Marijuana Health Benefits Get a Shoutout on...Fox News?

Cannabis got a big boost in the public eye when Dr. Mehmet Oz, the popular surgeon, and television personality, suggested increasing its use to fight the opioid crisis. Perhaps even more significant was where he made this statement: on “Fox & Friends,” the centerpiece of American conservative media. Taking the opportunity to promote the growing popularity of marijuana health benefits on this program was, in many ways, a huge step forward.

Historically, the program and its hosts haven’t been particularly welcoming towards cannabis or its advocates. But Dr. Oz’s status (and popularity) in this country puts him in a different league than most other guests, and the surge of positive and grateful viewer comments received after the broadcast speak volumes. And it raises an intriguing question: Could cannabis be the unifying force many Americans say they desperately want?

Though America’s political scene is perhaps historically fractured, its citizens are increasingly unanimous when it comes to marijuana health benefits. A recent poll shows close to two-thirds of Americans support both recreational and medical cannabis. That number spikes even higher when the question is limited specifically to medical use.

Cannabis-Unfriendly Fox

Doctor Oz made a gutsy move in addressing this issue on Fox & Friends.

Back in August 2017, guest Kathy Barnette—the host of Truth Exchange, a conservative radio show—took a decidedly different stance on the issue. Barnette commented on a recent CDC study indicating that middle-aged parents are more likely to use cannabis than their teenage children.

Barnette's approach to the issue wasn't quite scientific. Apparently assuming that cannabis merely enhances the effects of opiates, she stated: “We have an opiate as well as a mental-health disorder crisis in our nation right now, and many people are self-medicating and masking it.” Barnette was also alarmed at the growing popularity of cannabis, claiming that parents are now: “…spending more on marijuana than on tobacco, alcohol, and personal care combined.”

Actually, studies indicate that cannabis is more likely to be an “exit drug” from opioids rather than gateway one.

We’re  also curious about Barnette’s math, given the breadth of all the industries that comprise “personal care.” But more to the point: less money spent on alcohol and tobacco is probably a positive for society. Given that alcohol accounts for roughly 88,000 deaths a year and tobacco a whopping 480,000, a decline in revenue for those industries doesn't seem like a bad thing.

So yes, please: Spend more on cannabis than tobacco and alcohol.

Barnette's visit wasn't the first time Fox & Friends rallied against cannabis.

Previously, Fox & Friends’ hosts had blasted welfare recipients for using their benefit cards to purchase marijuana. Sharp-eyed observers quickly pointed out that, because virtually no dispensaries accept credit card payments, the number of recipients actually making these purchases is likely at or near zero.

Co-host Steve Doocy, in particular, has attempted to speak about cannabis policy in the past. He has voiced concern that a Washington, D.C. program to help low-income residents purchase medical marijuana might be abused as a money-making scheme for would-be drug dealers.

Marijuana Health Benefits Gain a Wider Audience

Of course, it’s possible that Dr. Oz’s comments may have no immediate effect on Fox & Friends’ audience, including its “#1 fan,” President Trump.

No matter how you feel towards the show or towards Dr. Oz, who is widely criticized for promoting pseudoscience. Regardless, elevating the debate over cannabis legalization to such a popular morning program is a major step.

While the current Administration remains dead-set against legalization, the tide of public opinion is rising. By bringing the truth about cannabis’ medical potential to a large and largely conservative audience, Dr. Oz has done cannabis legalization a huge favor.

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Cannabis Health Benefits - Study Shows Cannabis Consumers Happier and More Successful

Despite being more popular than ever before and research showing cannabis health benefits, cannabis still carries the hapless caricature of the “stoner” stereotype in the media.

You know the one.

Lazy, unsuccessful, apathetic, somewhat unhealthy, and living in a world of hazy delusion that never strays too far from the couch except for compulsive trips to a convenience store for candy bars.

Sort of like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.

As it turns out, this seems to be a delusion of those not smoking cannabis.

According to a groundbreaking new study by BDS Analytics, the truth is practically the opposite.

The Study

The study divided groups of people from California and Colorado into three categories:

Consumers are (obviously) those who consume cannabis. Acceptors are those who do not consume but aren’t necessarily opposed to it. Rejectors are those opposed to cannabis.

They looked at a variety of qualities, including self-evaluation statements, income, education, employment, family situation, social life, activities, and exercise habits.

And the findings completely shatter the stoner stereotype on every level.

The Results

Across the board, cannabis users came out ahead compared to both the acceptors and rejectors.

It was found that cannabis users:

That’s a pretty glowing endorsement of cannabis’ health benefits and users as model citizens. Now, without getting too carried away, there could be some real sample size issues and biases in where they were finding participants.

That said, the data is still very compelling.

A Major Step for Normalization of Cannabis

One of the most important takeaways from this study is the normalization of cannabis. It’s been a long, long road for cannabis activists who have gotten us to this point of finally recognizing the benefits from this remarkable plant.

Decades of propaganda primarily built on lies, fear, and racism are deep in our culture’s memory, and it will take a lot of exposure to get people to recognize the absurdity of their views of cannabis. Now with some actual data paving the way, we open up the possibility for a larger conversation.

We open up the possibility for a deeper reexamination of our assumptions about cannabis and cannabis users. This study gives us something to work with, something to point to counter uninformed claims and prejudices. Something that may be able to help steer policy decisions and greater, national conversations towards more compassionate and sane conclusions.

What Does This Say About the Rejectors?

One other curious trend in the study was not just how surprising cannabis users measured up, but on the flip side, how Rejectors tended to be on the low end of everything. They were the least social, least healthy, least happy, least educated, and least employed, and least creative.

What is going on here?

If this demographic represents the majority of American society, then what does that say about our culture as a whole?

Biochemically, cannabis’ health benefits and general effect on the nervous system can be described as “balancing,” bringing us back to a healthy homeostasis. In a society that is pretty far out of balance, the cannabis consumers seem to be the most balanced ones here.

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