$10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

By chillinwill · Sep 24, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    At a Las Vegas news conference today, the Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada announced details of a $10,000 challenge to the people of Nevada. MPP-NV will pay $10,000 to anyone who can disprove three statements of fact that demonstrate that marijuana is objectively and unquestionably safer than alcohol.

    MPP-NV manager Dave Schwartz unveiled a large mock check for $10,000 as he announced specifics of the challenge, which kicked off a long-term public education campaign regarding the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, and the harm caused by marijuana prohibition.

    MPP-NV is challenging Nevadans to disprove the following three statements of fact:

    1. Alcohol is significantly more toxic than marijuana, making death by overdose far more likely with alcohol.

    2. The health effects from long-term alcohol consumption cause tens of thousands of more deaths in the U.S. annually than the health effects from the long-term consumption of marijuana.

    3. Violent crime committed by individuals intoxicated by alcohol is far more prevalent in the U.S. than violent crime committed by individuals intoxicated by marijuana only.

    To receive the $10,000 award, Nevada residents must provide peer-reviewed studies or government statistics that contradict all three of these statements.

    “We are confident that we won’t need to pay out this $10,000,” said Schwartz. “Marijuana is objectively and unquestionably less harmful than alcohol, as these three well-documented statements show. Alcohol is more toxic than marijuana, more likely to be lethal -- either by overdose or chronic use -- and more likely to contribute to violence. For good measure, alcohol is also more addictive than marijuana. As we consider whether to reform our marijuana laws, it is important that the people of Nevada understand these facts.”

    September 23, 2009

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  1. staples
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    They don't care about the credentials of the authors? I think a lot of time is wasted comparing marijuana to alcohol rather than just studying marijuana.
  2. Nature Boy
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    I disagree. This isn't a substance issue, this is a legal issue. As long as alcohol is allowed and marijuana is prohibited, I feel that arguments made in regards to marijuana's comparative safety are well apt. Their terms are pretty straightforward and hard to argue against.
  3. podge
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    Completely agree, the terms are very straight forward and are very fair. Alcohol is legal, Cannabis isnt.... if this reflects the true dangers of each then logically there should be scientific evidence to back this up as opposed to personal bias.
  4. staples
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    I don't think anything is as simple as they are portraying it--neither drug laws nor drug effects (especially sociological effects--the only concern regarding social effect is "violent crime"?). Regardless, I'd be a little weary of a publication from someone without reasonable credentials, I think that would even be a reason to ignore any paper that would otherwise win the $10k.
  5. corvardus
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    Peer-Review would mitigate some of the "craziness" in a publication and for someone to win the $10k they would require to find sources for all three statements. Plus the resiliency of an article can be supported by a journals impact factor. A higher impact factor tends to have more resilient peer-review controls, generally speaking.

    Granted that isn't always a guarantee for example the Lancet (Impact Factor: 28.4) published a study in 1998 regarding Autism and the MMR vaccine, but for contentious issues like marijuana this would be highly unlikely in SWIM's opinion.

    The point is that there is no universal three strikes for this challenge and they know that. They are simply giving the population an opportunity to prove them wrong and in the process educate them that alcohol in every way conceivable minus a few brain protective effects is more dangerous than marijuana.

    There is no good rationale why marijuana is illegal.
  6. staples
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    You don't think autism and vaccination was contentious? Maybe not as contentious, but I would argue that contentiousness is exactly the problem.

    So they've gone ahead and defined them?

    If their goal is to educate people about alcohol, they are certainly going about it in a strange way.

    I understand that this is their premise, I do not understand the conversational value of repeating it now?
  7. corvardus
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    It was a bit of naivity on the part of the scientific community to be honest. Scientists know how to use statistics, probabilities and more importantly risk. The media and parents tend to have a warped view of it, and act upon that warped view.

    The media and parents did not see the very low numbers of test subjects, nature of the test subjects nor the errors in interpretation of those numbers and, therefore, conclusions gave. All they saw as that MMR = Autism.

    The media got hold of it and parents stopped giving their children the MMR vaccine. Thus a cohort of immune "retarded" children is now in the population. Now the risk is for the complications from obtaining the diseases vs that of immunisation. The risks are greater for the disease than it turns out was for the vaccine.

    The big ruckus was due to parents going... OMG a 0.0000001% (exaggeration) increased risk of getting autism. My child is NOT going to get the MMR vaccine, period. The end.

    A couple have specifically ranked cannabis as being below that of alcohol utilising what could be argued as "intangiable" criteria (Nutt et. al. Volume 369, Issue 9566, 24 March 2007-30 March 2007, Pages 1047-1053 ); and (Ranking van drugs Een vergelijking van de schadelijkheid van drugs; 2009)

    So it can be done and has been done.

