Wednesday, December 5, 2007


From the Boston

A national pro-pot group that backs a Bay State campaign to decriminalize marijuana is shopping around a new Swiss study showing that teens who smoke grass are just as likely to get good grades as kids who abstain.

The study, which is being promoted by the Marijuana Policy Project, found teens who smoked pot were also more likely to have strong relationships with friends and were not any more likely to be depressed than their substance-free counterparts.

A top Beacon Hill lawmaker slammed the study, which was published in last month’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“It’s really outrageous. I’m appalled,” said Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham), chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “This is a perfect example of academics gone wild.”

Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the group is hoping the study will force “an honest discussion of what the data actually say” and prove that the federal government “twists the data to try to frighten parents about marijuana.”

Mirken said kids should not be smoking pot, but “that rather than panicking parents about the straight-A student caught smoking pot with their friends, perhaps we should be focusing on the kids using multiple drugs who are in real trouble and clearly in need of help.”

But Koutoujian blasted Mirken’s group, saying, “What this study does is send a very bad message. This only damages their cause because it’s salacious and baseless.”

The study’s author, J.C. Suris of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, said light users of marijuana “don’t have great additional problems. They are kids who function well.”

“Those who use cannabis sometimes do better than we think,” Suris said in a recent interview with Bloomberg News.

Koutoujian noted that the 2002 study - which surveyed more than 5,200 students ages 16 to 20 - doesn’t prove that smoking pot caused the various positive outcomes but only shows correlations. He called the study irresponsible in that it took only “a snapshot in time” rather than following students to determine the long-term effects of drug use.

“In another 10 to 20 years, where will these young people be?” Koutoujian asked

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