Pubdate: Sun, 16 Aug 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Thomas D. Elias


Four potential ballot initiatives completely legalizing marijuana are 
in the works for California's next general election, with pot 
advocates yet to choose the variation that will get their concerted push.

But one thing for sure: Whichever one they send out for signature 
gathering will say nothing about the detrimental effects of the 
mind-altering weed, wellknown a proven demotivating factor for heavy users.

The eventual pot legalization initiative (its official name is yet to 
be determined) will likely tax pot producers and dealers just like 
other businesses. And it will contain rules against anyone under 21 
obtaining it, like measures adopted in Colorado and Washington.

There will also be no nonsense about doctors' recommendations, now 
required for medical marijuana use under Proposition 215, the 
Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Those recommendations, often faked, 
now facilitate cannabis use for plenty of folks with no discernible 
medical problem. This, of course, does not change the fact marijuana 
has helped plenty of cancer patients and others who need their pain 
alleviated, as well as helping vision problems and other ailments 
marijuana often eases.

Essentially, all of this means there is no longer much, if any, 
stigma attached to using marijuana. Entrepreneurs all over California 
are already gearing up to market everything from bongs to 
cannabis-laced fudge the moment legalization arrives.

But as acceptance of marijuana has increased, both nationally and in 
California, the dangers also have risen. A 2014 study in the medical 
journal Current Addiction Reports ( 
cle/10.1007%2Fs40429-014-00196) found using pot only once a week can 
lead to cognitive decline, lower IQ and memory problems. Other 
studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and other 
peer-reviewed medical magazines report a link between recreational 
pot use and brain abnormalities in young adults. Some law enforcement 
officials report more serious problems, too.

Not to worry, say legalization advocates, because the age limit will 
keep marijuana away from teenagers. The identical rule, of course, 
applies to alcohol, and how successful is that in preventing teenage 
and college drinking?

Acceptance of pot is so widespread that two of California's most 
conservative Republican congressmen, Tom McClintock of Roseville and 
Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County, along with liberal Democrat Sam 
Farr of Monterey County, are now pushing to prevent any federal 
interference with legalizing the weed.

The GOP dominated House of Representatives passed the so-called 
Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment earlier this year on a nonpartisan vote, 
seeking to prevent the federal Justice Department from stopping 
legalization anywhere. And a McClintock-sponsored amendment that 
barely failed in the House would have forbidden federal prosecution 
of pot dealers and users anyplace where state laws allow recreational 

All of this ignores the sometimes fatal effects of pot use reported 
in a new study from the Arizona Department of Health Services. 
Examining all deaths of Arizona children under age 18, the department 
concluded 128 fatalities in 2014 resulted from substance abuse. 
Marijuana was the most prevalent substance associated with child 
deaths, linked to 62, far more than alcohol or methamphetamine. This, 
when just 7.5 percent of Arizonans use marijuana regularly, compared 
with 52 percent who use alcohol. So there's little doubt pot is a 
more serious problem for youngsters who use it than beer or liquor.

Translate the Arizona numbers to California, six times as large but 
with no similar tracking of teenage deaths, and the likelihood is 
that more than 300 youthful fatalities here were tied to pot use last year.

Says Sheila Polk, county attorney for Yavapai County, Ariz., 
northwest of Phoenix: "Legalizing an addictive drug that is linked to 
. increased psychosis and suicidal ideas, lowered IQ, memory loss, 
impaired learning and academic failure means more damaged lives and 
lost opportunities for our youth. It's unconscionable to experiment this way."

Wrote Republican William Bennett, the nation's first drug czar and a 
former secretary of education: "Overseeing or encouraging more 
marijuana use is just about the last thing a government trying to 
elevate (living conditions) would do. At stake is the safety of our youth."

Sadly, it's unlikely voters will hear anything much like this when 
the drumbeat for legalization begins in earnest late next year.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom