Professor Wayne Hall dislikes drugs. So much so, he advises the World Health Organization on drug issues and teaches “addiction policy” at the King’s College in London. According to Hall, he’s gone through 20 years of research and can show that marijuana leads to mental illness, sick babies and car crashes.
His findings are based on government-funded (anti-cannabis) reports from the last 20 years that he hand-selected. Basically, he’s parroting other, old reports and passing it off as something new.
“If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol,’ he told the Daily Mail this week. “It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin – we just don’t know how to do it.”
Marijuana is as bad as heroin? Where have we heard that before?
Among his claims: teens are as likely to smoke herb as they are cigarettes, raises the risk of cancer, and that those who drive after using the drug are twie as likely to be in an accident. Oh, and you’re twice as likely to become schizophrenic if you smoke herb apparently (based on a Swiss study that showed use of marijuana only ten times can make you cray-cray).
Granted, he may have been picking only the worst data he could find, but according to U.S. Government statistics only 6.5 percent of American high school seniors report regularly using cannabis while 23.3 percent of high school students report regularly using tobacco (including chewing tobacco). And marijuana has not been proven to raise the risk of cancer, in fact some studies show it has nothing to do with increased incidences of lung cancer. As for the increased risk of accidents while driving, those are based on inaccurate test results for THC metabolites that merely show someone had used cannabis at some point in the previous few weeks and not actual impairment. As for schizophrenia, there is not strong evidence that the two are related (some studies show they aren’t). But if there is a relation, it would make sense that people who are already suffering from the early stages of schizophrenia would self-medicate (as they have done for centuries with alcohol and other drugs).
Hall also argued that marijuana produces low birth weights when abused by pregnant mothers (same as most every other illicit substance an irresponsible mother-to-be might ingest) and that it could cause heart attacks — a claim backed by a rather questionable French study.
We’re not saying that heavy cannabis use can’t have it’s issues, but basing your fears on two decades of government-funded studies that generally were done to further the impression that cannabis use was bad aren’t the way to begin talking about them.