U.S.: 'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claims Debunked By Leading Researcher

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When a study was released last week claiming that marijuana use damages DNA, and that damage could be passed to one's children, of course it made headlines around the world. For many of us who have been acquainted with cannabis for a long time, the study sounded like nonsense, and now one of the field's leading researchers is calling "reefer madness" on the flawed study from Australia.

While the study from the University of Western Australia claims that smoking pot will give your kids cancer, cannabis has been shown in cell, animal, and limited human trials to prevent, halt, or kill cancer, researchers note, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. The study, released last week by Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at UWA, had the lengthy, scientific-sounding title, “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” and was published in the July 2016 issue of the journal Mutation Research.

A press release from the university claimed that pot smokers were damaging their DNA, and in effect giving their kids cancer. "The worse cancers are reported in the first few years of life in children exposed in utero to cannabis effects," one researcher claimed.

But hold on a damned minute. The paper's authors did no actual tests at all. Instead, they "reviewed studies" to "close the logical loop" that marijuana causes gene replication damage that is then passed on to children.

"This report is based on a foundation of falsehoods," researcher Ethan Russo, founding editor of Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, told the East Bay Express. "Cannabis is not mutagenic (productive of mutations in DNA), nor is it teratogenic (productive of birth defects) or carcinogenic (causative of cancer). Countless animal studies and human epidemiological studies support its relative safety in that regard."

"Additionally, there is a world of difference between drug abuse, the the judicious use of low doses of cannabinoids for therapeutic application in serious diseases," Russo said.

"It is high time to move beyond reefer madness and acknowledge the utility and safety of cannabis-based medicines for the advancement of the public health," Russo said.

Photo of Dr. Ethan Russo: Natalie Martin / Beyond THC