Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2015
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Times, LLC.


It's A Rocky Trip Down From a Rocky Mountain High

Certain Americans have a love-hate relationship with marijuana, and 
with the pleasure comes the pain. In Colorado, where residents have 
legalized the euphoria of pot, the unhealthy consequences of it are 
beginning to emerge. There's a warning for other states in the Rocky 
Mountain high.

Last week, the state of Colorado published a 188-page study of the 
health effects of pot. Coming a year after voter-approved 
legalization took effect, "Monitoring Health Concerns Related to 
Marijuana in Colorado: 2014" reviews existing literature and compiles 
a summary of the effects of marijuana use. Given the health risks 
associated with cannabis, it's a perverse irony of human nature that 
the craving for a high can drive a stoner to give in to such a 
self-abusing downer.

The researchers found that for the 1 in 10 Coloradans 26 and older 
who smoke the weed at least once a month the "potential adverse 
health effects in this population are of significant public health 
concern." Heavy pot use can produce "acute psychotic symptoms during 
intoxication," and impaired memory can persist for at least seven 
days after use. Psychosis - a loss of contact with reality - is not a 
mental state that enables someone to achieve his goals. It certainly 
doesn't help him behind a steering wheel. According to the Colorado 
study, pot smoking is responsible for doubling the number of car and 
truck crashes. A traffic accident is a definite downer, and so is the 
increase in automobile insurance premiums that usually follows.

Pot enthusiasts can be relieved to learn, however, that a separate 
study in the Journal of Neuroscience finds no evidence that the human 
brain actually shrinks as a result of pot use. But pot smokers seem 
to lose their wits. Adolescents who smoke regularly experience an IQ 
decline of 8 points on average, according to Duke University 
researcher Madeline H. Meier. The Colorado study finds that young 
people who smoke weed are prone to "developing psychotic symptoms and 
disorders such as schizophrenia in adulthood."

Pregnant women who pass the grass and forget they're toking for two 
put their unborn child at risk. The Colorado report finds marijuana 
intake "is associated with negative effects on exposed offspring, 
including decreased academic ability, cognitive function and 
attention." No mother would wish attention deficit hyperactivity 
disorder on her newborn baby, but prospective moms who get high may 
be consigning their children to lives of dependency on Ritalin and the like.

Coloradans who voted to legalize marijuana may not have thought 
through the consequences of the high life, but William Bennett has. 
The drug czar under President George H.W. Bush writes of the dangers 
of legalization in a new book, "Going to Pot," and told Fox News 
Channel last week that "they're starting to have regrets out there in 
Denver." One of those regretting is Gov. John Hickenlooper, a 
Democrat. "If I could've waved a wand the day after the election, I 
would've reversed it and said, 'This was a bad idea,'" he told the 
cable channel CNBC.

Oregon, Alaska and Washington state have also approved marijuana use, 
and the District of Columbia legalized it earlier, but is so far 
restrained by Congress. For Americans in states considering 
legalization, the question isn't so much whether they should or 
shouldn't, but why would they want to? Life is short, and getting 
wasted is a waste of time, or worse.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom