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From: (Paul Hager)
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Drug-Free Indiana (long)
Keywords: the insolence of office
Message-ID: <>
Date: 29 Aug 90 21:48:37 GMT
Distribution: alt
Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington
Lines: 737
     Following is a copy of my response to Jennifer Stabb, one of
the coordinators of the Indiana Drug-Free Regional Office.  I've
had some dealings over the past couple of months with the 
Governor's Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana and Ms. Stabb 
centered around the Bloomington HEMP/NORML chapter's efforts to 
put together a panel discussion on the topic, "Marijuana Re- 
Legalization".  I had figured that, as they were presumably the 
most well informed of the marijuana prohibitionists, they would 
make excellent panelists.  Over a period of several weeks, the 
executive director of the commission, Joseph Mills, and several
of his minions gave me what can best be described as "the 
runaround."  People who I contacted left me hanging and when I 
finally was able to get some answer they were invariably busy or
"not willing to participate at this time."  When one starts
getting the same phrase back from different people, one's
suspicions are aroused. 
     I actually encountered Ms. Stabb on the occasion of a public
meeting that was intended to "celebrate" the unveiling of the 
regional "plan".  She was friend6y enough initially: I was 
sartorially resplendent in one of my three-piece suits and looked
every inch the stolid, professional community activist -- you 
know, head of the rotary club, that sort of thing.  We talked 
Democratic politics (Governor Evan Bayh is the first Democratic 
Governor of Indiana in more than 2 decades and many of the people
in Drug-Free Indiana are political appointees) briefly, which 
showed that I was one of the "good guys."  Somewhere in our 
conversation I indicated that I was with Bloomington HEMP/NORML. 
From that moment, she became very stiff and uncomfortable -- her
reaction wouldn't have been much different if I'd said that I was
with the Charlie Manson fan club.  Attempts to discuss the 
commission's policy on marijuana were met with canned responses 
about the commission's "charter" and how it prevented them from 
evaluating the law.  She would never quite make eye contact and 
seemed to be immensely relieved when she found an excuse to 
terminate our meeting. 
     My last encounter with Ms. Stabb was over the phone.  It was
on the occasion of her calling me back after I had requested if 
she knew of anyone who would be willing to argue for the 
prohibition side in our panel discussion.   In our earlier
conversation she was friendly enough but when she called me back
it transpired that she had spoken to Joseph Mills, or so I
gathered from her repeating the "not willing to participate at
this time" phrase and saying that it covered everyone on the
commission.  Now that she had received t+big boss' imprimatur,
she became the quintessential self-important bureaucrat: she
became deprecating and supercilious, she laughed inappropriately
and derisively, and rejected any discussion of Drug-Free Indiana
policy as being a "dY,Q in which she would not participate. 
She did, however, say that she would send me some of their
marijuana "information".
     I received the information in the mail and was appalled,
thought not very surprised.  I prepared the following response
which I sent off this morning.  I thought I would share it with
alt.drug readers.
     Comments are, of course, welcome.
--------------------------Begin Article-------------------------
To:       Jennifer Stabb,  
               South Central Coordinator, Drug Free Indiana 
From:     Paul Hager, 
               Research Coordinator, Bloomington HEMP/NORML 
Subject:  Literature received from you. 
Dear Ms. Stabb, 
     Thank you for promptly sending your marijuana/cannabis 
literature.  I apologize for not being equally prompt in my 
response, but I felt that it would be best if I gave this 
material thorough scrutiny and I wanted to be able to provide 
citations, where appropriate, for my comments.  I've broken 
things down into categories of harmful effects claimed by your 
material and what the research actually shows. 
Dr. Robert Heath 
     The "Drug Awareness Information Newsletter" entitled "Why 
Marijuana is not a Soft Drug" by Biernson and Moulton contains a
presentation of work done by Robert Heath that purports to show 
that long-term, heavy use of marijuana leads to damage. 
Here's what they say about the "world renowned" work of Dr. 
