Steve’s Not Here, Man: Harper Claims Marijuana is ‘Infinitely Worse’ Than Tobacco

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was recently asked by a reporter why he was so bothered by marijuana, especially given that both tobacco and alcohol are regulated drugs. His response?

“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.”

Ok, maybe – maybe – the carcinogenic effects of smoking a marijuana plant are the same as smoking a tobacco plant. Harper must have forgot to consider the over 4,000 additional chemicals you inhale in a cigarette. Or that the amount of deaths attributed to smoking cigarettes are infinitely more than those caused by smoking weed. There’s a reason no one prescribes medicinal tobacco.

Then again, like too many politicians, he’s never really been interested in things like facts or science when they don’t help his cause.

“There’s just overwhelming and growing scientific and medical evidence about the bad long-term effects of marijuana,” said Harper, stopping short of mentioning any sort of facts or examples.

Dr. Robert Schwartz, the executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, meanwhile, is someone with a much firmer grip on scientific evidence. Unsurprisingly, he had a different opinion in the subject.

“Tobacco has much more damage to physical health,” he said, adding that between 30,000 and 40,000 Canadians die every year from tobacco-related causes like cancer and heart disease, while deaths attributed to marijuana are extremely rare. “I’m hoping that others in the political arena will use the scientific evidence to call him on it.”

Those in the social media arena certainly have:

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.59.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.59.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.58.37 PM
Harper claims cannabis consumption can cause psychosis and schizophrenia, assertions that are contestable, at best.

This kind of thinking is infinitely worse than being educated about an issue.