Pubdate: Sun, 13 Aug 2000
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Contact:  333 King St. E., Toronto, Ontario M5A 3X5 Canada
Fax: (416) 947-3228
Author: Matthew M. Elrod,
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor; headline by newshawk


I WOULD like to know where Linda Williamson heard that, "Today's pot is up 
to 2,500 times more potent than the stuff aging boomers might have 
experimented with in college," (Sunday Sun, Aug 6).

A study on cannabis potency, issued last summer by the National Drug and 
Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, analyzed data 
collected in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. The authors found that, at 
most, cannabis seizures tested for potency have shown small increases in 
THC content, from 2% to 3.4%, since 1980. Granted, some extraordinarily 
potent samples contain as much as 10% THC, but for cannabis to be 2,500 
times more potent than rope, it would have to be over 100% THC. What's 
holding these plants up?

While it is true that "One study in 1994 found 276 drivers killed in 
accidents had used pot," the study indicated the drivers had used cannabis 
within the previous weeks leading up to their accidents and it made no 
attempt to determine who was to blame for those accidents. A more accurate 
study and meta-analysis of existing studies by Prof. Alison Smiley at the 
University of Toronto confirmed that drivers who smoke cannabis are 
marginally less likely to have an accident than those who are drug-free.

In any event, there is no evidence cannabis laws reduce availability or 
usage rates, so even if cannabis causes "reefer madness," is the "assassin 
of youth," is as addictive as nicotine, as impairing as alcohol, as 
carcinogenic as hamburger and as toxic as aspartame, it still would not 
make sense to squander finite law enforcement resources on cannabis 

Evidently cannabis does not become less available, less popular, less 
potent or less impairing when it is prohibited.

Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria, B.C.

(As Linda notes in her column today, opposite, the "2,500 times" figure is 
a mistake. It comes from an RCMP document which actually said today's pot 
is up to 700% stronger than 30 years ago, and some hashish oil can be up to 
2,500% stronger)
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D