     "The following is a _typical_ [emphasis mine] experiment 
     performed by Dr. Heath.  For 6 months a monkey smoked the 
     equivalent (for a human) of 1.5 joints per day.  The monkey
     was allowed to recover for 6 months, and then was 
     sacrificed.  Brain waves were measured from electrodes 
     embedded in the brain.  The brain waves became severely 
     distorted after 2 months of smoking, and remained severely 
     distorted until the monkey was sacrificed, 6 months after 
     smoking had stopped." 
The newsletter goes on to describe the "serious damage" found in
the brain of the autopsied monkey. 
     The "brain wave" anomalies Heath apparently claims to have 
found do not comport with studies done of human subjects (e.g., 
see "Marijuana, Memory, and Perception" by Dornbush, Fink, and 
Freedman, 1971), which have shown that cannabis increases alpha 
waves (often associated with a meditative or creative state).  
This effect lasts only as long as the cannabis intoxication.  No
lasting effect has ever been scientifically validated. 
     The source quoted by Biernson and Moulton is not an 
authoritative scientific source nor the good Dr. Heath himself; 
it is Peggy Mann, author of a lurid bit of propaganda called "Pot
Safari".  The writers of these anti-marijuana propaganda books 
borrow from each other and purvey myths and bad science in an 
unending roundelay.  The books actually have a lot in common, 
both structurally and intellectually, with pseudo-scientific 
books dealing with UFOs or the Bermuda Triangle.  Before I give 
you the straight dope on Dr. Heath, I'll share with you a typical
example of one of the propaganda books.  This one is "Marihuana 
Today" by George K. Russell. 
     "Heath demonstrated with objective measurements of brain 
     wave patterns that the intake of less than two marihuana 
     cigarettes a week for three months (a total of only 20 
     marihuana cigarettes!) caused serious, and quite possibly 
     permanent, alteration of brain function in these 
     experimental animals. 
     "In these tests, one _group_ [emphasis mine] of animals was
     made to inhale cannabis smoke three times daily, five times
     a week, for six months (heavy dosage level); a second 
     _group_ [emphasis mine] inhaled somewhat less than two 
     marihuana cigarettes a week for six months (moderate 
     dosage); a third _group_ [emphasis mine] received daily 
     intravenous injections of delta-9-THC for six months.  
     Control _animals_ [emphasis mine] received cannabis smoke 
     devoid of THC.  Brain wave patterns were monitored regularly
     during the six month test period." 
     The words I italicized were in order to emphasize that Mr. 
Russell is deliberately misleading the reader.  You see, each of
the "groups" was actually a group of one.  Here is what the 
Institute of Medicine, "Marijuana and Health" had to say about 
     "[descriptions of brain alteration]  These changes appear 
     dramatic but they must be interpreted with caution.  The 
     three studies are based principally upon examination of two
     limited brain areas in three treated monkeys, two receiving
     marijuana smoke and one intravenous delta-9-THC; a fourth 
     treated animal was added to the last study and more brain 
     areas were analyzed in it (Heath et al., 1980).  Further, 
     although the material was evaluated 'doubleblind' after 
     electron micrographs had been made, it would appear that 
     fixation, tissue preparation, and photography were carried 
     out before these safeguards against bias were applied.  It 
     is possible that unknown but systematic differences occurred
     between experimental and control animals in fixation and 
     preparation fixation and preparation of tissue or in 
     selection of samples for micrography.  In addition, it 
     should be noted that at least one of the changes noted, 
     clumping of vesicles (Harper, et al., 1977) is a normal 
     variant in the synaptic morphology of the axon terminals in
     mammalian brain (Sipe and Moore, 1977) and does not 
     represent a pathological change.  Also, these studies have 
     not been replicated and, because the basis of the study for
     interpretation is such a limited sample, it is concluded 
     that no definitive interpretation can be made at this time. 
     However, the possibility that marijuana may produce chronic,
     ultra-structural changes in the brain has not been ruled out
     and should be investigated." 
