March 20, 1997, Sydney, Australia: The health of long-term marijuana users is virtually no different than that of the general population, according to the latest findings by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia. The study, which involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members, is one of the first ever conducted in Australia to determine the effects of long-term marijuana use. Its findings were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald last month. "We don't see evidence of high psychological disturbance among the [long- term users,]" said chief investigator David Reilly. "The results seem unremarkable; the exceptional thing is that the respondents are unexceptional." Reilly did note that regular marijuana users complained of mild respiratory problems such as wheezing at about twice the rate of non- users. He warned that this result may be because nearly all of the marijuana users were also current or former tobacco smokers. "The greatest danger to health posed by marijuana is prohibition," stated NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
The findings of the Australian study echo statements made approximately one-year ago by the premiere British medical journal, The Lancet, which proclaimed, "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health." The Lancet article further went on to recommend decriminalizing marijuana. For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Jamnes Danenberg of HEMP SA of Australia @ (+61) 8 297-9442 or via e-mail at: hempSA@va.com.au.