Blogs > Liberty and Power > Marijuana Does Not Cause Cancer

Sep 22, 2005 9:11 pm

Marijuana Does Not Cause Cancer

On Tuesday I posted an entry with a link to a Salonarticle by Maia Szalavitz which exposed the fatuousness of the Drug Czar’s current attempt to scare people into thinking that marijuana causes insanity. It provoked the following comment titled “Another fact” by one John Chapman, “Why be concerned whether marijuana causes insanity? The amount of carcinogens in one marijuana cigarette equals about one cigarette pack full of carcinogens.”

However, Mr. Chapman is not dealing in fact but rather in myth. And, if he had bothered to read Szalavitz’s article he would have discovered the following passage concerning the rationale behind the idea that smoking marijuana causes cancer, “But that reasoning was called into question in late June, when Dr. Donald Tashkin of the UCLA School of Medicine presented a large, case-control study -- of the kind that have linked tobacco use with increases in lung cancer -- at an annual scientific meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society in Clearwater, Fla. Tashkin is no hippie-dippy marijuana advocate: His earlier work has been cited by the drug czar's office itself, because his research showed that marijuana can cause lung damage. The new study, however, found no connection between pot smoking -- even by heavy users -- and lung cancer. In fact, among the more than 1,200 people studied, those who had smoked marijuana, but not cigarettes, appeared to have a lower risk for lung cancer than even those who had smoked neither.”

Also, this is by no means the first time that researchers have found an absent connection between cancer and cannabis. For example a study conducted by Daniel E. Ford, M.D of Johns Hopkins Medical School and released in 2000 found no association between smoking marijuana and increased risk of head, neck or lung cancers.

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Lisa Casanova - 9/26/2005

I would love to read that someday. Will it be a series of journal papers or a book of some kind when you finish?

John Chapman - 9/23/2005

Certainly can’t disagree with that even though it shifts the argument a bit for me. Almost all people are going to get something that will kill them. Course I never actually stated cannabis caused cancer although you might have thought I implied it. But even philosophically I’d never be satisfied with scientific findings that gave that sort of reassurance - past clinical studies could have missed something - not unknown in science. So just in case…until there is an Absolute correlation I reserve final judgment. Mr. Halderman, even though I cannot agree with what you say, concerning ulterior motives behind some neurologists findings and their funding - some are honest (if I dug hard enough probably be able to cite an example contrary but again like you said it doesn’t matter here)I have no real quarrel. My views lean toward libertarianism - it is none of the government’s business what we do as long as it doesn’t interfere in the lives of others.

Keith Halderman - 9/23/2005

People who use marijuana are going to get cancer, they are also going to get the flu that does not mean that marijuana is the cause. As far as these neuroscientists are concerned they have been paid for decades to take every alleged scrap of information about marijuana they can find and present it in the most negative way possible. If they want to look for something positive they do not get funded. And, at the end of the day, it does not matter what they find because whether or not someone smokes marijuana is none of the government's business in the first place.

John Chapman - 9/23/2005

Even though I am now "labeled" I’ll respond anyway.

Although it was not centered around issue of your entry, my point was missed concerning those mental illnesses under discussion in another article: depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia. And because my post should have been more extensive you took the wrong meaning. I just felt there were more important issues to discuss then these mental diseases, which I believe are mostly attributed to society. No smoke of any kind should be inhaled into our lungs, if possible.

Contrary to your belief, I am more interested in scientific fact than politics but I get the feeling that it’s still politics out there anyway. Although the government is making stuff up that doesn’t mean cannabis is A-okay either.

There are case reports of lung and other smoking-typical cancers in cannabis-only smokers. Fung et al (1999) for instance reported on "several young marijuana users with no history of tobacco smoking or other significant risk factors who were diagnosed to have lung or other aero-digestive cancers."

Neuroscientists are still not sure that this drug may or may not have dramatic effects on brain function and dysfunction on how our neurons are wired up and work together. There’s a long list of effects on the table: immunological, lymphoid organs, humoral immunity, cell-mediated immunity host resistance, cardiovascular effects, etc.,etc.

Keith Halderman - 9/23/2005

The tentative title of my dissertation is "A Useful Mythology: Marijuana Prohibition in the 1930s".

Jeff Riggenbach - 9/22/2005

Myths are the only "knowledge" some people want to have about marijuana. These myths permit them to go on indulging their childish fantasies.