Pubdate: Sat, 10 Oct 2015
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Steve Kravcik
Page: B6


For months, I have been amused and repelled by the American 
Republican race for presidential nominee, which has been dominated by 
jingoism, xenophobia and nonsense. Sadly, we have descended to these 
depths in our federal election.

It is incomprehensible that a controversy over whether a facial 
covering can be worn at a citizenship ceremony is at issue at all. 
This is a case addressing our rights as Canadians, which is being 
decided in the courts. It distracts us from far more germane issues. 
Now we have talk of federal hotlines to report barbaric cultural 
practices. Surely a simple call to the police will suffice.

Most stunning to me, though, is the Conservative leader's assertion 
that marijuana is "infinitely worse than tobacco." This statement is 
shocking in its sheer ignorance.

As a specialist in Internal Medicine in Ottawa, in the past 20 years 
I have admitted and cared for thousands of patients with illnesses 
directly related to smoking, be it heart disease, cancer, emphysema, 
or a dozen other ailments. In that time, I have admitted only one 
with a marijuana-related illness, and he walked out of hospital a day 
later as good as new.

No one would deny that marijuana is not benign, especially for teens. 
But its health effects and societal costs are a fraction of those 
attributable to cigarette smoking. To have a politician make this 
statement raises serious questions about his judgment and capacity to 
put societal well-being above political ambition. Stephen Harper is 
entitled to his own opinions, not to his own facts.

Steve Kravcik MD, Division of General Medicine, University of Ottawa, 
Staff Physician, Ottawa Hospital
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