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A Second Look at 'the Safest' Drug

August 28, 1986

I am greatly concerned by the response of Pamela Cantor, the author of For Parents Only, to the mother who wrote regarding her 16-year-old daughter's use of marijuana. I agree that the mother should confront her daughter as Cantor advised (Aug. 17), but I take great exception to her gross understatement of the damage resulting from the recreational use of marijuana. Cantor stated, " . . . Marijuana is not a particularly dangerous drug. It is among the safest of commonly used drugs."

Cantor is at least 15 years behind the times in her knowledge of marijuana. According to Dr. Sidney Cohen, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and a pioneer in marijuana research, the marijuana smoked today is more than 10 times stronger than that smoked in the '70s--that is, it has that much more of the psychoactive ingredient THC present. Recent studies show just how damaging THC can be, not just to the lungs as suggested to Cantor, but to the reproductive system and, most frightening, to brain cells.

One would be hard-pressed to find any professional marijuana researcher who would support Cantor's contention that "marijuana is not a particularly dangerous drug." Cantor has done a great disservice to feeding the myth and thereby encouraging more children to believe that they can safely experiment with drugs. Marijuana is dangerous in its own right as well as by its association with other drugs.

SUSAN L. COLLINS

Canoga Park

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