National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins is raising concerns about the move to legalize marijuana, saying regular use of the drug by adolescents had been tied to a drop in IQ and that a possible link to lung cancer hasn’t been seriously studied, USA Today reports. “I’m afraid I’m sounding like this is an evil drug that’s going to ruin our civilization and I don’t really think that,” Collins said yesterday. “But there are aspects of this that probably should be looked at more closely than some of the legalization experts are willing to admit.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse is interested in pursuing such studies now that legalization has made them more feasible.
“We don’t know a lot about the things we wish we did,” he said. “I’ve been asked repeatedly, does regular marijuana smoking, because you inhale deeply, increase your risk of lung cancer? We don’t know. Nobody’s done that study.” Collins, 63, is a geneticist who led the project to map the human genome. In the past, research was complicated because marijuana was outlawed. “There’s a lot we don’t know because it’s been an illegal drug, so how do you run a research project asking people to sign up who by their signing up are admitting they are breaking a law and might get into trouble?” he said. “I think one of the things we’ll need to do is take advantage of legalization now to try to mount studies that were impossible before, if people are willing to participate.”