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Old 09-25-03, 11:19 AM
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David, it appears you've made some assumptions about cannabis that I would disagree with. Instead of starting some silly back n forth, I would merely like to post some information to serve as a "seccond opinion" on the issue.

Please keep in mind that I am posting only the information that I, myself find credible - whether anyone else finds this info credible is up to them. I am not preaching, nor am I seeking to win a debate - only to round out the discussion.

Recreational use

8.18 It is believed in some quarters that the current absolute prohibition on the recreational use of cannabis and its derivatives is not justified by the adverse consequences for the user and the public. On the evidence before us, we disagree. On the contrary, we endorse the Government's statement in Tackling Drugs: "The more evidence becomes available about the risks of...cannabis,...the more discredited the notion that [it is] harmless" (paragraph 6.16).

8.19 The harms must not be overstated: cannabis is neither poisonous (paragraph 4.3), nor highly addictive, and we do not believe that it can cause schizophrenia in a previously well user with no predisposition to develop the disease. However, we are satisfied that:

— It is intoxicating, enough to impair the ability to carry out safety-critical tasks (such as flying, driving or operating machinery) for several hours after taking (paragraphs 4.6-9);

— It can have adverse psychic effects ranging from temporary distress, through transient psychosis, to the exacerbation of pre-existing mental illness (paragraphs 4.10-12);

— Regular use can lead to psychological dependence (paragraphs 4.23-33); and, in some dependent individuals (perhaps 5-10 per cent of regular users), regular heavy use can produce a state of near continuous intoxication, making normal life impossible;

— Withdrawal may occasionally involve unpleasant symptoms (paragraphs 4.23-25);

— Cannabis impairs cognitive function during use (paragraph 4.6);

— It increases the heart rate and lowers the blood pressure, carrying risks to people with cardiovascular conditions, especially first-time users who have not developed tolerance to this effect (paragraph 4.4).

8.20 Moreover, it is possible, though not proved, that the effects of cannabis on driving etc. may last longer than a few hours after taking (paragraph 4.7); that the damage to cognitive function may endure after withdrawal (paragraph 4.13); and that cannabis has adverse effects on the immune system (paragraph 5.16) and on fertility and reproduction (paragraphs 4.15-16).

8.21 In addition, smoking cannabis carries similar risks of respiratory disorders to smoking tobacco. It is also possible, though not proved, that exposure to cannabis smoke increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and lung (paragraphs 4.17-18).

8.22 Therefore, on the basis of the scientific evidence which we have collected, we recommend that cannabis and its derivatives should continue to be controlled drugs.

  • A link to a Canadian Senate Special Committee Report on Illegal Drugs: . Some excerpts from the summary:

    Conclusions of Chapter 7

    Acute effects of cannabis :

    ุ The immediate effects of cannabis are characterized by feelings of euphoria, relaxation and sociability; they are accompanied by impairment of short-term memory, concentration and some psychomotor skills.

    Distinctions between uses :

    ุ For purposes of public policy, the Committee does not feel that the traditional distinctions between acute and chronic effects are useful.

    ุ Similarly, the Committee does not feel the dichotomy of use and dependence is useful.

    ุ The research data does not allow for a clear distinction between use, at-risk use and heavy use.

    ุ The amount consumed is an indicator, but other factors, psychosocial factors and factors relating to the context of use and the quality of the substance, are equally determining in the passage from use to at-risk use and heavy use.

    At-risk use and heavy use in adults :

    ุ Nevertheless, the Committee feels that for people over the age of 16, at-risk use lies within the range of 0.1 to 1 gram per day; anything more than that is heavy use, which can have negative consequences on the physical, psychological and social well-being of the user.

    ุ According to this distinction, and in accordance with the epidemiological data available, there is reason to believe that approximately 100,000 Canadians could be at-risk users and approximately 80,000 could be heavy users.

    Any use in those under age 16 is high-risk use :

    ุ The Committee feels that, because of its potential effects on the endogenous cannabinoid system and cognitive and psychosocial functions, any use in those under age 16 is at-risk use;

    ุ Our estimation would suggest that approximately 50,000 youths fall in this category.

    ุ For those between the ages of 16 and 18, heavy use is not necessarily daily use but use in the morning, alone or during school activities;

    Consequences of heavy use :

    ุ Heavy use of smoked cannabis can have certain negative consequences for physical health, in particular for the respiratory system (chronic bronchitis, cancer of the upper respiratory tract).

    ุ Heavy use of cannabis can result in negative psychological consequences for users, in particular impaired concentration and learning and, in rare cases and with people already predisposed, psychotic and schizophrenic episodes.

    ุ Heavy use of cannabis can result in consequences for a user’s social well-being, in particular their occupational and social situation and their ability to perform tasks.

    ุ Heavy use of cannabis can result in dependence requiring treatment; however, dependence caused by cannabis is less severe and less frequent that dependence on other psychotropic substances, including alcohol and tobacco.

These studies lead the way to the current proposals in both UK and Canada to decriminalize cannabis.

Does nightly use of cannabis lead to a physical addiction? Unlikely. Does it lead to a psychological dependence? Possibly, but so may a Big Mac, golf or Half Life. Should one use pot nightly as a sleep aid? Well... is it ok to have a "nightcap", to take a a sleeping pill, have sex/masturbate, watch Letterman, listen to Bach...? If any of these activities become a necessity for you to live life then perhaps there is a problem. Is that problem - addiction? Unlikely.