More Reefer Madness Yellow Journalism in Australia

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
More Australian Reefer Madness Journalism Yesterday, we published a newsbrief about the Australian media frenzy over "super dope", but the yellow journalism about marijuana coming from Down Under just keeps coming. Early in the week, it was the "super dope" scare, where the Aussies whipped themselves into a frenzy over kind bud. By late in the week, there was a new wave of hysterical marijuana reporting, this time centering on people who have both indoor marijuana grow operations and children. "Children in Drug Den Danger!" screamed the Daily Telegraph in an article about raids on two Sydney homes where parents were growing pot:
SIX children aged as young as five have been forced to live and sleep within metres of toxic chemicals and cancer-causing cannabis plants - all because their parents wanted a quick dollar.
Whoa! "Cancer-causing cannabis plants"!?!?!? This is just simply absurd. As far as I know, no one, not even Harry Anslinger, has ever claimed that a growing marijuana plant is carcinogenic. I suspect this is merely bad reporting; as the Australian AP reported in its account of the raids, the equally silly Kids Allegedly Forced to Sleep Near Mum's Toxic Pot:
South West Metropolitan Region Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli, said the raids followed tip-offs from the public. "Hydro houses pose significant risk and it appalls me that anyone would have such a disregard for safety that they would jeopardise the lives of children," Mr Mennilli said. "We've gone into some of these homes where young children – one even on a ventilator – are sleeping only metres away from these plants and carcinogenic contaminants. "In all these homes the electricity supplies have been illegally and dangerously diverted, posing a huge risk of fire – endangering the lives of those inside and people living in neighbouring homes."
Ah, it's not the plants that are carcinogenic; it's those darned "contaminants." It appears the "contaminants" referred to here are nothing more than the chemical fertilizers used to make the plants grow faster. As Mennilli put it in the Daily Telegraph story, "So not only do you have the odour from the plants but also you have the chemicals used in relation to the growth of these plants. The "highly toxic" chemical fertilizers are so dangerous they are sold in nurseries and greenhouses and Walmarts and K-Marts across the land. They are so dangerous, they are used by millions of little old gardeners without a second thought. Now, you probably don't want your kid drinking the stuff or making Kool-Aid out of powdered fertilizer, but fertilizer is fertilizer. It's no more dangerous when used to grow marijuana than it is when used to grow tomatoes. The Australian media should be ashamed of itself. It not only uncritically accepts police statements at face value; it then runs with them to the point of simply making shit up. "Cancer-causing cannabis plants," indeed! "Toxic chemicals," oh my! I will give Mennilli and the media accounts props for mentioning the risk of fire from improperly wired, illegally obtained electricity. You can start a fire trying to do that. But even the fire hazard is a function of prohibition, not marijuana. People steal electricity not because it's cheaper, but because they wish to avoid being busted by cops monitoring their electrical use.

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