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.
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.