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British Lung Foundation Cannabis Report "Fatally Flawed"

The report "A Smoking Gun" published today (11-11-02) by the British Lung Foundation, has been widely-reported in the media as showing cannabis to be many times more damaging to the lungs than tobacco cigarettes.

The report claims that cannabis smoked today is much more potent than in the 1960s, and that reefers today contain 150mg THC, whereas in the 1960s they might contain 1% THC.

The authors appear to rely on American studies where smoking patterns are very different from in Europe.

Their warnings of potential dangers refer to theoretical studies, or individual case histories, with no epidemiological evidence which might provide reliable statistical evidence of any risk.

This report contains no new research, and represents a selective interpretation of the scientific literature, with the most negative possible "spin" put on research findings of others.

The authors of the report are not disclosed, neither is the source of funding for the report, leaving open the question of whether any conflicts of interest were involved.

Matthew Atha, director of the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit stated today

"As the average cannabis cigarette smoked in the UK contains 200mg of cannabis, the suggestion that an average reefer contains 150mg THC i.e. the cannabis is 75% pure - is clear nonsense, and betrays the authors lack of understanding of how cannabis is used in the UK. Furthermore, most of the cannabis consumed in the UK is cannabis resin, not herbal cannabis as used in the USA"

"IDMU recognises that smoking any substance carries risks of cardiovascular or lung diseases. However, such alarmist health claims serve only to reinforce the impression amongst young people that warnings over the dangers of cannabis are exaggerated and lack credibility. This report is no different to many others released over the past century which have been found, on close examination, to be dangerously flawed"

11th November 2002

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