Cannabis Sense

Common sense about medical marijuana. What would Publius say about cannabis?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Medical Marijuana and Rush Limbaugh

Recently a news story came out about the possibility that medical marijuana “may prevent the progression of [Alzheimer’s] disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.” Instead of welcoming this news Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk-radio host, instead suggested that the scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California are “a bunch of dopers” who simply “want the stuff legalized.” Limbaugh even accused the broader scientific community of being “a bunch of dopers.”

Limbaugh bases this “natural inquisitive[ness]” and not “accept[ing] things by rote” on his being “naturally suspicious of a lot of things.” He accuses science of being “political, and…care[ing] about things just as every other normal, average human being does.” Thus, when he hears that research has supported the use of cannabis for medical purposes, he automatically assumes that it must be because the studies were conducted in “California…that’s crucial here.”

Limbaugh equates science with “law enforcement,” “the military,” and “the media,” and since those “so-called infallible industries” are political, then so too is science. But science is not like law enforcement, the military, or the media. Those enterprises all involve expressly political matters, whereas science is an activity done for the purpose of understanding, not partisan gain. Politics may use science, but science has no use for politics.

Limbaugh is confusing apples with oranges. He does that often. Perhaps this is why a talk-radio study found that Limbaugh listeners were more likely to be misinformed than non-Limbaugh listeners (see C. Richard Hofstetter, David Barker, James T. Smith, Gina M. Zari, Thomas A. Ingrassia (1999) “Information, Misinformation, and Political Talk Radio” Political Research Quarterly 52: 353-369).

Limbaugh claims to have “knowledge of the media and how it is used.” This is no doubt true, which means that Limbaugh knows what he is doing by fostering stereotypes about medical marijuana—he’s making money off the suffering of others. This makes Limbaugh a mercenary, not a conservative.

Kenneth Michael White is an attorney and the author of “The Beginning of Today: The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937” and “Buck” (both by PublishAmerica). Visit for more information.


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