Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Alcohol causes violent behavior and deaths by liver cirrhosis and alcohol poisoning. People die every day from overdoses of heroin, cocaine, meth, and even legal prescription drugs. Nonetheless, Rep. David Howard (R-Park City), Chairman of the Montana House Human Services Committee, thinks marijuana — a substance that has never caused an overdose fatality — is “the most dangerous drug there is.”
That’s right folks, it’s 2013 and reefer madness is still alive and well in big sky country. Fortunately, science is still alive and well too and begs to differ with Rep. Howard. Here’s what a study published in Britain’s most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, had to say about the relative harms of various popular intoxicants:
As you can see, marijuana (cannabis) is hardly the most dangerous and pales in comparison to alcohol and tobacco, two drugs we’ve had success reducing teen use of lately without throwing tens of thousands of adults in jail.
Unsurprisingly, Howard’s committee blocked four bills that would have rolled back recently passed restrictions on Montana’s medical marijuana law. For now, despite Rep. Howard’s obfuscation, a judge has issued an injunction preventing the worst parts of that law from taking effect. Patients in Montana are awaiting the state attorney general’s decision as to whether or not to appeal that ruling.
UPDATE: Commenter Nathan Pierce points out that Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced Friday he will not appeal the preliminary injunction. Patients and providers are not out of the woods yet though. The constitutionality of Montana’s restrictive law will now be the subject of a full trial, where Fox pledges to “vigorously defend” the law.