TW Viewpoint | High Society: The Legalization of Marijuana

April 19, 2017 | Stuart Wachowicz

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Over the past few years a growing number of people in Canada and the United States have been calling for the legalization of the widely used, yet illegal drug known as cannabis or marijuana. Is the prohibition of marijuana just a useless holdover from a prudish era, or, are there measurable and hazardous repercussions to the use of marijuana?

Libertarians and those political forces of the left, have coalesced around this issue, claiming that legalization and regulation would afford better control of the drug than the enforcement of prohibition.

The widespread utilization of cannabis, and the messaging from proponents, have resulted in much of society thinking that recreational use of the drug is harmless. Are the concerns of those who oppose legalization unfounded?

There is a reason why the Canadian Medical Association (or CMA) expressed grave concern about initiatives to legalize marijuana, and have even expressed considerable reservation about what some call "medical marijuana". They feel much more research needs to be done to isolate and identify specific applications for the beneficial use of active ingredients in marijuana, for instance such as the control of seizures.

Note a section from a statement from the CMA, (2014):

"The CMA still believes there is insufficient scientific evidence available to support the use of marijuana for clinical purposes. It also believes there is insufficient evidence on clinical risks and benefits, including the proper dosage of marijuana to be used and on the potential interactions between this drug and other medications" ("New 'Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations': What do Doctors Need to Know?")

A 2015 report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse conveyed the following warning from lead researcher Amy Porath-Waller:

"Teens who start smoking marijuana early and do so frequently risk lowering their IQ scores…The growing body of evidence about the effects of cannabis use during adolescence is reason for concern,…I think we should be very concerned. … Equally concerning is the perception among many Canadian youth that cannabis is benign and has no effect on their ability to drive or their performance in school" ("Teen pot use can lower IQ: study," April 15, 2015).

Even more serious warnings are contained on the Government of Canada website under the topic: "Health Risks of Marijuana"

"Starting to use marijuana young can greatly increase physical and mental health risks. It also increases the chance of addiction."

According to government scientists these risks include, but are not limited to:

- Heart issues caused by a doubling of the heart rate increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke

- Women who are pregnant may be particularly at risk for health problems related to marijuana use.

Marijuana smoking during pregnancy has been associated with long-lasting harm to the exposed child's memory and other brain functions as well as hyperactive behaviour.… the toxins in marijuana are carried in the mother's blood to her unborn child. Marijuana use mainly affects the development of the fetus' nerves and brain.

Studies show that some babies born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy tend to have:

In older children, problems are often seen while they are at school. Exposure to marijuana may affect their:

Some people who use marijuana may be at higher risk of developing mental illnesses like psychosis or schizophrenia…

Another organization, The Partnership for a Drug Free Canada (PDFC) in a 2015 report stated: "Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers."

We can add to these facts that the higher burning temperature of cannabis, combined with the manner in which it is smoked causes increased loss of the cilia in the lungs leading to increases in rates of life threatening emphysema.

It is interesting to note that, for years, the Canadian Cancer Society has lobbied against tobacco smoking, and has won widespread public support-yet the same people who wisely oppose tobacco usage often seem not to care that in marijuana they have a substance found to be many times more deadly to the human lung.

Recreational marijuana use is illegal in Canada for a good reason: it is harmful to its users, and to the nation. It, and other drugs like it rob the individual of potential, and leave behind broken dreams and shattered lives.

Political leaders ought to be driven by a sense of what is in the best interest of the nation and its future, yet there are those who will compromise principles for political expediency.

It is a tragedy when members of society, young or old, view "getting high" as their only pleasure. Clearly they do not see a purpose for human existence, a purpose which can be known, and can be achieved.

I am Stuart Wachowicz for Tomorrow's World Viewpoint.

View part 2 of this series, High Society: Does Legalizing Marijuana Reduce Crime?

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