Herbal essences

Considering the confusion and chaos surrounding the latest presidential election in Mexico, it’s not difficult to imagine millions of Mexicans saying, “Caramba! Our elections are getting as weird as America’s!” Conversely, it’s easy to imagine the millions of Americans back in 2000 and 2004 who said, “Doggone it! Our elections have become about as credible as Mexico’s!”

With all the allegations and accusations about electronic connivery becoming commonplace in the electoral process, it’s now more important than ever to approach a major election like a championship boxing bout; if you’re the challenger, you better make sure you knock the champ out because you can’t trust the judges to give you the close decision. So in order to avoid a nasty hosing on the scorecard, you better stomp your opponent by a margin of about 57 to 43 percent since elections here in the modern age are performing a lot like our political polls: with a margin for error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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A new medical study has just been released, the findings of which will interest the herbally oriented readers who used to party with “Mary Jane” back when they were crazy college students but who, of course, haven’t even seen a joint, much less sucked on one, in the past 10 to 40 years because, you know, they’re now responsible adults who just get fucked up on beer, wine, vodka, Xanax, and, when they go boating, malt liquor. Anyway, this was a study of pot smokers to determine how dangerous their habit might be to their lungs. Specifically, how much lung cancer is to be found among long-time users of the viper weed?

The answer was, as is so often the case in medical studies, unexpected. The researchers concluded that even the heaviest “herbalists” had no increased risk of contracting lung cancer. This was unexpected because, according to head pulmonologist Donald Tashkin of the University of California, pot smoke contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which is now well-established as one of the all-time truly great carcinogens. So Tashkin and his team reasonably figured they would find at least a little higher incidence of lung cancer among his stony subjects. Instead, Tashkin reports, “We found no association at all. In fact, there’s even a suggestion of a protective effect.” As to what that effect might be or from where it might come, the team is reluctant to speculate. But Tashkin stands behind the findings. “This is the largest case control study ever done. So I believe these results have real meaning.” (Number of subjects in the study—2,000.)

I lifted that story from the June 16 issue of The Week newsmagazine, which ran it underneath a classic photo of Cheech and Chong, the Laurel and Hardy of the ’70s, driving along, sharing a joint the size of a ballpark frank.