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Treat marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes

October 7th, 2009 Dr. Skunky

I was disturbed to see that a recent health column by Sarah Baldauf about the effects of marijuana (“What Parents Need to Know About Pot,” Oct. 6, 2009) was in fact a verbatim reprint of a syndicated Aug. 2008 article, and wasn’t updated with any new findings published on the topic since the article was first written more than a year ago.

Cannabis Cigarettes

Much research since Aug. 2008 has cast further doubt on claims about the harms of marijuana. For example, the claim that marijuana use leads to “a greater risk of cancer to the head and neck” was refuted by two 2009 studies. One, in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, found the risk of head and neck cancer “was not elevated” among marijuana users. Another, in Cancer Prevention Research, found that people who use marijuana actually have a lower risk of head and neck cancer than people who don’t use marijuana.

That doesn’t mean marijuana is for kids — it’s not. But if parents really want to protect their children from marijuana, they should ask lawmakers to support a system that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco. If marijuana were regulated and sold only by licensed merchants who check IDs, it would become harder for underage teenagers to purchase it. That’s why teen cigarette smoking has dropped like a rock since the early ’90s, while teen marijuana use has not. Drug dealers do not check IDs.

Mike Meno, Washington

The writer is assistant director of communications of the Marijuana Policy Project.


State voters could get a say on pot

July 27th, 2009 Dr. Skunky

Statewide Legalization of Marijuana might find it's self on the ballot soon.

Fresh off their ballot victory in Oakland, marijuana advocates plan to submit a initiative to the secretary of state to legalize the recreational use and taxation of pot statewide.

“We’ve already hired a professional petition firm to take start collecting the signatures,” said Richard Lee, whose Oaksterdam University has been at the forefront of the pot legalization movement. He expects the effort to hit the streets in September.

The initiative, which Lee hopes to file Thursday, would make possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults legal throughout California. It would also give cities and counties the option of allowing the cultivation, sale and taxation of marijuana within their borders.

“It’s patterned after Texas liquor laws, which leave it up to cities and counties to decide if they want to be ‘dry’ or ‘wet,’ ” Lee said.

The initiative would also leave open the door for a statewide per-ounce pot tax, something has already been proposed by state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

The move to qualify the initiative comes in the wake of a special election Tuesday in which Oakland voters overwhelmingly approved Measure F, to tax medical marijuana sales in that cash-strapped city.

The statewide measure would expand the idea to include taxes on recreational-pot sales to adults.