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New Teen Marijuana Study Shows Need for Regulation

regulation

As the Republican National Convention concludes tonight with a speech from Mitt Romney and the Democratic Convention kicks off next week, the election season is officially shifting into high gear. Polling and coverage of the upcoming 2012 presidential election, and the three previous held in 2008, 2004, and 2000 show an extremely divided country.  On most issues one side of the other is quick to jump on any information that can make their stance seem like the singularly correct position.  However, often this can be much more of a matter of inflating one’s ego then laying out helpful advice for the future of our nation.

Medical marijuana has been a topic with strong support, and of course strong opposition.  However, polls show Americans have quickly shifted their attitude toward medical marijuana (approximately 75% of Americans support a physician’s right to prescribe marijuana to patients), the failed war on drugs, and useless incarcerations of non violent offenders.  Research and patient testimony is starting to build a rather concrete case that marijuana does in fact offer substantial medical usefulness.

However, opponents of any cause ignore overwhelming evidence on one side only to embrace any fact that strengthens their own argument, usually through exaggeration or distortion.  This week, a study conducted at Duke University was released that indicated that frequent use of marijuana (4x per week) in teens could possibly lead to lower IQs later in life.  Study researcher Madeline Meier said “The findings are consistent with speculation that cannabis use in adolescence, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects.”  The study also concluded that IQ reduction seemed limited to teens.  Those who started smoking marijuana as adults showed no change in IQ levels.

The news did not take long to excite those who have been salivating for their chance to condescend toward cannabis.  OC Weekly quickly published an article titled “Smoking Pot Makes Teens Stupid, Study Says”.  Of course the study actually said it lowers IQ by up to 8 points.  Absent from many of the knee jerk responses is the fact that most drugs that are illegal for teens to use can have a negative impact on their still developing brains.  According to many authorities, including the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors teenage alcohol use can lead to litany of developmental disorders including the damaging of brain tissue and memory loss.  Many other studies on teen alcohol use have been conducted that also do not offer an optimistic picture those who start drinking earlier in life.  With prescription pill abuse skyrocketing and far more accessible for teens, do we really think it has no impact on the developing adolescent mind?

While marijuana will receive the venom by virtue of the fact that it is illegal we have to stop and think how this continues to make opponents call for no regulation.  Alcohol is legal but requires proper identification to purchase it.  We know that alcohol can harm our teens, so in turn we do not ignore the issue and hope beyond hope that it simply disappears.  In fact, Colorado’s Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol often features concerned parents in their ads.  These parents are not pushing for regulation because they want their children to smoke marijuana.  To the contrary they are seeking legalization and regulation to keep it out of teens hands.  While opponents may be pleased to read about bullet points that satisfy their intellect, would they not be more satisfied to provide answers?  The bottom line is that we have to pay attention to what is going on and as the conventions unfold and the election season progresses, will we hear anything about how to deal with the issue of teenage drug abuse?  Not likely, but concerned citizens already have concluded that the situation falls into the hands of the people.


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