Florida 25 Sep 2006 by Bill Janes, Director of the Florida Office of Drug Control., The Sept. 20 editorial on marijuana legalization ( "Straight Talk" ) continues the misinformation campaign of past years. It resurfaces many of the same points that have been scientifically refuted years ago. While marijuana is not a lethal drug, using it can lead to potentially lethal behaviors. Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act for a reason: It has a high potential for abuse and no medical value. The Supreme Court ( U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Club ) and the Food and Drug Administration have determined that marijuana has no medicinal value. The FDA confirmed this position again in 2006. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Medical Association have documented the substantial risks of using marijuana. Marijuana use can lead to respiratory diseases, increased heart rate, cognitive impairment, poor school performance, automobile accidents and dependence. Smoking marijuana can promote cancer in the lungs due to 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana admissions to drug treatment have increased from 8.6 percent of total drug admissions in 1994 to 15.9 percent in 2004. The average age of those admitted to treatment was 24. Of all teenagers in drug treatment, about 60 percent had a primary marijuana diagnosis. Clearly, marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug in America, is endangering our children and young adults. This editorial perpetuates an all too frequent, unfounded assertion that smoking marijuana is acceptable and harmless. It is not; it is illegal, dangerous and unhealthy. The discussion on incarceration is also misleading, as it lumps all drugs and drug offenses together. As presented in the editorial, the statistics lump together distribution, trafficking and manufacturing, as well as a variety of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Quite to the contrary, however, according to Bureau of Justice statistics, only 2.2 percent of federal inmates in 1997 were sentenced for marijuana possession. We should also not dismiss the "gateway drug" aspect of marijuana. A 2003 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that while an exact causal relationship has not been established because of the inability to scientifically control all variables, the clear association between marijuana use and subsequent use of cocaine, heroin or other illicit drugs "has been well established" much as smoking and cancer have been causally established. Government and medical science have participated in debates and presented the research evidence. The editorial gives false hope for those who seek any justification to smoke pot or to bash all levels of government that are charged with protecting our youth and society. The author clamors emotionally for marijuana legalization but, like those who have similarly argued over the years, presents no scientific evidence to support his assertions. The result is dangerously misleading at a time when our youth and society need clear, strong messages against illicit drug use. Janes is director of the Florida Office of Drug Control.