Pubdate: Fri, 04 Oct 2002
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2002 Dayton Daily News
Author: Kathryn G. Havemann
Note: Title by newshawk


I CANNOT HELP BUT RESPOND TO THE SEPT. 18 article "U.S. official warns of 
teen pot use."

No credible study has ever concluded that marijuana is physiologically 
addictive in humans in the sense that alcohol, cocaine and other such drugs 
are. There is anecdotal evidence, among a minority of chronic pot smokers 
of many years' duration, of something akin to a psychological dependence 
upon the associated behavior and ambience of pot smoking.

An addiction, however, has two other required components, tolerance and 
withdrawal, neither one of which is physically evident with marijuana 
smokers. Tolerance means ever larger doses of the drug are required to 
produce the same effect. Withdrawal means physiological changes 
occur--heart rate, respiration, nausea, etc.--from sudden cessation of the 
drug. No reliable studies have shown that these events occur with marijuana 
usage, especially the level of usage found among most teenagers.

Marijuana definitely can be abused, as can chocolate and potato chips, but 
that is not the same as an addiction. Abuse of marijuana among teenagers 
can definitely--though not always--lead to major problems in other aspects 
of their lives including their education, jobs and relationships with peers 
and family, but that is not the same as an uncontrollable inability to 
exist without marijuana.

Associating with the people who deal marijuana can certainly lead to 
exposure to and even a desire to move on to other, harder illicit 
substances, but that is not the same thing as concluding that smoking 
marijuana leads to addiction to cocaine and heroin.

The most flagrant lies in the article, however, were the ones by John 
Walters, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who 
indicated that "more teens are addicted to pot than to alcohol or to all 
other illegal drugs combined" and "more teens enter rehabilitation centers 
to treat marijuana addiction than alcohol or all illegal drugs combined."

Even if we were to accept that psychological dependence upon marijuana is 
synonymous with addiction, the first statement is so patently untrue and 
unsupported as to be laughable.

I do not condone the usage of any mind-altering substances by minors, not 
only because the laws make it illegal but also because it adversely affects 
their brain cells at a time when they are still in a period of rapid 
growth. Teens, especially, need all their brain cells in optimum working 
condition if they are to make good life-affirming decisions. But if we want 
our children to listen to us, we cannot ever lie to them.

Kathryn G. Havemann, Washington Twp.
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