If you are used to reading scientific papers, you will note that
Dr. Heath and his co-workers don't come out looking very good in
the above assessment.  He didn't eliminate bias and his 
experimental sample was inadequate.  He failed to realize that 
some of the "abnormality" he found was actually "normal".  Though
couched in the detached, objective language of the scientist, the
report makes clear that the Institute of Medicine panel didn't 
think very much of Dr. Heath's work.  And, they could have really
slammed Heath, had they been so inclined.  It turns out that 
another area of systematic experimental bias could have been 
described.  The smoke inhalation studies failed to control for 
carbon monoxide.  This, by the way, explains the anomolous result
of the heavy and moderately dosed monkeys showing no apparent 
dose response to THC.  ("Dose response" means an effect that 
correlates with the dosage such that the greater the dose, the 
greater the response.)   All in all, Heath's work is so flawed 
that it is of essentially zero value in assessing marijuana 
health risks. 
     In sharp contrast with Heath's findings are two human 
studies that showed no brain damage or atrophy at all (Co, 
Goodwin, et al., "Absence of cerebral atrophy in chronic cannabis
users", JAMA, 1977 and Kuehnle et al., "Computed tomographic 
examination of heavy marijuana smokers", JAMA, 1977).  None of 
the material I received references these studies.  Why? 
Effect of marijuana on reproductive cells 
     Included in the material you sent was a one page AIby 
Dr. Gabriel Nahas that summarizes his work on chromosomal 
breakage and his belief that marijuana would adversely affect 
"sex cells".  It should be pointed out that Nahas' work involved
somatic (not sex) cells _in_vitro_ (i.e., in a test tube or petri
dish) and his work has never been replicated.  If you will 
carefully read the paper you will see that all of the studies 
mentioned were with lymphocytes or lung cells.  Nahas then jumps
from mentioning these studies to concluding that cannabis affects
"sex cells" _in_vivo_ (i.e., in the body).  A careful, critical 
reader would see that Nahas was making an unwarranted leap.  In 
fact, in December, 1983, Nahas, under pressure because of the 
questionable extrapolations he made from his work, backed away 
from his conclusions.  In other words, the material you sent has
been renounced by Nahas himself!  Demonstrating chromosomal 
breakage of cells in vitro is hardly as significant as the tone 
of the paper would lead a reader to believe.  Similar results 
could be obtained from testing aspirin or caffeine. 
     Some laboratory work has been done on the effect of 
marijuana on reproductive cells.  Human studies have, to date, 
failed to demonstrate adverse effects in actual populations (for
example, see the Costa Rica study, Coggins, et al.).  The few 
laboratory studies that have been done that suggest adverse 
effects have been flawed by failure to control for experimental 
bias and have had small sample sizes. 
     Animal studies have, however, demonstrated interference with
hormone production and/or normal reproductive cell development. 
Lest you conclude that this validates the idea that marijuana 
poses a special threat to users, I will give you some information
about how these studies were done.  Typically, very high dosages
of THC were administered over a period of weeks or months to test
animals.  For example, 10 mg/kg THC administered to young male 
rats slows development of testes, prostate and seminal vesicles. 
If you do a simple comparison of this dose versus the ED50 
("effective" or intoxicating dose), you'll find that the dosage 
administered is several hundred times the intoxicating dose.  
Another experiment using mice involved "intraperitoneal 
injections of delta-9-THC, cannabidiol, or cannabinol at doses 
approaching or exceeding the LD50" (Institute of Medicine, 1982 
reporting on Zimmerman, et al., 1979).  The LD50 is the dosage 
required to kill 50% of dosed animals.  The result of the 
experiment was that 2.4% to 5.0% of the sperm produced was 
     Most significantly, the adverse effects (again, found only 
in the animal studies) are reversible; that is, normal function 
returns within a month of discontinuing the dosing. 
     The idea of dosing experimental animals at very high levels
is a common way to test for _potential_ health effects in humans.
Often, a dose response is established by doing regression 
analysis on a few data points obtained by such studies.  This 
analysis is then _validated_by_epidemiological_studies_ on human
populations.  For example, among the most well established dose 
response relationships is that between cancer and ionizing 
radiation.  Animal studies and studies of human populations 
(chiefly Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, radiation workers, 
radium workers, etc.) have led to the simple formulation that one
cancer results from a population dose of 10000 man-REM.  In other
words, for every 10000 people who each receive one REM (or 1000 
milli-REM), one cancer will result.  The dose response is linear
in that if 10000 people each receive two REM, two cancers will 
result, and so on. 
     What research tells us about cannabis can be pretty much 
summed up as follows: animal studies show some slight cause for 
concern, human studies do not. 
