Pubdate: Tue, 19 Aug 2003
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2003 PG Publishing
Author: Bruce Mirken
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The article "Teenager Recalls Spell Marijuana Cast Over Her" (Aug. 7) repeated
nearly every myth and urban legend about marijuana as if they were proven
facts. Most were refuted long ago. To take just a few:

Today's marijuana is not seven to 14 times stronger than what was used in the
late 1960s. As University of Southern California psychology professor Mitch
Earleywine explains in his book, "Understanding Marijuana" (Oxford University
Press, 2002), these calculations are based on small numbers of poorly stored
samples in which the THC (the component that produces the "high") had degraded.

Marijuana is not highly addictive. While a small percentage of users become
dependent on marijuana, that percentage is much smaller than for tobacco or
alcohol. The Institute of Medicine, in a report commissioned by the White
House, found such dependence to be "mild compared to dependence and withdrawal
seen with other drugs."

Marijuana does not damage the immune system. While some research suggests
immune system effects, the Institute of Medicine found "the magnitude is small"
and may have no relevance to human health. Studies of medical marijuana use by
AIDS patients found that the marijuana-using patients actually gained immune
system cells and kept the HIV virus under better control than those given a

We agree that teens should not use marijuana, but hysterical exaggerations of
its effects will only cause young people to disregard important messages from

Bruce Mirken, Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
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