Subject MARIJUANA MYTHS MARIJUANA MYTHS - Pt.1 by Paul Hager Hoosier Cannabis Relegalizati

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Subject: MARIJUANA MYTHS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARIJUANA MYTHS - Pt.1 by Paul Hager Hoosier Cannabis Relegalization Coalition 1. Marijuana causes brain damage The most celebrated study that claims to show brain damage is the rhesus monkey study of Dr. Robert Heath, done in the late 1970s. This study was reviewed by a distinguished panel of scientists sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Their results were published under the title, Marijuana and Health in 1982. Heath's work was sharply criticized for its insufficient sample size (only four monkeys), its failure to control experimental bias, and the misidentification of normal monkey brain structure as "damaged". Actual studies of human populations of marijuana users have shown no evidence of brain damage. For example, two studies from 1977, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed no evidence of brain damage in heavy users of marijuana. That same year, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially came out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. That's not the sort of thing you'd expect if the AMA thought marijuana damaged the brain. 2. Marijuana damages the reproductive system This claim is based chiefly on the work of Dr. Gabriel Nahas, who experimented with tissue (cells) isolated in petri dishes, and with researchers who dosed animals with near-lethal amounts of cannabinoids (i.e., the intoxicating part of marijuana). Nahas' generalizations from his petri dishes to human beings have been rejected by the scientific community as being invalid. In the case of the animal experiments, the animals that survived their ordeal returned to normal within 30 days of the end of the experiment. Studies of actual human populations have failed to demonstrate that marijuana adversely affects the reproductive system. 3. Marijuana is a "gateway" drug -- it leads to hard drugs This is one of the more persistent myths. A real world example of what happens when marijuana is readily available can be found in Holland. The Dutch functionally decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s. Since then, hard drug use -- heroin and cocaine -- have DECLINED substantially. Even use of marijuana has declined. If marijuana really were a gateway drug, one would have expected use of hard drugs to have gone up. Actual studies of hard drug "addicts" reveal that they start with alcohol or tobacco more frequently than marijuana. 4. Marijuana suppresses the immune system Like the studies claiming to show damage to the reproductive system, this myth is based on studies where animals were givenextremely high dos es of cannabinoids. These results have never been duplicated in human beings. Interestingly, two studies done in 1978 and one done in 1988 showed that hashish and marijuana may have actually stimulated the immune system in the people studied. 5. Marijuana is much more dangerous than tobacco Smoked marijuana contains more carcinogens than does an equivalent amount of tobacco (1.5 to 3 times). Marijuana, however, unlike tobacco, actually dilates (enlarges) the air passages in the lungs which promotes self-cleaning. This is one reason why cannabis has been found useful in the past in treating asthmatics. It should be remembered that a heavy tobacco smoker consumes much more tobacco than a heavy marijuana smoker consumes marijuana. Two other factors are important. The first is that paraphernalia laws directed against marijuana users make it difficult to smoke safely. These laws make water pipes and bongs, which filter some of the carcinogens out of the smoke, illegal and, hence, unavailable. The second is that, if marijuana were legal, it would be more economical to have cannabis drinks like bhang (a traditional drink in the Middle East) or tea which are totally non-carcinogenic. This is in stark contrast with "smokeless" tobacco products like snuff which can cause cancer of the mouth and throat. Nicotine itself is very toxic in even small quantities. In contrast, the cannabinoids are relatively non-toxic. When all of these facts are taken together, it can be clearly seen that the reverse is true: marijuana is much SAFER than tobacco. 6. Legal marijuana would cause carnage on the highways Although marijuana, when used to intoxication, does impair performance in a manner similar to alcohol, actual studies of the effect of marijuana on the automobile accident rate suggest that it poses LESS of a hazard than alcohol. When a random sample of fatal accident victims was studied, it was initially found that marijuana was associated with RELATIVELY as many accidents as alcohol. In other words, the number of accident victims intoxicated on marijuana relative to the number of marijuana users in society gave a ratio similar to that for accident victims intoxicated on alcohol relative to the total number of alcohol users. However, a closer examination of the victims revealed that around 85% of the people intoxicated on marijuana WERE ALSO INTOXICATED ON ALCOHOL. For people only intoxicated on marijuana, the rate was much lower than for alcohol alone. This would suggest that legal marijuana would not pose as serious a hazard as legal alcohol. NOTE: We of the HCRC believe that DUI laws pertaining to driving under the influence of alcohol should apply to driving under the influence of marijuana. We believe in the RESPONSIBLE USE of marijuana, NOT IRRESPONSIBLE ABUSE. 7. Marijuana "flattens" human brainwaves This is an out-and-out lie perpetrated by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. A few years ago, they ran a TV ad that purported to show, first, a normal human brainwave, and second, a flat brainwave from a 14-year-old "on marijuana". When researchers called up the TV networks to complain about this commercial, the Partnership had to pull it from the air. It seems that the Partnership faked the flat "marijuana brainwave". In reality, marijuana has the effect of slightly INCREASING alpha wave activity. Alpha waves are associated with meditative and relaxed states which are, in turn, often associated with human creativity. 8. Marijuana impairs short-term memory This is true but misleading. When one is intoxicated on alcohol, one's motor control is affected. When one is intoxicated on marijuana, one's concentration is affected. Any impairment of short-term memory disappears when one is no longer intoxicated. Often, the short-term memory effect is paired with a reference to Dr. Heath's poor rhesus monkeys to imply that the condition is permanent. 