Real Time Web Analytics


 US Attorney General Finally Admits Weed Isn’t a Gateway Drug — Prescription Pills Are

US Attorney General Finally Admits Weed Isn’t a Gateway Drug — Prescription Pills Are

September 28, 2016   |   Alice Salles

(ANTIMEDIA) The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a U.S. federal research institute focused on[advancing] science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction … to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health. ” Though it admits “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances,” it still describes marijuana as a gateway drug.

But U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently told a group of Kentucky high school students the role of marijuana in the national drug abuse debate has been overstated.

While discussing how heroin abuse and how individuals often develop an addiction, Lynch argued:

[I]ndividuals [start out] with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids —  it is true that if you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be inclined to experiment with drugs, as well. But it’s not like we’re seeing that marijuana as a specific gateway.”

Attorney General Lynch added that instead of trafficking rings, what “introduce[s] a person to opioids … [is] the household medicine cabinet.”

The event she attended was part of the Prescription Opioid Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, a campaign designed by the White House that includes “250 different events highlighting the importance of prevention, enforcement, and treatment.” As expected, the campaign focused on advertising the official approach to drug abuse, encouraging the public to support the Obama administration’s approach to the opioid crisis.

Measures embraced by the administration includeexpanding evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, increasing access to the overdose-reversal medicine naloxone, and supporting targeted enforcement activities.” But nowhere in the official campaign page is there a list of practical solutions to the opioid crisis, an admission of guilt, or a concession stating that, despite marijuana’s official federal classification, cannabis is not seen as the root of the problem by the very head of the United States Department of Justice.

In early August, the Obama administration said no to a bid urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reconsider how marijuana is classified under federal drug control laws. Currently, the DEA lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, the pivot drug of the opioid epidemic. But as the Attorney General’s comments demonstrate, the federal government fails to take its own classification methodology seriously, choosing instead to contend that prescription drug abuse is a much bigger issue. Per its federal classification, marijuana should be seen as a threat as dangerous as heroin, and yet Lynch appears to contend the abuse of legal drugs is keeping federal agents busy — not the enforcement of her agency’s own rules.

What Lynch is failing to discuss on the federal government’s anti-opioid abuse campaign trail is the racist, opportunistic roots of the failed and decades-long drug war in America. But as American states begin to shift their approach to some of the targets of this nationwide anti-drug campaign, legalized marijuana is able to accomplish what many drug war apologists claimed criminalization would achieve: bringing down the drug cartels.

But as the Washington Post report demonstrates, legalizing pot is not enough.

While powerful drug cartels have seen legalized marijuana taking a chunk out of their profits, the criminalization of other drugs such as heroin continues to put addicts in harm’s way.

With drug cartels seeing an increase in demand due to the pressure mounting from the growth of the relationship between the government and the pharmaceutical industry, dangerous alternatives to heroin, such as fentanyl, are sold on the street as regular heroin.

Without legal means to produce the drugs the market demands, these cartels are not concerned with the quality of their product nor the health of their consumer. When looking at the destruction stemming from the illegal drug trafficking industry, we are able to trace it back to the criminalization of drug commerce and use — and yet government officials prefer to live in the dark ages, upping their involvement with the war on yet another drug epidemic entirely manufactured by crony kingpins.

This article (US Attorney General Finally Admits Weed Isn’t a Gateway Drug — Prescription Pills Are) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alice Salles and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to


Terminally-ill man charged with felonies for treating himself with marijuana





Benton Mackenzie, left, talks with his parents, Dorothy and Charles Mackenzie, all of whom are facing drug charges. (Source: Louis Brems, Quad-City Times)

LONG GROVE, IA — A man with terminal cancer of the blood vessels is being put on trial for growing marijuana plants that he used to ease his suffering. If he survives long enough to be convicted, he could face 3 years in prison, which he believes will be a certain death sentence.

Deadly Cancer

Benton Mackenzie, 48, languishes in pain in his parents basement, diagnosed with a rare disease called angiosarcoma, which leaves him covered in tumors that appear as painful skin lesions.

