How safe is marijuana?

Kris Hermes, Letter to the Editor of USA Today

It's disingenuous for the head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, to say that the trend of marijuana legalization has made research into it more "feasible." The National Institute on Drug Abuse, under NIH, has always been the gatekeeper on marijuana research, which it has stifled over the years ("NIH director on legalizing pot: Not so fast,", Friday).

Collins is also disingenuous on whether marijuana smoke causes cancer, saying "nobody's done that study." As recently as 2012, NIH-funded research was published, and reported in USA TODAY, showing that marijuana smoke did not cause long-term lung damage.

The ultimate irony is Collins saying we need to "mount studies that were impossible before." Not only were studies possible, they've been undertaken.

Kris Hermes, Americans for Safe Access; Oakland, Calif.