How The Mainstream Media Is Quietly Pushing a New Anti-Marijuana Narrative
As cannabis and marijuana begin to gain mainstream attention for disrupting a number of industries like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and building materials, many of the large corporations have begun fighting back by spending money on advertising campaigns to spread misinformation on cannabis
The primary focus of the latest round of propaganda being pushed by politicians and government officials is a so-called “vaping epidemic” as a little over 200 vaping related illnesses in 22 states raised alarms at the Center for Disease Control or CDC according to a Washington Post article titled “What we know about the mysterious vaping-linked illness and deaths” by Hannah Knowles.
A CDC article just released on September 11th, 2019 states:
“As of September 6, 2019, over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported to CDC from the following 33 states and 1 U.S. territory”
Just as with the Washington Post article the CDC goes on to say many patients had reported using e-cigarette products that contained THC, both organizations set the tone to connect illegal cartridges to just a handful of illnesses reported.
A Macro View of the Sample Size
Not to make light of death or illness but according to WorldOMeters.com the population of the United States is 329,446,037. A BBC article titled “What’s behind a vaping illness outbreak in the US?” by states a 2016 Survey over 10 million Americans reported being “vapers”.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math on this “epidemic” but needless to say the media and politicians have dramatized the event. Of the 3% of the population that vapes, 0.000045% of them have become ill, leading to a total affected population percentage of 0.00000138%.
In comparison about the same number of people are shot on a daily basis, yet warnings and changes to gun laws happen at a snail pace, and split more decisively among voters who have differing viewpoints on how to handle gun violence issues. No warnings on guns or CDC studies, just legal guns with regulations.
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We could have the same scenario for marijuana and be debating age limits, education resource initiatives, and other issues the cannabis industry faces, but instead the narrative is spun to make marijuana look bad enough to get instant reaction.
How The Story Gets Spinned
The number of patients included in the sample is over a time period of whenever to September 9, 2019, although the assumption is January 1, 2019.
Nearly every article on the vaping illness topic from the CDC & FDA to nearly every major news outlets turning the narrative to the teen victims and only highlight the most severe cases of the illnesses in teens. While the idea is to drive home the seriousness of the illness, it fails to mention key information when relating these vaping illnesses to THC.
Nearly every article goes after the manufacturer JUUL, with the FDA naming the manufacturer specifically in an announcement on “How the FDA is regulating E-cigarettes.” Two days earlier the FDA had issued a warning to JUUL about their marketing efforts towards teenagers regarding e-cigarettes with nicotine and flavored liquids.
After presenting some factual evidence about vaping “harmful chemicals” in the e-cigarettes, the writers then circle back around and relate it to THC vapes. However, nearly every source reporting including governmental agencies also believe the chemical to be blamed for the illnesses is vitamin E acetate & was consumed through counterfeited and/or illegal vape pens. Black market dealers are trying to thicken THC oil that has been thinned or modified to produce more units.
Not one vaping illness has been related to a legally purchased THC vaping product. To a cannabis advocate and anyone with a non-biased view would see this could be related to accessibility issues for those in states where THC is not legal.
Lack of Balanced Reporting Indicates Bias
Instead of taking the time to highlight some of the benefits of marijuana legalization in addressing the problems of this “epidemic of mysterious vaping illnesses”, the writers instead decide to turn the story back to THC, ultimately linking the “deadly teen vaping epidemic” to THC.
Nearly every mainstream news outlet had a similar story line with THC highlighting the headline, JUUL mentioned as some sort of drug dealer to youths, back to THC being deadly, then we get a little truth, before its back to JUUL, then back to teen vaping deaths with THC.
The only good news and any sign of balance towards marijuana and cannabis advocates was that the writers did at least include some of the facts about the THC related illnesses being related to illegal and/or counterfeit cartridges. They also included the real suspect Vitamin E acetate, which is an additive used to thicken cannabis oil and is not found in legal vapes.
The final narrative left in nearly every story line though is that THC vapes have been related to deaths. No inclusion in the conclusions that they were illegal and accessibility to legal marijuana could help.
Fake News & Political Climate
However, this is not the first time marijuana has been falsely accused of crimes it did not commit, and we are sure it won’t be the last. After all, it was people jumping out of buildings high on marijuana last time they banned it, even though no one ever documented a case or saw it visually.
