I have been asked by a reader to address the health effects of Marijuana. Several states are close to passing laws decriminalizing marijuana, including not just for medical marijuana but also for recreational marijuana, and it is certain to lead to a showdown with the federal government. States rights died in the USA a long time ago.

But, in any case, I wish these states all the luck. I fervently support legalized marijuana. After all, why not? People can smoke tobacco, and that's bad. They can drink alcohol in many forms, and that's bad. Look how many fatal road accidents occur because of alcohol. It's a lot more than for marijuana. And look how much violence, including violence to women and children, occurs because of alcohol. You don't hear about pot smokers going on rampages.

So, I want there to be legalized pot. And that's because I am a libertarian, and I believe that every person has dominion over their own body and should be able to decide what goes into it.

However, on a personal level, I am not the least bit interested in smoking marijuana, and I would not do it even it were legal. It is not a healthy thing to do- legally or otherwise.

First, you have to realize that all forms of smoke are bad for you. The only gas that was ever meant to enter human lungs is pure, fresh air. Smoke- of any kind- is toxic. Even burning incense is toxic.

Smoke is a collection of particles that are emitted in the process of burning, where the particles are suspended in the air. Some of the particles are solid, while others are in a gaseous state. These particles include carcinogenic hydrocarbons- and that's true of all kinds of smoke. But, it varies in quantity, and it so happens that marijuana smoke contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. And, because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic hydrocarbons longer,

Overall, marijuana smoke contains 50% more carcinogens than tobacco smoke. However, marijuana smoke contains a whopping 3X more tar than tobacco smoke. And there are no low-tar reefers the way there are low-tar cigarattes.

Everything I've mentioned so far pertains to the simple burning of the hemp plant and not to the active ingredient of marijuana, which tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Notwithstanding any pleasurable buzz people get from THC, we know that it impairs the immune system, increasing the risk of infection and cancer. And the effects on the brain include hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, and impaired memory- and it hardly needs stating that none of that can be considered wholesome or healthy.

THC increases the heart rate- typically about 20 beats per minute but as high as 50! And that's bad for you. You don't want a fast heart rate. Guess what the heart does between beats? It feeds itself. It also clears away its own waste products. Nutrition and Drainage: that is what the heart accomplishes during its resting phase. But when the heart rate speeds up, guess what gets reduced? The resting phase- the interval between beats. Therefore, marijuana is no friend to the heart.

We know that to the lungs, marijuana is every bit as bad as tobacco, increasing the risk of infections, abcesses, and lung cancer.

The bottom line is: unless you're dying, you've got no good reason to smoke marijuana. If you're dying of cancer, and you find that smoking marijuana relieves your nausea and improves your appetite, then far be it from me to want to deny it to you. And I say the same for those who are in the final stages of AIDS.

But, if you've got some life ahead of you, you'd be a damn fool to smoke marijuana, and an even bigger fool to think that it's good for you.

But hey, I defend the rights of people to be damn fools if they so choose. As long as they don't smoke their weed around me, I could care less. Like Ralph Kramden said, "Do I mind if you smoke? I don't care if you burn. Just don't do it around me."

But yes, I would rather that there be potheads galore than for all of us to have live in a Gestapo state. And that is what the War on Drugs is really all about: turning the USA into a Gestapo state.