Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Gordon Clark
Page: A5


Another week, another massive study by top doctors and scientists
finding limited medicinal value to marijuana. When liberal politicians
such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Vancouver Mayor Gregor
Robertson claim to be implementing "evidence-based" public policy, I
find it odd they have such a blind spot with pot.

A new report by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, 
and Medicine - The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The 
Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research - reviewed 
10,700 studies on the medicinal qualities of marijuana and concluded 
there is "conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or 
cannabinoids are effective" for only three conditions: chronic pain in 
adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and patient-reported multiple 
sclerosis spasticity.

The report reached similar conclusions to a review of research
published in June by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It found "moderate-quality" evidence pot controls pain and MS
spasticity. An editorial with the JAMA article argued the political
agenda to legitimize "medical" marijuana was pushing ahead without
adequate research.

The National Academies report also listed the significant harms of
marijuana, including:

* "substantial evidence" that smoking pot causes "worse respiratory
symptoms and more frequent bronchitis episodes"

* increased risk of motor vehicle crashes

* moderate evidence of increased risk of overdose injuries, including
respiratory distress among children

* substantial evidence that pot use by pregnant women results in
newborns with lower birth weights

* moderate evidence it causes impairment of "the cognitive domains of
learning, memory and attention" with acute use

* substantial evidence linking cannabis use with the "development of
schizophrenia or other psychoses"

* substantial evidence linking increases in cannabis use frequency
with "progression to problem cannabis use".

How can any responsible public official rush into loosening controls
on marijuana without thoroughly considering the negative impacts?

The new study, for example, found "limited evidence" cannabis is
effective at treating weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients, anxiety,
posttraumatic stress disorder, dementia, glaucoma, depression, cancer,
anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy and on and on.

For the most part, the medical marijuana industry is making false
claims to sell pot because people like to get high. I wish everyone
would own up to that fact. I say as someone who supports
decriminalization because it makes no sense saddling people with
criminal records over relatively innocuous behaviour.

Look at Colorado. In almost any way it can be measured, increased
marijuana use is causing a host of societal problems, including higher
rates of marijuana-impaired driving, pot use by teenagers and young
adults, school drop-out rates, marijuana-related hospital visits, and
accidental exposure by children.

I'm not interested in launching a new form of reefer madness, but
doesn't government have a responsibility to discourage behaviour that
isn't good for people?

There was some good news in the new U.S. study. Marijuana use is not
linked to lung, head or neck cancers, heart attacks, strokes or
pregnancy complications, to list a few.

The authors call on the U.S. federal government to make changes to its
drug laws so that more research on marijuana and its effects can be
conducted. That, at least, is something those for and against
marijuana can agree on.
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MAP posted-by: Matt