Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
Source: Bay Area Reporter (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Bay Area Reporter / B.A.R.
Author: Robert Sharpe ,


The results of Dr. Murray Mittleman's study linking marijuana and heart
attacks are hardly newsworthy ["Pot raises heart attack risk, study
says," June 14]. The flaws are readily apparent to anyone with a basic
understanding of research methods. The sample size is statistically
insignificant, no casual relationship has been established, and the
study itself has never been replicated. Out of 3,882 patients who had
heart attacks, 124 were current cannabis smokers and nine had smoked
within an hour of their heart attack. Based on this minuscule,
self-selected sample, Dr. Mittleman concludes that the risk of a heart
attack is 4.8 times higher after smoking cannabis. Assuming the Dr.
Mittleman's conclusions are accurate, the fact that heart attack risk
for an otherwise healthy 50-year-old man is about 10 in 1 million
highlights the sensationalism of the widespread publicity the study is
receiving. Such junk science is routinely funded by the United States
government and well-publicized. Millions have been spent trying to find
harm in a relatively harmless plant. Regardless of whether or not the
study in question is ever replicated and subjected to peer review, the
results will no doubt be repeated by drug warriors for decades. 

The goal of a "drug-free" America that so many politicians claim to be
working toward applies only to certain drugs. Specifically, natural
drugs that cannot be patented by the pharmaceutical industry, one of
Washington's most powerful lobbies and a primary funder of the
Partnership for a Drug-Free America. New lifestyle drugs are routinely
granted fast-track government approval by the Food and Drug
Administration, while marijuana, which has been used medicinally for
thousands of years, allegedly requires further research. Despite a
relatively brief period on the market, the blatantly recreational drug
Viagra has already killed more people than marijuana, a relatively
harmless drug compared to toxic alcohol and highly addictive tobacco.
Nationwide, cancer and AIDS patients are being locked up at taxpayers'
expense for using medical marijuana, while 2-year-olds are prescribed
Ritalin. So much for protecting the children from drugs. One need only
follow the money trail to find out why a given policy exists. 

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.
Program Officer, The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, D.C.
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