Physicians and drug policy groups are sharply at odds over President Obama’s statement to The New Yorker magazine that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer,” reports USA Today. Obama said that while he considers marijuana “a bad habit and a vice,” a waste of time and not very healthy, he doesn’t think it’s more dangerous than alcohol.
The president is obviously “not familiar with the science and frankly doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Stuart Gitlow of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “There’s no benefit to marijuana,” he said. “It’s simply that people want the freedom to be stoned. That’s all it is. And there’s a great deal of risk.” The two drugs have very different side effects, different long-term effects and different contributions to illness and death in the general population. “I would never try to compare and contrast them on something as absurd as ‘dangerousness,’ ” he said. Many physicians disagree. Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, said, “In my 37 years as a physician, the number of patients I’ve admitted to the hospital with complications from marijuana use is zero. The number I’ve admitted due to alcohol use is profound.”