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Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit


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DDT, Little Cigars, & Dropouts

Students who smoke are at significantly heightened risk of school failure, but nobody can explain the clear connection. In the latest, large 2016 study of child smokers over one-third of Late Starters (35.8%) and almost half of Continuous Users (44.4%) dropped out of high school. Go figure.

We’ve shown through lab analysis that there are high concentrations of DDT and other endocrine-disrupting pesticides present in tobacco products.

PestGroup01

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

These pesticides are proven to cause severe developmental and cognitive deficiencies. Since many dropout teen smokers were also born to smoking mothers, we have to ask if there could be a birth to death connection between tobacco product pesticide contamination and lifelong failure for some, or even many of the 1.2 million children who drop out every year? Are these the “replacement smokers” the industry talks about?

What if DDT-contaminated tobacco products, and perhaps especially little cigars like Swisher Sweets, are directly responsible for at least some of America’s high school dropouts? Could the extreme levels of DDT and other endocrine-disruptors recently (2018) detected in little cigars be contributing to the unusually high rates of ADHD and poor cognitive performance metrics among high school dropouts who smoke them?

Our research strongly suggests that many dropouts may actually be victims of the tobacco product choices that they are being driven to make by poverty, social class, race, and by terribly wrong-headed public policy. Anyone who truly understands the tobacco industry knows that the cheaper the tobacco product, the more contaminated with pesticide residues.

Could high school dropout rates be reduced simply by restricting or banning community-wide sales of tobacco products that are proven to be contaminated with illegal pesticides that are known to present extreme hazards to critical human developmental processes that affect learning and cognition?

  • We know that 1.2 million children dropped out of High School in the US in 2016.

  • We know that poor non-white children are disproportionately represented in the dropout population and suffer the lifelong consequences disproportionately.

  • We know that poor non-white children who are regular smokers disproportionately smoke “little cigars” and that economics is a major factor in this behavior.

  • We know that “little cigars” are disproportionately marketed by the manufacturers to poor, non-white and young neighborhoods and communities that, coincidentally or not, have the highest dropout rates.

Our recent lab results show that Swisher Sweets, the most popular brand by far among child smokers 11-17, has extremely hazardous levels of DDT and other endocrine-disrupting pesticides. We are certain that these contamination levels will prove to be representative of little cigars as a product category. 

Endocrine-disrupting pesticides are known to present multiple severe hazards to human fetal and child development including high risk of cognitive deficit disorders.

While many of the pesticides identified in Swisher Sweets are unregulated and have very little human toxicological history, DDT has an unequivocal status as an “extreme hazard” to humans and in itself may be sufficient to account for an undetermined portion of observed ADHD and cognitive deficits among child smokers.

  • We know that DDT specifically crosses the placental barrier and that this puts the unborn children of pregnant teens who smoke little cigars at severe risk of life-long DDT-related developmental learning disabilities.

  • We know that 27% of girls who drop out are pregnant.

  • We know that inhaled DDT is incrementally more toxic than dietary DDT.

  • We know that poor human diet/nutrition exacerbates the impact of DDT

So, girls who smoke DDT-contaminated little cigars, who are pregnant, who have poor diets, and who drop out of school are themselves severely compromised by the impact of pesticides and are also at heightened risk of giving birth to a baby who is developmentally compromised due to DDT exposure in utero.

We talk about the cycle of poverty. Could tobacco product pesticide poisoning be a 100% preventable driver of a major part of that cycle,  failure at school?

Multiple studies show that children who initiate smoking with little cigars are predominantly from low-income families and choose contaminated little cigars over less contaminated cigarettes because of price, convenience and marketing. In other words, their decisions are price-sensitive but otherwise mindless.

