Pubdate: Fri, 23 Nov 2007
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2007 Times Argus
Author: Andy Leader


At least two Times-Argus letter writers have made false claims lately 
regarding the supposed harmlessness of marijuana. Walter Carpenter 
claims that "marijuana does far less harm than cigarettes," and 
Clancy DeSmit asserts that "We all know that alcohol and/or tobacco 
are far more harmful to individuals and society than marijuana."

We do? Actually, not. Contrary to perceived hippie lore, marijuana 
has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be both far more 
harmful to the lungs and immune system than cigarette smoke and more 
damaging to brain function and learning ability than comparable alcohol use.

A quick tour of health-related Web sites supported by many scientific 
studies and agencies, including the National Institute of Health and 
the British Lung Foundation, turned up these facts:

Marijuana smoke has 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing hydrocarbons 
than cigarette smoke.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, impairs the immune system. 
Users get sick more seriously and more often than non-users.

Short-term brain effects include problems with memory, learning, 
thinking, and problem solving, and loss of coordination.

Longer term effects include depression, anxiety, and other serious 
personality disturbances.

I've known people who never became the engineers, physicians, 
scientists or other real problem-solvers they might have become had 
they not blown their minds on pot. And I think I know others who, for 
the same reason, can't seem to see the forest for the trees in their 
political opinions or their personal relationships.

I doubt that sending every confused and physically weakened pot head 
to jail is the answer. But I strongly support Gov. Douglas in sending 
a very clear message that pot is off limits. It has been shown to be 
a physical danger and a mental illness accelerator, and its more 
widespread use would be devastating to our adult citizens, to our 
young people, and to the progress and safety of our country.

Andy Leader

North Middlesex 
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