Dunkin’ Donuts has been running a commercial recently that really bothers me. It’s a cute little spot about kids imitating their parents before they’ve had their morning coffee.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my morning coffee. Meeting a friend over a nice latte is a real treat. Plus the commercial is very cute and clever, and I really like clever. But when I think about the hypocrisy of the bigger message it sends, my blood starts to boil.
I’ll let you watch it, and then I’ll explain. But while you watch, just imagine if these kids were talking about their parents and cannabis.
We accept caffeine as just coffee. Something we drink to get us going in the morning, or a little Coca-cola pick-me-up in the afternoon. No big deal. We don’t think of it as a drug. We don’t think of it as dangerous. And we’re certainly not going to make it illegal when it’s not even regulated.
That’s right. Caffeine isn’t regulated. Manufacturers aren’t required to list the caffeine content on the label of their products. It’s estimated that caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world.
Although caffeine wakes us up and gives us energy, it’s not without its dark side. From 25 Shocking Caffeine Addiction Statistics (my comments in italics):
- It’s believed that some 3 out of 4 (75%) regular caffeine users are actually addicted to the substance. (Compare that to the 9% of cannabis users or the 15% of alcohol drinkers who become addicted.)
- After addiction, withdrawal from the use of caffeine can cause mood swings and irritability, similar to the symptoms of withdrawing from a narcotic or alcohol. (According to the Addiction Center, when compared to drugs that have severe and lengthy withdrawal periods, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, the withdrawal process from marijuana is much easier.)
- The FDA says that you can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. Consuming as little as 200mg of caffeine every day can lead to addiction and altered chemistry in the brain. Another 100mg per day can lead to increased anxiety, panic disorders, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, flushed skin, depression, and even slurred speech. (Some symptoms of cannabis over-consumption are paranoia, anxiety, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, disorientation, and nausea.)
- Five grams of caffeine can be fatal. This is the equivalent of some 30-40 cups of regular coffee. (In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.)
- Some 50% of people who quit using caffeine experience severe headaches which typically last between 2 and 9 days. Half of people who quit also stated that they had difficulty avoiding the use of caffeine permanently. (Cannabis has been used to successfully treat migraines. However, some cannabis consumers report mild headaches upon quitting.)
Look. I like my coffee as much as any one. But it just seems so hypocritical to advertise, even celebrate, a drug that we know can kill people while demonizing cannabis that has never killed anyone in thousands of years of human history.
I’ve recently read reports citing the dangers of Cannabis Use Disorder and Marijuana Addiction, and yet, researchers admit that symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are no worse than caffeine.
I watch this commercial and think how outraged people would be if these kids were talking about their parents before they had their morning wake-n-bake, calling them ridiculous and saying they run into walls like bumper cars with one eye open. But we accept this as normal, even amusing, as we go about our favorite morning ritual of staggering to the coffee maker like zombies starving for brains.
I’m not trying to debate the merits of one person’s drug of choice over another. I’m happy to save that for another time. But I am trying to point out that we need a little science and reason when developing drug policy, or any policy for that matter. There is no logical reason why cannabis is Schedule 1 (drugs with no medicinal value, the worst of the worst), while alcohol isn’t scheduled and is under the authority of the ATF, and caffeine isn’t scheduled or regulated at all.
How does that make sense? How is that reasonable public policy? When it comes to drug policy, the time to replace fear with science and reason is long overdue.
For more information on the health effects of caffeine, please visit 25 Shocking Caffeine Addiction Statistics at Health Research Funding.
— Rx MaryJane (Teri Robnett)
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