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Legal pot?

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said “regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth.”

Since few marijuana users limit themselves to once a week, the actual harm is much worse for developing brains. It’s noted that young people who become addicted to marijuana lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood.

The irony of the national debate over marijuana is that while almost all the science and research is going in one direction, pointing out the dangers of marijuana use, public opinion seems to be going in favor of legalization.

Here’s the truth: Marijuana today is not the same drug it was in the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s. It is about five times stronger, with the levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) averaging about 15 percent in the marijuana at dispensaries found in the states that have legalized pot for “medicinal” use. Northwestern School of Medicine researchers reported in December that teenagers who smoked marijuana daily for about three years showed abnormal brain-structure changes.

The response of those supporting legalization is that teenagers can be kept away from marijuana, as in age-restricted use of tobacco and alcohol. But the reason such a large number of teenagers use alcohol and tobacco is because those are legal products.

Supporters of marijuana legalization and politicians wanting more tax revenue insist that times are changing and policy should too, but are there unintended consequences for Americans?

Robert Meale


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