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Seeking the Straight Dope

Rational analysis always seems to be one of the casualties of controversy. This is particularly upsetting when it's an issue that would seem to be reasonably susceptible to scientific analysis.

A month or two back we had the interesting spectacle of the Ministry of Health saying that cannabis seemed to have "small to moderate" health risks which are "less than the public health risks of tobacco or alcohol use" (and other health workers saying similar things) while the police were insistent that "cannabis is an inherently harmful drug with serious health risks to regular and long-term users".

It's possible, of course, that both of these positions have some truth to them. Is the health risk of too much cannabis comparable to the health risk of too many glasses of Coke, too many glasses of chardonnay or too many glasses of methylated spirits? Is making it illegal a sensible public health measure or a mindless moral panic?

I would be most interested if the Science Monthly were able to run an article giving us an idea, in a reasonably impartial fashion, just what major studies have been carried out and what findings have emerged.

P. Dalton, Nelson