Marijuana's Health Risks Outweigh Any Benefits

Marijuana's Health Risks Outweigh Any Benefits
Posted by CN Staff on March 06, 2004 at 08:39:29 PT
By Sharon Kirkey, CanWest News Service 
Source: Edmonton Journal 
As a teenager, Dom Cramer's anti-drug attitudes would have made any parent proud. He bought into the "Just Say No" government campaigns and the warnings from the police who visited his high school that marijuana was a surefire gateway to more hardcore drugs.Today, Cramer owns the Toronto Hemp Company, a Yonge Street store that sells everything from hemp soaps and lip balms to rolling machines and "defunk smell remover spray." Cramer, now 30, began smoking pot in university, after he stopped believing "all the lies I was taught in high school." He smokes marijuana frequently, although says he can go for weeks or months without it.
Cramer calls cannabis the ideal "social lubricant -- something to do instead of drinking alcohol, something to share with people and bond people." The drug also "helps take your mind off things, it helps you relax."Even experts believe cannabis can have positive health and physiological effects, and groups such as Canadians for Safe Access argue that the health repercussions of recreational marijuana use would never come close to matching the harm done by cigarettes or alcohol.The debate over the health impact of marijuana took on renewed significance when the Liberal government introduced Bill C-10 in the House of Commons last month.The bill would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of up to 15 grams of pot and up to three marijuana plants would be punishable under the new law by fines of between $100 and $500.According to the 2002 special Senate committee report on illegal drug use, close to 30 per cent of the Canadian population aged 12 to 64 has used cannabis at least once.About two million Canadians aged 18 and older have used cannabis sometime during the past 12 months, 600,000 have used the drug in the past 30 days, and approximately 10,000 use it daily. (The committee sharply criticized health officials for failing to monitor pot use, saying knowledge of patterns of cannabis use in Canada "verges on the abysmal." They relied on epidemiological data from two surveys, in 1989 and 1994, to estimate marijuana use.)Complete Title: Marijuana's Health Risks Outweigh Any Benefits, Experts Say: Small Margin Between Good, Bad Effects Snipped: Complete Article: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)Author: Sharon Kirkey, CanWest News Service Published: Saturday, March 06, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Edmonton JournalContact: letters thejournal.canwest.comWebsite: http://www.edmontonjournal.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:Toronto Hemp News Canadian Links Campaigned Against Marijuana Menace Grow Ops Raise Cash for Crime Want Private Sector To Fight Grow-Ops 
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Comment #23 posted by mayan on March 08, 2004 at 01:02:00 PT
As Observer has pointed out many a time. Make them justify our imprisonment. JAIL - JAIL - JAIL! 
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Comment #22 posted by Patrick on March 07, 2004 at 14:59:15 PT
Thanks afterburner
…for the explanation. Personally, I don't view challenging unjust laws in the courts as being necessarily subversive. I was thinking of the term subversive more as in being deceitful, like Anslinger was in order to get the Marijuana Tax Act to pass in 1937 here in the states. 
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Comment #21 posted by afterburner on March 07, 2004 at 11:49:16 PT:
Patrick, re ''subversive litigation''
Alan Young was the first prominent attorney to take cases "subversive" to Canadian cannabis prohibition, trying to change the cannabis possession law by court challenge. Following in his footsteps John Conroy continued a similar strategy. Alan Young was responsible for the first legal medical cannabis user, Jim Wakeford's, exemption from the cannabis possession law. This started a string of court battles, eventually forcing the federal government to set up the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR), making Canada the first country to legalize medical cannabis. Later court cases forced the government, that is Health Canada, to provide a safe supply of medical cannabis. Needless to say, Health Canada has approached every turn with reluctance, delays in granting exemptions, the nearly impossible requirement of two medical referrals (later overturned to one referral by the courts), and the provision of substandard Flin Flon schwag. --Canadian feds start selling schwag!, in the Canadian Supreme Court, a trio of cases involving cannabis possession, trafficking, and cultivation, "Malmo-Levine, Caine and Clay, ... sought to overturn Canada's marijuana laws as being unconstitutional." David Malmo-Levine represented himself. "University of Toronto law professor Alan Young, ... represented Christopher Clay..." "and [the Randy] Caine lawyer...[was] John Conroy, 604-852-5110 -- " --NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- December 23, 2003 above details are highly summarized. For more details search for the court cases involved and media commentary, and see also the Ontario Court of Appeals ruling that resurrected prohibition by rewriting the MMAR regulations: NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- October 8, 2003
