Treat drug use as health problem

Re: “Legal marijuana a disaster in the making,” column, Aug. 5.

Lawrie McFarlane makes serious but questionable claims about the danger of legal marijuana. For the purpose of full disclosure, I am not and have never been a marijuana user in any form. However, I am a retired pharmacologist who knows about drug trials and scientific evidence.

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He starts with the statement that inhaled marijuana contains some of “the same carcinogens as tobacco.” This is not evidence but an implication. Tobacco smoking is not illegal, though clearly a public health danger for many reasons.

The misdirection in this article continues by talking about studies in which marijuana was not smoked but given in other forms.

Marijuana is complex chemically, containing multiple compounds, some with more psychoactive effect and others with medical effects such as being anti-inflammatory. McFarlane is correct that we need short-term clinical trials, which should be double blind. The question is, what has that to do with legalization of marijuana?

Legalization will avoid the criminalization of marijuana use, which is clearly detrimental to society by placing a lifelong stigma on those prosecuted and convicted. Alcohol consumption is much more dangerous than consumption of marijuana, both to the user and to the community.

In my opinion, we should treat all non-medical drug use as a public-health problem, not a headline scare tactic.

Edwin E. Daniel, PhD


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