Slouching Lower than Gomorrah with Marijuana

So many say the decriminalization of marijuana is necessary, and the war on drugs is a failure which hasn’t achieved anything. The impression that government policy on cannabis was ignorant and irrational, gave rise to 14 states allowing sick people access to marijuana. The idea caught on in California, as well as Alaska, Maine, Michigan, and Montana. In 2009, approximately 75% of Americans thought doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis. But new evidence changed things.  Even Obama made his position crystal clear by declaring cannabis use “entirely appropriate”, and for physicians to prescribe cannabis if needed.

It turns out marijuana is much more dangerous than once thought. Exacerbating that problem human nature, if not properly directed, will always go with the path of least resistance. If no laws exist to keep one from using drugs, then more and more drugs will be used. To continue to get the same high, more and more drug intake must occur. The fallacy exists that victimless self-destructive behavior is enough punishment by itself, and pot should not be regulated. Funny how that doesn’t seem to wash with spouses, family, friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow workers, car drivers, bus drivers, train engineers, airplane pilots…you name it.
Beware. Do not, I repeat, do not continue reading this column if you are a pot-head; tend to get emotionally disturbed at items you read but don’t like; or have smoked cannabis very, very recently.
The marijuana smoked today (also known as skunk, MaryJane, weed, AK-47, White Widow, Armageddon, etc., etc…) is significantly stronger than 30 years ago, when it was all the rage on college campuses.
The active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana seized in 2006, averaged 8.5%. Back in the 80’s it was only 2-3%. How much THC is in cannabis now? Worse yet, how much will be in cannabis 10 years from now? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed even though the average THC was 8.5% in 2006, the THC content of present-day marijuana can get to 20-30%.
A year ago, the government estimated 4.1 million Americans were using marijuana. It seems to be cited more often in emergency room visits, from a study by    University of Mississippi. Per government statistics, about 20% young adults report using marijuana at least once a week. From FOXNews.com – Study: Even Infrequent Use of Marijuana Increases the risk of psychosis by 40%. But researchers found for heavy users (daily or weekly), their risk for psychosis jumped to a range of 50-200%.
In a stinging Marijuana use and car crash injury report out of New Zealand, this population-based study suggests habitual marijuana use is connected with a 10x increase in risk of car crash injury. In a recent report entitled “Epedimiology of Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Motor Vehicle Crash Victims Admitted to a Trauma Center”, 19% of crash victims under 18 tested positive for marijuana. Realizing alcohol was not technically considered a drug, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 12/06) reported “…Marijuana has been the most common drug found in such studies of fatally injured drivers in North America…”.
It shows a lack of scientific expertise to compare alcohol to marijuana. Alcohol is not considered a drug, and its physical affects can be determined from a common chart calculating body weight, amount eaten, and % alcohol in the drink. It’s even been given an illegal amount in the bloodstream (0.08%) to be legally drunk in most states. But cannabis is a mind-altering drug, can vary in THC content wildly without given knowledge, and effects the mind especially at higher concentrations of THC–which is never known in the first place.  
Medical professional find it troubling that parents who deliver a “don’t smoke cigarettes” mantra to their children from infancy do not realize the toxic properties of carcinogens in marijuana. New Zealand researchers found that smoking one joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer. Study results appear in the European Respiratory Journal (1/08) [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,326309,00.html].
Interestingly, in 1975 in Alaska you could own marijuana for personal home consumption. After a 1988 University of Alaska survey showed that state’s teenagers began using pot at twice the national average for their age group, Alaska residents decided to recriminalize the possesion of marijuana in 1990. Many forget Needle Park (Switzerland) which opened in 1986. Here, drug addicts could purchase drugs and inject heroin without police intervention. But a rapid decline in the neighborhood around Needle Park, and increased crime and violence forced authorities to close it in 1992.
With the typical number of marijuana users driving at any particular time, with the increased amount of the active ingredient (THC) in marijuana now and continuously increasing, and the likelihood of marijuana users graduating to something stronger, one has to ask themselves if driving down the road is unusually hazardous to your heath.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be produced synthetically if needed. Then, one would know the exact concentration. But synthetic THC’s not legal. One has to wonder why that’s the case.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Kevin Roeten can be reached at [email protected].