Pubdate: Tue, 24 Dec 2002
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2002 The Telegram
Author: Philip Slattery


Concerning the letter to the editor "Marijuana and you," Dec. 21. Could I 
point out a couple of errors in Mr. Chas Luters' claims?

First, Smoking Risks

The study he quotes (the Berkeley carcinogenic tar studies of the late 
1970s) used the leaves of tobacco and cannabis, but as everyone who wishes 
to discuss this problem should know it is not the leaves of cannabis that 
are smoked but the flowers or "bud."

These can be shown to contain one-third less tar than tobacco. There has 
never been a single case of cancer attributed to cannabis.

Mental Health Risks

Concerning the health-care risks -- every single "health-care risk" is 
reversible on cessation of use, unlike the health risks of other legal 
drugs. He says "ask any mental-health care professional." I take it he did 
not bother!

I quote Colin Blakemore, a professor of physiology at Oxford University: 
"if cannabis really was causing schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, 
why had the incidence of these illnesses not risen as dramatically as 
cannabis use over the past 50 years?

"I don't know of any evidence that the incidence of schizophrenia has 
changed a jot in the past 100 years, or ever."

Other Risks

As for the "decreased sperm count, etc.," well, really, Mr. Luter should 
have checked first -- all the claims he makes were refuted years ago on 
peer review.

If one wants to find unbiased trustworthy information about drugs, the 
Wellcome Trust has put a very useful resource on the United Kingdom's 
government's Drugscope Website.

See the media briefing at:

Philip Slattery


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