We know that a primary tobacco prevention and control strategy is to raise taxes on the theory (that they are scrambling to prove) that higher prices discourage starting and promote quitting. The claim is that this strategy reduces overall harm from smoking. This is demonstrably counter-factual when actual price-sensitive behavior is accounted for, which consists of simply switching to or starting with cheaper brands with greater pesticide contamination. Therefore greater not less harm is done especially to young smokers by increasing taxes as a control and prevention strategy. 

We must ask public health authorities and legislators whether tax-based tobacco control and prevention strategies are unintentionally reinforcing dropout rates by driving young smokers to cheaper, more contaminated brands of tobacco products?

Research On Pesticides, Kids & Learning

Prenatal DDT and DDE exposure and child IQ in the CHAMACOS cohort.

“We conclude that prenatal DDT levels may be associated with delayed Processing Speed in children at age 7 years and the relationship between prenatal DDE levels and children’s cognitive development may be modified by sex, with girls being more adversely affected.”

In Utero p,p′-DDE Exposure and Infant Neurodevelopment: A Perinatal Cohort in Mexico

“A critical window of exposure to DDE in utero may be the first trimester of the pregnancy, and psychomotor development is a target of this compound. Residues of DDT metabolites may present a risk of developmental delay for years after termination of DDT use.”

In utero exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and neurodevelopment among young Mexican American children

“Prenatal exposure to DDT, and to a lesser extent DDE, was associated with neurodevelopmental delays during early childhood, although breastfeeding was found to be beneficial even among women with high levels of exposure. Countries considering the use of DDT should weigh its benefit in eradicating malaria against the negative associations found in this first report on DDT and human neurodevelopment.”

Prenatal organochlorine exposure and behaviors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in school-aged children.

“The authors found higher risk for ADHD-like behaviors assessed with the CRS-T at higher levels of PCBs and p,p’-DDE. These results support an association between low-level prenatal organochlorine exposure and ADHD-like behaviors in childhood.”

Increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder associated with exposure to organophosphate pesticide in Taiwanese children.

“Children with higher urinary DMP concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD. We report a dose-response relationship between child DMP levels and ADHD. Organophosphate pesticide exposure may have deleterious effects on children’s neurodevelopment, particularly the development of ADHD.”

Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children.

“Results found an association between increasing pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD which may be stronger for hyperactive-impulsive symptoms compared to inattention and in boys compared to girls.”

Developmental neurotoxic effects of two pesticides: Behavior and neuroprotein studies on endosulfan and cypermethrin.

“The results indicate that both pesticides may induce altered levels of neuroproteins, important for normal brain development, and neurobehavioral abnormalities manifested as altered adult spontaneous behavior and ability to habituate to a novel home environment. The neurotoxic behavioral effects were also present several months after the initial testing, indicating long-lasting or even persistent irreversible effects.”

Developmental pesticide exposure reproduces features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

 “Epidemiologic data reveal that children aged 6-15 with detectable levels of pyrethroid metabolites in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.”

Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and reciprocal social behavior in childhood.

“Results support an association of prenatal OP exposure with deficits in social functioning among blacks and among boys, although this may be in part reflective of differences in exposure patterns.”

Pesticide exposure in children.

“Among the findings associated with increased pesticide levels are poorer mental development by using the Bayley index and increased scores on measures assessing pervasive developmental disorder, inattention, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Related animal toxicology studies provide supportive biological plausibility for these findings.

Additional data suggest that there may also be an association between parental pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes including physical birth defects, low birth weight, and fetal death, although the data are less robust than for cancer and neurodevelopmental effects.

Children’s exposures to pesticides should be limited as much as possible.”


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Smoking & Health – Fake Science Kills

What if every scientific study on cigarettes, smoking and health run by the tobacco industry and all of the “data” that has emerged over the past 50 years is severely compromised at the deepest levels?

What if most or all of the data the tobacco industry has been generating continuously to support its claims is fundamentally compromised by flawed research protocols and methodologies, contaminated research materials, inexplicable oversights, and good old-fashioned deceptive practices? What if all this can be directly linked to a single, underlying,’Achilles Heel’ flaw that can be easily verified?

