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Smoking pot ... is good for you?

Hold your fury for a minute. I'll explain that headline. Endure some quotes, just briefly.
"I tried marijuana once. I did not inhale."
-- William J. Clinton

"Yes. In Vietnam."
-- John Kerry when asked if he had ever smoked marijuana.

"I think hard drugs are disgusting. But I must say, marijuana is pretty lightweight."
-- Linda McCartney

"I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?"
-- Willie Nelson

"Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could."
-- William F. Buckley, Jr
.

"Marijuana is the finest anti-nausea medication known to science, and our leaders have lied about this consistently. [Arresting people for] medical marijuana is the most hideous example of government interference in the private lives of individuals. It's an outrage within an outrage within an outrage."
-- Peter McWilliams

"I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast."
-- Ronald Reagan
And now, the news ...
Marijuana does not raise lung cancer risk
From FOX News, May 24, 2006

People who smoke marijuana do not appear to be at increased risk for developing lung cancer, new research suggests.

While a clear increase in cancer risk was seen among cigarette smokers in the study, no such association was seen for regular cannabis users.

Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or nonusers.

The findings surprised the study’s researchers, who expected to see an increase in cancer among people who smoked marijuana regularly in their youth.

“We know that there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes,” researcher Donald Tashkin, MD, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine tells WebMD. “But we did not find any evidence for an increase in cancer risk for even heavy marijuana smoking.” Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer.

[SNIP ...]

The heaviest marijuana users in the study had smoked more than 22,000 joints, while moderately heavy smokers had smoked between 11,000 and 22,000 joints.

While two-pack-a-day or more cigarette smokers were found to have a 20-fold increase in lung cancer risk, no elevation in risk was seen for even the very heaviest marijuana smokers.

The more tobacco a person smoked, the greater their risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers of the head and neck. But people who smoked more marijuana were not at increased risk compared with people who smoked less and people who didn’t smoke at all.

[SNIP ...]

[E]xperts say it might have something to do with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is a chemical found in marijuana smoke.

Cellular studies and even some studies in animal models suggest that THC has antitumor properties, either by encouraging the death of genetically damaged cells that can become cancerous or by restricting the development of the blood supply that feeds tumors, Tashkin tells WebMD.

In a review of the research published last fall, University of Colorado molecular biologist Robert Melamede, PhD, concluded that the THC in cannabis seems to lessen the tumor-promoting properties of marijuana smoke.

The nicotine in tobacco has been shown to inhibit the destruction of cancer-causing cells, Melamede tells WebMD. THC does not appear to do this and may even do the opposite.

More here.

I stress caution. Don't go and buy a bag of dope, alright? Don't break the law. Seriously. DO NOT BREAK THE LAW.

But between you and I, this news is amazing. I can't see any reason why we shouldn't make this a Schedule Two substance and open up additional research in the U.S. And give it to those who need it, not those who just want to have fun on the weekends. Our dying patients are crying out for our compassion. It is the only reasonable thing to do. Legalize Medical Marijuana. And stop jailing kids for small posession already. Please? Make it a lesser crime. Prohibition does more harm than pot its self. It is time to be a little more reasonable when it comes to our drug policy.

That's all I've got to say about that.

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