HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Lobby Takes Another Hit
Pubdate: Tue, 05 Dec 2006
Source: Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Chilliwack Times
Author: John Martin


Life just got considerably more difficult for potheads, stoners and 
other pro-marijuana activists seeking the legalization of their 
favourite herb. The Australian National Council on Drugs just 
released a report that reviews the findings of several hundred 
studies looking at the evidence-based effects of marijuana. And the 
results are damning for legalization and decriminalization advocates 
who have long argued that marijuana is essentially harmless, 
especially relative to tobacco and alcohol.

The report highlights the dangers cannabis can have on users 
predisposed to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. There is 
evidence linking the development of cancers in the children of 
cannabis-using mothers. Research shows cannabis may precipitate 
psychosis, anxiety and schizophrenia in vulnerable people. There is 
compelling evidence that cannabis may aggravate depression and 
increase the risk of suicide, especially for adolescent girls. 
Regular users experience higher rates of aggression and violence than others.

Cannabis use is highly associated with impaired academic performance, 
school absenteeism and earlier school leaving. Early use is a 
predictor of immature sexual activity, unplanned pregnancy, poor 
parenting and abortion. Adolescent use is associated with 
delinquency, crime and deviant peer affiliations above and beyond the 
illegality of marijuana. Overall, emotionally, users are more likely 
to be dissatisfied with life.

One in 10 users develop some degree of dependence. Heavy users report 
problems including tolerance, withdrawals, craving and other social 
and psychological issues. Regular adolescent users are more likely to 
be maladjusted, interpersonally alienated, emotionally distressed and 
have low impulse control. Marijuana use is associated with decreased 
blood flow to the area of the brain that regulates attention and cognition.

The report also includes unflattering evidence regarding driving 
performance, which makes the federal government's announcement to 
crack down in this area most welcome.

The pro-marijuana lobby is fond of rattling off the potential 
therapeutic uses of cannabis. While there are some reports marijuana 
may be useful in addressing conditions including nausea, weight loss, 
pain, neurological disorders, glaucoma and asthma, any benefits 
appear to be short term and of limited application.

Clearly marijuana is here to stay and it's inevitable that the 
legislation will eventually change. Enforcing the laws in this area 
is problematic and inefficient given the lackadaisical attitude of 
the courts. But the debate is being conducted in a dishonest and 
insincere manner.

Just as governments were guilty of knowingly misstating the facts and 
promoting the ridiculous hysteria associated with the reefer madness 
era, pro-marijuana activists are being anything but truthful. They 
consistently dismiss evidence-based research confirming the harmful 
effects of cannabis while inventing fictitious storylines about the 
medical benefits. This partly explains why the pro-pot lobby, unlike 
other activists, has been relatively unsuccessful at influencing law 
and policy on this matter.

Another reason may be users tend to not get a whole lot done before 
late afternoon.
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