Canadian Conservative Party candidate Stephen Harper made headlines this last weekend when he stated that marijuana was worse than tobacco. And not just a little bit worse. Mr. Harper stated that marijuana is 'infinitely worse' than tobacco. Below are his comments, via Canada.Com:
It's a path Conservative Leader Stephen Harper vehemently opposes, using it to drive a wedge between him and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who wants to legalize marijuana. After Harper clashed with Trudeau over the issue last week, the prime minister was asked Saturday why he was so opposed.
"There's just overwhelming and growing scientific and medical evidence about the bad, long-term effects of marijuana. We've spent a couple of generations trying to reduce the usage of tobacco in Canada with a lot of success," Harper said.
"Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage. Marijuana is infinitely worse and it's something that we do not want to encourage."
That's a pretty bold claim by Mr. Harper. He can throw around reefer madness rhetoric all that he wants to, but this isn't the 1930's. What does the science say? Unfortunately for Mr. Harper, and fortunately for logical reasoning, he couldn't be more wrong. There are a lot of studies that have found that marijuana is actually quite a bit safer than tobacco. The most recent one that I know of was published just this last summer. The study was conducted at UCLA, and found the following, per LA Weekly:
But, he says, "Through my studies, we failed to find any positive association." Instead, "the association would be negative, between lung cancer and the use of marijuana. The likelihood is, that despite the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, we don't see the same heightened risks of cancers that we see in tobacco."
Tashkin also discusses the fact that smoking marijuana, unlike smoking tobacco, does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). "Reasoning for this may be that marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive," he says. But "COPD is activated by tobacco smoke and other toxic substances."
"The other major impact of tobacco smoking on the lungs is the association between smoking tobacco and the development of destructive pulmonary disease, the third cause of death in America," Tashkin adds.
There was also another study earlier this year, which sought to quantify just how much safer marijuana was than tobacco, and other substances. That study found that the exact opposite was true of what Stephen Harper stated - marijuana is actually exponentially safer than tobacco. Below is a graph of the study's findings, per the Washington Post: