OP-ED: Floridians should be wary of marijuana legalization

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 04:10 AM.

The 2011 Montana legislature reined in the exploding marijuana industry, curbing commercial grows.

The Office of National Drug Policy recently stated that the “confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless.”

Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that where marijuana laws have been relaxed throughout the world, marijuana usage and addiction rates go up. That was certainly the case in Montana.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, chemically acts on specific molecular targets in brain cells called cannabinoid receptors, part of a neural communication network.  It replaces the natural reward system in the brain, the same as other addictive drugs. Extensive medical research has shown marijuana affects brain development of this network when used regularly by young people and can cause permanent cognitive damage and also permanently reduce IQ.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports the negative effects of marijuana can last for days or weeks after the acute effects wear off and “someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time.” A grave concern when you think of an impaired surgeon, airline pilot or heavy equipment operator.

It’s no surprise that increased marijuana use is associated with lower grades, higher dropout rates, increased absences and tardiness in school and the workplace, work related accidents, compensation claims, job turnovers and crime.

There’s an illogical deluge of propaganda out there. Facts tend to get shouted down by those pressing for legalization. It leaves one to wonder if we are not only losing the war on drugs but the war on common sense.

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