Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jun 2003
Source: Fort Saskatchewan Record, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2003 The Fort Saskatchewan Record
Author: Clifford Schaffer


Fort Saskatchewan Record--If Jane Buryn really wants to read the research 
on long-term marijuana use, she can find a big chunk of it at under the Cannabis Research Library. 
The largest study to date was done by the Kaiser Permanente health plan and 
reviewed the medical records of 65,000 patients over a period of six years. 
They found no significant differences between the health of marijuana 
smokers and those who did not smoke marijuana. The sum of the research

on the subject shows that marijuana is simply not a major threat to public 

But more important that studies of health effects are studies of policy. We 
all know that alcohol is harmful in many ways. In the US it is associated 
with half of all deaths from auto accidents, homicides, drowning, and 
fires; half of all domestic abuse; two-thirds of all sexual assaults on 
children; and, according to the US Department of Justice, it is the only 
drug with any real connection to drug-induced violence. It can destroy your 
liver, damage your brain, and kill you with an overdose. As bad as alcohol 
is, that doesn't mean that prohibition was a sensible solution. In fact, 
prohibition only made things worse.

Alcohol prohibition was passed in 1920 with a campaign of "Save the 
Children from Alcohol." Within five years, homicides had skyrocketed to 
record levels, public drunkenness arrests were thirty percent over the 
previous records, and there were tens of thousands of arrests for 
prohibition violations including corrupt police who were sent off to prison 
literally by the trainload. Even worse, it caused the biggest drinking 
epidemic ever seen among US children. Schools had to cancel dances because 
so many kids showed up with hip flasks full of whiskey. Teen admissions to 
hospitals for alcohol problems soared. Bootleggers hired children to sell 
alcohol. Some of the early supporters of Prohibition turned against because 
they said it made it easier than ever for their children to get alcohol. 
Prohibition was repealed in 1933 with a campaign of "Save the Children from 

The moral of the story is simple: Just because something is dangerous -- 
like alcohol and similar drugs -- that doesn't mean that prohibition is the 
best solution. In fact, prohibition only drives the problem underground 
where it is harder for ordinary social services to deal with it.

And that, in a nutshell, is the basic conclusion of every major study of 
the laws in the last 100 years. They all agreed that the laws against 
marijuana are misguided, based on ignorance and nonsense, and should be 
repealed because they do more harm than good. If Jane Buryn wants to read 
these studies, she can find the full text of most of them at 
http://www.druglibrary/schaffer under Major Studies of Drugs And Drug Policy.

In response to the editor's note, it is certainly true that the DEA has 
research on the health effects of marijuana. What they do not have is any 
significant study of drug policy (i.e., the laws as an effective approach) 
that supports their point of view. I know. I have been asking them for any 
such study for the last fifteen years and no one has come up with even one yet.

Clifford Schaffer

Director, DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy Agua Dulce, California

P.S. You mentioned the NORML site but, if you follow the links to their 
library, you wind up at mine. Thanks for the indirect mention. It shows you 
guys are doing your homework and that alone deserves a round of applause.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom