NEW YORK (MainStreet) Claiming that marijuana is less addictive than chocolate, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County), also a Pennsylvania congressional candidate, has met strong opposition from addiction and drug policy experts.
Still, Leach has said on various occasions that marijuana is "a product less dangerous than beer, less risky than children's cough syrup and less addictive than chocolate."
But many drug addiction experts take exception to this - especially the chocolate claim.
"Chocolate isn't an addictive drug," said Dr. Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). "It isn't addictive at all. There are no significant risks of chocolate intoxication, nor are there direct effects or long-term risks of chocolate use, nor do people demonstrate a gradually increasing amount of chocolate intake in order to overcome tolerance. Nor is there any significant withdrawal when chocolate is unavailable. Marijuana is very addictive. Chocolate is not."
Kevin A. Sabet, the director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and a former senior advisor for President Barack Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy, also takes issue with this sweeping claim.
"Show me that data," Sabet said in reaction to hearing this. "Also, chocolate doesn't cause car crashes or IQ loss or mental illness."
Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America, a nonprofit that educates the public about the dangers of drug abuse, responded, "Unlike marijuana, I am not aware of anyone in treatment for chocolate addiction and it certainly is not a substance that sends people to the hospital or impairs one's ability to work or operate a vehicle or machinery."
Even a marijuana legalization advocacy group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), could not ascertain the chocolate addiction claim.
"As far as the claim about chocolate, I can't find research showing its relative addiction quotient, but there is evidence ...showing that marijuana is less addictive than caffeine," said Morgan Fox, MPP's spokesperson.