Pubdate: Mon, 11 Dec 2000
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: Allied Press Limited, 2000
Contact:  P.O. Box 181, 52-66 Lower Stuart Street, Dunedin, New Zealand
Author: J. Kearney
Note: Headline supplied by newshawk


NO-ONE IN THE cannabis debate appears to be denying that smoking cannabis 
might entail some health risks. There are, however, significant differences 
between cannabis and tobacco usage, and also their effects on the body, 
which Prof Robin Taylor's "Cannabis as bad as tobacco" study ( ODT , 
27.11.00) omitted to mention. Tobacco smoking is nearly always a daily 
habit with most smokers consuming at least 10 cigarettes per day. Prof 
Taylor's research, on the other hand, reveals that 80% of cannabis use is 
only occasional. Most tobacco users are, therefore, at risk of lung damage 
compared to only 20% of cannabis users.

Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is an addictive poison, whereas 
the cannabinols of cannabis are non-toxic, non-addictive and have proven 
medical utility. Tobacco smoke constricts the lungs' airways and kills the 
lung-cleansing bronchial hairs, whereas cannabis has the opposite effect, 
even when smoked, by acting as a bronchodilator and expectorant.

It is therefore ironic that the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation will be 
using Prof Taylor's mistaken conclusions to support cannabis prohibition 
when cannabis has been used safely for centuries as an effective asthma 
treatment. Indeed, cannabis was available in cigarette form for this very 
purpose in chemists, and advertised in newspapers, throughout New Zealand 
until the hysteria of "marijuana madness" saw it pulled from the shelves in 

J. Kearney,
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