The Dangerous Trend
By Ken Walker –
After weighing in recently on the folly of legalizing marijuana sales, I observed a spate of new news stories about pot, including the state of Washington’s initial foray into retail marijuana sales.
Although Washington was supposed to issue up to 20 retail license this week, on the eve of this step the Associated Press reported that only one shop in Seattle was ready for final inspection. Only 79 growers had been licensed, out of nearly 7,000 applications filed.
More troubling than bureaucratic inefficiencies, though, were several other recent stories, including one about the rate of DUI’s among patients of Colorado’s largest detox network nearly doubling.
Art Schut, the president of Arapahoe House, said patients busted for driving while under the influence of marijuana had risen from 8 percent the first five months of last year to 15 percent this year.
“This percentage increase is significant because recreational marijuana legalization is in its infancy and there has clearly already been an impact on public safety,” Schut said in a statement. “Our hope is that this new data will create awareness so that if Coloradans choose to use marijuana, they do not get behind the wheel.”
Right after reading this I saw another story about Washington’s governor and state legislators launching an effort to keep pot out of the hands of children.
The state will require approval of packaging for edible marijuana products and is banning the use of cartoons, toy images and other labels that might appeal to kids.
The move comes on the heels of Colorado considering stricter regulations for marijuana edibles because of two deaths connected to the products.
Link to Schizophrenia
Equally disturbing was a study in the United Kingdom that drew a link between people predisposed to schizophrenia and drug users.
The study of nearly 2,100 adults showed that nearly half had used cannabis, with a mean starting age of just over 20.
“The researchers found a significant association between a person’s extent of genetic predisposition for schizophrenia and their reported use of cannabis,” the Daily Mail reported. “People who had used cannabis had higher genetic risk scores for schizophrenia than those who had never used cannabis.”
Now, granted that the results showed that the genetic risk factors researchers assessed only predicted a small amount of a person’s risk of using cannabis—meaning other factors have more of an influence on whether a person smokes pot.
Still, when people are dying, DUIs are rising, disturbing medical research is surfacing, and states are hoping to avoid damaging innocent children, can marijuana advocates still pretend this is a harmless drug?
If it’s so harmless, why is Washington scraping together $400,000 for radio and online advertisements urging parents to discuss the risks of smoking marijuana with their children?
Pot proponents have often called it less dangerous than alcohol, but I would say the jury is still out on that issue. We haven’t seen enough research on the impact of long-term marijuana use. Still, a 2013 study by the National Institutes of Health “provides initial longitudinal evidence that cannabis use might elevate the risk of lung cancer.”
What is concerning about the trend towards marijuana legalization is the damage already done by its cousin, alcohol. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control found that one in 10 deaths in working-age adults may be due to excessive alcohol consumption.
The report said that binge drinking and heavy regular drinking cut 30 years off the lives of those who died, with chronic alcohol consumption tied to such diseases as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease.
In light of findings like these, it isn’t too encouraging to watch states—in their rush for more revenue—welcome yet another substance that can destroy lives into our midst.