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Comment #20 posted by Patrick on March 07, 2004 at 10:49:24 PT
The full article…
Goes on to elaborate the health risks and points to at least eight separate harms. Many of the harms are very questionable but all of the harms to health read like any other over-the-counter medication-warning label in my opinion. That begs the question of the "criminality" of certain drugs. Why a division of legal and illegal with regards to drugs as opposed to simple accurate labeling of this drug does this and that drug has the following side effects and so on?Abraham Lincoln responded to this kind of repressive mentality in December, 1840, when he said: "Prohibition . . . goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes . . . A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."Our politicians ignored that $5 dollar bill President amending our Constitution and creating the first big PROHIBITION of alcohol in the last century. It was an utter failure. For the human race to survive we have to learn from our failures. Prohibition's definition should be amended to add, "failed policy" to it. Group all things into their proper categories such as drugs, herbs, food, drinks, ointments and on and on and get (legal / illegal) out of the equation except for maybe what can be printed on a warning label. After all, poison labels do clearly state that consumption will result in death.Afterburner this stuff is great Sunday morning reading! Thanks.In review I am wondering if should vote for a President that clearly wants to amend the constitution to prohibit yet another human behavior ignoring our history or vote for someone who has clearly stated his mission is to get the prohibitive minded constitution amending one out? HmmmmmmAfterburner you cut off comment 17 on I knew the time was ripe for subversive litigation... I am curious what if any hidden meaning that might have and if so, can we be privy?
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Comment #19 posted by ekim on March 07, 2004 at 09:53:23 PT
yes thank you AB
The real question is Why do they Hate Us. 
How is it possible that we have officers in schools that teach the young to fear Cannabis users, many being family members of these children. This action is not the American Way. Too many have died defending the right to exist to go back to this kind of Black Balling.'Fifth Principle: Drug Wars are Moral CrusadesBecause this is not about public policy. It is about a moral crusade. Public policy is designed to achieve a stated objective. Failure to achieve the objective leads to abandoning or re-designing the policy. A moral crusade is not evaluated by any measurable success. It is evaluated by how the moral crusaders feel about themselves. 10 04 Discussion of D.A.R.E. Program 07:00 PM Roger Hudlin Stillwater Oklahoma USA 
 The Drug Policy Foundation of Oklahoma will present a public discussion of the failed DARE program at 324 West Seventh, Stillwater, Oklahoma. LEAP Speaker Roger Hudlin, a currently employed 15-year police veteran from the Wichita, Kansas area, who served 8 years as a DARE officer, will be speaking along with 3 graduates of DARE programs. 
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 07, 2004 at 09:16:46 PT
Thank you for all this good information. I really appreciate it.
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Comment #17 posted by afterburner on March 07, 2004 at 06:40:01 PT:
Alan Young's Submission to Green Truth
“Getting Stoned”
Alan Young, from “Justice Defiled: Perverts, Potheads, Serial Killers and Lawyers”, submission to Green Truth: the Green Tide Shadow Summit excerpt:'It is unjust to criminalize any pursuit of pleasure by consenting adults. Historically, the sexually robust were scapegoats as unbridled lust was believed to produce a seed of destruction. In the 20th century, the lecher was replaced by the druggie as the modern day scapegoat. And this is big-time scapegoating. We talked about 5,036 prostitution charges in 2000. How about 87,945 drug charges in 2000? In Ontario alone, over $100 million. is spent annually on drug law enforcement . And unlike hookers who quickly plead out and get back on the street, druggies often have long, convoluted trials and end up occupying prison cells beside murderers and rapists. Criminal justice has become bloated and tired largely from processing so many drug cases. 'Millions of people use illicit drugs and if we could arrest all of them we would have to convert dozens of schools and hospitals into temporary jails. If we really wanted to rid society of druggies we would have to create a gulag of unparalleled proportions. But that is not what we are really trying to do. We pick and choose our druggies at random. Some years we prosecute lots and lots and other years are quieter. Modern drug policy is satisfied as long as we arrest enough users and sellers to create a surface impression that a sufficient number of scapegoats have been jailed thus making our cities appear safer, cleaner and healthier. Scapegoating and social hygiene are substituted for rational and effective criminal and social justice policy. 'Modern drug policy is the closest thing we have to an absolute religious taboo. Unless you are consuming state-approved pharmaceuticals, all other drugs are completely off-limits. Unlike my discussion of sexual activity, when it comes to drugs I need not provide you with the “who, what, when, where and how” as you can safely assume you are living within a blanket prohibition. Between 1997 and 2002 I worked hard on carving out an exemption for medical marijuana users, and there has been some pronounced success in this matter. But that is the only real exception. Otherwise, illicit drug law is constructed as an absolute taboo. 