Pubdate: Thu, 26 Nov 2009
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Gary Storck


In a recent column, Dr. Peter Gott wrote that smoking cannabis causes
health problems, even cancer, while admitting that he smokes tobacco,
a proven carcinogen.

Dr. Donald Tashkin, a researcher at UCLA has been searching for the
"smoking gun" since the 1970s. Tashkin's studies identified toxic
compounds in cannabis smoke, and he published photomicrographs showing
cannabis smoke damages cells lining the upper airways.

Yet in California in April 2008, at the National Clinical Conference
on Cannabis Therapeutics, I heard Tashkin report his findings that
smoking cannabis does not cause cancer.

Tashkin also discussed research on chronic obstructive pulmonary
disorder (COPD), finding that the more tobacco was smoked, the greater
the rate of decline. In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was
smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal. Tashkin's
conclusion is that his and other studies do not support the concept
that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD.

If Dr. Gott is so wrong about cannabis, how can we trust his other
advice? The proper prescription would be to attend next April's
cannabis conference. Patients Out of Time (see:
presents these conferences every two years. Mary Lynn Mathre, a nurse
and the group's cofounder, is scheduled to be in Madison on Dec. 15
for the combined Health committee hearing on the Jacki Rickert Medical
Marijuana Act.

Gary Storck, Madison, director of communications, Is My Medicine Legal
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