Earlier this week, Kirk Cameron and Ben Carson inadvertently summarized just how out-of-touch cannabis prohibitionists are. The former TV star teamed up with the former Republican presidential candidate for a Facebook live Q & A hosted by the nonprofit group My Faith Votes. The chat covered issues including how to get evangelical voters out to the polls on election day, why Christians shouldn't worry about updating the gospels to make them cooler for today's youth, and whether or not churchgoers should support marijuana legalization.
Carson - who spoke out against recreational marijuana use during the GOP primaries - was unsurprisingly opposed to full legalization. But he also recognized the medical benefits of cannabis - somewhat. During the Facebook Q & A, Carson said he didn't mind patients using cannabis as long as it was in pill form.
"In terms of medical use, well, it does have some useful purposes for certain types of neurological disorders and pain syndromes, etc.," the retired neurosurgeon said.
"However, it can be distilled into tablet form and used as a medicine very much like other active ingredients. A lot of the medications that we use today come from plants, but we process them to still them down to the active ingredients and make them into pills or capsules and utilize them in that way. And when used in that way, I think it can be useful. When used in a way that it can be abused and people can be exposed to it who really should not be exposed, it's abusive."
Carson shows he doesn't understand opioid crisis
In simpler terms, pills are good because they prevent drug abuse while letting patients smoke or vape cannabis is bad because that could lead to addiction, according to Carson.
But his advice conflicts with researchers studying America's opioid epidemic, which claimed that lives of 18,893 Americans in 2014 according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. ASAM also said four out of five new heroin addicts started abusing drugs by misusing prescription pills, which seems like concrete evidence that these pills are gateway drugs. On top of that, ASAM found that 94 percent of people in addiction programs said they began using heroin because it was cheaper and more available than the prescription pills that they abused.
So Carson is either in denial or totally oblivious about the opioid crisis raging in America, which has made drug overdose the leading cause of accidental death in the country. Now we can't assume that pill forms of cannabis would be similarly addictive or lethal, of course. But the fact that Carson points to the failed system of opioid pills as a way to prevent drug addiction is astounding.
Cameron's warped take on legal states
Kirk Cameron seemed almost determined to outdo Carson's bungling of the drug issue. Since he didn't have enough expertise to comment on the medical value of cannabis, the Growing Pains star deferred to Carson's opinion and then discussed the supposed social repercussions of marijuana legalization.
Cameron said, "we're hearing of some young people who are thinking, 'Well, why would I stay home and smoke pot - wondering whether or not I'm going to get busted, when I could just move to a place like Colorado and I can just grow it in my front yard?' That may be overstating it, but that is the attitude of some people today."
That's not just overstating the case but distorting the reality of legalization regimes in America. Teens might think they can move to Colorado and grow marijuana in their front yards, but they can't. In all legal states, people under 21 are prohibited from buying, smoking or growing cannabis. And no one in a legal state is allowed to cultivate cannabis in their front yard.
Colorado, Oregon and Alaska all require home growers to cultivate plants in enclosed areas that aren't visible to the public. Meanwhile, Washington - the fourth legal state - doesn't permit home growing at all.
In other words, Cameron is as oblivious to legalization regimes as Carson is out-of-touch with the realities of drug addiction.
If you want to watch their Facebook chat yourself, this link has a video of the entire hour-long Q & A.
Banner Image: Former presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2014. (Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com)