Amotivational syndrome and behavior change 
     Perhaps of all of the "evils" associated with cannabis, none
is as widely known as "amotivational syndrome".  This scientific
sounding name disguises the fact that the "amotivational 
syndrome" has never been substantiated.  Interestingly, one of 
the pamphlets you sent is at odds with both itself and the rest 
of the material. 
     "Personality and Behavior: MARIJUANA" by Christina Dye 
presents the intriguing picture of someone who obviously did some
research and then had trouble integrating it into the usual anti-
marijuana party line.  As a consequence, she ends up generating 
subtle contradictions.  For example, the following quote from the
"Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1982" 
[actually, the report is entitled, "Marijuana and Health"] is 
included in the pamphlet: 
     "Interpretation of the evidence linking marijuana to 
     'amotivational syndrome' is difficult.  Such symptoms have 
     been known to occur in the absense of marijuana.  Even if 
     there is an association between this syndrome and use of 
     marijuana, that does not prove that marijuana causes the 
This excerpt casts some doubt on whether or not there really is 
such a thing as "amotivational syndrome" -- and yet, later on in
the pamphlet, Ms. Dye lapses back into orthodoxy with a lengthy 
discursive section on the "amotivational syndrome".  At her 
conclusion, she refers back to the National Academey of Sciences
study and then characterizes amotivation as "... something of a 
chicken-or-the-egg situation", thus undermining her previous 
statements.  Clearly, Ms. Dye is suffering from severe cognitive
dissonance on this subject. 
     If Ms. Dye had expended just a little more effort, she could
have uncovered a great deal of evidence disconfirming the 
"amotivational syndrome".  The last of the Jamaica ganja studies,
written up as a monograph entitled "Ganja in Jamaica," used an 
objective scale to measure productivity of the ganja smokers 
versus the non-smokers.  Though the results failed to meet the 
0.05 significance level required for statZ.Wk1validation, 
every single one of the ganja smoking groups outperformed the 
non-ganja smokers.  Had they been amotivational, they should have
consistently underperformed. 
     Other examples abound.  Two survey studies published in the
early 70's are typical: "Personality Correlates of Undergraduate
Marijuana Use" by Hogan, Mankin, Conway and Fox, and "A 
Comparison of Marijuana Users and Non-Users" by Zinberg and Weil.
There was no difference in terms of GPA or other indices of 
     In Hogan, et al., the California Psychological Inventory 
(CPI) personality test was given.  Users scored low on the 
following scales: Socialization, Responsibility, Communality, and
Achievement via Conformance.  On the other hand, users scored 
high on Achievement via Independence and Empathy, which the 
researchers concluded meant that they would have the sort of 
"achievement motivation necessary for success in graduate school"
and that they were socially perceptive and sensitive to the needs
and feelings of others.  The non-users correlated negatively on 
the above noted scales which means that when the users scored 
high, non-users scored low and vice versa.  The researchers noted
that the non-users test results gave evidence that they were 
"perhaps too deferential to external authority, narrow in their 
interests and overcontrolled." 
     Zinberg and Weil failed to find evidence of personality 
change that could be attributed to marijuana use.  Interviews 
with "chronic" users of marijuana revealed that they were "bitter
about society's attitude toward marijuana" and "that being 
defined as a deviant and law-breaker for something they could not
accept as criminal had driven them into increasingly negative 
attitudes toward the larger society". 
     In addition to the survey studies, numerous longitudinal 
studies have been done over the past 20 years.  A number of them
are cited in "Marijuana and Health", the same report referenced 
by Ms. Dye.  They are fairly uniform in demonstrating that the 
personality characteristics anti-marijuana advocates associate 
with marijuana use are pre-existing in childhood and actually can
be used to PREDICT future ABUSE of drugs, including marijuana.  
Perhaps the most definitive of the longitudinal studies was by 
Shedler and Block, printed in the May 1990 issue of "American 
Psychologist".  Entitled "Adolescent Drug Use and Psychological 
Health -- A Longitudinal Inquiry", it followed 101 subjects over
a 15 year pY.k1 from age 3 to age 18. 
