Monday, November 7, 2016

The Case Against Legalizing Marijuana

Big business and politicians create a smokescreen around marijuana’s health hazards.


By Brett Arends
MarketWatch
November 7, 2016

If you live in California, Massachusetts , Nevada, Arizona, or Maine, you need to listen up. And then you need to pass along this article to your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.

On Tuesday there’s a ballot measure in your state to legalize marijuana. And you’re not being told the truth. The people pushing it — the business people who want to sell it, and the political hacks who want to tax it — are deliberately misleading you.

Here’s what the actual medical research you need to know about — from scientists, not lobbyists.

1. The research does not show that marijuana is harmless or OK.

2. Researchers at the University of Mississippi’s Natural Center for Natural Products Research have found that marijuana available today may be up to five times stronger than the stuff available back in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Comparing “hippie pot” to today’s pot is like comparing beer to a bottle of vodka.

3. Medical researchers at Columbia University found that drivers who had used marijuana were more than twice as likely to have a car crash.

4. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, Carleton University in Canada, Boston City Hospital, and the University of Pittsburgh — including this study, and this one, and this one, and also this one — found that children born to mothers who smoke pot are subject to all sorts of additional health risks, ranging from low birth weight, worse academic performance in school, higher risk of depression, and greater behavioral problems in adolescence.

5. Researchers at Duke University, King’s College, London, and the University of Otago in New Zealand found that long-term cannabis use — notably among those who started as adolescents — leads to long-term and probably permanent decline in mental abilities, including reasoning and memory. MRI scans conducted by researchers in Melbourne, Australia found that prolonged, heavy use of marijuana caused permanent, physical damage to the brain.

6. Medical researchers in Sweden, Holland (see this study and this one) and New Zealand (see this research and this paper) found that people who used marijuana for a long time were more likely to suffer medical psychosis or schizophrenia. A recent survey of all the medical literature concluded that regular use of cannabis actually doubled your risk of psychosis.

7. Researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the University of Southern California, the New Zealand Department of Public Health, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and the University Hospital in Poitiers, France have all found that cannabis dramatically raises the risk of getting cancer, including lung and testicular cancer.


No, I’m not one of the usual suspects on pot; I tried it as a college kid. And I get the whole libertarian thing. As a general rule I believe we should let people make their own choices — and their own mistakes. But there’s a balance between freedom and common sense. That’s especially true when bad choices and bad health might have bad consequences for everyone else — from stoned driving to psychotic neighbors to the costs of treating needless cancer.

We have been fighting for 50 years to save people’s lives by restricting tobacco use. How ironic, and bizarre, that we are now fighting to increase another health hazard that may be even worse.


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