French Government Report Says Marijuana Poses Less Dangers Than Alcohol

Thursday, 18 June 1998

Smoking marijuana poses less of a threat to public health than the regular consumption of alcohol, determined a French government commissioned report Tuesday.
"The report again shows that the basis [for policies prohibiting marijuana] is totally wrong," spokesman for the Greens party announced in a prepared statement. The party is calling for a federal review of the nation's drug policies.
Marijuana has low toxicity, little addictive power, and poses only a minor threat to social behavior, researchers at the French medical institute INSERM concluded. The report identified alcohol, heroin, and cocaine as the drugs most dangerous to health. Tobacco, psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers, and hallucinogens were placed in a second, less harmful group. Marijuana was classified in a third category of substances defined as posing relatively little danger.
"This federally commissioned report concludes, just as the World Health Organization did earlier this year, that marijuana smoking does less harm to public health than drink and cigarettes," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation.
Junior Health Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the report's findings would not encourage the federal government to consider decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana. He called the report "toxicologically correct but politically wrong."
Kouchner's office paid for the INSERM study.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.