Dr. Tom Clark made 4/20 all about education this year with a presentation titled "Is Cannabis Preventative Medicine? The Impact of Marijuana Use on Physical Health." The Indiana University Sound Bend professor explained to students that much of what they've been told about cannabis is wrong. Notably, he tackled the claim that cannabis can contribute to premature death with evidence that suggests it does the exact opposite.
"Evidence for a net increase in rates of premature death from any cause due to cannabis use is weak," Dr. Clark wrote in an abstract for the presentation. "Instead, moderate, adult cannabis use reduces the risk of premature death and disability from multiple causes. Health benefits of moderate Cannabis use include reduced rates of obesity and cancer, reduced use of more harmful pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, and alcohol, and protection of the brain from trauma, neurodegenerative diseases, and neurotoxins."
While explaining his motivation for studying the topic, the professor said, "As I was reading the literature on the subject, I was coming across all these lab studies which suggested these really significant health benefits, and yet the review articles in the field would focus only on the harmful effects and completely ignore any possibility of beneficial effects. Even so, they came up with very little convincing evidence for any sort of harm leading to serious illness or fatalities. So I think it's time to shift the conversation from how harmful is it to how many lives does it save."
Dr. Clark, however, doesn't stop at challenging decades of cannabis-harm claims. The Hoosier State researcher then calls out "the origins of prohibition as a weapon of white supremacy" and condemns its role in contributing to mass incarceration and voter disenfranchisement.