What would that imply for regulations on tobacco products, for anti-tobacco legislation, for treaties and international agreements, for health care and insurance policies, for victims and juries, and for generations of legal decisions and precedent – if all were based on flawed science?

It is.

The core assumption of virtually all smoking & health research is that it is studying tobacco and only tobacco.

A corollary assumption is that cigarettes are tobacco and that cigarette smoke is tobacco smoke.

So when cigarette smoke is generated for research purposes, the assumption is that the smoke being studied is tobacco smoke or, if that assumption is ever questioned, its functional equivalent.

It’s not.

Virtually every research study on smoking and health run by the tobacco industry and its worldwide network of scientists and doctors since the 1970’s is based on the use of University of Kentucky standard “Reference Cigarettes”. Most or possibly all of the data derived using these standard Reference Cigarettes, which are used worldwide in virtually all tobacco industry studies involving cigarettes, are compromised and must be re-evaluated.

There are four main reasons why I believe that tobacco industry standard Reference Cigarettes consistently produce false and misleading data.

  1. There is non-random selection bias in the commercially-sourced leaf tobacco components of Reference Cigarettes.

Explanation

The tobacco leaf used in production of Reference Cigarettes is “commercially-sourced”, and is a non-random sample of the commercially tobacco types available at the time of the manufacturing run. Reference cigarette manufacturers, working to published industry standards, simply use whatever Flue-Cured, Burley, Maryland and Oriental tobacco leaf is convenient for a particular run of Reference Cigarettes. (It’s unclear whether there is more than one manufacturer for a run of reference cigarettes.) The Flue-Cured, for example, could be from North Carolina or Brazil or Zimbabwe. As long as it’s “Flue-Cured”, it meets tobacco industry scientific research standards and no other selection standards or procedures are specified by the certifying body for the tobacco industry. This means there is significant potential variability between the “Flue-Cured” selected for manufacturing into a run of Reference Cigarettes and the Flue-Cured that another manufacturer might use in their cigarette production. The same is true for all tobacco types selected and used in Reference Cigarettes.

  1. There is uncontrolled and unacknowledged variability in the “sheet tobacco” components of Reference Cigarettes.

Explanation

Tobacco Sheet is manufactured from tobacco waste, stems and scrap of variable, multiple, indeterminate foreign and domestic origins, and includes non-tobacco constituents that also vary depending on the “sheet” or “recon” tobacco manufacturing process used. Tobacco sheet is a 20-25% component of Reference Cigarettes. Millions of pounds of foreign-sourced tobacco waste is imported into the US annually for the specific purpose of “tobacco sheet” manufacturing by multiple manufacturers in multiple factories using multiple processing methods. Yet the industry standards for Reference Cigarette manufacturing don’t acknowledge this critical source of variability in the components of Reference Cigarettes, the reference standard for all industry-sponsored cigarette testing worldwide. The highly variable nature of a 20-25% component of all Reference Cigarettes seems sufficient in itself to invalidate data based on the use of Reference Cigarettes. Further, some of the Reference Cigarette recon is standard recon and some is “Sweitzer method” recon, and the two processes are not equivalent.

Finally, there’s variation in tobacco itself. “Tobacco is not a homogeneous product. The flavor, mildness, texture, tar, nicotine, and sugar content vary considerably across varieties or types of tobacco. Defining characteristics of different tobacco types include the curing process (flue-, air-, sun-cured) and leaf color (light or dark), size, and thickness. A given type of tobacco has a different quality depending on where it is grown, its position on the stalk (leaves near the bottom of the stalk are lower in quality), and weather conditions during growing and curing.” (from Tobacco and the Economy , USDA)

  1. There are known but not included in analysis, highly variable concentrations of agrichemical and pesticide residues on the leaf tobacco component and in the sheet tobacco component of Reference Cigarettes. 

