From the Arizona State University State Press, Friday, April 12, 1985.

Recent marijuana column made unsubstantiated claims


I was somewhat dismayed to read the recent column (April 10) about the dangers of marijuana. Although Mr. Echols appeared to be fair by pointing out that most research has found no significant dangers in marijuana use, he then went on to mention several supposed hazards which deserve further attention.

The first point he brings up is that THC remains in the body for as long as 30 days, while an ounce of alcohol is metabolized in only two hours. This fact by itself says nothing about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol. Food remains in the body longer than alcohol, does that make it more dangerous? If I were to ingest lye for a brief period of time I would do more extensive and permanent damage to myself than in a lifetime of drinking or smoking marijuana.

Next Mr. Echols mentions decreased sperm production in male test subjects who smoked marijuana for "only four weeks." This piece of information is useless unless we know how much was smoked and how often. I have seen similar reports which also stated that sperm production returns to normal after regular marijuana smoking has ceased.

He also mentioned that the menstrual cycle is disrupted by THC. "The Pill" also affects the menstrual cycle, yet we don't consider that "ominous."

Finally, he mentions that genetic danger is unproven. This speaks for itself.

Now let's compare marijuana to alcohol and tobacco. Abuse of tobacco causes about 300,000 deaths a year, while deaths from marijuana overdose are not estimated because they are virtually nonexistent. One in 10 users of alcohol become dependent upon the substance, 8.5 out of 10 tobacco users become dependent. Marijuana, on the other hand, is not addictive.

It doesn't make sense for marijuana to be illegal while tobacco and alcohol are not. In 1978, marijuana was decriminalized in the Netherlands. As a result, fewer young people smoke pot in the Netherlands than in several countries that impose criminal penalties for the activity. Meanwhile, the U.S. government will waste $1.22 billion this year trying to stop 20 million American pot smokers--and marijuana imports are expected to be up 10 percent this year.

Let us hope that opposing marijuana decriminalization isn't part of any "conservative trend," and that more conservatives will see the light--as William F. Buckley Jr. recently has.

Jim Lippard
Sophomore, Computer Science