'It should be noted that there is an extensive body of literature calling for decriminalization or legalization of illicit drug use. Even hard-line conservatives have begun to jump on the decriminalization bandwagon. You can comb through the literature and you will be hard-pressed to find many commentators supporting the current prohibitory policy. Reading the literature will make you wonder why the prohibitions have been maintained as it appears that virtually everyone who takes the time to study and cut through state-sponsored propaganda ends up disheartened and disillusioned about contemporary drug policy. I cannot possibly do justice to this extensive body of literature, but I can provide some personal thoughts on why waging war on getting stoned is one of the most foolish enterprises ever entered into by an organized state. Much of my experience, both personally and professionally, has been with marijuana and so most of my comments concern the “killer weed”; however, my comments equally apply to all other “harder” drugs. I focus on the pot issue primarily because I am most familiar with this substance and because it is both the most prevalent and benign drug in the illicit pharmacopoeia. ...'Based upon my experience and my research I discovered five incontrovertible principles about the war on drugs. Here is brief outline of my findings. This is only the tip of the iceberg. 'First Principle: All Drug Law is Born and Maintained by Hysteria 
...'Second Principle: All Drugs are Harmless if Used Responsibly 
...'Third Principle: A Small Percentage of Drug Users will Destroy their Lives with Drugs 
...'Fourth Principle: “Just Say No” is Stupid 
...'Fifth Principle: Drug Wars are Moral Crusades 'You cannot consider the criminal prohibition on drug use a rational policy. When was the last time, or even the first time, you heard a public official present a report on the successes of the war? We are not even close to living in a drug-free zone. Drug use ebbs and flows independently of any law enforcement strategies. We spend billions and billions with no apparent results. If drug prohibition was designed to be the rational pursuit of public policy, we would eventually expect to see some positive and encouraging cost-benefit reports. None exists. Because this is not about public policy. It is about a moral crusade. Public policy is designed to achieve a stated objective. Failure to achieve the objective leads to abandoning or re-designing the policy. A moral crusade is not evaluated by any measurable success. It is evaluated by how the moral crusaders feel about themselves. 'Every time the police make a big bust (they always seemed to say that it is the biggest ever), they strut their stuff in front of the cameras showing off the contraband and proudly praising the courageous undercover officers who infiltrated the drug underworld. They are crusaders. They haven’t achieved anything. They throw one trafficker in jail for three more to step into place. Nonetheless, they still have something tangible to show the public. With most arrests all the public gets is the fleeting image of the felon with their jacket pulled up over their head. It’s all so fleeting. Here, they have a room full of drugs destined to wreak havoc on the streets. The police have clearly prevented a horrible tragedy. The proof is right there on the table in the police vault. It is tangible. Everyone should feel good. It doesn’t matter if it all means diddly-squat - the crusaders are fighting the good battle. 'After they show us the fruits of their battles, we then give them billions of dollars to waste on helicopters, wiretap operations, infra-red detectors, lengthy undercover investigations ending in swat-team raids on our homes. They constantly violate constitutional rights in pursuit of the drug offenders and some cops become corrupt in the process. If we were pursuing a rational policy we would have to consider the impact of drug policy on police corruption, but we don’t. Moral crusaders should be allowed to break the law once in a while. God is on their side. 'These were the conclusions I had reached in my studies through the 1980s. However, it did not seem the time to launch an offensive as the “just say no” decade was not hospitable to cannabis law reform. The Cheech and Chong 1970s had given way to a mainstream, popular culture which frowned upon any drug talk except if state-approved or produced by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. But something started to change in the 1990s. Pot consumption was once again on the rise and popular culture lightened up. After hearing many jokes on The Simpsons about bongs and the smell in Otto’s jacket, I knew the time was ripe for subversive litigation....' 
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Comment #16 posted by Virgil on March 07, 2004 at 06:08:09 PT
Ekim- Prohibition related violence
That is a very important term as the prohibitionist use the term often in their parroting media and it gives us a chance to again say that it is a problem of prohibition itself. It sure seems if one side can so demonize Miracleplant, we can surely illuminate some real demonizing that comes because of prohibition. You have made a great point.
