By Oscar Pascual |
Arizona’s medical cannabis program has caused no deaths in the state, despite recent rants from one of the state’s main drug fighters.
“Safe pan? Tell that to the 62 children who died,” read the headline of a widely publicized June 15 op-ed by Sheila Polk, a prosecutor and anti-cannabis activist.
“According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, in a study examining all deaths in Arizona of children under the age of 18, a disturbing number of child deaths were due to substance use,” Polk wrote. “Guess which substance is the most common? No alcohol, no methamphetamine (although they were close), just marijuana. In 2013, marijuana use was linked to the tragic and needless deaths of 62 children in Arizona.”
Claiming such a high rate of weed-related deaths seems pretty sensational, which is why the Phoenix New Times actually verified Polk’s facts by contacting the Arizona Department of Health, which publishes the annual infant mortality rate assessment that Polk mentions in her op-ed.
The state’s DHS said that while the deaths may have been related in some way to marijuana, Polk erroneously wrote that the study reported infant deaths directly resulting from marijuana use.
In fact, a DHS spokesperson confirmed that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest marijuana was the cause of death in Arizona.
Unfortunately, Polk’s overzealous war on drugs clouded her brain into thinking that deaths “associated” with marijuana actually meant the deaths “were due” to marijuana.
Even the 2013 study took the time to explain the definition of “associated” — an entry Polk likely skipped as he marked the number “62” and underlined it three times.
The study explains:
Although substance use is a known risk factor in the death of children, it is important to remember that the term ‘associated’ is used because it is not always clear whether and how substance use had a direct or contributing effect on the fatal accident. ending.
The CFR program defines substance use as associated with the death of a child if the child, the child’s parent, caregiver, and/or person responsible for the death, during or about the time of the incident leading to the death led, used or abused any substance, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs and/or alcohol.
Much like the half-truth Polk cites, her anti-pot taps can be linked to the drug war, though it probably won’t lead to a return to prohibition anytime soon.
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