Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jan 2003
Source: Paintsville Herald, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Paintsville Herald
Author: Mett Ausley, MD


Dear Editor, The Herald's recent article on marijuana's dangers (Fighting
drug legalization through prosecutors, December 27), essentially a press
release from the Drug Czar's office, reminds me of East Bloc propaganda from
the Cold War. There's nothing new, and the dire warnings simply reflect old
issues repackaged with a harder slant and shriller tone announcing the
government's position that marijuana now poses the greatest "threat" of all
drugs. Indeed that may be true, but the threat they're worried about isn't
health-related, rather the embarrassing possibility that the public may soon
overturn a cornerstone of drug policy by legalizing pot.

From a medical perspective, the seemingly bold health warnings are uniformly
ambiguous, stripped of context, misleading and plainly contrived to convey
alarm rather than fact. For example, the facile statement that marijuana is
"addictive" somehow escapes elaboration, leaving one to wonder how this
slippery term should apply here. The breathless revelation that marijuana
has surpassed heroin as a "factor" in emergency room visits loses its punch
when one considers that the number of heroin users is miniscule compared
with pot smokers. Condemning "medical" marijuana while trotting out the
shopworn "gateway theory" once again is downright shameless. Well..,
everybody gets to believe in Santa Claus for a while, I guess.

I do agree on one point-marijuana isn't harmless. Neither are sunshine,
aspirin or jogging. For some persons it can be habit-forming and impair
social function, and may cause more serious harm in a small minority of
users. At best, it's a frivolous diversion for adults. Anyone considering
using marijuana should be made aware of these small but genuine risks.
Regrettably, our officials, preoccupied with politics and saving face, are
attempting to foist upon us scurrilous disinformation labeled as health


Mett Ausley, MD
Lake Waccamaw, NC
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