With the recent article published on May 12, 2013, “Mont. goes its own way on pot,” it seems like the perfect opportunity to provide some clarifying facts about marijuana.
There is no scientific basis for using smoked marijuana as a medicine, no sound scientific studies supporting the medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supporting the safety or effectiveness of marijuana for general medical use. The Food and Drug Administration ruled that smoked marijuana does not meet the modern standards of medicine in the United States. Marijuana is NOT approved nor endorsed by the FDA, the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Cancer Society or the American Pediatric Society. The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine has concluded that smoked marijuana should “not be recommended for medical use.”
Marijuana has over 500 components (THC, CBD, etc.) that have been proven to increase the risk of cancer, lung damage, and poor pregnancy outcomes. In comparison, most prescription medication contains a single compound in a standardized dosage.
The use of marijuana under the guise of “medicine” has given rise to numerous problems:
n Affected youth drug use patterns.
n States with “medical” marijuana laws had marijuana abuse/dependence rates almost double the states without such laws.
n There is a direct correlation between “medical” marijuana and decreases in perception of harm and social disapproval.
n Individuals who begin using the drug in their teens have approximately a one-in-six chance of developing marijuana dependence. In fact, children and teens are six times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for all other illegal drugs combined.
n Addiction rates among 12- to 17-year-olds are among the highest levels nationally in states that have “medical marijuana” programs.
n Marijuana use negatively impacts adolescent brain development. A recent study found that those who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a permanent drop in IQ of eight points. A loss of eight IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.
n “Medical” marijuana could negatively impact employability. More than 6,000 companies nationwide and scores of industries and professions require a pre-employment drug test.
n Twenty percent of crashes in the U.S. are caused by drugged driving. Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims.
n States that have fully implemented “medical” marijuana programs, to include dispensaries, are experiencing public safety issues. They have seen first-hand that dispensaries lead to increased crime and adversely affect the quality of life in their communities.
n The total overall costs of substance abuse in the U.S., including loss of productivity, health and crime-related costs exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately $235 billion for alcohol, $193 billion for tobacco, and $181 billion for illicit drugs.
n Marijuana is much more powerful today than it was 30 years ago, and so are its mind-altering effects. Average THC levels rose from less than 1 percent in the mid-1970s to more than 6 percent in 2002. Sinsemilla potency increased in the past two decades from 6 percent to more than 13 percent, with some samples containing THC levels of up to 33 percent.
n Legalizing marijuana would significantly decrease the price of the drug and could result in an up to 50 percent increase in use. This can have widespread ramifications in areas such as adolescent brain development, the academic achievement of our nation’s youth, employability, highway and public safety, as well as the economy.
n The average “medical” marijuana user is a 32-year-old white male with a history of alcohol, cocaine and meth use, but NO history of a life-threatening illness.
Marijuana is not a harmless natural compound. The “medical marijuana” movement is a well-developed strategic plan to dupe the common man into believing that an illicit, illegal drug, with no proven medical benefit, should be used as medicine. Take a stand. Become better informed. Help the efforts to make our community a safe, healthy, drug free community.
— Pat Prendergast is the president of Butte Cares and has 20 years of voluntary work experience in abuse prevention.