Lance Scranton: Educating myself
February 5, 2019
A few weeks ago, I made the foray into the legalized marijuana issue Craig has been dealing with and decided I should educate myself a little more, because I was told by a few people around town that I was ignorant about the issue.
What I wasn't expecting, when I determined that I needed to find out what wasvreally going on in the marijuana industry, was the number of common talking points that are voiced by so many of the like-minded cannabis crusaders. Here is just a sample of what I found in my reading and study:
• Legalization advocates continually tell us of the medicinal uses for marijuana. However, THC (the chemical responsible for marijuana's effects) has been shown to work only in very narrow conditions and has never been tested against more traditional painkillers. Some research actually indicates that chronic pain can increase over time with marijuana usage, which leads to increased consumption.
• People tell me marijuana can help with the opioid crisis. But, a 2017 study by the American Journal of Psychiatry (I encourage you to read it and educate yourself) concluded that those who truly need opiates for pain won't receive the same benefits from THC, making its effectiveness questionable, and research has found that countries with the most cannabis use have huge issues with opioid abuse.
• Recreational pot users insist smoking marijuana is relaxing and harmless but studies have found that teenagers who smoke regularly are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia, and regular use increases the risk among the general population of smokers for social anxiety disorder.
• THC levels have skyrocketed from about 9 percent in the 1960s to almost 25 percent today. One article explained that Colorado physicians are becoming experts in the field of cannabis-induced psychosis.
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• Heavy cannabis use has tripled since 2006, and the effects of THC on the mental health of the users is becoming a huge societal issue.
These are the results from scientists who have studied the issue and the effects for many years, and I only read a few studies, but the findings seem to be telling us that we can't try to beat the costs of legalizing marijuana by only touting the benefits.
When people like myself try to have a reasonable discussion about marijuana and the negative effects, we are stigmatized as ignorant or ill-informed.
We, as a society, highlight cancer-causing nicotine, consuming alcohol and driving, and the health effects of poor nutrition, but when you try to talk about marijuana, it's like you are demonizing something that is perfectly safe and natural. As legalization efforts sweep across the country, I hope we won't mistake societal acceptance for personal safety.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.