Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jun 2005
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Huntsville Times
Author: Deborah Soule
Note: Ms. Soule is the executive director of the Partnership for a 
Drug-Free Community
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Raich v. Ashcroft)


Legalized Marijuana Sends The Wrong Message To Children

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on so-called medical marijuana will 
create an explosive reaction among the citizens of our country who believe 
that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes. However, the 
dangers of consuming marijuana outweigh the so-called benefits of using 
cannabis as a method for pain management.

Marijuana smokers have been shown to suffer an increased incidence of 
bronchitis and respiratory infections. It involves inhaling over 400 
carcinogens that are potent and known to cause cancer. Also, studies show 
that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many 
cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes 
every day.

Alternative methods of consuming marijuana result in inconsistent levels of 
pain management, some taking as long as 90 minutes to provide relief and 
sometimes lasting a maximum of an hour.

There are other short-term negative side effects that include problems with 
memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), 
trouble with thinking and problem-solving, loss of motor coordination, 
increased heart rate and anxiety.

The Institute of Medicine published a review of the available scientific 
evidence in an effort to assess the potential health benefits of marijuana 
and its constituent cannabinoids. The review concluded that smoking 
marijuana is not recommended for any long-term medical use, and a 
subsequent IOM report declared, "Marijuana is not a modern medicine."

Most importantly, other legal medicines exist that work effectively.

John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, stated, "For years, 
pro-drug groups seeking the legalization of marijuana and other drugs have 
preyed on the compassion of Americans to promote their political agenda and 
bypass the Federal Drug Administration's rigorous standards which have 
safeguarded our medical supply for over 100 years.

"Marinol - the synthetic form of THC and the psychoactive ingredient 
contained in marijuana - is already legally available for prescription by 
physicians whose patients suffer from pain and chronic illness."

The issues regarding the legalization of medical marijuana go far beyond 
the dangers associated with marijuana. These issues affect the very future 
of our children.

Surveys indicate that teens in Huntsville/Madison are smoking marijuana at 
an alarmingly increasing rate. These results reveal that young people have 
access to marijuana and perceive it as a harmless drug.

What message would legalization tell our children? Are we now going to make 
it easier for our youth to obtain marijuana? Should our youth today accept 
marijuana use as a nonthreatening health issue?

We have a responsibility as a community to protect our children and to 
offer them a safe, drug-free environment. Legalizing medical marijuana does 
not demonstrate caring for the future of our children.

By Deborah Soule, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free 
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager