Pubdate: Fri, 8 Jan 2010
Source: Visalia Times-Delta, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Visalia Times-Delta
Author: F. Aaron Smith


It's hard to know where to even begin with my reaction to Chet
Phillipe's guest commentary seeking to scare readers about the dangers
of marijuana ("Your Editorial: Marijuana is not a harmless drug," Dec.
16). Just about every sentence in Phillipe's piece contains a fallacy.
He makes wildly inaccurate claims about the health effects of
marijuana, but he fails to cite a source for any of these so-called

The tirade begins by claiming, "Marijuana is addicting and more
dangerous than nicotine. ..." Every year, there are over 400,000
tobacco-related deaths in this country but no recorded deaths from
marijuana ingestion. That's right, zero. As for addiction, the
National Institute of Medicine concluded in 1999 that marijuana was
far less addictive than other drugs -- including alcohol and nicotine.

According to U.S. government surveys, over a hundred million Americans
have used marijuana -- one would think that if this substance were as
hazardous as Phillipe wants us to believe, he'd be able to point to at
least one death that resulted from its use.

While I did get a good laugh out of the absurd claims that marijuana
makes men grow "floppy breasts" and women grow chest hair, this is the
stuff of junior high school urban legends -- not medical science.

To really find out what physicians think about marijuana, one should
ignore Phillipe's nonsense and instead look to the American Medical
Association, which recently called on the federal government to review
marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance.Or, read the California
Medical Association's resolution declaring "the criminalization of
marijuana to bea failed public health policy" and calling for a
discussion about changing the current laws.

F. Aaron Smith

California Policy Director

Marijuana Policy Project
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