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  UK: Cannabis Less Harmful Than Aspirin, Says Scientist
Veröffentlicht am: Freitag, 20 Okt 2000
Quelle: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Adresse: 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL
Autor: Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent


Cannabis is a  safer drug than aspirin  and can be used long-term without serious  side effects, says a  book by  a leading Oxford scientist.

The  Science  of  Marijuana, by Dr Leslie Iversen of Oxford University's  department  of  pharmacology, found many "myths" surrounding marijuana use, such as extreme addictiveness, or links with mental illness or infertility are not supported by science. He also found cannabis is an inherently "safe drug" which does not lead to cancer, infertility,  brain  damage or  mental illness. Legalisation of the drug for medical conditions  should be considered, he says.
Dr Iversen's findings will increase pressure on the Government to reopen the debate about the decriminalisation of marijuana. The author, a fellow of the prestigious Royal  Society,found cannabis was far less toxic than other drugs and had "an impressive record" compared with heroin, cocaine or tobacco and alcohol.

His study showed that the active element of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which made users high, had a lot of potential as a safe drug to treat Aids patients and people suffering severe pain. He also found "stoned" drivers were less dangerous and able to co-ordinate than people who were drunk. "By any standards, THC must be considered a very safe drug both acutely and on long-term exposure," he writes. "The available animal data are more than adequate to justify its approval as a human medicine, and indeed it has been approved by the FDA [American drug authority] for certain limited therapeutic indications." The book says "alarming claims about the harmful effects of long-term exposure to cannabis should be "put to rest", and there "is no evidence the drug causes any impairment in fertility or sexual function in men or women". He says people who stop  using cannabis do not suffer long-term side-effects.

"Cannabis does not cause structural damage to the brains of animals as some reports had claimed,  nor is there evidence of long-term damage to the human brain or other  than slight residual impairments in cognitive function after drug use is  stopped." The author says many adverse  effects of cannabis are related to smoking the drug.

But cannabis itself did not appear to cause cancer. Compared with alcohol and cigarettes, which led to  more than 100,000 deaths a year, cannabis had a far better record. "Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug," he said. "Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis here are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose.  Even such apparently innocuous medicines as aspirin and related  steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds are not safe. "Thousands of people die every year because of the tendency of these drugs to cause catastrophic gastric bleeding."

Keith Hellawell, the drug tsar, also agrees cannabis  use does not lead to heroin addiction.