Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jul 2001
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Clifford A. Schaffer
Note: Cliff Schaffer is the director of the DRCNet Online Library of Drug 


Sir, There is little evidence for Susan Greenfield's claim (Comment,
July 14) that cannabis causes brain damage in humans. In one famous
study where monkeys were force-fed huge amounts of cannabis smoke the
results showed brain damage, but the damage was more likely due to
carbon-monoxide poisoning and oxygen deprivation.

The most comprehensive study of the health effects of marijuana on
humans was done recently by Kaiser Health Group. They surveyed 65,000
patients and compared the medical records of long-term pot smokers
versus non-smokers. They found no significant differences in the
health histories of the two groups.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency's own Chief Administrative Law Judge
studied the health effects of marijuana for two years and accumulated
15 volumes of research. He concluded that marijuana is probably among
the safest drugs known to man.

Alcohol leads the field in damage to individuals and society, by
almost any standard of measurement, over all the illegal drugs
combined. However, US alcohol prohibition was a disaster. Arrests for
public drunkenness soared, homicides skyrocketed, corruption
flourished, and it caused a teenage drinking epidemic. Just because a
drug has dangers doesn't automatically mean that trying to prohibit it
is the best solution.

Lady Greenfield asks why people smoke cannabis. When Canada's 1970 Le
Dain Commission asked that question, people told them simply: "It
feels good." That is the same reason that people play golf, drink
beer, or engage in any number of other activities. But the vast
majority of them have the good sense not to overdo any form of recreation.

Yours faithfully,


DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy,

PO Box 1430, Canyon Country, CA 91386-1430.

- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake