Premiere British Medical Journal Pronounces
Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol, Tobacco
December 1, 1998, London, England:
Moderate use of marijuana poses less of a risk
to health than alcohol or tobacco, according to editors of the influential
medical journal, The Lancet. Available medical evidence demonstrates that
"moderate indulgence in cannabis has little ill-effect on health, and that
decisions to ban or legalise [sic] cannabis should be based on other considerations,"
editors opined in the November 14 issue. They added, "It would be reasonable
to judge cannabis less of a threat to health than alcohol or tobacco. Three
years ago, the journal argued that "the smoking of cannabis, even long
term, is not harmful to health."
The Lancet's latest statements came only days
after a House of Lord's committee recommended amending federal law to allow
physicians to prescribe marijuana as a medicine. NORML Executive Director
R. Keith Stroup, Esq. praised The Lancet for conducting an apolitical assessment
of marijuana's effects on health. "The Lancet's conclusions are reasonable
based on the available scientific and medical literature," he said. "It
is clear that marijuana prohibition causes far more harm to the user and
society than the responsible use of marijuana itself.
An accompanying article by Australian professors
Wayne Hall and Nadia Solowij in the same issue concluded the "most undesirable"
effects of marijuana are: bronchial irritation, the risk of accidents while
intoxicated, and possible "subtle" cognitive impairment and/or dependence
with heavy, long term use. However, the researchers added that most marijuana
smokers do not become regular users, and cease smoking the drug altogether
by their mid to late twenties.
Although The Lancet's position received mainstream
coverage internationally, no U.S. wire services have yet to report on the
journal's findings. For more information, please contact either Allen St.
Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.