Pubdate: Tue, 01 Dec 2009
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Wayne Phillips


Dear Editor,

Re: Grass not harmless at all, Nov. 17 Letters,
According to Alasdair M. Barr, PhD., Heidi N. Boyda, BSc. and Ric M.
Procyshyn, PharmD, PhD, the majority of people who use cannabis are unlikely
to develop any lasting mental illness as a result of its use.

However, continued cannabis use may result in a poorer long-term
outcome in those with an existing psychotic disorder. Cannabis use may
increase the chances of developing psychosis. Its use may also cause
psychosis to begin at an earlier age in those who are at a greater
risk for psychosis than the general population.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is
substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a
criminal issue but as a social and public health issue. Dr. Jack E.
Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L.
Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco ranked six
commonly abused drugs by five criteria. This comparison shows current
laws are not based on the potential harm caused by various substances.
If that were the case, then alcohol and cigarettes would be illegal.

The current laws against marijuana are without scientific basis. The
prohibition of cannabis neither safeguards those with existing
psychotic disorders or youth in general. So one has to wonder just how
legitimate (or serious) all these "concerns" actually are when
stakeholders (and others) would obviously rather send ineffective
"drug-free" messages, then support policy aimed at effectively
safeguarding youth and, by extension, the community at large.

Wayne Phillips,

Hamilton, Ontario 
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