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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.


Last Modified:Thursday, 21-Feb-2002 12:28:51 PST