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Mary Jane

“Marijuana is far from safe, despite the widespread effort to make it seem benign.  Pot damages the heart and lungs, increases the incidence of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, and it can trigger acute psychotic episodes.”  Dr. Mitchell S. Rosenthal

“Now marijuana is becoming more widely regarded as a harmless amusement.  That’s not funny, it’s tragic.” Ibid

Mitchell S. Rosenthal, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2014, p. A 13

BN-BA960_rosent_BR_20140109173427Pot is always good for a giggle, and that makes it hard to take marijuana seriously. The news and entertainment media couldn’t resist puns on “Rocky Mountain high” when Colorado started the year with legal sales of marijuana for recreational purposes. TV stations across the country featured chuckling coverage of long lines outside Denver’s new state-licensed pot shops.

Legalizing marijuana isn’t just amusing. It’s increasingly popular with legislators and the public. And why not? No matter how high stoners get, they’re nowhere near as scary as out-of-control boozers, right? Stoners don’t brawl in bars. They’re not into domestic violence.

A Gallup poll last year found 58% of Americans favoring legalization (although other surveys report more slender majorities). Decriminalization of pot possession is widespread: 20 states sanction marijuana use for medical or quasi-medical reasons, and, following Colorado’s and Washington’s lead, proponents of legalization are targeting Alaska and Oregon for ballot initiatives in the near future, and six other states after that.

Yet marijuana is far from safe, despite the widespread effort to make it seem benign. Pot damages the heart and lungs, increases the incidence of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, and it can trigger acute psychotic episodes. Many adults appear to be able to use marijuana with relatively little harm, but the same cannot be said of adolescents, who are about twice as likely as adults to become addicted to marijuana. The new Colorado law limits pot sales to people 21 or older, but making marijuana available for recreational use normalizes it in society. The drug will be made more easily available to those under 21, and how long until the age limit is dropped to 18? Continue reading

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