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September 2003
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*Pot doesn’t kill*

Pot doesn’t kill
A picture named leaf.gifAn editorial in September 20th British Medical Journal: “Comparing cannabis with tobacco — again: Link between cannabis and mortality is still not established”
This editorial examined two large studies in the United States and Sweden, and determined:

“…published data do not support the characterisation of cannabis as a risk factor for mortality”

The editorial then went on to examine the use of marijuana as it relates to mortality factors:

No acute lethal overdoses of cannabis are known, in contrast to several of its illegal (for example, cocaine) and legal (for example, alcohol, aspirin, acetaminophen) counterparts. Deaths due to chronic diseases resulting from substance misuse generally result from the use of that substance (for example, tobacco and alcohol) over a long time. Importantly, and in contrast to users of tobacco and alcohol, most cannabis users generally quit using cannabis relatively early in their adult lives.

After analyzing the differences between tobacco and marijuana in both ingredients and use, the article concludes:

Although the use of cannabis is not harmless, the current knowledge base does not support the assertion that it has any notable adverse public health impact in relation to mortality. Common sense should dictate a variety of measures to minimise adverse effects of cannabis. These include discouraging the use by teenagers, who seem to be most at risk of future problems from drug use, not using before or during the operation of automobiles or machinery, not using excessively, and cautioning in people with known coronary heart disease.

So far, this editorial has been picked up in The Age in Australia, and The Independent in England, but has not seemed to reach much of the mainstream press (other than as a footnote in an AP story on bad Canadian pot).
So, to recap…
You literally cannot overdose from marijuana. Marijuana seems to have little or no affect on mortality, and is certainly safer than many legal products. It’s safer to drive while high than to drive while tired. Marijuana use does not cause use of harder drugs. Marijuana is an effective medicine, pain reliever and nausea suppressant for a variety of illnesses and treatments. Hemp is an environmentally-friendly crop which can be used for paper, rope, clothing, fuel, construction products, and has nutritional value that exceeds soy. And it makes you feel good.
So why is it illegal? Must be that last point.

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