Pubdate: Thu, 8 Oct 2009
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2009 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Mike Meno


I was disturbed to see that a recent health column by Sarah Baldauf
about the effects of marijuana ("What Parents Need to Know About Pot,"
Oct. 6, 2009) was in fact a verbatim reprint of a syndicated Aug. 2008
article, and wasn't updated with any new findings published on the
topic since the article was first written more than a year ago.

Much research since Aug. 2008 has cast further doubt on claims about
the harms of marijuana. For example, the claim that marijuana use
leads to "a greater risk of cancer to the head and neck" was refuted
by two 2009 studies. One, in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology,
Biomarkers, & Prevention, found the risk of head and neck cancer "was
not elevated" among marijuana users. Another, in Cancer Prevention
Research, found that people who use marijuana actually have a lower
risk of head and neck cancer than people who don't use marijuana.

That doesn't mean marijuana is for kids -- it's not. But if parents
really want to protect their children from marijuana, they should ask
lawmakers to support a system that would tax and regulate marijuana in
a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco. If marijuana were regulated
and sold only by licensed merchants who check IDs, it would become
harder for underage teenagers to purchase it. That's why teen
cigarette smoking has dropped like a rock since the early '90s, while
teen marijuana use has not. Drug dealers do not check IDs.

Mike Meno, Washington

The writer is assistant director of communications of the Marijuana
Policy Project. 
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