     Shedler and Block demonstrated rather conclusively that
moderate drug use (marijuana) actually correlated with
psychological health.  Absolute abstainers and heavy users showed
similar maladjustment on a number of personality indices.  This
validated similar results obtained in earlier studies (e.g.,
Hogan, et al., above) and lends confidence to the results.
     Incidentally, Shedler and Block had some rather harsh things
to say about simple-minded drug education programs of the "just
say no" variety.  Here's a sample:
     "Current efforts at drug 'education' seem flawed on two
     counts.  First, they are alarmist, pathologizing normative
     adolescent experimentation and limit-testing, and perhaps
     frightening parents and educators unnecessarily.  Second,
     and of far greater concern, they trivialize the factors
     underlying drug abuse, implicitly denying their depth and
Marijuana and supression of the immune system
     The paper by Guy Cabral first offers up the usual anecdotal
accounts (i.e., not scientifically valid) and follows with 
references to animal studies of the familiar ultra-high dosage 
variety.  No epidemiological data has ever been generated to 
support a rise in infections stemming from marijuana use.  
Moreover, numerous studies have shown NO immune system 
suppression, including Gupta et al., 1974; Petersen et al., 1975
& 1976; White et al., 1975; Cushman and Khurana, 1977; and, 
McDonough et al. 1980.  Why weren't these studies included in the
information packet? 
     There are two studies that might well be an interesting 
addition to your marijuana information packet.  These studies 
(Kaklamani et al., "Hashish smoking and T-lymphocytes", 1978; 
Kalofoutis et al., "The significance of lymphocyte lipid changes
after smoking hashish", 1978) demonstrated that cannabis smoked 
as hashish actually stimulated the immune system. 
Marijuana psychosis and panic reaction 
     So-called "marijuana psychosis" or "toxic psychosis" is 
described in some of the material you sent.  A very small number
of cases of this "psychosis" have appeared in the Western medical
literature over the years.  A review of these cases invariably 
reveals a prior existing condition (such as diagnosed 
schizophrenia) or other drug use. 
     In apparent conflict are reports of "toxic psychosis" coming
from Asia and Africa.  There, the reporting physicians are wont 
to identify cannabis as the culprit for any psychotic episode.  
In India, for example, it is apparently common practice to 
diagnose a person admitted for a "psychotic episode" as suffering
from "marijuana psychosis".  Independent Western researchers have
found no basis for this description and attribute it to such 
factors as the doctors' class-based rejection of their culture's
marijuana use.  (Note: "Ganja in Jamaica" has some particularly 
good material on how class affects perceptions of marijuana use.)
     In his book, "Marijuana Reconsidered", Lester Grinspoon 
offered up an intriguing hypothesis that has never been tested. 
Given that 65% of American soldiers in Vietnam used marijuana at
least once and a fairly high percentage were regular users, is it
possible that marijuana protected the troops from psychoses?  
Here is what Grinspoon had to say: 
     "The psychiat.kincidence rate for U.S. Army troops in 
     Vietnam was reported to be 12 per 1000 strength per year 
     during the calendar years 1965 and 1966.  This rate is much
     lower than that recorded for both the Korean War (73 per 
     1000 strength per year July 1950 to December 1952) and World
     War II (between 28 and 101 per 1000 strength per year 
     September 1944 through May 1945).  During World War II, 23 
     percent of all cases evacuated for medical reasons were 
     psychiatric cases; the percentage for the comparable group 
     in Vietnam has been aproximately 6 percent." 
Grinspoon went on to posit other factors contributing to the 
decreased incidence (changes in rotation policy, better training,
rapid treatment of wounded in forward areas).  Unfortunately, 
this idea that marijuana might actually protect users from 
psychoses or neuroses is not the sort of thing likely to be 
researched in an environment that tends to sanction and report 
only anti-marijuana studies. 
     "Panic attacks" associated with marijuana are mentioned in 
Ms. Dye's pamphlet, among others.  While Ms. Dye makes it appear
that such occurances are common, it is more accurate to say that
some users have occasionally had the experience of feeling 
anxious, paranoid, or confused.  This is very seldom a problem. 