Then to have a President who has brought to light these issue of fake news that fell so quickly for a piece of propaganda. Considering his lack of knowledge and experience on the subject, you can only assume he’s playing to his political base as the election season approaches.
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As prime time heats up in the election season, all the politicians are playing to their bases, all while jockeying up to big donors for campaign contributions. The GOP & President Trump both can’t see the support from the cannabis community, so they choose to play to there corporate & evangelical base that is anti-marijuana.
Cannabis advocates get no help from the Democrats either tacking on billions of dollars in special interests projects and/or highly controversial programs everyone knows is DOA in the Senate. Enough “pork” in a bill will keep it in committee and make it look like an effort when in reality it is just another political tactic to stall a vote. Just like the Republicans, they are stalling cannabis reform in the favor of campaign donations and a handful of votes from their hardcore bases.
Forecasting of Things To Come
In a quick move to forecast the political climate for marijuana reform, President Trump issued a statement to the FDA recommending banning all flavored e-cigarettes & non-tobacco products amid the “outbreak of vaping-related deaths.”
According to CNBC and Angelica Lavito‘s reporting the President stopped short of naming or blaming THC or CBD, and seems more interested in studying the vaping industry as a whole, primarily the marketing of the products that some consider aimed toward youth. It also seems he wants more enforcement on manufacturer’s like JUUL who have previously been warned by federal authorities.
Don’t think a good long study isn’t the easiest way for President’s to gloss over the issue. While the issue is popular among voters, the President isn’t as popular as the issue. This has been the case in the past 2-3 election cycles since marijuana legalization really started to take off at the state level.
Uphill Battle To Reclaim Marijuana Legalization Momentum
While it was not a total setback for the cannabis advocacy world, it definitely sets off another battle with the media to reclaim the improved image of marijuana as a medicine.
As the MSM and certain politicians begin to push a link between the two, cannabis advocates must remain united in defending the legal and regulated industries already operating profitably and safely. Not one vaping illness has been related to a THC vape pen that was legally purchased.
Cannabis advocates need to drive this point home and make this an accessibility issue and not a boogeyman issue that all THC products are bad like the way the MSM & politicians are making it out to be. We have to make expose the real issue at hand.
Main Underlying Issue Is Disruption in Markets Due to Introduction of Legal Hemp Products
The real issue at hand is a handful of corporate giants from the pharmaceuticals, tobacco, paper, plastics, & other industries that cannabis products are disrupting. The legalization of industrial hemp has introduced an enormous amount of competition in a number of industries. Corporations were either unprepared to handle this kind of competition from newer more-efficient materials, or they are trying to stall full legalization in order to gain the most access to supply lines.
Either way, they are using their big money to sway politicians and media personalities to write and produce content and studies favorable to their position. The one thing we do know for sure though is the anti-marijuana propaganda season is in full swing now elections season is heating up so be sure to stay vigilant in spreading the truth about cannabis products.
Always be sure to vape or do anything safely, and to buy legit and legally authorized products when doing so. Common sense has kept the other 99.999955% of us “vapers” alive, so lets help keep that other 0.000045% safe by legalizing marijuana & making safe cartridges available to everyone.
Don’t smoke illegal vapes or anything illegal and consider all the consequences before putting anything in your body. Thanks for taking the time to read the Disciple 420 take on the “vaping epidemic” and be sure to check out our other Disciple 420 posts on cannabis.
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- Washington Post “What we know about the mysterious vaping-linked illness and deaths” by Hannah Knowles – https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/07/what-we-know-about-mysterious-vaping-linked-illnesses-deaths/?noredirect=on
- CDC Investigation Notice 9/11/2019 “Outbreak of Lung Illness Associated with Using E-cigarette Products” – https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
- World O Meters “US Population 2019” – https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/
- BBC News “What’s behind a vaping illness outbreak in the US?” – https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-49649486
- FDA “How the FDA is Regulating E-Cigarettes” – https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices-perspectives-fda-leadership-and-experts/how-fda-regulating-e-cigarettes
- FDA Warning to JUUL Labs, Inc – https://www.fda.gov/inspections-compliance-enforcement-and-criminal-investigations/warning-letters/juul-labs-inc-590950-09092019
- CNBC “Trump administration readies ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid outbreak of vaping-related deaths” by Angelica LaVito – https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/11/trump-to-consider-e-cigarette-policy-amid-outbreak-of-lung-disease.html