    They are not trying to educate people about alcohol they are trying to reinforce and illustrate the evident disparity between the "evils" of alcohol and that of cannabis. Why one is legal and the other is illegal. How the logic of having a safer drug being illegal verses a more dangerous drug is disingenuous for governmental policy.

    In the process I am presuming whilst some borderline prohibitionists are going to try for the "easy" $10k they are hoping that people will realise that alcohol is a far more dangerous drug and would, therefore, become more sympathetic to people who require marijuana for medical purposes and maybe, perhaps, even support legalisation.

    This is an ape of James Randi's $1 million challenge for people to prove, under observable conditions, any supernatural, occult or paranormal phenomena. Like for sceptics the Randi is a rallying point for "Prove it or STFU" and here is a nice $1 million incentive for you to put your money where your mouth is. This immitation can similarly be used.

    The movement is in a phase of winning hearts and minds. This is a strategy that these people are employing. Whether it will have any signficant effect remains to be seen.
  8. staples
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    So to be clear: you don't think any similar phenomenon applies to studies regarding cannabis?

    Thanks for the links, but as far as I'm aware, none of these criteria are reflected in legislature (yet), that would be a logical first step, no?

    I must iterate that these intentions sound like a waste of time, people already argue along similar lines until they are blue in the face.
  9. corvardus
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    Quick answer: I DON'T.

    Long Answer: I am making an assumption here, which I will explain. If you do not accept it then fair enough.

    If, and I do mean if there was an article indicating that one of the three criteria they have chosen is, indeed, higher (pardon the pun) than alcohol then governmental propaganda and prohibition activists would be all over the article like a rash. Similar in respect to the MMR fiasco.

    The journals reputation is at stake, it is my belief due to the invested interests by a larger number of politically active organisations that any bad science with regard to cannabis, or its derivatives, will be siezed upon immediately and the fallout would reflect negatively upon the reputation of the journal.

    Whilst autism is a contentious issue it is my opinion that Cannabis presents a larger one for the reputation of the journal. Making an assumption that a journal would prefer to possess a reputation for being a reliable source of "good science" they would challenge a cannabis article more than a less politically sensitive issue.

    I would consider the peer-review process for marijuana being, consequently, more robust due to this and, therefore, less liable to elementary mistakes especially in light of the MMR fiasco which woke everyone up.

    That would be perfect solution and probably why these authors published this material in the first instance. Nutt is the chairman of the ACMD in the UK he has a certain responsibility. This was his way of telling the government the ABC drug classification system is not fit for purpose. The reclassification to Class B for Marijuana just reinforced that. The GBL criticism for being Class C whilst being more harmful than cannabis is just a satisying consequence for that stupidity.

    I was thinking, whilst typing this afternoon, how it would rock for Drugs Forum to have its own list, similar to the Nutts' and Dutch articles, but with a wider range of drugs using ONLY published materials. The logistics of such a thing it would entail, exactly how to quantify certain characteristics like "addictiveness" would be quite a challenge. I expect it would require its own forum just for the debates, and polls. LOL

    The problem is, though, is this:
    1) If they chose a lower quartile and legalise cannabis, salvia, LSD, Ecstacy and the like but criminalise Alcohol and tobacco they will run into the problems as they did 1920-1932 in the USA with alcohol
    2) They legalise everything under Alcohol and a whole pantheon of drugs become available then we have some can of worms being opened.

    That may be so but I think, and this is my opinion and speculation, they are going to use this as a "STFU" tool rather than a legalisation attempt tool. So, whilst I agree with you in the grand scheme of things it is a waste of time it still has a purpose as the Randi Challenge has its purpose. People have claimed that Cannabis is a worse drug than.... Heroin, Cocaine, sex? They would be told to pony up or if they can't then STFU.

    This $10k challenge is to challenge ANYONE that Cannabis is more dangerous than alcohol. The longer this prize goes unclaimed the greater credibility those three statements have. Like Michael Jackson sung about. "You will do anything for money!"
  10. Anna Thema
    Re: $10,000 Challenge: Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol – Prove Us Wrong and We'll Pay

    Am I the only one here who thinks a $10,000 prize doesnt sound alot in todays money. Don't get me wrong I haven't got 10 grand sitting in my back pocket but when you compare it to the $1,000,000 Randi prize quoted by Corvardus or the $10 million X prize for private sector space flight it does sound like small change.
    In 1919 Alcock and Brown collected a prize of £10,000 (about $16,000) from the Daily Mail for the first trans Atlantic airflight, and that was nearly 100 years ago!
    According to wikipedia MPP has an annual turnover of $6,000,000 and a seperate $1.5 million grants program. (Now I don't see how Wiki would have got that too wrong given that they use GNU Free Documentation License. John Gilmore is a major contributor to the GNU project and is also donates substantial funding to the MPP.)
    So, the question is really...
    Does the MPP think theyre going to have to pay out the prize money?
    I don't know, that's why its a question not a statement.
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