Surprising truths about legalizing cannabis | Ben Cort | TEDxMileHigh

Translator: Leslie Gauthier
Reviewer: Camille Martínez Hey look, if you guys
are anything like me, you have found it harder and harder
to turn around recently without seeing words like “free-range,” “farm-to-table,” “organically produced,” especially here in Colorado. Now, as we’ve become more conscientious
of the way that we eat in recent years, these once unfamiliar words have worked
their way into our daily lexicon. When we started to pay more attention to the way that the food we were eating
interacted with our bodies and with the earth, the food industry had to listen. And the results have been really powerful. Now, those of you out there
from states like Washington and Oregon and, of course, my fellow Coloradans — (Cheers) y’all know what I’m talking about. Because this is not … Words like “all-natural” and “homegrown”
are not just being used in our diets. There’s this whole new industry
using this language now. You guys know. It’s weed, an industry that taxed a sale of about six billion dollars
worth of product in 2016. So what if I were to propose to you that some of what you think you know
about this legalized marijuana thing could be wrong? Listen, I get it — talking about issues with legal weed
is a pretty quick way to get uninvited from the cool kids’ table. I know that better than most, but I intend to do it anyway. First, before I get started, let me
be perfectly clear about one thing: my fight is not against the casual
adult use of marijuana — I don’t care about that. What I care deeply about
is this new industry that is working to convince us
that we are consuming something natural while fixing social ills, when we aren’t. So let’s start with
a little bit of Weed 101. Cannabis is a plant that grows naturally
and has been used within textiles and even traditional Chinese medicine
for thousands of years. Genesis 1:12 even tells us: “I have given you all of the seed-bearing
plants and herbs to use.” It’s the microphone — it’s got
a TV preacher sort of thing. (Laughter) Now, cannabis is made up of hundreds
of different chemicals, but two of those chemicals
are by far the most interesting. That’s CBD and THC. CBD is where almost all
of the medicinal properties lie. It’s an incredibly fascinating
part of the plant with real potential to help people. It also is totally nonintoxicating. You could take a bath in the stuff
while vaping pure CBD and drinking a CBD smoothie, and you still couldn’t get high. (Laughter) I’ve tried. (Laughter) I haven’t, I haven’t. That’d cost a lot of money. (Laughter) Now, for as interesting and remarkable
a part of the plant as CBD is, it actually makes up a really tiny portion
of the commercial market. The real money is being made
in that other chemical — in THC. THC is the natural part of the plant
that gets you high. And before the 1970s, cannabis contained less than half
of a percent of THC. That’s what’s naturally occurring. Over the last 40 years,
as we became better gardeners, that — (Laughter) that percentage of THC started
to slowly but steadily rise, until recently, when the chemists
started to get involved. So these guys moved grow cycles — sorry — these guys moved cultivation
exclusively indoors, and they made grow cycles
extremely and unnaturally short. They also started to use
pesticides and fertilizers in some ways that we
should be concerned with. In fact, I was recently talking to a buddy who had just left a job
at a commercial grow operation because he was so concerned
with the chemicals that he was being asked to interact with. Some of his fellow employees
were actually encouraged to wear hazmat suits while they were spraying
the chemical cocktails on the plants. With that kind of manipulation, the products that are being sold today
can contain above 30 percent THC. And our concentrates — our concentrates can actually contain
above 95 percent THC — a far cry from the natural plant. Listen, this isn’t your grandpa’s weed. (Laughter) This isn’t your dad’s weed. Like, this isn’t even my weed. (Laughter) If you’ve ever set foot inside
one of the thousands of dispensaries that have sprung up in recent years, you know that what we’re
really selling in them is THC. All of the weed that you buy commercially
lists exactly how much THC it contains, as do our other,
