Dr. Neil A. Capretto's May 23 Forum article about medical cannabis ("We Should Not Smoke Our Medicine") contains important factual errors that we should all understand before we make decisions about legal use of this plant.
Despite Dr. Capretto's assertions, the impact of cannabis on driving is actually less than the impairment created by over-the-counter antihistamines.
The link between cannabis use and respiratory illness is also minimal. There is no link between cannabis use and lung cancer, even after decades of use. The vaporizer, a gizmo that heats cannabis without burning it, allows valuable cannabinoids to escape from the plant in a fine mist that causes no respiratory problems.
Dr. Capretto's assertion that cannabis increases schizophrenia is also untrue. One study suggests that heavy use early in life might make people who have schizophrenics in their family be more likely to report that they've had some odd experiences. That's all.
I completely doubt that people enduring cancer chemotherapy or AIDS-related wasting are concerned about these silly arguments when the medicine that could literally save their lives is unavailable.
Plenty of drugs have negative side effects and physicians prescribe them every day. Let's not let academic hairsplitting keep us from helping those in need.
MITCH EARLEYWINE, Ph.D
Department of Psychology
University at Albany-SUNY
Dr. Neil A. Capretto ("We Should Not Smoke Our Medicine," May 23 Forum) wrote: "Imagine you are sick and your physician informs you that instead of prescribing a medication proven by scientific studies to be an effective treatment and ... found safe by the FDA" that you would be given marijuana.
What about all those possibly negative side effects cited for many of these "safe" drugs? They may treat the illness, but how about new conditions created?
Some people will indeed abuse prescribed drugs, but others should be given the option of legal marijuana if found medically appropriate to their ailments.
Smoking is indeed not healthy, but may have no worse side effects than many others.