohibitionists only get more ludicrous. Their statements are just as dumb as they’ve always been, but in these days of soccer moms and hockey dads munching edibles, they seem much, much dumber and more hilarious.

Last week was a good one for those of us who find these people entertaining. A pair of cousins in the Ohio state Senate, both named Huffman, are very, very worried about “drugs,” and they are going whole-hog in their attempt to keep their state from legalizing the devil’s lettuce for adult use. They sound at worst like characters from circa-1930s scare films like Reefer Madness, and at best like narrators of drivers-ed films from the ’70s or ’80s.

Sadly for the Huffmans and their allies, the question is out of the government’s hands, and the matter will be decided in a voter referendum, Issue 2, on Nov. 7. As of this writing, it appears likely that the measure will pass.

That hasn’t stifled the Huffmans, though. If anything, it has made them nuttier. “If Issue 2 passes, there will be more teenagers in the state of Ohio committing suicide,” declared Senate President Matt Huffman.

“I am not a scientist,” he averred.

Huffman was referring to the so-far flimsy theory that weed can cause schizophrenia, particularly in young people. He referred, obliquely, to recent research indicating that there might be a link between heavy cannabis use and schizophrenia.

What neither Huffman nor many journalists noted when the research was released last May was that the link doesn’t present anything like proof that weed causes schizophrenia, only that there is some correlation that merits further study, as the researchers themselves noted. No large-scale, randomized study has found a causal connection so far. It could be the other way around: People who start feeling the symptoms of psychotic maladies might be drawn to weed in an attempt to self-medicate. Also, the study didn’t even focus on “teenagers,” but on men ages 21-30 who were “heavy” users of cannabis.

“No, I’m not a scientist,” Huffman repeated on the Senate floor. “But I am a person who can look at facts and listen to the scientists, and know that that’s true.” Of course, if he actually listened to scientists, he would not have concluded that it’s “true” that more Ohio teenagers will commit suicide, because the scientists themselves haven’t said any such thing. Also, Issue 2 would legalize use for adults 21 and up, not teenagers. In states where weed is legal, including California, use among teenagers has most often remained flat or actually fallen.

Not to be outdone, Huffman’s cousin, Sen. Stephen A. Huffman, wrote an op-ed for the Dayton Daily News in which he declared that the ballot measure “adds fuel to the fire of our state’s current addiction crisis.” How? He didn’t bother to say. Addiction to what? Ditto. He also cited the state’s mounting overdose deaths, but didn’t connect those to the use of cannabis other than to note that some of the dead had cannabis in their systems, as well as whatever drug it was that actually killed them. He said legal weed will bolster the “unregulated, black market marijuana industry,” but didn’t say how. And he warned that under the measure, “individuals are able to grow uncontrolled marijuana, which could pose health risks due to accidental contaminants or pesticides.” Presumably, he will next turn his attention to outlawing homegrown tomatoes.

The Ohio measure looks very similar to California’s Prop. 64, which legalized weed in 2017. There’s lots of regulation, an excise tax—albeit, at 10%, lower than California’s 15% tax—and a social-equity program that we can probably expect to work about as badly as California’s.

And as with Prop. 64, the measure has many people railing against it, and those people tend to be Republicans fighting for a lost cause. Ohio’s ballot initiative is supported by nearly 60% of the state’s electorate, according to polls. But as we’ve seen here, that doesn’t mean the prohibitionists will clam up after it passes: They’ll just keep getting nuttier.

1 COMMENT

  1. Total ogreement. Am from the Dayton Ohio area originally. THC user for 50+ years. Write Dayton Daily News writer after he wrote an Issue 2 :Pros & Cons article full of the same nonsense. The good news is a legitimate voter polls has “Yes” preferred by 57+%. The paper followed up with its own informal poll with stronger “Yes” by 79.3%. Sent him a link to your article.

    That paper has always been quite conservative with a seeming need to protect its readers from the truth. For example, in 1969 the DDN wrote two articles about Woodstock. The first before the festival featured all the dangerous drugs, then after the horrible traffic jams. Never an article on the music or cultural meaning of the huge gathering.

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