much more popular products like vape pens, coffee, ice cream, condiments, granola, gum, candy, baked goods, suppositories. (Laughter) And, of course, lube. Pretty much — no, for real — (Laughter) pretty much anything that you can imagine
introducing into the human body. The vast majority of cannabis
that’s being sold today — it isn’t really cannabis. It’s THC in either a pure form or in an extremely high
and unnatural concentration. To say that we have legalized weed
is subtly misleading. We have commercialized THC. And it’s happened really quickly. Now, the reason why the commercial market
has so rapidly exploded is because there is a hell
of a lot of money to be made in satisfying and increasing
our desire to get high. And that money is no longer really
being made by the mom-and-pop shops. So industry groups and corporations — groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, Arcview Investment, the Cannabis Industry Association — they’ve chased out and helped to chase out
a lot of the small-time growers. So these cats know that the best way
to continue to profit off of us is if they follow the alcohol
industry’s 80/20 rule. It’s simple — it’s where 80 percent
of the product is consumed by 20 percent of the consumers —
the problemed users. The wealthy, white, weed lobbyists — and seriously, they are almost
all rich, white men — they know that we will consume
more of what they’re selling if they jack up the potency. They also know that we are more than
twice as likely to consume THC regularly if we earn under 20,000 dollars a year than those who earn
over 50,000 dollars a year. In other words, the poorer you are, the more likely you are to spend
your money on their products. And in this country, income
and race are highly correlated. One of the reasons we often hear cited
for the legalization of marijuana is that it will help to stop
the disproportionate incarceration rates among minorities, which is something everybody in this room
should be extremely concerned with. Unfortunately, we don’t
have to look any further than arrest rates for juveniles
here in Colorado to counter that argument. According to the Colorado
Department of Public Safety, since we opened retail in 2014 — almost all of which are in poor,
minority neighborhoods — we saw an eight percent reduction
in the arrest of white kids for all weed-related activity. Good on ’em. During that same time period, there was a 29 percent increase
in the arrest of Hispanic kids for weed-related activity and a 58 percent increase in the arrest
of black kids for weed-related crimes. You guys heard that, right? We are actually arresting
more people of color in Colorado than we were prior to commercialization. And you’re not reading that in the Post. Colorado Department of Safety. Legal marijuana coming into focus. Another big issue that we have
is in school suspension rates. So, schools that are
predominantly white — that is, they have a minority population
of 25 percent or fewer — in the first full year of data collection
following commercialization, these schools had a grand total
of 190 drug-related suspensions, almost all of which are for THC. At the same time, schools with a minority population
of 75 to 100 percent had 801 drug-related suspensions, almost all of which were for THC. When discussing minority populations, one that unfortunately often
gets left out of the conversation is the LGBTQ community. Members of this community are more
than twice as likely to consume THC than those who identify
as heterosexual or cisgender. They also, unfortunately, have
higher rates of mental illness and suicide. According to a study published in 2014
called “Going to Pot,” we see that the unnaturally high levels
of THC found in today’s products actually compound those issues. They make them worse. Unfortunately, that seems
to matter very little to the folks who are
selling these products, because as you just saw, clearly, this is a good consumer base. Listen, man — I get it. In many circles, legalized marijuana
is too much of a sacred cow to question. But we need to start this conversation, because what’s being sold today
is not natural, and lobbyists and industry are using
social justice as a smoke screen so that they can get richer. It’s been my own journey to sobriety