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Comment #15 posted by John Tyler on March 07, 2004 at 05:44:06 PT
Ashcroft uses drugs too
"Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said Ashcroft was being treated with antibiotics and painkillers." I am so disappointed in Ashcroft. I thought a person with his espoused hatred of drugs would "tough it out" and show the rest of us how its done. What a hypocritical weenie. He should be fired.
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Comment #14 posted by afterburner on March 06, 2004 at 20:54:38 PT:
The Real Reason behind Cop's Green Tide Summit? 
Excerpt from “Politicized Canadian Police” - Richard Cowan, Marijuana News, submission to Green Truth: the Green Tide Shadow Summit'Drug charges have almost doubled since 1996 -- 10,550 charges were laid last year against 4,100 persons -- although more than half the charges are for simple marijuana possession. One can see why the Toronto police are not in favour of decriminalizing marijuana possession: without those charges, there would be a visible enough drop in the numbers to weaken police calls for more money…. I think that there is enough real crime that ending prohibition would not cost any of the police – except perhaps narks who could not be rehabilitated – their jobs, if they were doing what they should be doing. The real vested interest that the police have in cannabis prohibition is political. Follow the power, not the money. First, at the street level, cannabis prohibition is a source of arbitrary power for the police. Even the “reforms” supported by The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs would continue to let them decide whom to arrest. For example, the association’s board adopted a policy that calls on the Canadian government to give police the option of charging someone with 30 grams or less or issuing a ticket and fine or community service.' Canada's police are acting in their own self-interest, not service to the community.
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Comment #13 posted by ekim on March 06, 2004 at 20:46:06 PT
Montel please start reading this site for gods sak
"What is a Cop Doing Here?"
John A. Gayder, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)John A. Gayder is a currently serving Constable with a police force in Ontario, Canada. Let me reiterate what most of you already know - there is virtually no such thing as the media term “drug related violence”. It’s a misattributed myth – an artificial construct. What we do have is “prohibition related violence” in the form of turf disputes, or by drug couriers who are desperate to evade police capture. We also have to contend with the violence by participants in the black market drug trade who shoot each other because they have no access to the courts to settle their disputes over broken promises or defective goods. The parade of prohibition related violence continues through addicts who become desperate enough to rob, steal and murder to pay the artificially high prices created by prohibition for their drugs. I’ll note here however that I have never heard an instance of a cannabis user doing this. I also want to tell you of my deep disappointment at my organization not being allowed to attend the OACP summit at Queens Park. Although I am as far from the rank of Chief as an officer can go, had Leap been given the courtesy of a response to our request to attend, we could have arranged to have one of the former Chiefs who are members of our organization attend.
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Comment #12 posted by BGreen on March 06, 2004 at 20:25:04 PT
Speaking As A Former Journalist
The author rarely, if ever, chooses the title of a published story in a mainstream periodical. The editorial staff gets that privilege.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on March 06, 2004 at 20:19:42 PT:
Transcripts of Many Green Truth Submissions
Some of the presentations and submissions for Green Truth:“Welcome and Introduction” – Dominic Cramer, Canadians for Safe Access, TCC, THC, etc."Green Tide Propaganda" - Dominic Cramer, Canadians for Safe Access, TCC, THC, etc.“What is a Cop Doing Here?” - John Gayder, Founding Secretary, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, LEAP“Truth in Schools” - Jude Renaud, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, EfSDP“It’s high time intellectual property law went to pot” - Tapas Pain, Invention Development Centre“Grow Labs or Gardens” - Dominic Cramer, Canadians for Safe Access, TCC, THC, etc.“Cannabis Growing Problems and Solutions” - Stephen J VandeKemp, The Hemp Canadian“Law Enforcement and Cannabis Grow Operations” - Eugene Oscapella, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy“Statistical Manipulation” - Tim Meehan, Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis, OCSARC“Why are you hurting sick people, Mr. Kwinter?” - Alison Myrden, MMAR/NDP/ “Marijuana and My Mom” - Andrea Chamney, daughter of Mary-Lynne Chamney, MMAR Exemptee“Solving the Housing Crisis” - Marc-Boris St. Maurice, Marijuana Party of Canada “The Ugly Reality” - Chris Buors, Member, Canadian Cannabis Coalition“Medical Marijuana Science Fiction” - Jari Dvorak, MMAR Exemptee“Getting Stoned” - Alan Young“Cannabis Chaos in the Courts” - Paul Burstein“Politicized Canadian Police” - Richard Cowan, Marijuana News“Update on Bill C-38/C-10” - Libby Davies, NDP and House Of Commons SNUD“Analysis of Bill C-38/C-10” – Dominic Cramer, Canadians for Safe Access, TCC, THC, etc.“Profiteers and Prohibition” - Eugene Oscapella, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy“Privacy, Gulags and Western Policies on Illegal Drugs” - Eugene Oscapella, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (PDF FILE) “A Roadmap to Compassion” - Phil Lucas, Rielle Capler and Hilary Black, VICS, BCCCS, and CSARecommendations from the Senate Special Committee ReportRui Pires, Nominee for NDP CandidacyMarc Emery, Cannabis Culture, Pot-TV, Emery Seeds, and BC Marijuana PartyRick Reimer, LawyerStan Sambey, Nations Capital Compassion SocietySee show page for links to many of the submissions:
show page 
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Comment #10 posted by RasAric on March 06, 2004 at 20:02:56 PT
Dank Hank
Dank has made a great point. Looks like the author has decided to write an apparently nonbiased article....except for the very opinionated title.
