Reaching For Straws

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Editor:

I've just read Ira Gibel's letter, People Need To Be Educated About Drug Use (Tuesday, July 31) and have to respond.

Mr. Gibel is reaching for straws comparing cannabis (marijuana) to thalidomide. Thalidomide is one of the iconic tales of the pharmaceutical industry's push to introduce new drugs without proper oversight. Cannabis, on the other hand, has been used by humans for literally thousands of years, safely. In 1988 DEA administrative law judge Francis Young, after an exhaustive investigation, stated that cannabis "is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man."

There are now some 30 million estimated consumers of this ancient human companion in the U.S. alone. It is believed to now be our nation's #1 agricultural crop, worth an estimated $36 billion (going completely untaxed).

UCLA researcher Dr. Donald Tashkin, probably the world's most renowned investigator of cannabis and the respiratory system concluded that not only does cannabis not cause lung cancer, but that it may have anti-cancer properties. A claim verified by a study out of the Medical College of Virginia in 1974 that found THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice. A study itself supported by the work of Dr. Manual Guzman of Complutense University in Spain in the late 1990s.

What is needed is a truthful, public assessment of the plant's history and an investigation of government improprieties in burying studies and evidence of cannabis' usefulness. The laws prohibitiing cannabis do more harm than the plant ever will.

Allan Erickson, Drug Policy Forum of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.

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