that led me to begin questioning a lot of what I was seeing; that’s kind of one of the things
that we’re taught to do. When I left Boulder
for the Washington, DC, area at 12 years old, I was transported into a world
where the kind of shoes you wore mattered more than
just about anything else. And my family was just too poor
to help me play that game. So I was faced with a pretty real
crisis of identity. In this new scene where there’s more
blacktop than treetops, man, I just didn’t know who I was. So I smoked weed for the first time when I was 13. And I loved it. (Laughter) I instantly found this social group, and I also just really liked being high. I finally found a way to shut this up. I quickly turned to other
drugs and alcohol, and something just woke up
inside of my brain. I was a daily user
within a couple of months. My addictive use mirrors
many of the stories that I’m sure you’ve heard before. It started out as fun, it got scary, and then it was just necessary. Enough said. I got wasted for the last time
on June 15 of 1996. And I — (Applause and cheers) Thank you. And I’ve spent the last 21 years
trying to both put my life back in order as well as trying to find
some peace in this world. And one of the ways I’ve done that is by working inside of nonprofit
drug and alcohol treatment for the last 10 years, with groups like Phoenix Multisport, the University of Colorado Hospital and NALGAP — the National Association for Lesbian, Gay,
Transgender, Bisexual Treatment Providers and their Allies. Even after all of my work
on the front lines and as a former consumer myself, I was shocked and pissed
when I started to see what commercialization
was doing to cannabis, because, you see, our hope
for something pure and natural is making it hard for us to see
what’s really going on, and that is that the rich
are getting richer on the backs of the poor and lying to our faces the entire time. (Applause) Thank you. My friends, once again I fear
that we are allowing industry to take advantage of the most
challenged among us in order to turn a profit, much like we saw with tobacco
and food in years past. So when we told the food industry that we understood the impact
our choices were having, and that we demanded better
for ourselves and our families, that industry got into line. So is there any reason why we couldn’t
demand the same thing from this and from future industries who are trying
to get a piece of our paychecks? What if we made these guys answer
some hard questions? What if we held them to a higher standard
than we are right now? Because as it stands, for many in our community, the grass isn’t greener on this side
of commercialization. They’ve just been sold a bag of goods. Thank you. (Applause) Jeremy Duhon: I know
this is a sensitive topic but a very important one, so thank you for bringing this up
and helping us explore it. You know, a lot of folks
are experiencing health benefits from marijuana and cannabis. What would you say
to that part of the community? Ben Cort: I’m actually glad
you brought that up. I think one of the most important things
that we can do right now is to separate out medicinal, and especially what’s happening and some of the advances
that are being made using parts of this plant and even
some whole-plant medicines, from the commercial market for THC. That’s, I think, crucial. We’ve got to stop putting them together, and we’ve got to say, “OK, here’s
the part about getting high, and here’s the part about the medicine.” (Applause) JD: So it sounds like your talk
is less about being anti-cannabis and more about raising awareness
about aspects of commercialization. Is that a fair way to put it? BC: Yes. So, I am not the anti-weed guy. (Laughter) I’m the pro-logic guy. For me to cast stones —
listen, I’m a drug addict. I don’t get to do that,
and I don’t want to do that. But what’s bothering me
and what’s so hard for me is to see the way
that we are just embracing without asking the hard questions, when if this was another industry, we’d be holding their feet
to the fire on some stuff. And no, I’m not the anti-weed guy, I’m the pro-thought guy. So: think. I don’t even care
if you’re smoking when you do it, just so long as you’re an adult. So long as you’re an adult, just think. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Surprising truths about legalizing cannabis | Ben Cort | TEDxMileHigh