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on March 06, 2004 at 19:36:30 PT:
Dom Cramer, owner of the Toronto Hemp Company, was also the Co-organizer and Master of Ceremonies at Green Truth: the Green Tide Shadow Summit Propaganda (taken directly from their Green Tide Report), and our logical interpretation: of the presentations and submissions for Green Truth: by for more details as they become available.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 06, 2004 at 17:32:41 PT
My 2 Cents
Ya know Pot is bad. Why is it bad? It's bad because it's illegal. ***Now seriously life is hazardous to our health. Practically anything can be harmful to us. Too much of anything can cause problems with our health. Too much sugar, too much breathing city air, too much treated water, too much processed food. We have modified food and even cloned cattle ready for market. Life is hazardous to our health. Since that is true wouldn't it be best to live and let live?
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Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on March 06, 2004 at 17:06:11 PT:
They're banking on short attention spans
Yes, the title is misleading, given the body of the article seems to grudgingly admit that cannabis use has few if any negative results.But the title is enough to turn off most cannabists, who might automtically assume that it's another piece of anti tripe and cease to read any further.Yet...the same effect might take place with antis, too; many will read no further than the title and feel vindicated. The more dogged of them who read deeper into it would find each of their precious 'talking points' placed into question due to all the previously mentioned caveats. This is one very strange article.
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Comment #6 posted by goneposthole on March 06, 2004 at 15:20:53 PT
Time to hoodwink Canadians
Anti-marijuana propaganda has hit the Canadian media. I wonder where that originated?8,000 years of cannabis and hemp use won't go away tomorrow or today.Carl Sagan was a cannabis user and a scholar. He would have considered the IQ testing of cannabis users suspect. I don't think he would have been convinced.
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Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on March 06, 2004 at 15:14:31 PT
I sent them a good letter
Let's see if they have the guts to print it.
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Comment #4 posted by drfistusa on March 06, 2004 at 14:58:04 PT
the mythical health risks
you hear this so often, yet there is no real data to back it up, and they always miss the real health risk, of an irritated throat from smoking swag and shake.
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Comment #3 posted by jose melendez on March 06, 2004 at 14:52:25 PT
dear john, get better soon
Indeed, the article above avoids conceding that legal medications are almost always associated with far more harmful side effects than cannabis in any form . . .from:"Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said Ashcroft was being treated with antibiotics and painkillers."
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Comment #2 posted by Dankhank on March 06, 2004 at 13:37:19 PT
I can't read where the author makes a persuasive argument to justify the title of the article ... 
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Comment #1 posted by Petard on March 06, 2004 at 13:36:00 PT
Hmm, interesting abuse of words
In the title, the claim is made "risks outweigh benefits". In the body of the article though the benefits are numerous and specific, the risks cited as possibilities mostly ("may" as in "pigs may fly", fly into a rage if their source of funding and easy statistical padding is taken away that is). They can't even make a negative claim without conditionally following it up with a benefit. Kinda obscures their point there. Or do they really even have a point? Those expectant mothers bearing additional cancer risk chillrun wouldn't be linked to environmental contamination in any way now would they? Naw, it's gotta be the cannabis, just ask Joyce Napelka, Pacreatitis Asscrapt, and Pee Walters, those distinquished scientists they are.
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