Marijuana is harmless? Are we blinded by a smoke screen?

Marijuana is harmless? Are we blinded by a smoke screen?
ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN, The Globe and Mail, Nov. 22, 2012
We used to fear Mary Jane, then we laughed about her, and now many of us think she’s downright wholesome. Marijuana’s public image has undergone a stunning transformation since the scare-mongering of Reefer Madness and the dope comedies of Cheech and Chong, but many doctors believe that weed’s rehabilitation as a virtual wonder drug may be distracting us from its real health dangers.

It seems that plenty of people have bought the idea that marijuana is a harmless herb, or better. Stories proclaiming the benefits of “medical marijuana” – for ailments as varied as arthritis, MS, glaucoma and Alzheimer’s – abound in mainstream media like International Business Times, and at patient support sites such as Livestrong.org. Voters in Washington and Colorado recently approved measures to begin legalizing pot, and a reinvigorated movement in B.C. is pushing for similar changes. A poll in the summer showed that two-thirds of Canadians are okay with decriminalizing weed for personal use.

Pot supporters promote its supposed benefits at big trade shows like the Treating Yourself Expo, which celebrated its third annual edition in May in Toronto. Doctors aren’t nearly so well mobilized on the issue, but many say the health risks of smoking marijuana are more extensive and better understood than ever before...

Smoking 'rots' brain, says King's College study

Smoking 'rots' brain, says King's College study
BBC, 25 November, 2012
Smoking "rots" the brain by damaging memory, learning and reasoning, according to researchers at King's College London.

A study of 8,800 people over 50 showed high blood pressure and being overweight also seemed to affect the brain, but to a lesser extent.

Scientists involved said people needed to be aware that lifestyles could damage the mind as well as the body.

Their study was published in the journal Age and Ageing.

Researchers at King's were investigating links between the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke and the state of the brain...

Marijuana -- also harmful externally

House arrest for man who blew himself up in Edmonton-area house while making hashish
By Tony Blais, Edmonton Sun, November 19, 2012
An Ontario man who is lucky to be alive after blowing himself up while making hash at a rural home west of Edmonton was put under house arrest Monday.

Scott Koncir-Squires, 24, was given a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community after pleading guilty in Court of Queen’s Bench to producing a controlled substance and arson causing damage to property.

Federal prosecutor Melina Rawluk told court Koncir-Squires “caused an explosion” while using butane to convert marijuana into hash at a rented home in Parkland County in January 2011.

Rawluk said police responded to the home and seized 500 grams of hash and 200 grams of marijuana.

Court heard the explosion lifted the roof off of the home and resulted in Koncir-Squires being in hospital in critical condition with burns to 70 percent of his body.....