A lot of claims are made about the health effects of cannabis. Opponents of legalization want people to believe that cannabis is a dangerous, addictive drug that harms your lungs and leads to “drugged” driving.

The more than 15 million regular marijuana users in this country know this is far from the truth. We know that cannabis is less addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs. It has little effect on driving. It does not lead to more emergency room visits. There has been no link found between smoking marijuana and lung cancer, despite many studies designed to prove there is a link.

“It seems to be a rather safe substance with very low potential for addiction and withdrawal,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. He recommends marijuana for many of his cancer patients.

“There are 8 million people in the United States that are relatively chronic marijuana users,” he said, “and many of them are highly functioning people that hold full-time jobs and are creative members of society.”

Cannabis users come from all walks of life, and hold every kind of job. There aren’t many functioning and successful alcoholics or crackheads, but “potheads” are everywhere. And you won’t notice them because they are functioning “normally.”

But opponents have to make people think cannabis is dangerous and the people who use it are “drug addicts;” otherwise what possible reason is there for it to be prohibited?

Joe Klare