We are living in a day and age where science and politics often become entangled and intertwined in a mess of indiscernible agendas and blatant propaganda. Governmental agencies are held hostage by corporate interests, and can rarely create policies or make any decisions in favor of the public without having to cater to the demands of powerful corporations who typically care about nothing more than the bottom line. Any concern over social welfare, justice, equality, or environmentalism is primarily for the purpose of creating goodwill and a positive public perception, rather than fostering any lasting systemic change or facilitating real discussions on the problems that the human race is facing. Many companies institute “greenwashing” campaigns that market to ecologically minded consumers, but do very little to actually help address environmental issues.
One instance where these insidious policies and practices have affected the reported outcomes of scientific study is in the study of the effects of pesticides on plant pollinators, like bees and butterflies. For years now, we’ve been hearing about colony collapse disorder (CCD), and the role that neocontinoids in many insecticides are playing in the death of bee colonies. In the scientific community, there is a pretty strong consensus that these chemicals are having some effect on the health and longevity of bee populations, and may even be one of the main causes of CCD, though the studies have been inconclusive.
However, most recently, “A prominent Agriculture Department scientist is alleging that he was suspended after complaining that the agency was blocking his research into the harmful effects of pesticides on pollinators, such as bees and butterflies,” according to a recent article in the Washington Post. Even if the studies on neocontinoids have been unable to produce conclusive results, it is alarming that a USDA researcher would be blocked or discouraged from doing further research for primarily political reasons. The fact that the agricultural industry has such sway over scientific research that it can effectively cause delays or cease research altogether is also quite alarming.
If research in the field of entomology can turn controversial so quickly and become such a political game, the realm of forensic science and medical marijuana is sure to be rife with corrupt policies and scientific constraint and coercion. One such case in Michigan has been in the news recently, where a medical marijuana patient named Max Lorincz was “charged with a felony for having a ‘smear’ amount medical marijuana, in the form of Butane Hash Oil,” as it has been reported by Fox News 17. First and foremost, this man is a card-carrying patient, protected by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Law. Secondly, Mr. Lorincz was taking his medicine as recommended by his doctor, and also how he thought it was outlined in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) guidelines.
However, in this case, the Ottawa County Prosecutor and Michigan State Police have decided that the concentrate Mr. Lorincz was using is not qualified under the law, and the police crime lab that tested the “smear” that was found, also determined that it was of an “unknown origin.” This has allowed the police to not only charge Lorincz with a crime that he is obviously not guilty of, but has also lead to a prolonged court case in which he is being charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, on account of the ambiguity of the police test lab results. Since it was determined that the marijuana concentrate Mr. Lorincz was in possession of was from an unknown origin, it could be assumed that he was using synthetic marijuana, and felony charges were brought against him. A recent modification to the test result reporting procedures in state crime labs is the result of a “policy change,” that Max Lorincz’s lawyer, Michael Komorn says is for the purpose of escalating charges from a misdemeanor to a felony. It also allows for prosecutors to charge medical marijuana patients for using their medicine, since ambiguous crime lab test results can be misconstrued as showing evidence of synthetic marijuana use. Unfortunately, for Mr. Lorincz, the situation he now faces has also lead to the removal of his six year old son from his home, and a lengthy and costly interaction with the court.
It is becoming more apparent that the state police and court system in Michigan are working to grasp the last few straws left to grab in the failed war on drugs, right before cannabis prohibition is ended once and for all. Just as science is often swayed, obstructed, or slanted to support political agendas, as with research on insecticides and colony collapse disorder, the same is being done to circumvent laws that the people have already decided on. This is why we need an overwhelming majority now to support the decriminalization of cannabis nationwide, to change both federal and state policies, so we can prevent injustices from being perpetrated on law-abiding citizens like Max Lorencz.