Pubdate: Fri, 08 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bruce Mirken


The Chronicle's editorial "Where there's smoke, there's revenue?"
(Friday) gets a major point wrong: Marijuana is not "no worse than
alcohol." By any objective measure, marijuana is a far safer substance.

Marijuana is much less addictive than alcohol - with a dependence rate
of only 9 percent compared to 15 percent for booze (and 32 percent for
cigarettes). And it's massively less toxic. Every year, sadly, people
die of alcohol poisoning due to binge drinking, while there has never
been a medically documented marijuana-overdose death. Long-term heavy
alcohol use does gross, easily visible damage to the brain and liver -
so obvious you don't need a microscope to see it. Marijuana does
nothing of the sort.

And the main social cost of alcohol use is violence and aggression -
booze is a leading cause of domestic violence. In contrast, as the
journal Addictive Behaviors reported a few years ago, "cannabis
(marijuana) reduces the likelihood of violence during

Yes, let's have a debate on marijuana policy. And please, let's base
it on scientific facts.

Bruce Mirken

Marijuana Policy Project Washington, D.C.
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