Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Great Green North!

No, I'm not talking about climate change. As of today, Alaska is the third state to allow recreational marijuana.
Alaska has made smoking, growing and owning small amounts of marijuana legal, becoming the third US state to decriminalize the recreational use of the drug. 
The Republican-leaning state, which narrowly passed the measure in November, on Tuesday followed similar moves by Colorado and Washington states, reflecting a rapidly shifting legal landscape for the drug. It remains illegal under federal law. 
Anyone aged 21 or older can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Alaska and can grow up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering. 
Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal – though private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved. 
Barack Obama’s justice department has cautiously allowed the experiments to proceed, saying it would look to prosecute a narrower range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.
This makes sense given the growing body of evidence demonstrating that marijuana is safer than alcohol or tobacco.
Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.
Let me put some qualifiers on this study. The metrics they are using are a little odd. They aren't just comparing the toxicity of the substances, they are also factoring in frequency of use. No, I don't think my Merlot is more deadly than meth but people drink a lot more wine. Alcohol, because of its widespread use, kills more people. And as the article states, 'safer' doesn't mean totally safe.

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