I feel compelled to take issue with the points that Dr Ray Baker raises in his opinion piece “More reefer madness” [BCMJ 2001;43(6):362].
Dr Baker speaks of a “cannabinoid antagonist” that “when administered to rats, precipitates immediate withdrawal syndrome.” As an emergency physician who deals with all manner of substance abuse on a regular basis, I cannot recall ever seeing “marijuana withdrawal” and strongly doubt the existence of the same as a clinically relevant entity. Far more scientific evidence exists for caffeine addiction and withdrawal. If addictive potential alone is an argument against decriminalization, as Dr Baker implies, perhaps we should start shutting down Starbucks outlets.
Other arguments that Dr Baker raises, such as interference “with cellular immunity” and “introduction of fungal spores” sound rather vague and weak.
Dr Baker is concerned about the risk that marijuana poses to adolescents. This is a laudable concern, but it is intellectually and morally lazy for society to think it is protecting its youth through ineffective drug laws. Dr Baker believes that prohibition works, despite pointing out a 15% increase in marijuana use in BC secondary students in the last decade. Clearly prohibition is not working. If we truly want to protect our young people, we need to create a society that is more family centered, where parents spend more time with their children—even when they become teenagers. It is simpler to demonize drugs than to face the reality that we are a selfish and self-serving generation that has set our children adrift, allowing them to be raised by TV, computer games, and their peers. Prohibition solves nothing. We, as individuals, need to create loving and secure homes for our children and in the process transform our society for the better.
—Jeffrey Eppler, MD