"Marijuana and Health" says that, "The frequency of such 
reactions appears to be higher when the setting for use is not a
favorable one; for example, when the user sees the environment as
threatening."  Such an environment might be one in which users 
can lose their jobs for casual use at home or one in which drug 
warriors are seeking to amend the state constitution to make it 
easier to confiscate the property of a "drug criminal".  That 
kind of environment could induce feelings of paranoia in a person
who had never smoked marijuana. 
     Frankly, a "panic attack", if it were severe enough, would 
probably put the individual off of smoking marijuana.  This would
suggest that the "problem", such as it is, is self-limiting.  It
should also be mentioned that cannabis has demonstrated some 
anti-anxiety potential (Regelson et al., 1976; Nakano et al., 
1978, using Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid).  This further 
reinforces the idea that setting is an important factor in 
determining how a person is going to react to the drug. 
Gateway drug 
     I was surprised to see that several of the pamphlets still 
championed the "gateway" idea.  For example, the pamphlet "The 
Facts About MARIJUANA" says, "Research shows that marijuana is 
the _gateway_ [italics in original] into further illegal drug 
useage."  Ms. Dye's pamphlet says, "Today, of course, most people
recognize the old marijuana myths as baseless in fact: Smoking 
marijuana doesn't inevitably lead to violent crime, heroin 
addiction, prostitution or insanity."  I draw your attention to 
the "heroin addiction" part of the statement.  Ms. Dye apparently
couldn't quite bring herself to say outright that the whole 
"gateway" idea is baseless but she certainly came perilously 
     Some studies have shown a _negative_ correlation between 
marijuana and use of other drugs, including alcohol.  Zinberg and
Weil (cited above) found that marijuana users were actually less
inclined to use other drugs, including alcohol.  The Costa Rica 
study showed that the marijuana users had almost no alcoholism. 
(The book "Licit and Illicit Drugs", by Brecher, reports that 
during alcohol prohibition, as alcohol became more and more 
expensive, legal cannabis became an attractive alternative.  
Hashish was cheap and readily available in New York city which 
had 1200 hash parlors by the late 1920's.  Perhaps such success 
as Prohibition enjoyed can be explained by the availablity of 
cannabis as an alternative intoxicant.) 
     If marijuana were truly a "gateway" drug, it could be 
expected that making it legal would result in a massive increase
in the use and abuse of hard drugs.  This experiment has actually
been performed in the Netherlands where personal possession of 
less than 30 grams of marijuana or hashish is no longer 
prosecuted.  There, use of heroin has DECLINED over the past 
     In my recitation of the preceeding, I am not arguing that 
marijuana protects a population from going on to harder drugs; I
am, however, pointing out that a claim that marijuana is a 
"gateway" drug must explain away a large body of disconfirming 
evidence.  The reality is that societal and behavioral factors 
are the determinates of drug abuse.  The longitudinal studies 
cited above demonstrate that USE of marijuana does not predispose
one to ABUSE of marijuana or any other drug.  Simple-minded 
"gateway" explanations are not scientifically valid and have no 
place in either policy making or drug education. 
Marijuana and automobile accidents 
     Another item cited in your anti-marijuana literature is a 
reference to research that has shown that "tracking" is impaired
4 to 8 hours after initially smoking even though the person feels
subjectively "sober".  Your literature didn't quite report this 
accurately, so it left the impression of significant impairment 
in many areas -- which has not been demonstrated.  "Tracking", by
the way, describes the act of following a moving stimulus.  In 
contrast with marijuana, alcohol impairs coordination, motor 
control, and reaction time from 36 to 48 hours after intoxication
(as reported in a recent issue of "Scientific American" in the 
"Science and the Citizen" section).  Alcohol is legal and 
marijuana is not.  Why? 
     Simulators (a form of impairment tester) have shown that a 
person heavily intoxicated by marijuana is impaired to a similar
degree to a person intoxicated by alcohol at the 0.08% to 0.1% 
BAC level.  Accident surveys have also shown some evidence that 
marijuana will potentiate accidents at a rate similar to alcohol.
This latter evidence remains inconclusive, however.  For example,
while studies of fatal accidents have shown a similar proportion
of drivers under the influence of THC and of alcohol, 85% of the
THC-intoxicated drivers also had alcohol in the blood, thus 
making it difficult to place the primary blame on marijuana.  
Nonetheless, I think it is fair to go by the simulator data and 
say that marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol as far 
as driving a car is concerned.  It should also be noted that 
antihistimines and tranquilizers (both legal) significantly 
impair performance.  These drugs are seldom included in the 
calculus of accident prevention and legal penalty.  Why? 
     Instead of focusing on the irresponsible use of marijuana, 
and excluding consideration of the irresponsible use of legal 
drugs, it makes more sense to develop strategies that make it 
less likely that people will drive while impaired.  The Japanese
manage to consume large quantities of alcohol but have only 20% 
the rate of accidents of the U.S.  The Japanese accept public 
intoxication and make special provision for getting an 
intoxicated person home (free taxi service for inebriates, for 
example).  If it is possible for another country to develop a 
policy that reduces deaths and accidents from intoxicated 
drivers, why isn't it possible for the U.S. to do the same thing?
Marijuana and cancer 
     Sir Percival Potts, in the late 18th Century, observed that
chimney sweeps often developed cancer of the scrotum.  From this
he drew the inference that some property of the soot and/or 
creosote, to which the sweeps were exposed, was the cause of the
cancer.  We now know that he was correct.  Reactions in 
hydrocarbon combustion byproducts produce compounds that are 
     Before I get too embroiled in all of this, I should state 
that this whole argument is really a red herring.  The animal 
studies have never demonstrated that the active constituents of 
cannabis are carcinogenic apart from the smoke.  Cannabis need 
not be smoked.  For example, "bhang" is a drink; so is cannabis 
tea.  Cannabis may be eaten as an ingredient of food or dessert. 
If users have accurate information about the cancer risk from 
smoking then they can choose to eliminate that method of taking 
the drug, if they so desire.  Why should the state be concerned 
beyond providing the necessary information? 
     If people choose to smoke marijuana, despite some level of 
cancer risk, then what?  Certain factors must be borne in mind, 
chief among these that carcinogens present in the smoke are 
effectively filtered by water pipes or similar delivery systems. 
Such "paraphenalia" are illegal in many states.  Why?  Is it to 
render marijuana smoking artificially more dangerous?  That seems
to be the only plausible explanation.  Consider, too, that the 
Berkeley marijuana carcinogenicity studies which concluded that 
marijuana was 1.5 times more carcinogenic than tobacco are based
on the following assumptions: 
1)   marijuana leaves a. =5AIwith tobacco leaves; 
  This assumed that a marijuana smoker would smoke as 
          much as a tobacco smoker. 
As to the first assumption, the marijuana "buds" have 1/3 or less
carcinogenic tars than the leaves, but "buds" are not compared. 
Users will almost invariably prefer smoking "buds" to leaves.  A
cigarette smoker generally consumes over a pack (20 cigarettes) a
day, whereas even a heavy marijuana smoker is unlikely to smoke 
more than 5 to 7 marijuana cigarettes a day.  Another factor to 
include is that the more potent forms of marijuana available 
today require that less of it needs to be smoked in order to 
achieve the desired effect, which means that less carcinogenic 
smoke needs to be inhaled. 
Marijuana and the lungs 
     As indicated in the previous set of comments, this is all a
red herring but I'll play the game.  As it happens, according to
the work of Dr. Donald Tashkin, of UC*1 the effect of marijuana
is something of a mixed bag, unlike the effect of tobacco which 
is uniformly negative.  Although marijuana does act as an 
irritant to the large passageways (Tashkin et al., 1980), it also
acts as a bronchodialator (Tashkin et al., 1974 & 1975).  This 
has led to suggestions that cannabis might be a useful treatment
for asthma or emphysema. 
     Tashkin has done some long term studies of heavy marijuana 
smokers but curiously, none of the subjects has gone on to 
develop lung cancer, thus far.  In line with this, surprising 
results have come out of studies in Jamaica (Rubin and Comitas, 
1975) and Costa Rica (Hernandez-Bolanos et al., 1976) which found
no difference in chronic respiratory disease between marijuana 
smokers and non-smokers.  It is possible that cannabis may offer
some protection to users but I personally remain skeptical; it 
seems counterintuitive.  Other studies that have shown an 
increase in respiratory disease are confounded by the fact that 
the marijuana smokers were also tobacco smokers.  For now, the 
jury is still out. 
