Had Ray Baker chosen to write his article [More reefer madness. BCMJ 2001;43(6):315] as a letter to the editor, I might have been less annoyed regarding the content. After all, this is, purely and simply, an opinion piece. Indeed, he says as much in the second paragraph. It is unacceptable that this piece of writing appear under the banner of “Council on Health Promotion” and be signed by the author as Chair, Committee on Addiction Medicine. I expect that anything written as a report of a committee, or even a consensus of the committee, would be appropriately referenced when such statements regarding all of the negative effects of marijuana are made. It would then be possible to argue the merits of the research to which the statements refer. The fact that something appears in print does not constitute fact until all of the factors, such as the methodology of the study, the appropriateness of the conclusions regarding the evidence, and so on have been taken into account. Also, it is important to know whether other data were available giving a contrary view and the policy of the journal with respect to acceptance and rejection of articles sent to it. It is difficult to carry out an intelligent dialogue about a topic as complicated as this if the information on which it is based is suspect.
I agree with Dr Baker that more research needs to be done before physicians are put in the unenviable position of prescribing a drug whose very method of administration leads to toxicity similar to that produced by other air-borne pollutants. His position is, however, that the drug itself is bad and its use will have all sorts of negative effects, especially on our youth. Is marijuana abusable? Of course. Does this fact alone make it unacceptable for use? Considering the number of people who have smoked this weed in their youth or as young adults, I find it strange that the so-called impairment produced by the drug is not widespread. I could argue that some of the brightest and best of our students smoked pot while attending university. If brain damage occurred, it must be infinitesimal.
I am surprised that the editors of the BCMJ permitted this article to be published in any format other than as a letter to the editor.
—H.D. Sanders MD
North Vancouver, BC
As explained in the editorial “Due editorial diligence,” BCMJ 2001;43(9): 492, the Journal’s Editorial Board does not screen a number of departments, including that of the Council on Health Promotion, so we encourage you to read these items critically. Having said that, we are confident that Dr Baker’s column accurately reflects the position of the Committee on Addition Medicine.—Ed.
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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