Dear Mr. Miller,
Thank you for the article Marijuana Myths and Facts Part II: Marijuana as Medicine? (Sept 30-Oct 13, 2014). Information combating the misinformation about the “marijuana miracle myth” is always appreciated and so needed especially as the vote on Amendment 2 approaches.
As a certified addiction professional specializing in adolescent substance abuse issues, my message to young and old is this: beware marijuana’s potency no matter the debate issue. Whether one discusses the medical merits or legal ramifications, one must also consider the real life implications. I share my own thoughts below.
On the medical myth…the medical merits of THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, have been identified and THC is presently available in pill-form as Marinol and Cesamet. However, according to proponents of legalizing marijuana, the medical merits of THC are best experienced by smoking it– absent FDA approval or review. I quote William H. Foster, CASA* President and CEO, who stated that as a society we are “authorizing prescription medicines through the ballot box.”
On the legal myth…the legal merits of marijuana cannot be supported. One argument is to tax the drug and collect revenue. According to Joseph Califano, Jr. CASA Founder and Chairman, for every $1 of tax revenue, there could be as much as $7 incurred in medical and treatment costs. Califano also points out that legalizing marijuana means easier availability to children and the debate is already contributing to teens’ softening attitude about drugs– specifically marijuana (NIDA**). According to CASA findings, “…marijuana is a major substance abuse among teens, more than five times the increase in such findings for all other substance abuse.”
But the reality is…today’s marijuana has brought a 175% increase in pot potency and the drug’s potent effects have severe consequences. Marijuana’s growing potency not only affects the risk of addiction and increase experimentation to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin, but also the “risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems.” Marijuana abuse increases the risk of developing mental disorders 40 percent.
Finally, the marijuana “cure” may very well be a “curse”. A recent long-term study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found that men who used marijuana more than 50 times before the age of 18 were 30 percent more likely to go on disability sometime between the ages of 40 and 59. A similar pattern was seen for young men who used pot less frequently, with the chance of being on disability in middle age rising with increasing pot use at age 18.
“Pro pot advocates” use smoke and mirrors to get their message across. One must consider the real issues and real implications before casting a ballot in November.
Dr. Marino E. Carbonell, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP, BCPCLicensed Psychotherapist/Certified Addiction Professional/Board Certified Professional Counselor
*CASA– The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
**NIDA– The National Institute of Drug Abuse