Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jan 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Matthew M. Elrod
Page: A11


Re: "Little research on marijuana's dangers," column, Dec. 30.

Lawrie McFarlane is mistaken when he asserts that the health risks of 
smoking cannabis have not been sufficiently studied. McFarlane should 
review the research of Dr. Donald P. Tashkin of the University of 
California-Los Angeles: "In summary, the accumulated weight of evidence 
implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular 
heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of 

There are several reasons why cannabis smokers do not develop lung
cancer and COPD as do tobacco smokers, chiefly the volume of smoke
inhaled. Less than 10 per cent of cannabis smokers consume daily, and
those who do typically smoke less than one gram per day. Nonetheless,
we should encourage smokers to switch to edibles and vaporizers.

Far from being a "gateway" to other drugs, cannabis is an economic
substitute for alcohol, opiates and other drugs, such that when
cannabis use goes up, drinking and other drug use goes down. For
example, opiate overdose deaths have dropped 25 per cent on average in
U.S. states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Canadian teens consume the most cannabis in the developed world and
their average age of initiation is 15. They find cannabis easier to
obtain than alcohol and are twice as likely to try cannabis as to try
tobacco. Evidently, legally regulating alcohol does not make it more
"readily available" to minors, nor is the legality of tobacco
perceived as a societal endorsement.

Matthew M. Elrod

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