Explanation 

Tobacco leaf, sheet, waste and scrap all carry a burden of biologically active pesticides that are not on the industry list of “toxicants” tested for in standardizing the Reference Cigarettes. Extensive research literature establishes the widespread presence of pesticide residues on commercially-sourced tobacco and tobacco waste. When testing is performed on cigarette smoke using the Reference Cigarettes as a baseline or standard, the measured smoke stream constituents will be the byproducts of the interaction of recognized, known and acknowledged tobacco constituents along with an undetermined number and concentration of unknown pesticides whose common presence on commercial, and especially on imported tobacco is well-established. There is no way to tell how the measured ‘toxicants’ in any sets of results using Reference Cigarettes have been affected by combustion of pesticide residues because the tobacco being used is not tested for the presence or concentration of those residues. Because of this error in research design, any smoke stream ‘toxicant’ data based on Reference Cigarettes will be flawed in unpredictable ways and should not be accepted without re-evaluation.

  1. The tobacco leaf used for manufacturing Reference Cigarettes is sourced from standard unsegregated commercial markets for Flue-Cured, Maryland, Oriental, and Burley tobacco leaf.

Explanation

Commercially sourced tobacco is, unless otherwise specified, an aggregated universe of tobacco leaf grown and handled under a wide range of environmental and agronomic conditions. Only tobacco leaf grown domestically under controlled conditions and kept separate from commercial tobacco could be used as to produce a reference cigarette that would be uniform enough in biochemical makeup to legitimately serve as a universal standard. A large proportion of the Flue-Cured and Maryland, and nearly all the Oriental Tobacco in the commercial market at any given time is from foreign sources. This means that the Reference Cigarette manufacturers who simply source by category have no idea where any given batch of leaf comes from or what its biological parameters might be aside from any commercial sampling or batch testing testing they may or may not do. As a result there simply can’t be uniformity or standardization of important parameters of the biological makeup of the tobacco plant materials used in manufacturing Reference Cigarettes.

So that’s it. Well, actually there a whole lot more, supported by reams of references all from peer-reviewed sources. But for now I thought I would just lay this out as clearly and simply as possible and see if anyone cares that the tobacco industry has been creating fake science for 50 years now and they have never really been called on it much less held accountable in meaningful ways.

The “Tobacco Settlement”, for example, is a horrible joke and a legal travesty but it is based on what can be shown to be such deliberately bad science and deceptively derived evidence that the whole issue of liability and intent on the part of the Tobacco industry should be open to re-litigation and to criminal prosecution as well.

Meanwhile I’m pursuing a couple of “think global, act local’ options here in Oregon that ought to get things moving a little pretty soon.

If you like what I’m trying to do here please hit that little donate button below and drop a thank you on me – I would appreciate knowing that you care about what I’m doing. Thanks.


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Vaporizing My Old Age

“I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing technology. It is a marvelous experience to inhale the essence of pure vaporized Cannabis flower, and vaporizing is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it.”

Both my parents smoked cigarettes, and I loved the smell of tobacco and the rituals surrounding it. The click of my Dad’s Zippo lighter as he flipped it open, the aroma of lighter fluid, then the scratch of the wheel and the muted whoosh of flame, followed by Dad’s first eager puff and long, slow, savory exhale. Cigarettes were actually real tobacco in those days, and their aroma was literally intoxicating to me. So naturally I began smoking too when I was pretty young.

I first discovered Marijuana when I was seventeen, and fell in love with the tastes and smells of those first strains to hit the streets of California – Acapulco Gold and Oaxacan Purple, and the mysterious Panama Red that occasionally drifted up from Florida. Of course, most of what we got was Mexican Smash – leaves, stems and the occasional beetle glued together with Coca Cola – but it was still great smoke as long as you were young and stupid and had no taste. The Marijuana we took huge risks and paid big money for in 1960 you couldn’t give away today, and rightfully so.

However, beginning in my 50’s it was clear that smoking was damaging my health, as was drinking, so I gradually phased both (mostly) out of my life. I did enjoy the occasional bud that floated my way out of the inherent kindness of the universe, and when I would find myself near a promising bar I wouldn’t deny myself the pleasure of a good margarita. But by & large I tried to become much more moderate, and even in moderation I was finding the experience of drinking and smoking was losing its appeal.

Moderation is a great thing – in moderation – and now that I find myself newly settled back in Oregon I am delighted to be able to walk into great little gourmet Cannabis shops and select a gram of bud from a strain I’ve never tried before. For a small party we had a few weeks back and I bought a Cannabis Tasting Flight, a gram each of the budtenders six favorite top shelf Sativa/Indica selections, the same way I would have for a Wine or Tequila Flight. How pleasant to be able to enjoy Cannabis as a normal part of life without the tinge of paranoia that was always (quite rationally) present.

But what adds so much to my pleasure in trying out all these new strains is that I don’t have to smoke any more. I’ve found that I can vaporize a pinch of dried flower in an efficient little device and enjoy this particular strain’s unique flavors and aromas along with whatever body and mind effects I’m looking for in a particular strain.

Nobody has to be old to enjoy the benefits of vaporizing whole Cannabis flowers, but if you are getting on in years like I am and want to be able to enjoy the medicinal and recreational benefits of Cannabis without the toxic side-effects of smoke, as I do, then you’re going to really appreciate the new whole flower vaporizing technology that’s out there. For me, it’s so superior to smoking the divine weed in any kind of pipe that I am never going back.

Don’t get me wrong – I love smoke. All kinds. Always have. I miss the days of walking out to the airplane across the tarmac, inhaling the jet fuel and diesel equipment fumes that smelled like freedom. Around campfires I would always take the downwind spot and enjoy inhaling the clouds of burning wood and charring meat. I couldn’t get enough of trains and train stations, and once underway I always spent as much time as possible between the cars enjoying the motion, the sounds, and the smells of the smoke trailing back from the diesel engines far ahead. Pulling out of Tokyo harbor in 1949 on an old Navy troopship carrying hundreds of military women & children back to America, the air full of salt, fish, garbage, oil and diesel, the whole ship vibrating beneath my feet and great clouds of bunker fuel fumes coming from the smokestacks and from the hard-revving tugs alongside – I was in little kid heaven.

I have to admit that for years I held a lot of ill-informed opinions about vaping, and I still don’t like the idea of inhaling the vapors of chemically-processed anything, even supposedly “natural” Cannabis products like Wax & Shatter. In retrospect it looks to me like vaporizing technology, or at least vaporizer marketing, skipped right past whole dried Cannabis flowers and went straight to more easily manufactured and standardized but potentially lethal products, and huge numbers of people went along without thinking.

Unfortunately too much of the Cannabis industry seems to have fallen into this trap. Although hundreds of growers are producing thousands of beautiful, flavorful, exotic strains of Cannabis, most shops price and sell these flowers based on their THC levels without regard for taste and smell, mind/body effects like creativity or couchlock, or therapeutic effects like sleep initiation or appetite stimulation. It is as if fine wines were being sold primarily for their alcohol content, on the premise that nobody cared about enjoying them any other way.

Out of an enormous worldwide market for cheap addictive chemicals in sleek little devices has come the shadow world of unregulated vaping compounds packaged in colorful, toy-like electronic inhalers. I’m afraid that a lot of people are being conned into inhaling vapors of cheap industrial chemicals from China and India in totally unregulated compounds disguised with clever names and fruity flavors. I’m concerned that many of these folks are going to have deep regrets sooner rather than later. I would not be surprised at all to see epidemiologists soon begin announcing the discovery of a mysterious multi-symptom epidemic of irreversible neurological damage among young people that will ultimately be traced to vaping these clever little toys filled with whatever industrial chemicals the device manufacturer thinks will kick ass.

