I have lost all respect for Justin Trudeau. Until Thursday, I’d been rooting for him all the way. No more, though. Not since he announced that he thinks marijuana should be legalized.
In advocating for legalization, Trudeau cited the futility of the war on drugs. But this is not about the war on drugs. This is about the impact on everyday life if marijuana were legal. One commenter on the Calagry Herald’s website wondered whether Trudeau is aware of all the social ills that legalization would bring. Indeed. For one thing, if this ever comes to pass, we will add to the carnage caused by drunk drivers more carnage caused by drivers who are stoned.
Nor is it valid to argue that since alcohol is legal, marijuana should be legal, too. Alcohol is out of one’s system in a matter of hours for moderate drinkers. THC, the main ingredient in cannabis, stays in the body for up to 30 days, which means it continues to impair the user that much longer after the first high has worn off. Harvard psychiatry professor Harrison Pope studied marijuana’s long-term effects on cognition. He postulates that one reason for the lengthy period of impairment, is that THC “dissolves in body fat, then slowly percolates into the blood and brain over days and weeks after a joint is smoked,” according to the Harvard Gazette.
Marijuana today is nothing like what it was when Trudeau’s father was prime minister. The University of Mississippi’s marijuana potency monitoring project found that in 1983, the average THC concentration was less than four per cent; in 2008, it was over 10 per cent. For hydroponically grown marijuana, it’s around 25 per cent.
C. Heather Ashton, emerita professor of clinical psychopharmacology, at Britain’s University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, reviewed the scientific knowledge “of mechanisms of action, effects on psychomotor and cognitive performance, and health risks associated with cannabis consumption.” Her report, published in 2001 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that
“… actions on specific brain receptors cause dose-related impairments of psychomotor performance with implications for car and train driving, airplane piloting and academic performance. Other constituents of cannabis smoke carry respiratory and cardiovascular health risks similar to those of tobacco smoke. Cannabis is not … a harmless drug, but poses risks to the individual and to society.”
A study led by Harvard University’s School of Public Health showed that “at least weekly use of marijuana during pregnancy” is a risk factor for premature separation of the placenta, which can result in fetal brain damage, prematurity and stillbirth.
Columbia University researchers have found that marijuana smoking can cause “long-term impairment of memory in adolescents; prolonged impairment of psychomotor performance; a sixfold increase in the incidence of schizophrenia; cancer of mouth, jaw, tongue and lung in 19-30 year olds,” and leukemia in children whose mothers smoke pot.
In a 2009 report, Evidence on the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana Smoke, the California Environmental Protection Agency noted: “Studies reporting results for direct marijuana smoking have observed statistically significant associations with cancers of the lung, head and neck, bladder, brain, and testis. The strongest evidence of a causal association was for head and neck cancer, with two of four studies reporting statistically significant associations … Among the epidemiological studies that reported results for parental marijuana smoking and childhood cancer, five of six found statistically significant associations.” That included higher rates of leukemia in children whose fathers or mothers smoked pot.
Then, there is the link between marijuana and schizophrenia. “Schizophrenia caused by or contributed by cannabis may be more severe than schizophrenia in general,” Dr. Peter Allebeck, a professor in the department of public health sciences at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, said last April at the 21st European Congress of Psychiatry. Allebeck noted that marijuana users appear to have a type of schizophrenia “that may be more severe than schizophrenia cases in general.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Samuel Wilkinson, of Yale University’s department of psychiatry, wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Though they receive little attention in the legalization debate, the scientific studies showing an association between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other disorders are alarming. A 2004 article in the highly respected British Journal of Psychiatry reviewed four large studies, all of which showed a significant and consistent association between consumption of marijuana (mostly during teenage years or early 20s) and the later development of schizophrenia.”
Just last month, the journal Biological Psychiatry published a study showing that long-term pot smokers have lower levels of dopamine in their brains, resulting in a lack of motivation.
Marijuana can also destroy marriages. Researchers Kazuo Yamiguchi of the University of Chicago and Denise Kandel of Columbia University wrote in the Journal of Marriage and Family that their studies have shown that “marijuana use greatly increases the rate of becoming divorced …” Just like any substance abuse — so no surprise there.
Legalizing this drug would only increase the misery and the harm it is already causing.
Flip-flops are nothing new for politicians, and Justin Trudeau needs to do a major one on this issue.
Author: Naomi Lakritz, Calgary Herald
Date: July 26, 2013
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Naomi Lakritz: Pot is a Dangerous Drug and Legalization is a Dumb Idea, Mr. Trudea