Angiosarcoma is one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of cancer. It accounts for only 0.1% of all adult cancers, and only 30% of patients survive more than 5 years, according to Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc.

There is no known cure for angiosarcoma. The best option that modern medical science can offer is to pump the patient with toxic chemicals intravenously and hope that the cancer dies before its host. For pain, patients are offered harsh, addiction-forming pharmaceutical painkillers.

Some patients turn to cannabis to naturally help with pain management and increasing appetite. But the government contends that anyone who possesses the plant without permission is a criminal.

Cracking a ‘Conspiracy’

Benton Mackenzie had been allegedly growing several dozen such plants; enough to provide himself with daily treatments of cannabis oil.

When Detective Joe Caffery from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department sniffed out the marijuana garden in 2013, Mackenzie and his wife, Loretta, were charged with manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy, violation of the drug tax stamp act and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mackenzie’s 73-year-old parents, Dorothy and Charles Mackenzie, were charged with hosting a drug house. Even his son, Cody, was given a charge of possession of marijuana when less than a gram was found under his bed.

Police also netted Mackenzie’s childhood friend, Stephen Bloomer, as part of the “conspiracy” to grow the plants. Mr. Bloomer had allegedly bought materials and helped to set up the garden, and ultimately plead guilty to a charge of manufacturing marijuana. He now faces up to 5 years in prison.

‘No Fair Trial’

Mr. Mackenzie is now on trial himself. As if the situation were not unjust enough, the defense team is being gagged from discussing the illness or the reason he was growing the marijuana in front of the jury. As the Quad-City Times reported:

Benton Mackenzie, a terminally-ill cancer patient accused of using marijuana to feel better.  (Source: Larry Fisher / Quad-City Times)

Now, just days ahead of going to trial Monday on drug conspiracy charges, a Scott County District judge has ruled he won’t allow Mackenzie to use his ailment as a defense.

“I’m not allowed to mention anything,” Mackenzie said Thursday, the day Judge Henry Latham’s ruling was filed. “I’m not allowed to give proof why I was using. Now, there is no fair trial.”

Mackenzie wants to be able to tell jurors why he grew marijuana. He wants to show them pictures of his cancerous lesions.

“If I’m to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and the court doesn’t let me tell the truth, they’re making me a liar,” he said.

Since his arrest and the confiscation of his plants, his health has deteriorated; as Mackenzie describes, “touch and go.” He suffers frequent episodes of vomiting, cold sweats and extreme pain. He says he almost always feels tired.

On July 7th, Mr. Mackenzie was abruptly rushed from the courtroom on a stretcher because of an episode of extreme pain and hallucinations.

As journalist Brian Wellner documented, “[The] jury never entered courtroom today. Judge Latham said he didn’t want jurors seeing Benton Mackenzie laying down on a courtroom bench.”

“If I’m found guilty, I’ll do at least three years in prison, which is a death sentence for me.”

Wellner’s latest update on Mr. Mackenzie read, “He’s anemic, potassium and hemoglobin levels are down, needs transfusion.”

The trial is ongoing and could result in Benton Mackenzie being sent to prison — if he survives that long. The wrongheadedness of the prosecution has not escaped many who have heard this story.

“Instead of putting this guy in jail, somebody should be studying him,” said Dr. Charles Goldman, a cancer surgeon at Mercy Hospital, Des Moines. “I think Iowa is going against the current of history.”

Mr. Mackenzie says his future is bleak.

“No matter what, if I’m found guilty, I’ll do at least three years in prison, which is a death sentence for me,” Mackenzie told the Quad-City Times, weeks ago. “If I’m found guilty at all, I’m a dead man. I’m lucky I’m not dead already.”

Benton Mackenzie’s case displays the tragic cruelty of the Drug War and how illogical prohibition laws frequently destroy the lives of harmless people. There have been many people like Mr. Mackenzie that have been arrested, tried, and convicted just for trying to relieve their own suffering — harming no one. Some have died in the process. Can concerned citizens generate enough outrage to help the Mackenzie family avoid the same fate?