Odds and ends 
     There remain some items that were mentioned in the anti- 
marijuana literature that I have not yet addressed.  This 
includes such items as the unsubstantiated claim that marijuana 
has caused an increase in the suicide rate.  Where this "fact" 
came from is anyone's guess.  There is also the litany of 
"marijuana impairs short term memory" which is never qualified by
stating that this impairment is a feature of being intoxicated 
and wears off with the intoxication.  I've actually encountered 
educated, otherwise knowledgeable people who have accepted this 
misleading statement, which is often juxtaposed with references 
to Dr. Heath's brain damaged rhesus monkeys, as meaning that the
impairment is permanent. 
     As for the continued use of the invidious comparison of THC
and DDT:  why not compare THC and Vitamin A, which would be 
equally valid but not as sensational? 
     One of the pamphlets mentions that marijuana is a "schedule
I drug".  This is true.  Do you know what "schedule I" means?  It
means that the drug has no medical value and is especially 
dangerous!  This is a travesty!  The recent discovery of receptor
sites in the brain for cannabinoids got a bit of news coverage. 
The following excerpt from the UPI is typical of the reporting: 
     "The discovery should enable researchers to decipher 
     marijuana's mysterious abilities and could give scientists 
     important new insights into how the human brain operates, 
     experts said. 
     "The work could result in new drugs to treat diseases by 
     [emphasis mine] without producing unwanted narcotic effects,
     researchers said." 
The ugly little secret seems to have slipped out: marijuana DOES
have medical value. 
     "Marijuana and Health", which both Christina Dye and I 
reference, seems to waffle a bit in its conclusions.  For 
example, the conclusions section, page 5, says, in part: 
     "The scientific evidence published to date indicates that 
     marijuana has a broad range of psychological and biological
     effects, some of which, at least under certain conditions, 
     are harmful to human health." 
With all of the qualifications, marijuana doesn't come off 
sounding so bad.  In another place, however, marijuana use is 
said to justify "serious national concern"   
1I1e1 politics helps to explain this inconsistency.  I say 
"clearly" because another part of the study, the part conducted 
by the "Committee on SubsW9
Abuse and Habitual Behavior", was disavowed and 
suppressed when it recommended that possession or private use of
small amounts of marijuana should no longer be a crime (for a 
reference, see "Time" magazine, July 19, 1982). 
Final thoughts 
     This has run on long enough.  It's a lot of stuff to wade 
through, particularly if you want to check up on my sources.  If
you have any questions, please feel free to give me a phone call.
     The last time we spoke, in reponse to my suggestion that we
meet and discuss Drug Free Indiana's position on marijuana, you 
stated that you "didn't want to debate" the issue.  I consider 
this reaction to have been unwarranted, particularly as your job
carries with it a certain responsibility to be receptive to 
public input. 
     Presumably, you have finished reading my responses to the 
anti-marijuana literature.  You are now confronted with a 
problem.  I've seriously called into question every major item 
that is used to justify treating marijuana differently from 
alcohol.  I've indicated that the "harmful" effects of marijuana
mentioned in the literature you sent are either myth or 
exaggerated.  If there is no rational basis for treating 
marijuana differently from the more harmful legal drug, alcohol,
then what remain.J=UIchoice is to either to begin to research
this topic on your own and go wherever the facts lead or to 
suppress this unpleasant information and go on as before.  I 
offer this caution: if you can ignore the information I've given
you, it means that you are willing to be treated similarly when 
it is you who are arguing for the truth. 
     Here's another way to evaluate your current position and 
your options.  Heath's work is essentially worthless.  Why would
material that has been known to be invalid for at least 8 years 
still be given out to people?  How about Nahas' test tube 
studies?  Same objection.  Do you understand my point?  If your 
cause is just, why not pass out accurate information?  Would 
accurate information "confuse" the public?  Is it possible that 
in the case of marijuana, you are on the wrong side? 
     The proverbial ball is now in your court. 
paul hager
"I would give the Devil benefit of the law for my own safety's sake."
                       --from _A_Man_for_All_Seasons_ by Robert Bolt