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Saturday, May 13, 2017

As we moves to outlawing tobacco use altogether, one state after another is legalizing marijuana use.

Links:  A.  A link exists between marijuana use and schizophrenia.
            B.  Marijuana use can trigger schizophrenia.
            C.  National Institute on Drug Abuse summary on marijuana use.

When I was a child, people didn't appear overly concerned with the health issues related to smoking cigarettes.  I recall when the tobacco companies were ordered by the U.S. government to display a warning on every pack of cigarettes, but I didn't notice very many people quitting the habit.  When researchers were able to determine a direct link between tobacco use and cancer, some folks got the message, but millions of Americans continued to light up.  The real change started in the late 1980's, as individual states and the federal government started taxing the heck out of tobacco.  Once people started talking about second-hand smoke, and possible prenatal ramifications of cigarette smoking, organized efforts to ban smoking in public places popped up everywhere.
In some instances, smokers were made to feel unwelcome in public venues like sporting events and parades.  Today, smokers are treated as second-class citizens, at least as long as they have a cigarette or cigar in their hand.  I have problems regarding the way smokers are treated, and the issue does raise some interesting civil rights questions, but in the end, if tobacco smoking becomes illegal, millions of Americans will be spared the agony of Lung Cancer.  At the same time, a surprising number of states have either legalized or are in the process of legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Simply put, as our society moves to limit and eventually eradicate the use of tobacco, more and more states are making recreational marijuana use legal.  In the 1990's, a powerful lobby which existed to pressure states into legalizing medicinal-use marijuana, brought the issue to the forefront.  At the time, the public was assured that legalizing marijuana for pain relief would not result in the relaxation of laws against recreational use.  In fact, that's exactly what happened.  Talk about a slippery slope- one day the public was being inundated with stories about terminal cancer patients whose only pain relief came from marijuana use, and today, so-called experts have started spreading the lie that marijuana doesn't have the same harmful effects as tobacco use.

So much depends on how much marijuana a person smokes/eats, and if it has been diluted.  Although marijuana in its popular incarnation contains more tar than the average cigarette, the myth persists that pot smoking is much less dangerous than lighting up a cigar or cigarette.  As one state after another lightens the penalties for marijuana use or legalizes it altogether, tobacco continues to get pummeled in the media and in public forums all over the country.  The latest nation-wide campaign to discourage smoking is aimed at young people, and no doubt is being financed by a fat wad of taxpayer dollars, but who is behind the lobbying efforts to legalize pot?  Could it be the big tobacco companies, who are transitioning their operations to grow marijuana instead of tobacco?  As part of the effort to insure that pot for medicinal purposes is readily available, the federal government has approved some companies to begin growing marijuana.  If and when pot is finally legalized, don't be surprised to discover that the same tobacco companies that dominated the cigarette market now are making a nice profit growing marijuana.

When I was in grade school, I was taught that marijuana was a very dangerous drug.  For the life of me, I can't recall if anyone ever explained what about marijuana made it so dangerous.  Common sense and experience made it clear to me that pot was a gateway drug, because so many people I knew who started smoking pot at a young age, moved on to experimenting with acid, ecstasy, cocaine and prescription drugs.  It's very personal to me because it directly impacted my family, as it has millions of other families in this country.  Regardless of the warning signs, pot smoking is still a popular pass time for far too many young people.  Recent research has discovered other real problems with marijuana, as a clear connection exists between certain individuals who smoke pot and develop psychosis.  Schizophrenia seems to be the most common of the conditions which can be triggered by marijuana use.  Most pot smokers will not become schizophrenic, but a clear percentage of persons with a predisposition to chemical imbalances will become psychotic.  As is often the case, persons suffering from schizophrenia decide that the best treatment is to continue smoking pot, which only increases the frequency and severity of psychotic episodes.  I am very concerned that this information, which is readily available on the internet (google schizophrenia and marijuana), has not been adequately disseminated by the media or the government.  If respected researchers are regularly discovering more links between marijuana use and schizophrenia, why are we rushing to legalize pot?

I have added three links from well-respected sources which support the argument that marijuana can bring on psychosis in some individuals, not to mention the issue of decreased motivation/lack of ambition.  Someone other than the consumer is going to benefit from the legalization of marijuana in the United States, and I'm guessing that their lobbyists are spreading around enough campaign contributions to ensure that negative information will be smothered.  As more laws and ordinances are passed limiting tobacco use, tobacco growers are faced with the reality of losing their livelihood. At the same time, the legalization of marijuana will increase the demand.  Large-scale tobacco growers will simply start growing marijuana instead of tobacco.  It has been argued that legalizing marijuana will eliminate the black market and the smuggling of marijuana into the United States.  Nonsense.  Black market marijuana will still be available, as without federal and state taxes and fees, it will be much cheaper than the pot that is being legally sold.  I hope that the Trump Administration will recognize the danger in legalized marijuana, and assign the Department of Health and Human Services to complete a thorough review of current research into pot use, and responds appropriately.      

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