Jon Ferry and The Vancouver Province

Vancouver Province columnist Jon Ferry has a screed against me in today’s newspaper where he inveighs against my previous day’s reference to Health Canada as liars and deceivers.

Wait till my wife Jodie hears about this, she’ll have to straighten him out!

Prince of Pot should read prince of studies

by Jon Ferry, The Province

Lawyers call it an “ad hominem” argument. It means that, instead of addressing the substance of a person’s argument, you bash them personally.

It’s invariably the weakest kind of argument to make. But so often it’s the easiest.

Which is why so often it’s used by the likes of Vancouver pot promoter Marc Emery in preaching about the virtues of smoking marijuana. Anybody who disagrees with him is invariably an evil person.

It’s why I’m not at all surprised to read Emery’s vitriolic reaction to a study by Canadian health researchers who are challenging the common belief that pot smoking is less harmful to one’s health than smoking tobacco.

“This study is false and is, in fact, blatant lies once again from the least trustworthy source of health information in Canada — the lackeys at Health Canada,” Emery told Canwest News Service.

Now, Health Canada may be many things, but is it really our least trustworthy health-information source? I for one tend to prefer its findings to those of Emery … though I’m skeptical about much government-funded research, especially that on global warming.

And I’m sure most parents would prefer it if young B.C.ers, who smoke way too much dope, spent more time listening to these qualified health researchers rather than the so-called Prince of Pot.

Certainly, they could do worse than read the scientific paper, which is to appear in the Aug. 17 issue of the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Research in Toxicology, before ripping into its authors.

Unfortunately, the study’s findings are presented in the kind of dense scientific jargon that fries the synapses, and Health Canada was unable to provide anybody who could discuss it Thursday.

But the paper, forbiddingly titled “The Genotoxicity of Mainstream and Sidestream Marijuana and Tobacco Smoke Condensates,” does appear to lend credence to the conclusion that smoking pot, like smoking tobacco, has a toxic impact on human cells, the building blocks of all living things.

In fact, the Ottawa-based study group found marijuana smoke caused significantly greater cell and DNA damage than tobacco smoke, though tobacco smoke alone caused chromosome damage. So take your pick: How do you want to pollute yourself? With pot or tobacco?

Marijuana smoking, though clearly useful as a pain reliever, has been associated with everything from chronic bronchitis to schizophrenia. So far there’s been no substantiated link between it and lung cancer. However, the Ottawa researchers note an earlier study “confirmed that marijuana smoke condensates contain qualitatively the same chemicals as tobacco smoke.”

The researchers also point out that marijuana is often perceived as a “natural” product that’s less harmful than tobacco. But that doesn’t mean, at least when it’s smoked, it doesn’t have the potential to cause health damage. And, instead of smearing the researchers, Emery should at least acknowledge that possibility.

Don’t expect, though, that you’ll ever be able to disagree with Emery and his ilk in a rational manner. They’ll simply resort to ad hominem attacks.

The only satisfaction is you’ll know you won the argument.

You can send Jon email at [email protected]

Read the story Jon is talking about here.

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.