  1. I don't get why people hold so much by these "TEDx Talks", all I've seen/heard is virtue-signalling jerks pushing a narrative ?

  2. None of this makes any difference to whether people should be at liberty to decide what they put into their bodies. When people don't hurt a specific other person either physically or financially, they should in a free country be left the eff alone.

  3. The prices were supposed to come down after legalization, but the taxes the states charge offset that. And the increased THC content is offset by not smoking as much to achieve the desired effect. "Natural" means not made in a beaker.

  4. I can't put my finger on it but this guy sounds like schapiro. He says 90% of things that are reasonable with 10% misinformation with a vain of virtue running through it all. High THC is bad in some ways but for those that smoke it with tobacco it reduces the amount you need. This talk needs more balance

  5. Oh look, agitprop! Before legalization, I remember growing with this goal in mind: to harvest THC.

    What he doesn't understand is it isn't legal. It is tolerated. Legalization means that you aren't required to obtain a special license to cultivate your own. Nobody tells me how many tomato plants or sunflowers I can grow. I don't have to have a special license to grow either of those. I won't face jail time for having harvested too many artichokes. I won't have my kids taken away for consuming them every night.

  6. Grow. Your. Own. People please, do not let them flip this on us. This weed has big Pharma all over it, and they loooooove they money. Grow. Your. Own. You will die.

  7. I don't believe that pot years ago was not powerfull like today. BS on that one. 50 years ago i got high and triped my night away. The stuff today is for pain and relaxation. No triping ? Get a degree and wright a book for even a dummy to understand.

  8. Drugs are not good or bad, it is how you abuse them by abusing yourself and others or use them to open yourself to other worlds and to creativity.,

  9. What a blowhard , liberals jealous, don’t anybody go out and get rich off of their business now, same could be said with the auto industry the medical industry people get rich off their ideas

  10. What people forget is being rich and continuing to seek money is the worse addiction on the planet it’s the one that kills the most. Simple minded won’t understand this little comment. But those rich people do and they are scared of us. That’s why they want us sedated on there plants. Think about it.

  11. Cannabis medicine is a complex science, what we need to do before making generalizations is to get cannabis off the federal schedule one list, so more institutions, doctors and scientists can do research on it. As long as cannabis is on schedule one, we are phucked!

  12. The ld50 for thc is crazy high. Pretty much impossible to overdose on it. What is the point of emphasizing potency? That just means it takes way less to get the desired effect. I also disagree with potency back in the 60s and 70s being under 10%. That might have been true for Mexican schwag but Columbian gold, Panama Red, Acupulco gold and Afghani Kush were all WELL over 10%. Alarmism over cannabis is hilarious if you are aware of the REAL facts regarding it. I have been using cannabis for 45 years. I dispute this "Beto" clones assessments regarding cannabis. The ONLY controversy regarding cannabis is why is it illegal at all. After thousands of years of benign and beneficial usage I feel very confident that it's a waste of time and money trying to demonize cannabis and it's various usages. Social stigma based on ignorance and propaganda are the biggest problems I have encountered in my long history of usage. No physical or psychological problems that I have had have ever been associated with cannabis use by any healthcare provider that I am aware of. None of my doctor's have anything negative to say about it.

  13. The weed today IS natural… You can change the genetics without pesticides or messing with minority groups. Just because you didn’t weed didn’t help you doesn’t mean it doesn’t help others.

  14. I like this guy, he should have a Tedx Talk about cigarettes!! He talks about holding the rich white executives to a higher standard yet, barely mentions Big Tobacco…

  15. You're totally wrong dude, please don't ever put your feet in Europe. We're so forward relating to your country that is mind blowing. By the way don't go to Netherlands or Portugal, you might have an heart attack with the liberalisation of drugs and the total no criminalization of consumption.
    Ohhh, Colorado…we smoke weed in Holland's coffee shops for centuries. 🌿Peace☮🌿

  16. It being natural or unnatural is irrelevant. It being stronger is irrelevant. It being legal allows people to grow their own, sell and profit off of it. It does not mean people are forced to do it. Yes, rich people with means to invest and take advantage of the opportunity will do so. Yes, the rich are getting richer on top of the poor. And that has happened through our entire society, through all of our history, independently of the legalization of weed. So that is also irrelevant. If one person's argument for legalizing weed is "because it is natural", get a better argument. There are plenty of natural plants that will kill you, hurt you, make you sick, etc. I'm in favor of legalizing. But not because it is natural, or a health benefit. It's because it is not harmful enough to justify its legal treatment so far. It is less harmful than alcohol, and used just as broadly and culturally as alcohol is.

  17. The problem is the way it is being legalized. It isn't being legalized so that you can grow your own but so that those with money can do so and make huge profits. For example, in kansas it's some a $3k per acre just to apply for the permit and then the cost go up from there and that's to grow hemp for cbd.

