Pubdate: Tue, 02 Aug 2016
Source: Clinton Herald (IA)
Copyright: 2016 The Clinton Herald
Author: John Rohlf


CLINTON - Local organizations hosted a town hall on marijuana Monday, 
hoping to educate the community about the negative effects of the 
most commonly used drug.

The event, hosted by the Camanche-DeWitt Coalition, Gateway Impact 
Coalition and the Abbey Treatment Center, discussed the myths and 
facts relating to marijuana use in the community. Steve Cundiff, 
co-chairman of the Camanche-DeWitt Coalition, said while working on a 
drug task force for 10 years, the force often arrested the same 
people multiple times and even arrested children of the people they 
had previously arrested.

He estimated about 80 percent of the people who are booked in the 
Clinton County Jail are under the influence of drugs, stating many of 
the people are making bad decisions and winding up with mental health 
and substance abuse problems.

"A felony record can change your life forever. Substance abuse 
problems can change your life forever," Cundiff said. "I knew that 
sending these people to jail was not stopping the demand for drugs so 
we needed to get the message out to our youth and our parents in our 
communities and tell them they need to choose a different path. The 
Camanche-DeWitt Coalition is here today to tell people that drugs are 
out there and if you choose to use them you too can go down the path 
of destruction."

Joseph Lemon, founder of the Abbey Treatment Center addiction 
program, said approximately 9 percent of people who use marijuana 
become addicted to it. He also said marijuana can have an impact on 
the adolescent brain, which he classified as anyone who is under the 
age of 25 years old.

According to Lemon, using marijuana frequently can have a permanent 
negative effect on people who frequently use marijuana. The use of 
marijuana also impacts the likelihood of graduation from college, 
according to Lemon. He said people who have used marijuana 400 times 
or more have a 2 percent chance of graduating college, while people 
who do not use marijuana have a 36 percent chance of graduating 
college. He also said the likelihood of schizophrenia increases by 
five times for people who used marijuana over 50 times as opposed to 
people who did not use marijuana.

"These are direct correlations. These are facts. These are 
statistics," Lemon said. "And what you see in particular is if you 
use early that is heightened. There's a higher chance you're going to 
develop schizophrenia as a result of that."

Lemon said the dangers of marijuana have changed recently as the 
amount of THC in marijuana is 22 times higher now than it was in the 
1960s. He also cited a study from the National Institute of Health, 
stating marijuana is the single most used illicit drug with almost 20 
million users.

"It outpaces by huge margins of these other kinds of illicit drugs," 
Lemon said. "So we've heard a lot about heroin in the news recently. 
Heroin's terrible. Heroin kills people. Three hundred thousand people 
are using heroin. Twenty million people are using marijuana. So the 
scope of the problem is astronomical by comparison."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom