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Marijuana abuse

To the Editor:

I read with interest Jeff and Debra Jay's column in the March 14 Grosse Pointe News "Is marijuana harmless?"

The column outlined a 17-point list of horrors and alleged dangers from marijuana, including heart attacks, brain damage, mental problems, blood pressure imbalance, decreased sperm count, parasites, glandular and immune-system damage and so on.

However, they did not cite any authoritative references for any of these charges, so I presume their column is basically an opinion piece.

That being said, the most comprehensive and unbiased medical, legal, scientific and social study of the marijuana phenomenon in America is still the Schaffer Commission Report of 1972. The commission was created by President Richard Nixon. It consisted of prominent medical and scientific authorities of the day, as well as respected Republican and Democratic Party leaders like Sens. Harold Hughes and Jacob Javits and Reps. Paul Rogers and Tim Lee Carter.

The commission report, which ultimately recommended decriminalization of marijuana, was rejected by President Nixon because it did not validate his preconceived notion that marijuana was any more dangerous than his favorite drug Scotch whisky.

The Schaffer Report unequivocally stated, "looking only on the effects on the individual, there is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of the natural preparations of cannabis, including the resinous mixtures commonly used in this country.

"The risk of harm lies instead in heavy, long-term use of the drug, particularly the most potent preparations. The experimenter and the intermittent users develop little or no psychological dependence on the drug. No organ injury is demonstrable."

The report went on to say "any psychoactive drug is potentially harmful to the individual, depending on the intensity, frequency and duration of use. Marijuana is no exception."

With all due respect for Mr. and Mrs. Jay's prohibitionist inclinations, perhaps a better approach to a sophisticated audience like the readers of the Grosse Pointe News is to forgo the "reefer madness" spin and simply say it like it is. That is, substance abuse problems in one form or another, have been around since the days of Noah, and are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

Persons with substance abuse difficulties regardless of whether the drug is legal or illegal should be able to get the professional help they need.

Tim Beck


Tim Beck
March 28, 2002

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