9. Marijuana lingers in the body like DDT This is also true but misleading. Cannabinoids are fat soluble as are innumerable nutrients and, yes, some poisons like DDT. For example, the essential nutrient, Vitamin A, is fat soluble but one never hears people who favor marijuana prohibition making this comparison. 10. There are over a thousand chemicals in marijuana smoke Again, true but misleading. The 31 August 1990 issue of the magazine Science notes that of the over 800 volatile chemicals present in roasted COFFEE, only 21 have actually been tested on animals and 16 of these cause cancer in rodents. Yet, coffee remains legal and is generally considered fairly safe. 11. No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose This is true. It was put in to see if you are paying attention. Animal tests have revealed that extremely high doses of cannabinoids are needed to have lethal effect. This has led scientists to conclude that the ratio of the amount of cannabinoids necessary to get a person intoxicated (i.e., stoned) relative to the amount necessary to kill them is 1 to 40,000. In other words, to overdose, you would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as you needed to get stoned. In contrast, the ratio for alcohol varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. It is easy to see how upwards of 5000 people die from alcohol overdoses every year and no one EVER dies of marijuana overdoses. Check us out We believe that the truth is our strongest weapon. To date, the prohibitionists have refused to meet us in public debate: they fear the truth and know that they stand to lose in any direct confrontation. They cower behind a wall of myths, lies, and half truths. In the battles that lie ahead we will try to flush the prohibitionists into the open. In order to be successful in this goal, we will need to batter down the myths and lies by giving our message the widest possible distribution. Check us out. Listen to our Truth Squad, check our sources, and ask us the tough questions. Examine our claims with a skeptical, but open, mind. We feel that after looking at the facts you will find it very hard to side with the prohibitionists ever again. We're looking for allies, declared or undeclared. Getting the message out costs money. Our opponents dispose of literally hundreds-of-millions of dollars. If you'd like to quietly donate to the cause, send your contributions to the Hoosier Cannabis Relegalization Coalition at P.O. Box 5325, Bloomington, IN. If you'd like to help in a more direct way contact me, Paul Hager, at (812) 333-1384. Our meetings are open to the public and we welcome new members. Contact us for more information. Sources 1) Marijuana and Health, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1982. Note: the Committee on Substance Abuse and Habitual Behavior of the "Marijuana and Health" study had its part of the final report suppressed when it reviewed the evidence and recommended that possession of small amounts of marijuana should no longer be a crime (TIME magazine, July 19, 1982). The two JAMA studies are: Co, B.T., Goodwin, D.W., Gado, M., Mikhael, M., and Hill, S.Y.: "Absence of cerebral atrophy in chronic cannabis users", JAMA, 237:1229-1230, 1977; and, Kuehnle, J., Mendelson, J.H., Davis, K.R., and New, P.F.J.: "Computed tomographic examination of heavy marijuana smokers", JAMA, 237:1231- 1232, 1977. 2) See Marijuana and Health, ibid., for information on this research. See also, Marijuana Reconsidered (1978) by Dr. Lester Grinspoon. 3) See "A Comparison of Marijuana Users and Non-users" by Norman Zinberg and Andrew Weil (1971). This showed a negative correlation between use of marijuana and use of alcohol. A recent article about the Dutch experience is written up in "The Economics of Legalizing Drugs", by Richard J. Dennis, The Atlantic Monthly, Vol 266, No. 5, Nov 1990, p. 130. 4) See a review of studies and their methodology in "Marijuana and Immunity", Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol 20(1), Jan-Mar 1988. Studies showing stimulation of the immune system: Kaklamani, et al., "Hashish smoking and T- lymphocytes", 1978; Kalofoutis et al., "The significance of lymphocyte lipid changes after smoking hashish", 1978. The 1988 study: Wallace, J.M., Tashkin, D.P., Oishi, J.S., Barbers, R.G., "Peripheral Blood Lymphocyte Subpopulations and Mitogen Responsiveness in Tobacco and Marijuana Smokers", 1988, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, ibid. 5) For current information on cannabis drinks see Working Men and Ganja: Marijuana Use in Rural Jamaica by M. C. Dreher, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1982, ISBN 0-89727- 025-8. For information on cannabis and actual cancer risk, see Marijuana and Health, ibid. 6) For a survey of studies relating to cannabis and highway accidents see "Marijuana, Driving and Accident Safety", by Dale Gieringer, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, ibid. 7) For information about the Partnership ad, see Jack Herer's book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, 1990, p. 74. For information on memory and the alpha brainwave enhancement effect, see "Marijuana, Memory, and Perception", by R. L. Dornbush, M.D., M. Fink, M.D., and A. M. Freedman, M.D., presented at the 124th annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, May 3-7, 1971. 8) See Marijuana and Health, ibid. 9) The fat solubility of cannabinoids and certain vitamins is well known. See Marijuana and Health, ibid. For some information on vitamin A, see "The A Team" in Scientific American, Vol 264, No. 2, February 1991, p. 16. 10) See "Too Many Rodent Carcinogens: Mitogenesis Increases Mutagenesis", Bruce N. Ames and Lois Swirsky Gold, Science, Vol 249, 31 August 1990, p. 971. 11) Cannabis and alcohol toxicity is compared in Marijuana Reconsidered, ibid., p. 227. Yearly alcohol overdoses was taken from "Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives" by Ethan A. Nadelmann, Science, Vol 245, 1 September 1989, p. 943. -- paul hager hagerp@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu "The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason." -- Thomas Paine, _The Age of Reason_ Via NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683

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