Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jun 2005
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2005 Allied Press Limited
Author: Jason Baker-Sherman
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


CORRESPONDENT L.H. Weston (30.5.05) states that "marijuana is clearly 
poisonous", and yet no person has ever died from an overdose of 
marijuana. Marijuana, an incredibly useful medicine itself, is 
therefore safer than any pharmaceutical drug.

L.H. Weston also claims that marijuana "is undoubtedly the cause of 
many crimes and of accidents", and although the authorities and the 
media are trying to create that impression, a more thorough analysis 
usually proves otherwise. A perfect example is the report headlined, 
"Cannabis found in skipper's bloodstream. Ship's stability 
questioned" (ODT, 24.5.05) which began, "Cannabis may have affected 
decisions made by a tuna boat skipper whose boat sank . . " This was 
based on the pathologist's "estimate" that the skipper had "taken" 
cannabis one to eight hours earlier. Such a supposition is absurd, 
however, as the THC (cannabis' active ingredient) concentration can 
vary typically from about 400 ng/ml of blood after one hour, to 2.5 
mg/ml (the minimum needed for effect) after about 2.5 hours, to 0.1 
ng/ml after five hours or even days later.

The report headed, "Recordings show 'lack of leadership' in police" 
(ODT, 28.5.05) suggested a different explanation for the deaths of 
the two fishermen.

Finally, L.H. Weston claims that prohibition controls drug abuse, 
"one of the greatest threats to our society". Yet every major 
governmental study has found instead that prohibition poses the far 
greater threat to society and is the real cause of the "drug 
problem". Prohibition clearly has not reduced illegal drug use, 
prevented drug abuse or protected youth. Credible drug education is 
impossible because all use is labelled abuse. Prohibition does, 
however, cause hardship, ruin lives and kill; waste police time and 
resources; allow organised crime and corrupt officials to make 
significant amounts of money; and provide scaremongers with a 
convenient scapegoat for society's many ills.

Jason Baker-Sherman