The harm of legal marijuana

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To the Editor:

I haven’t seen the percentage stats of Vineyarders that voted “yes” to the legalization of marijuana,* but from an educational and health standpoint, research continually affirms that it’s cognitively and physiologically harmful to users. Due to the way marijuana is smoked, it is considered to be potentially more harmful than tobacco. Yes, there’s empirical evidence suggesting it can lessen the painful symptoms of various medical conditions caused from glaucoma, cancer treatments, nerve disorders, etc. However, even within these applications, the same harmful effects of the drug are evidenced — the physiological costs, however, appear to be outweighed by the helpful effects in treating the pain and suffering of the seriously ill.

Research from the Amen Clinics and new research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease states that it’s proven, yes — proven, that regular marijuana users (even when not intoxicated) have lower blood flow to all portions of their brain, especially the hippocampus and cerebrum, than non-users. This has serious implications for all people, but especially the young, since these brain regions control memory and higher order thinking/reasoning.

Nevertheless, Bay Staters seem to be willing and eager to move in a full legalization direction. This move would clearly make marijuana more accessible to teens and young adults whose education is paramount to their future.

Some would argue that alcohol is legal and a bigger problem in society than any other drug, so why not allow marijuana and gain tax revenue from legal sales instead of spending millions on enforcement? But that only bolsters the argument against legalization of the recreational use of marijuana and other drugs. No one seriously doubts that legalization would lead to the saturation of “weed” throughout society, similar to that of alcohol. For example, since Colorado’s legalization of the drug in 2012, surveys indicate that Colorado children have the nation’s highest percentage of users among that group countrywide.

Are we so engrossed in satisfying our appetites that we are willing to compromise our children’s abilities and potential? Should we not lead by example for the sake of the young and impressionable? It’s intuitive, research aside, that marijuana use in kids “hamstrings” their education and ability to succeed in school, which ripples to their future. There’s no hiding behind “my rights and privileges.” If you recreationally use marijuana, you tacitly approve of your friends and neighbor’s kids being negatively influenced and harmed, or you simply don’t care. We can still stem this tide and reverse this troubling trend.

Karl Nelson
Edgartown

* 7,588 in favor (66 percent); 3,948 against (34 percent). —Ed.