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On August 20, 1997, an interview was broadcast on Bay TV (local cable channel 35 in San Francisco) between anchor John Kessler and Lynn Zimmer and Dr. John Morgan. The following transcription was created by scott richie for Winky.
John Kessler: As the War on Drugs has grown in recent years, we've learned more and more about the dangers of marijuana. A new book called Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts , reviews the last thirty years of scientific research on pot and claims the dangers have been exaggerated by both the government and the media. The authors are here with us today: Lynn Zimmer is professor of Sociology at Queens College in New York and Dr. John Morgan is a physician and professor of pharmacology. Welcome to both of you.
Dr. John Morgan: Thank
Lynn Zimmer: Hello.
John Kessler: First off, I guess there are a number of claims about marijuana...and you've done what, gone through all the research or the vast majority of research over the past few years about it?
Lynn Zimmer: Yes. Well, we start with what we hear said about marijuana. We looked in government documents, we read the speeches of government officials, we looked in drug education materials, we read articles in the newspapers, and we took the things that were commonly said about marijuana and then searched in the scientific research to see what exactly do the scientists say about those questions.
John Kessler: And does the research support what has been said about marijuana?
Dr. John Morgan: We think not at all, in fact, there has been an enormous disparity between what we as scientists and teachers have read in the literature about marijuana and what's being said by current and former drug czars and The Partnership for a Drug Free America, so, it's our belief that this disparity between what Americans have been told and what can be substantiated is enormous.
John Kessler: OK, before we get to some of the specific claims about marijuana and what the research shows, you've gotta tell me, why the book? What made you embark on this project?
Lynn Zimmer: Well, we kept seeing this disparity and we would talk with our students about it, talk with our friends about it, and we kept saying, what's being said isn't an accurate reflection of the science. They said 'prove it', so we wrote this book. We have sixty pages of references in the book which we suspect many people won't read, but we wanted to very closely document our review of the research, so that people could check our accuracy.
John Kessler: Now are you endorsing the use of
Dr. John Morgan: No. The book is about claims about the harms of marijuana. We take no particular stand on policy, and we certainly don't endorse the use of marijuana for children or adults. We don't talk about that at all.
John Kessler: OK. Now, let's get into some of those claims. 'Marijuana is a gateway drug.' What do you find there?
Lynn Zimmer: Well, this is
probably the most commonly heard claim. Now we do know that if you start
with a group of people who have used the least common drugs in the society...if
you start with heroin users or the users of cocaine, a small minority of
Americans use those drugs... you'll find that most of them did previously
use the most common drugs. So they did use alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and
often marijuana, before they got to use the unpopular drugs. However, if
you start in the other direction, if you start with a hundred people who have
tried marijuana, one is a current regular user of cocaine. Now if
marijuana were truly a gateway drug you would expect that to be 20, 30, 40
people out of a hundred. One person is a user of cocaine.
Dr. John Morgan: The claims of gateway go back to the 1950's when we were told that marijuana was a gateway to heroin use; in the 1960's we were told it was a gateway to LSD use; now we're told it's a gateway to cocaine use. In reality, marijuana for most users is a terminus drug rather than a gateway drug.
Lynn Zimmer: The large majority of marijuana users never use another illegal drug.
John Kessler: Ah. The effect on memory. Short term memory, I guess is one in particular.
Lynn Zimmer: Yeah. Well,
during the few hours after people use marijuana they have some difficulty
learning new material and recalling it. Now they can easily remember
things they learned later, even while they're high on marijuana. But if,
for example, you give them a list of ten words to memorize while they're high,
they have difficulty remembering as many words if you ask them later. None
of that translates into any kind of permanent memory loss. Many studies have
been done looking at people who have used marijuana for many years, looking at
people who have never used marijuana; they score the same on memory and all
other kinds of intelligence and cognition tests.
John Kessler: Addictive?
Dr. John Morgan: There are no substances that humans take for pleasure that may not be addictive for some few people, but I think probably in terms of currently available psychoactive drugs, marijuana is the least addictive substance that humans use. I think it's less addictive than caffeine. I would quickly add, it does not cause physical dependence; there are a few users who seem to love it so much that it interferes with their lives, but they are truly rare. Of the 70,000,000 Americans who have used marijuana, two-thirds of them have not used it in the past year. It is not a highly addictive substance.
John Kessler: Is it...it may be
Dr. John Morgan: As we're fond of saying, that there are no activities, such as shopping and getting tattoos, that are not addictive for some few people. So...the drug, pharmacologically, is minimally addictive.
John Kessler: Hmm. The effect, on, uh, fetuses?
Lynn Zimmer: A lot of research has
been done in this area. I would say that we looked at more than a hundred
studies that have been done. Now, of course, if you find...if you do the
same research over and over again, you sometimes find one study that will have
some outcome that looks bad. In one study you might find that the babies
are slightly shorter born to women who use marijuana. So we looked at thirty
years of these studies and found no convincing evidence that marijuana harms
the fetus. Now, of course, we, like, I think almost all Americans,
would say people shouldn't smoke marijuana during pregnancy, they shouldn't
drink alcohol, they shouldn't use any drugs, because that's always the
safest course; but it doesn't look as if marijuana is very damaging to the human
Dr. John Morgan: It's very important that people know this, because young women may smoke marijuana and then discover they're pregnant; and if they've listened to the government statements they think, I've harmed this baby. The reality is, there is no evidence that marijuana is harmful to the fetus.
John Kessler: Some of these studies that you have
studied were government studies, no?
Dr. John Morgan: Certainly government funded studies.
John Kessler: Have you theorized on why the discrepancy between what is being put out about marijuana and what the facts that you found say?
Lynn Zimmer: Well, we do think
that people want to stop young people from using marijuana and that they've
decided that exaggerating the dangers is the way to go. And often what
they do is to take an animal study in which very high doses of marijuana
are given to a very small animal and find some harm there and use that to
make some assumptions about humans, with the hope that if we say enough bad
things kids won't use marijuana. And we don't believe that that's true;
and part of the reason we wrote the book is that we think that Americans need to
know the truth about marijuana and that if we want to talk to kids about drugs
and discourage them from drugs we have to start with the facts.
Dr. John Morgan: The truth is a good place to start.
John Kessler: OK. I'm sorry we've run out of time now. It's Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts , Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., and John Morgan, M.D. Thank you very much.
Lynn Zimmer: Thank
Dr. John Morgan: Thank you for having us.
John Kessler: Interesting.
return to heal thy ways
...nothing new here in
this part of the Universe since
8:32 P.M. P.S.T., Monday, July 19, 2010
COPYWRONG © 1997-2010 swrichie ALL RIGHTS REVERSED
i dedicate this interview transcript to my mother, father,
brother, and chris...when i lived at home with my family growing up as a
teenager, i made a promise to myself that i would not use marijuana as long as i
was a minor and living in my parents home. i kept that promise and now 35
years+ later i want my family to make a commitment of respect to me... by
reading this interview and acknowledging what our generation has been saying
cannabis is not evil ~ ~ ~ cannabis is good