Clipped From The Delta Democrat-Times
a a d e q u a t e l y n g t h a t t h e a her r a t i o n A r m y Marijuana Pot smoking favored over cigarettes WASHINGTON (UPI) -Marijuana smoking is less dangerous to the user t h a n cigarettes or alcohol, the government's top drug abuse official said today. "There is no question that alcohol and tobacco are causing us far more health problems than marijuana does," said Dr. Robert DuPont. director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. DuPont, who has previously avoided making public comparisons among the Â· three most widely used "recreational" drugs, said at a news conference that while none. of the drugs is safe, marijuana lacks the "lethal effects" of either alcohol or tobacco. Furthermore, said DuPont. the drug consuming habits of young persons are rhore likely to lead them from alcohol and tobacco to trying .marijuana, rather than the other way around. DuPont. a medical doctor, issued the government's fifth annual report to Congress on marijuana and health, which was released Tuesday. Today's news conference was held to discuss the report. Asked for his advice to the parents .of pot-smoking teenagers. DuPont replied: "1 would advise them not to gel so terribly uptight ... and .o talk with them (their children).about the consequences of their decisions." "My advice is if they are not using (any of the three drugs), don't take it up. There are health risks with all of the drugs. If a y.oung person does use (one of the drugs). 1 would encourage them to^isc less of it." Smokedchronically and heavily, marijuana can cause bronchitis and other respiratory ailments, DuPont said. And the drug's intoxicating effects, m a k i n g it l e m p o r a r i l y hazardous to drive or use industrial equipment, arc often overlooked, he said. Marijuana has some of the potential for effects on the respiratory syshem that cigarette smoking has, plus the intoxicating effects of alcoliol, said DuPont. B u t i t d o e s n ' t h a v e t h e life-threatening overdose potential of alcohol and does not cause as many health problems as cigarette smoking. he said in response to questions.' news conferences in connection with past government m a r i j u a health reports, DuPont had avoided making direct comparisons letween the drugs. DuPonl also told reporters that favors doing away with jail sentences for simple possession of marijuana a n d s u b s t i t u t i n "Personally, my view is that we have to threaten young people wjlh imjrisonment to discourage use .of marijuana." He said he did not believe his personal views were inconsistent President Ford's drug abuse policies. In a written statement, DuPont the health report did not represent administration social policy. "While is i m p o r t a n t to u n relationship between health and policy concerns, it is essential to the health issue separate from decriminalization activities. "Dccriminalization at the slate local level should not be interpreted a signal that marijuana is safe." DuPont said.