Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 2015
Source: Chief, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Whistler Printing & Publishing
Author: Christine Endicott


It seems the marijuana party has begun, and many people are rolling a 
joint and smiling broadly.

THE ISSUE:   Legalizing cannabis

COMMENT:   We need more research

Vancouver has begun regulating its cannabis dispensaries, and the 
Supreme Court of Canada last week ruled that medical marijuana users 
can now ingest edible forms of the drug, in addition to being able to 
smoke it. Marijuana proponents, including dispensary owners who 
currently operate in a legal grey zone, are high on the excitement 
that we are in the midst of a societal change.

Perhaps we'll soon have a free-for-all, with everyone able to access 
the drug that provides relief for many. Cannabis is used to treat a 
wide range of conditions, from anxiety to pain from cancer. It's 
already legal as a recreational drug in four U.S. states.

But local NDP candidate Larry Koopman makes a strong point in his 
interview with The Squamish Chief: There hasn't been enough research 
on the effects of marijuana.

We hope all parties in the federal election take a similar stance. We 
need more research to ensure Canada isn't promoting a drug that will 
have significant effects on our population's health and productivity. 
Currently, use of cannabis is less widespread than alcohol (also once 
illegal), but it's likely there will be a surge in use once it's 
legal. Many in our society won't get involved in the trade of 
anything currently shady.

Some studies have already been done on the long-term side effects of 
marijuana use. People who smoke pot regularly may have daily cough 
and phlegm and symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and they're at greater 
risk of pneumonia, heart attacks and testicular cancer, according to 
reports. Marijuana is known to affect brain function (hence the term 
'pothead') and could affect our abilities to do complex tasks and 
pursue academic, athletic or professional goals that require focus. 
Marijuana use has also been linked to psychosis, including delusions 
and hallucinations - this is a serious and life-altering mental illness.

You could argue that alcohol also has huge impacts on our society's 
health and productivity, and you would be correct. From this 
viewpoint, it's easy to argue: Why not also legalize another damaging drug?

Marijuana is already legal for medical use in Canada, but let's 
proceed with caution on full legalization until our scientists have 
done sufficient studies and know the facts. There simply hasn't been 
enough research to make a decision that could hugely impact our youth 
- - and our society at large.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom