- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2012

The headlines streaming from the recent Journal of the American Medical Association study on marijuana use and pulmonary function all suggest that marijuana is safe (“Marijuana doesn’t harm lung function,” Web, Jan. 10). Omitted from the calculation is the large number of marijuana users who believed that they would always be occasional users but progressed to heavy use.

If the researchers included chronic, heavy marijuana users as part of the cost of occasional marijuana use, the risks of occasional marijuana use would have been more complete and served as compelling evidence for not using marijuana. Consider the estimated 9 percent of marijuana users who become addicted. That number goes up to 17 percent for users who start at young ages.

This study is comparable to a study on drivers who occasionally speed and who, over the past 20 years, have had no crashes and no arrests. The conclusion of such findings would have been that the study found no evidence that speeding leads to arrest or crashes. This doesn’t make any sense.

Let us not forget the large body of evidence of serious negative effects of marijuana use, including those related to cognitive and physical impairment, psychosis and motor vehicle crashes.


President, Institute for Behavior and Health Inc.

Founding director, National Institute on Drug Abuse


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