Pubdate: Thu, 14 Mar 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Peter Webster


Re: Ignoring health hazards of marijuana 'hypocritical', March 7.

The claim that medicinal cannabis is more harmful than tobacco has little 
recognized scientific support. It represents a moralistic stance that 
capitalizes on current anti-tobacco hysteria to support continued cannabis 

It is surely more dangerous to the respiratory passages to live in a 
polluted urban area such as London or Los Angeles than to have a few daily 
puffs of medical cannabis. The quantity and frequency of marijuana use 
required for a given application such as anti-nausea is low, so the smoke 
intake is very modest compared with the around-the-clock breathing of 
polluted air.

There are thousands of deaths yearly in major cities directly caused by air 
polluted with a wide range of carcinogens and irritants (in the U.K., 
microparticulates from diesel exhaust alone are thought to kill 10,000 
people a year). In contrast, no one has identified a single death or cancer 
caused by marijuana smoking.

Why should living in polluted air seem an acceptable, even disregarded 
risk, while light to moderate medical marijuana smoking is denounced as 

The smoked method of using medical marijuana may lead to some 
as-yet-unproved harm to the respiratory passages. But there is simply no 
practical, logical, or medical argument that can justify the risking of 
stomach lesions when taking Aspirin for its neurological effects, while 
denouncing the smoking of medical marijuana for effective therapeutic 
purposes, because of the risk of possible lung damage. Is lung tissue more 
sacred than the stomach lining?

Peter Webster,

Auvare, France,

Review Editor,

International Journal of Drug Policy 
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