Pubdate: Mon, 11 Aug 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Laura Yard
Page: A9


Congratulations to the Florida Medical Association for passing a
resolution on July 27 to oppose Amendment 2. The FMA is the latest
member of the medical community to come out overwhelmingly in
opposition to allowing people to buy marijuana in stores across the
state based on a recommendation - not a prescription - from a doctor.

It continues to baffle me that despite this strong opposition from
doctors that the media reporting on this issue are not covering this
angle. After all, Amendment 2 is a medical issue, or at least that is
how it is advertised.

The American Medical Association - the nation's largest physician
group - opposes marijuana to be used as medicine. The AMA is joined by
a dozen other major medical associations, including the American
Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American
Glaucoma Society, the American Psychiatric Association and others, in
opposing such measures.

Cannabis-based products and delivery devices should receive the same
Food and Drug Administration approval as other prescription drugs, and
smoking as a means of drug delivery is just not safe. Smokable
marijuana has four times the amount of tar as tobacco and possesses
the same carcinogenic properties. Decisions on medicine need to be
based on scientific review and not on ballot initiatives.

Proponents of Amendment 2 have cast themselves as seeking to help
patients suffering from the most serious illnesses, such as cancer or
HIV/ AIDS. However, Colorado's marijuana patient database shows that
only 3 percent of those using the drug for purported medical purposes
cited cancer and only 1 percent cited HIV/AIDS. However, 94 percent of
the users said they need marijuana for "pain," which can be a very
subjective determination and one that can easily mask obtaining the
drug for recreational use.

In testimony before the Florida Supreme Court, lawyers for Amendment 2
proponents argued that a student stressed out over exams could be
given pot if that was appropriate in the opinion of a doctor. Again,
the proponents were describing how marijuana would be available to
those with undefined "debilitating conditions," but under hard
questioning from the justices, the truth came out.

There is little debate over one major aspect of marijuana's effect on
people: Marijuana has a very negative effect on the adolescent brain.
A 2013 Northwestern University study found that teens who were heavy
marijuana users had abnormal changes in their brain structures related
to working memory and that these teens performed poorly on memory
tasks. The study also found the marijuana-related brain abnormalities
are correlated with a poor working memory performance and look similar
to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities.

Mike Dillon, a former undercover narcotics officer and school resource
officer with the Mesa County Sheriff 's Department, told us that
Colorado's approval of medical marijuana made it readily available to
middle and high school students, who typically raided their parents'
supply or obtained the drug for recreational use through someone who
was authorized to receive it as a patient.

A "yes" vote on Amendment 2 is permanent; it's in the Florida
Constitution; a "no" vote means not now. Let's slow down and think
this issue through. This is a medical question and the fact is, most
doctors have serious reservations about Amendment 2.

Dr. Laura Yard practices addiction and preventative medicine in
Port Orange, Fla.
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