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British Study Warns of Health Danger of Cannabis

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. Mon Nov 11,12:32 PM ET

    LONDON (Reuters) - Smoking three pure cannabis joints is as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 normal cigarettes and marijuana is more dangerous now than it was in the 1960s, British researchers said on Monday.

    In what it described as a shocking new report, the British Lung Foundation (BLF) said tar from cannabis cigarettes contained 50% more carcinogens--the agents that produce cancer--than tobacco.

    "Three cannabis joints a day cause the same damage to the lining of the airways as 20 cigarettes," it said in a statement.

    It also said the health dangers of cannabis have substantially increased since the 1960s because today's marijuana has increased amounts of a key chemical compound.

    Campaigners for the legalization of cannabis disputed some of the findings.

    "Saying that cannabis is stronger now than it used to be is like saying that orange juice is stronger these days," said Alun Buffry, spokesman for the Legalize Cannabis Alliance.

    "I smoked stuff in the 1960s which was certainly stronger than what's available now and, anyway, when it's stronger, people smoke less of it."

    BFL chairman Mark Britton said: "These statistics will come as a surprise to many people, especially those who choose to smoke cannabis rather than tobacco in the belief it is 'safer' for them."

    "It is vital that people are fully aware of the dangers so they can make an educated decision and know the damage they may be causing," he said.

    The BFL stressed it was not taking a moral stance on the contentious issue of legalizing the drug.

    "We're not trying to say 'smoke' or 'don't smoke' cannabis," BLF Chief Executive Dame Helena Shovelton told BBC Radio. "We're saying that if you do, understand the risks involved in doing so.

    "Don't have the same situation we had with tobacco, which was years of denial about the problems," she said.

    The BFL urged the government to implement a public health education campaign on health risks of the drug.
     
  2. NORML Head Dismisses British Lung Report As Nothing But Hot Air
    "Any risk presented by marijuana smoking falls within the ambit
    of choice we permit the individual in a free society," Stroup Says

    Washington, DC: A questionable report released this week by the British
    Lung Foundation (BLF) alleging that marijuana smoke is potentially more
    hazardous than tobacco smoke must not overshadow years of clinical data
    indicating that marijuana smokers have no higher rates of lung cancer than
    non-users, according to NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup.

    "The bottom line is that there exists no epidemiological or aggregate
    clinical data showing higher rates of lung cancer in people who smoke
    marijuana," Stroup said. He cited conclusions from a May 2000 John
    Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) study that found no association between
    marijuana use and head, neck, or lung cancer in young adults. That study,
    which featured 164 participants, is the largest case-controlled study
    addressing marijuana use and cancer to date.

    Stroup noted that the BLF literature review did not cite the John Hopkins
    study, nor did it cite a 1997 study by Kaiser Permanente that observed no
    increase in deaths over a ten-year period among 14,000+ marijuana smokers
    when compared to non-smokers.

    Stroup did agree that marijuana smoke arguably carries some health risks.
    "Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and
    carcinogens. However, most marijuana-only smokers likely do not inhale
    enough smoke to cause serious lung damage. In addition, many of these
    carcinogens may be reduced or eliminated by the use of marijuana
    vaporizers and other alternative smoking devices currently banned by the
    U.S. government."

    Stroup also noted that the chief psychoactive ingredient in marijuana,
    THC, is not carcinogenic and may actually offer protection against the
    development of some malignancies. A 1996 U.S. toxicology study found that
    rats administered THC over long periods of time failed to develop cancer
    and had fewer tumors than rats not given the agent. A follow up study by
    a Spanish research team in 2000 found that injections of synthetic THC
    eradicated malignant brain tumors - so-called gliomas - in one-third of
    treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by as much as six weeks.

    Lastly, Stroup argued that nothing in the BLF report justifies arresting
    and jailing responsible adult marijuana smokers. "Any risk presented by
    marijuana smoking falls within the ambit of choice we permit the
    individual in a free society," he said. "We do not suggest that marijuana
    is totally harmless or that it cannot be abused. That is true for all
    drugs, including those that are legal. Clearly, however, marijuana's
    relative risk to the user and society in no way justifies criminal
    prohibition or the continued arrest of more than 700,000 Americans on
    marijuana charges every year."

    For more information, please contact Keith Stroup of NORML at (202)
    483-5500.
     
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