In whatever terrible ways that onrushing tragedy may evolve, I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing pure Cannabis flower. It is not only a marvelous experience in itself, but it is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it. I’m writing this post because I’ve come to believe that vaporizing dry Cannabis flower may be the best medical and recreational option for many people my age – let’s just say someone who’s well into those golden years.

Older people who want to enjoy Cannabis as part of a lifestyle or who find that Cannabis is a helpful medication need to discover that vaporizing Cannabis flowers is a smoke-free option with real advantages. For one thing, your body isn’t being subjected to Cannabis smoke, which in addition to the good stuff like THC also contains concentrated particles of carcinogenic soot as well as carcinogenic combustion gasses. Smoke itself, any smoke, is full of substances and chemicals created by combustion that are known to lead directly to horrible diseases. That’s true of any smoke coming from any combusted organic matter – Cannabis, cigarettes, backyard grills, fireplaces or campfires.

I’ve found vaporizers easy to use – at least my device is simplicity itself and if it lasts over a couple of years I’ll consider it a worthwhile buy. All I have to do is to pinch off a bit of Cannabis flower and put it into the small ceramic chamber, tamp it down and then put the mouthpiece back on, tap in the code and wait a few seconds for the digital readout to show me that the chamber is at 400 degrees, and then draw in a stream of almost invisible vapor.

My first hit of fresh Cannabis flower vapor is exactly like the first long sip of a cold beer on a hot day – I know there won’t be a better sip in the whole bottle. All of the volatile, delicate flavors and aromas of the flower come across fresh and intact in that first sip of vapor. Everything that follows, while enjoyable and pleasant, can never equal that first rush of magical molecules.

I find that if I stop after the first hit of vapor (I wish I were inclined to do so more often), I am already close to where I want to be, and I find that I need only a few tokes on the vaporizer to enjoy the same results that would otherwise take a whole bowl or joint. I like that I am not subjecting my increasingly aging body to the toxic stress of smoke just so that I can enjoy being high and receiving the health benefits of Cannabis.

Whether you are medicating with Cannabis, or simply relaxing with a bud after a long day, by using a vaporizer you will be able to do so discreetly, cleanly, and without the toxic side effects of smoke. Vaporizing is an especially nice way to use Cannabis as a sleep aid because your body doesn’t have to deal with the toxic effects of smoke in order to get the beneficial effects of the vaporized THC and CBD. Just fire up the vaporizer, take a clean, sweet hit, lie back, relax and drift off to sleep. It’s especially nice not to have to worry about choking your partner with a bedroom full of smoke at 2 AM just because you’ve woken up and need a hit to get back to sleep.

Another real advantage of using a vaporizer is that your environment isn’t permeated by stale smoke. As delightful as those first hits of fresh bud are, a Cannabis smoker’s living space quickly gets as nasty as any cigarette smoker’s cave. Stale smoke is just stale smoke, no matter how delightful its origins. But with a vaporizer, especially if you only take the first few puffs when the vapor is so pure that it is practically invisible, there is almost no lingering odor to disturb others or to betray you to the smoke Nazis that seem to be on patrol everywhere these days.

Bottom line – if you’re getting on in years and haven’t tried vaporizing Cannabis flowers as an alternative to smoking then you owe it to yourself to have the experience. It may open up new possibilities in areas of fun and pleasure that you thought were fading away, and it will certainly make using Cannabis for your health, vitality and medical needs a lot cleaner and more private.

But perhaps the best reason of all to vaporize is that smoking is now a relic of the past, just like living in caves – people have loved the essence of Cannabis since the dawn of time, and for thousands of years we had to inhale smoke to enjoy that essence (except for bhang, of course), and so we all went ahead, fired it up, lay back and watched the shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. Now that vaporizing technology has arrived we don’t have to smoke to enjoy and benefit from Cannabis, and I for one am happy to leave those delightful but poisonous clouds far behind in the cave where they belong.