Editor’s note: Chuck Norris’ weekly political column debuts each Monday in WND and is then syndicated by Creators News Service for publication elsewhere. His column in WND often runs hundreds of words longer than the subsequent release to other media.
A few weeks ago in Part 1, I began to show from extensive studies and evidence how alcohol and marijuana use compare regarding addiction, withdrawals and using motorized vehicles.
This week in Part 2, I will discuss in greater detail how alcohol and marijuana compare in their effects on our minds, bodies and relationships. And then I want to conclude addressing the most overlooked aspect of the marijuana legalization debate: its effects on the youth of America.
CNN recently reported on multiple leading studies on alcohol and marijuana use. Of course, we know that long-term drinking can lead to neurological and psychiatric problems, liver disease and increased risks of many forms of cancer. But not always apparent is the fact that compared to cigarette smoking, marijuana smoking increases by fourfold the concentration of tar chemicals from joints that cause lung cancer, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Studies also showed how both drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana lowers inhibitions and, therefore, can increase risky behavior, including unprotected sex which can lead to catching sexually transmitted diseases or having an unwanted pregnancy. Studies of men show that marijuana use promotes greater rates of sexual dysfunction, too, including loss of sexual pleasure and erectile dysfunction.
According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use kills roughly 88,000 Americans a year. Though an overdose of marijuana is highly unlikely, cannabis users have a 4.8-fold increased risk of a heart attack during the first hour after smoking. And again, as I pointed out in last week’s article, a study review published in the British Medical Journal showed that marijuana users who drove within three hours of smoking it nearly doubled their chances of causing a crash compared to sober drivers.
Regarding relationships, in the Psychology Today article, “Weeding out your significant other: marijuana and relationships,” Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., executive director of Alternatives Behavioral Health and a lecturer at UCLA and California State University Long Beach, demonstrates how there can be a direct relation between adolescent pot smoking and their later relational conflicts, irrespective of social upbringing, personal hardships or other potential conflict exacerbations.
Jaffe explained, “A recent study conducted by Judith Brooks at NYU School of Medicine has revealed that one of those experiences, smoking marijuana (weed) may be associated with more relationship conflict later in life. What’s amazing about this study is that the drug use here occurred earlier in life for most of the 534 participants, while the relationship trouble was assessed around their mid- to late-twenties.”
This is why one of my biggest concerns regarding the legalization of marijuana is its pervasive impact upon younger generations.
Ruben Baler, a health scientist at National Institute on Drug Abuse, explained that for young people, smoking marijuana also affects brain development by meddling with connections in the brain “at a time when the brain should be at a clear state of mind, and accumulating, memory and data and good experiences that should be laying out the foundation for the future.” Baler exhorted young souls by noting that every time they smoke marijuana, “You’re cumulatively impairing your cognitive function. What’s going to be the ultimate result, nobody can say.”
Moreover, seven other studies showed that “high doses of marijuana can cause temporary psychotic reactions, such as hallucinations and paranoia in some people. Younger people with a family history of schizophrenia are at a higher risk of developing the disorder after using marijuana,” according to experts cited by CNN.
Even on the White House’s own website, the form titled, “The Public Health Consequences of Marijuana Legalization,” explains the health detriments of marijuana smoking:
- “Marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory illnesses, and cognitive impairment.”
- “Marijuana is also the second leading substance for which people receive drug treatment and a major cause for visits to emergency rooms.”
- “Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about implications for public health – especially among adolescents, for whom long-term use of marijuana may be linked with lower IQ (as much as an average eight-point drop) later in life.”
With the preceding health risks in mind, as well as past-month use of marijuana rates among youth (12 to 17 year olds) climbing from 6.7 percent in 2008 to 7.9 percent in 2011, among 10th graders from 13.8 percent in 2008 to 17.6 percent in 2011, among 12th graders from 18.3 percent in 2006 to 22.6 percent in 2011, and illicit drug use increases by 43 percent among Hispanic boys and 42 percent among African-American teen girls since 2008, society must give greater consideration to the implications of marijuana legalization – and its subsequent increases in availability, acceptability and use – upon the youth of America than any other demographic group. Are adult smokers of cannabis really willing to risk every last one of our posterity so that they can consume it legally?
Travis D. Waters, the former associate of drug lord Pablo Escobar, was interviewed on Fox News and said, “I’m dumbfounded that states would even consider legalizing marijuana. … It is going to be so destructive to young adults of America.”
Just a few weeks ago, two high-school students in Olathe, Colo., were taken to a hospital after eating marijuana-infused “Cherry Tarts” candy that’s now being sold at a dispensary in Denver, according to ABC News.
And CNN reported that law enforcement in Northern California arrested an elementary school teacher after she brought marijuana-laced food to an after-hours employee potluck dinner. As a result, one of the partygoers was hospitalized that evening with severe reactions. Another attendee was taken to the hospital the next morning because of remaining under the influence. And another women tested positive for THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary intoxicant in marijuana. But most tragic of all, a 15-year-old also got sick after someone at the potluck brought leftovers home.
No wonder former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger, who served under three presidents, said about the legalization of pot in any state: It “will damage the young people in that state. It will damage the industries in the state, and put the highways in jeopardy.”
I would imagine this is just the beginning of myriad of incidents that will occur to adolescents as more and more U.S. states join the legalized pot pool and marijuana-infused edibles are made in kitchens and multiplied and marketed on store shelves.
This is why I mentioned in Part 1 of this series and note again here: I’m not making a case for or against the medicinal use of marijuana. However, I would definitely say it’s very difficult for me to believe that America, average healthy Americans and particularly our younger generations are going to be better off with pot’s legalization. If we, the people, won’t protect them, then who will?
(In Part 3, I shall answer the question asked even by many of my fellow patriots, “But isn’t legalizing pot really an issue of freedom and removing government tyranny over our choices?”)