  18. Once again a fine example of increasing the strength of a plant not for additional purposes and associated mental health issues increasing massively after the increase in the parts of the plant that produced carcinogenic properties but I found something interesting cannabis smokers 7 times more likely to get cancer then a cigarette smoker more people likely to get mental health issues by using such drugs but we're still in denial about that since the pro users make out it doesn't exist and has no no association with mental health issues and cannabis after all somebody who wishes to promote the addiction of such drugs do not want you to know about the downsides as for medical use yes everybody is in favour and excellent painkiller the pluses for this form of cannabis when you're talking about people being out their minds driving their cars riding the motorbikes with no accountability for the crime same a commit or under the influence it makes you wonder that the person the drinker for drink driving it seems the drug user seems to get a free bill of health when it comes to killing people under the influence of drugs

  19. Wow! I typically like a lot of the Ted talks, but this is totally ridiculous. A lot of claims were made here that wouldn’t hold water in a debate format with someone that actually presented factual information.

  20. Its capitalism. I mean look at the liquor stores on corners in poor neighborhood have the rich Punjabi selling a meth or crack pipe brown paper bag special. Its capitalism in a broken system and a divided country were the rich control things and the exploited working class cant get ahead

  21. This guy has been paid and bought for by the pharma industry I wonder how much stock he got in invested the pharma industry???????

  22. I'm very happy to see no one here in comment land was fooled by this guy, even if we fried all of our brain cells! 😌

  23. I can go to the store right now and buy a bottle of 95% alcohol Everclear. I would likely die if i drank the whole bottle. However, i could vaporize 95% thc oil until i passed out, and be just fine. I disagree with the premise that higher THC content is a problem.

  24. I'm a big supporter of cannabis legalization, but I'm also uncomfortable with the way it's happening. I don't want a "Big Cannabis" either. I don't think these businesses should be commercializing it, glamorizing it, making it seem "cool". My ideal form of cannabis legalization is – don't arrest people for possessing it or growing it. But I also realize that won't really work, that not everyone has the ability, time, or interest in growing their own weed, and there needs to be a safe regulated place where adults can buy it, and consumer protections to prevent harmful additives. So how about some kind of strict regulations on businesses that can sell it, with limits on advertising and marketing. Maybe stipulate that all weed businesses must be non-profit? I also think a conversation in the same vein needs to be had about the alcohol and tobacco industries.

  25. In the beginning, we grew it and shared it with people we trusted. Now, with legalization, the government’s involved. Is this better for you?

  26. Plot twist:

    Cannabis cultivated humans, raised human capacity for creativity, and increased cannabis' own chances of survival to nearly 100%

    Therefore cultivated cannabis occurs in nature.

    Well played, cannabis, well played…

  27. I wish dispensaries sold old school red bud, Acapulco Gold, etc. Great taste and mellow high. We used to say pot doesn't give a hangover (in moderation), but this new super weed can make one quite foggy afterwards. I can't smoke it now because of my job. Someday… Nevertheless, I learned that the thing I liked was the peace of mind, and have learned to find it through other means such as meditation, mindfulness, and being content with the simple life rather than chasing material possessions. 😁😁

  28. One of the reasons it was illegal is simply that you can grow it easily. Unlike tobacco or other things like poppies and mushrooms.

  29. We need to prove to them that we’re willing to only spend our money on the good/safe/regulated cannabis, the only question now is: how do we do that ?

  30. So the weed in the US by law has to be organic and free of pesticides and artificial fertiliser chemicals, i use the word artificial there as poo and organics are still called fertilisers even though they are natural, which is allowed in weed growth. So this lie about this supposed "friend" who worked for a company spraying their plants with "chemicals" is just that, a total lie, no company would make their own product completely illegal to sell if they wanted to sell it now would they… In fact the weed industry has a far better set of regulations than the food industry does, or the medical industry itself, which is worrying to say the least.

  31. I think the prison industrial complex should be given rights to grow weed with inmates who volunteer to do it. If we give the prison industry a "way out" of torturing inmates and keeping innocent men in jail they will take it i guarantee it.

  32. Bear attacks are natural so they must be good for you. Vaccines are not natural so they must be bad for you.(sarcasm) Everything is chemicals. Being natural does not matter whatsoever.

  33. I have been an occasional pot smoker for 49 years. Based on my experience pot is not nearly as dangerous as alchohol, cigarettes, or even sugar. A pot smoker is more mild mannered than a drinker. If I had to choose between a alchodrinker and a smoker to drive me home I would choose the pot smoker.
    I think the laws against pot have been a travesty of justice and reprehensible. When alcohol came off prohibition law enforcement decided that pot was going to be targeted because minorities used it and it was competition for the alchohol industry. Religion called it the devil's weed.
    The tobacco industry blatantly lied about the benefits of tobacco. The over consumption of sugar causes more health problems than pot.

  34. I’m 51 and I have smoked Spence 9 years old . I went through the whole drug thing all the way to dope . Now I’m back to just smoking bud . Ben drug free for 7 years. Bud is not a harmful drug . It helped me get my life and family back . Oh yah it is way more potent then when I was young. So I just smoke less. What ever that means .

  35. Weed has completely ruined Colorado! I've lived here my entire life and Colorado just gets worse and worse everyday!

  36. Theres no link to thc causing crime or suicide. This Ted talk is the dumbest one yet. The speaker is uneducated and goes off subject on to some social justice issues that have nothing to do with legalization. Illegal grow opps are using pesticides and have nothing to do with increasing THC

  37. No one should be able to tell anyone what to do with their money. Regulation should always be on the side of the consumer not an “arbitrary” governing body of laws or individuals. If someone want to buy the best “weed” in the world for the highest price, they should have that right. Same if they are over paying. It is the consumers responsibility to govern their own affairs. Anyone who disagrees with this is contra-free markets.

  38. I went from acid->shrooms->bottles->weed, is this dude really trynna sell the weed is a getaway drug argument lmao

  39. RACE- RACE- RACE…..such PATHETIC rational and a LACK of common sense. The same activities are going on in low-income areas such as substance distribution, weed being among the many substances, but without a license. Hm. Legal to grow then selling without paying school taxes?. …..with parents like that, why aren't those kids doing better? Racism, right.

  40. RACE- RACE- RACE…..such PATHETIC rational and a LACK of common sense. The same activities are going on in low-income areas such as substance distribution, weed being among the many substances, but without a license. Hm. Legal to grow then selling without paying school taxes?. …..with parents like that, why aren't those kids doing better? Racism, right.

  41. it's not Genesis 1:12 – it's Genesis 1:29 – if you're going to present things as facts, please ensure you get them right – there is a legal maxim: false in one thing, false in everything – & as there is so many varieties of cannabis aka hemp different varieties have different levels of THC & THC is the main ingredient in fighting CANCER with full spectrum Cannabis oil – & that is a FACT & that FACT os well known & used for centuries until Henry Ford made the Hemp Car in 1940 & those with vested interests in the Petro dollar, OIL, mining, steel manufacture,, bio-fuels, BigPharma & the Cancer industry, textiles v cotton growers et al to name a few, just had to protect their profits so the name was changed from Cannabis to Marijuana & the propaganda of the "Reefer Madness" came into being which most people still believe – all bs, all of it – The Government has NO AUTHORITY to criminalise Mother Nature under Natural Law – you Ben are another fake bs propagandist

  42. The Harvest is the reward. Going to the store is not the same. Return to nature in a micro scale and return to the Garden of Eden again and choose the bush instead of the apple…

  43. He forgot to add the part why arrests went up. Legalization leads to regulation. Regulation gets politicians frothing at the mouth for more dollars in their pockets and more bodies in their jails.

  44. Never seen anyone smoke weed and say let's get some coke. But alcohol now, that's your gateway drug to disaster in bad decisions in every way.

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