Adam Ruins Drugs

Nov 13 2016

In this episode, Adam weeds through the myths of marijuana, exposes the blunt truth about the War on Drugs, and explains how prescription pills are the true gateway drug. Here are his sources.


Counting deaths from the substance alone, tobacco kills 480,000 people a year, alcohol kills 88,000, and marijuana kills absolutely no one.”

Shapiro, Maren. “No High Risk: Marijuana May be Less Harmful Than Alcohol, Tobacco.” NBC News. NBCUniversal, 26 Feb. 2015. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Smoking and Tobacco Use.” Atlanta, 2016. Web.

National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” Washington, 2016. Web.

Most people who try marijuana, don’t even keep smoking marijuana.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.” Rockville, 2012. Web.

If you’re under 25, smoking weed can lead to memory problems and poor cognitive functioning. But if an adult and your brain is finished developing... up to you!”

Fleming, Kelly. “What Smoking Weed Does to Teen Brains.” The Stranger. Index Newspapers, LLC, 22 Oct. 2014. Web.

Humans started growing cannabis crops over 8,000 years ago.”

Gray, Alic William et al. “Origins of Agriculture.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Sep. 2015. Web.

In 440 BCE, Herodotus wrote about the ancient tradition of cannabis steam baths.”

Herodotus. The History of Herodotus. 440 B.C.E. Web.

BAH! They cut all our funding. They’ll shut me down if I don’t find a new chemical to demonize. Let’s see. What are people scared of for no good reason?”

Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2004. Web.

Marihuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2004. Web.

Spinning newspaper takes over the frame reading POLICE BLAME MARIHUANA FOR MAJORITY OF MURDERS AND SEX OUTRAGES.”

Backstory Radio. “All Hopped Up: Drugs in America.” Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 16 Aug. 2013. Web.


Reefer Madness. Dir. Louis J. Gasnier. Motion Picture Ventures, 1936. Web.

ANIMATING A REAL CARTOON: Mexican, in a sombrero, smokes a joint. Word balloon reads: NAZI PROPAGANDA.” ZOOM out to reveal Adam is holding a newspaper illustration.”

“The Marijuana Smoker.” Cartoon. The Vidette Messenger, 19 Jul. 1940. Web.

Scientists proved marijuana was not connected to insanity or violence in the 40s. And in 1973, a bipartisan government commission recommended Nixon decriminalize it! But Nixon being Nixon -- “

National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. “Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding.” 1973. Web.

We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.“

Baum, Dan. “Legalize It All.” Harper’s Magazine. Harper’s Magazine Foundation, Apr. 2016. Web.

...And even though white and black people smoke at basically the same rate, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. The racist anti-drug laws that Nixon and Anslinger created still punish minorities to this day. “

Urbina, Ian. “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests.” New York Times. New York Times Company, 3 Jun. 2013. Web.

“Yeah, that’s ridiculous. This zero tolerance, abstinence-only approach dates back to the 1980s, with Nancy Reagan’s three little words…”

Roe, Mike. “12 Videos from Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ Campaign.” KPCC. National Public Radio, 7 Mar. 2016. Web.

Study after study proved DARE had no effect on drug use at all. In fact, one major study found that for some kids, it actually INCREASED drug use. “

Rosenbaum, Dennis P. and Gordon S. Hanson. “Assessing the Effects of School-Based Drug Education: A Six-Year Multilevel Analysis of Project D.A.R.E.” Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 35.4 (1998): 381-412. Web.

At it’s peak, DARE cost taxpayers up to 1.3 billion dollars a year, even though it didn’t work AT ALL. “

Shepard, Edward M. “The Economic Costs of D.A.R.E.” Institute of Industrial Relations, Nov. 2001. Web.

But DARE pressured us into disavowing our own study! “

“Truth & DARE.” Frontline. Public Broadcasting Station, 5 Mar. 1998. Web.

But that just made farmers switch to hydroponic grow rooms, which helped create a much stronger product. “

Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World. New York: Random House, 2001. Web.

Nope! In fact, since the drug war started, the prices of cannabis, cocaine, heroin all plummeted. “

Werb, Dan, et al. “The Temporal Relationship between Drug Supply Indicators: an Audit of International Government Surveillance Systems.” BMJ Open 3.9 (2013). Web.

Wrong again! We’ve locked up a whole bunch of non-violent drug criminals, while the kingpins keep making a ton of money. The US illicit drug market is worth an estimated $109 billion a year. The Sinaloa drug cartel has as many as 150,000 employees — that’s more than Apple!”

Keefe, Patrick Radden. “Cocaine Incorporated.” New York Times Magazine. New York Times Company, 15 Jun. 2012. Web.

According to one study, people in LEAD were 60% less likely to be arrested six months after their evaluation. “

University of Washington. Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Lab. “Innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program Is Showing Success.“ 2015. Web.

The two drugs’ chemical composition is nearly identical. In one study, people who took both couldn’t tell them apart. “

Kirkpatrick, Matthew G., et al. “Comparison of Intranasal Methamphetamine and D‐amphetamine Self‐Administration by Humans.” Addiction 107.4 (2012): 783-791. Web.

Actually, heroin was first marketed and sold by the drug company Bayer - - you know, the aspirin people.”

“Bayer AG.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web.

There’s no danger of acquiring a habit.”

Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. Cupples, Upham & Company, 1900. Web.

And so they did. In the 90s, drug maker Purdue started marketing Oxycontin like crazy with weird swag like stuffed toys, golf balls, and even a CD of swing music. And soon Oxycontin’s popularity surged.”

Quinones, Sam. Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2015. Web.

Purdue even issued an internal memo encouraging salespeople to push higher doses of the drug in exchange for bonuses.”

Ryan, Harriet, Lisa Girion and Scott Glover. “‘You Want a Description of Hell?’: Oxycontin’s 12-Hour Problem.” Los Angeles Times. tronc Inc., 5 May 2016. Web.

Nope, because thanks to the War on Drugs, there was a ton of heroin on the streets and it was really cheap. “

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Today’s Heroin Epidemic.” Atlanta, 2016. Web.

Since we cracked down on painkillers, heroin deaths have skyrocketed. Between 2010 and 2014, it’s more than tripled. Some studies show that 80% of new heroin users started with prescription opioids.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Vital Statistics, Mortality Data. Atlanta, 2014. Web.

They also offer detox to those who want it, and after they opened, 30% more people entered drug treatment programs. But more importantly, these sites are lifesavers. “

Wood, Evan, et al. “Rate of Detoxification Service Use and its Impact Among a Cohort of Supervised Injecting Facility Users.” Addiction 102.6 (2007): 916-919. Web.

For Further Reading

Martin Booth’s Cannabis: A History is a good primer on the life and times of marijuana and its role in human culture. 

This longform Harper’s feature by Dan Baum charts the history of the so-called “War on Drugs,” how it went so wrong, and proposes a simple solution: legalize them all. 

This episode of the Backstory Radio podcast delves into the cultural history of drugs in America, and is chock-full of fascinating tidbits.