Pubdate: Thu, 03 May 2007
Source: Eye Weekly (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 Eye Communications Ltd.
Author: Stephen J. Barringer


Re "Just say yes, already," Editorial Digest, April 26: For those who
think that marijuana is a "relatively harmless sedative," as your
editorial describes it, I would recommend reviewing the public change
of stance taken by the British newspaper The Independent on the issue
of legalization.

In a startling reversal of its previous position, The Independent
cites some quite alarming statistics, including:

* More than 22,000 people were treated in Britain in 2006 for
cannabis addiction, half of them under 18.

* The number of young people in treatment almost doubled in 2006,
from 5,000 to 9,600.

* Research published in the medical journal The Lancet in the same
week shows cannabis to be more dangerous than LSD or ecstasy.

* The popular varieties of cannabis today are over 25 times as
potent as the varieties generally used 10 years ago, and much more
likely to cause permanent damage to the brains of habitual users.

This may not discourage advocates for decriminalization -- analogies
to the social damage done by alcohol are still relevant -- but it may
ensure that those advocates are honest about the dangers of the drug
rather than falsely claiming it to be "relatively harmless." Every man
may have the right to go to hell in his own way, as Robert Frost once
wrote; that doesn't mean the rest of us are obliged to grease the
slope downwards with misinformation.

Stephen J. Barringer
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