Pubdate: Sat, 07 May 2016
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Pueblo Chieftain
Authors: Shawn Nakamura and Krystal Nakamura


We are presenting this information in regard to the recent article 
that stated "Pueblo relies on our industry."

Toward the end of the article, Dr. Richard Rivera stated, "Nothing 
shows that cannabis is a gateway drug." Most importantly, Dr. Rivera 
stated the following, "I believe from a health point of view, there 
are no health issues connected to cannabis use whatsoever."

As health professionals concerned about the people of Pueblo, it is 
our responsibility to fully educate on risks associated with all 
drugs and in this case, marijuana. Is marijuana a gateway drug? A 
national study conducted by Robert Secades-Villa and his colleagues 
and published in the International Journal of Drug Policy revealed 
44.7 percent of individuals with lifetime cannabis use progressed to 
other illicit drug use.

The National Institute of Health states that marijuana use can lead 
to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, 
which in severe cases takes the form of addiction. Recent data 
suggest that 30 percent of marijuana users may have some degree of 
marijuana use disorder.

Another study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of 
Sciences found that persistent cannabis users lost an average of 5 to 
6 points in their IQ, with early teen persistent users losing up to 8 points.

THC results in effects of impaired body movement, difficulty with 
thinking and problem-solving and impaired memory and learning. It is 
linked to higher likelihood of dropping out of school and many known 
and unknown effects with child development during and after pregnancy.

Keep in mind many of these studies include lower potency marijuana. 
Potency increased from 3.4 percent in 1993 to potencies now as high 
as 36 percent and higher. Local authorities are reporting potencies 
as high as 40 to 45 percent use in vapor cigarettes.

There are great financial gains in the marijuana industry, as there 
are in the pharmaceutical industry and the illicit drug industry. 
However, we must be honest about the health effects of marijuana.

No drug is without unwanted effects. We must be honest about its 
addictive qualities, its effects as a gateway drug, the effects on 
mental health, the risks while driving impaired. Most importantly, we 
must address its effects on our youth.

We will need more drug addiction programs, drug education, more 
healthy alternatives for our children and definitely more research on 
the newer higher potent drug itself.

Dr. Shawn Nakamura, MD and Dr. Krystal Nakamura, MD

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom