Pubdate: Mon, 6 Jul 2009
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Bruce Mirken


Congressman Mark Kirk, a Republican from Highland Park, recently
introduced legislation to massively increase penalties for producers
and sellers of higher-potency marijuana. It's hard to know what's
worse, the congressman's scientific ignorance or his blatant hypocrisy.

Kirk said he thought the penalty for selling high-THC marijuana should
be equivalent to that for cocaine. From a scientific perspective,
that's laughable. Unlike cocaine, THC is essentially non-toxic. It is
literally impossible to fatally overdose on even the highest-strength
marijuana. And scientific experts remain unconvinced that higher-THC
marijuana is any more dangerous.

A review published last year by the journal Addiction noted that
warnings about escalating marijuana potency date back to at least
1975, and that the evidence for claims of major increases in potency
is "fragmented and fraught with methodological errors."

The researchers concluded that "more research is needed" to determine
whether increased potency increases risk at all. International experts
report that when marijuana is more potent, users simply smoke less,
just as they drink a smaller amount of bourbon than they would beer.
Yet Kirk wants us to believe that marijuana is somehow magically different.

The scientific fact - as verified by another prestigious scientific
journal, The Lancet - is that marijuana of any strength is far safer
than either tobacco or alcohol: It's less addictive, far less toxic,
and massively less likely than booze to provoke violence or aggression.

Over the years, Congressman Kirk has raked in thousands of dollars of
campaign cash from the tobacco and alcohol industries, including the
company that owns Philip Morris tobacco and the National Beer
Wholesalers Association.

Meanwhile, he engages in empty political posturing about a nonexistent
threat from high-strength marijuana. It's a cheap and dangerous
political ploy that should be soundly rejected.

Bruce Mirken

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake