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Harvard Doctor Says Pot Harms Less Than Alcohol

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A Harvard psychiatrist studying marijuana feels that the drug is probably less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, director of psychiatric research at the Mass. Mental Health Center, says that the data compiled for his study gives him "the strong impression that no amount of research is going to prove that Cannibus [marijuana] is as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco."

"Pot probably has less hangover effect than alcohol. A slight redness of the eyes is the only physical sign that I know of," he said. Marijuana smokers can control the amount of sensation they want to receive, he said, and although the drug can cause psychoses in some people "the same result can come from alcohol, a bad sexual experience, or surgery."

Though Dr. Grinspoon did not do any clinical research for the study, he included all available papers and reports in his work. The study will be published this fall in the International Journal of Psychiatry.

He attributes most of the sentiment opposed to marijuana to the exaggerated campaign by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to prejudice between the older and younger generation, and to the social connotations of the drug.

"Alcohol is seen as an agent which lubricates the wheels of commerce and catalyzes social intercourse. Marijuana is just for fun and therefore is in conflict with powerful vestiges of the Protestant Ethic," he commented.

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