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Toxic science

August 20, 2013
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Regardless of what you may feel about the appropriateness politically of the “marijuana is safer” than alcohol campaigns, the truth is that in some areas, marijuana is, in fact, scientifically and objectively safer than alcohol.

A recent ad aired at NASCAR said that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol, and that specific claim was analyzed by Politifact, which looked at the facts, found that the science supports that marijuana is less toxic and called the claim “Mostly True” (who knows why “mostly true” instead of just “true”).

The really interesting part of the story, however, is the attempts by opposition to dance around the straightforward science of toxicity and try to re-define it to keep from making marijuana sound good in any way.

“It’s like trying to compare different weapons. Both have the potential to cause harm,” said Dr. Scott Teitelbaum, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and chief of the Division of Addiction Medicine, at University of Florida. “I don’t know that there’s a clear answer.” [...]

Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, said she wants the public to realize that “these are two drugs that are both addictive and impairing and they both create unsafe situations.”

Of course, we expect that from Calvina. But how about the federal agency that focuses on the use of science?

NIDA states in an email that the effect of marijuana can depend on the person (their biology) who’s using it, the amount and under what circumstances.

“Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual,” according to an agency email statement.

Um, no. Toxicity is a measurable scientific standard (LD50), and while each individual is unique, there have been clearly established overall differences in toxicity between alcohol and marijuana. Period.

It appears that science is toxic to NIDA.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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