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The Day After: What 11-09-2016 Can Mean for Recreational Marijuana Use

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 13, 2016 2:11:47 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Marijuana abuse, Addiction, Legalization

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There is a political sea change coming any way you slice it. In what can be charitably described as one of the most unorthodox presidential campaigns in American history, a variety of policy issues stand to undergo significant transformation regardless of which way the ballots are cast. One such issue is the further legalization of marijuana for recreational use. This Election Day, residents of five states will have the chance to vote on a ballot measure that allows the recreational, albeit still controlled, use of pot within their borders. In making their choices, voters will have a wide breadth of issues to consider, including the effects of long-term marijuana use on adolescents’ brains.

Although the ballot measures, which are up for vote in California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and Arizona will place age restrictions on recreational consumption, increased legalization among adults is very likely to cause a spike in adolescent use. In an age when 77 percent of American teens now believe it is safe to smoke marijuana, legalizing it for adults is likely only to reinforce that perception. A commonly cited New Zealand Study revealed an eight-point drop in IQ of participants who started smoking weed in their teens and were tested again at age 38. There are, however, other studies that combat these results, showing little no to know effect of marijuana on the IQ. Many of the latter studies, however, haven’t measured the effects of decades-long use.

There is a wealth of information (and misinformation) regarding the scope of damage created by marijuana, but it is by no means a harmless or benign drug. The above figure of 77 percent correlates to an increasingly lax attitude toward general use of the drug. Just because it isn’t as immediately dangerous as drugs like heroin and methamphetamine, doesn’t mean it doesn’t pose a long-term threat. Dr. Nora Volkvow, current Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse cites considerable potential impact on adolescent brain function from long-term marijuana use, including a deficiency in recall and cognitive ability. She points to correlations between lifelong marijuana use and the persistent inability to move forward in academic and professional life.

Like many ballot issues, most voters will have their minds made up before they even get to their local polls. It’s important, however, to get the facts when voting for such a controversial measure, and to consider the sources of all information before pressing that “Yes” or “No” button.

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DEA Says "No" to Looser Federal Marijuana Restrictions

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 11, 2016 11:15:13 AM / by RU Texas posted in Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Marijuana abuse

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The latest chapter of the long and complicated story of marijuana has concluded with advocates for looser federal restrictions on the losing end. The Obama administration has rejected pleas by Democrat governors to take a look at how marijuana offenses are treated under federal law. Pointing to the Food and Drug Administration’s longstanding claims that there are no currently accepted medical uses for marijuana treatment in the United States, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg roundly denied the request for further examination. The decision has left many who have been impacted by low-level marijuana offenses feeling defeated.

 

The Debate Continues

The ruling also brings, front and center, a decades-long debate over whether or not marijuana’s continued criminalization is just or statistically warranted. Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, putting it alongside decidedly more dangerous drugs like heroin and other types of hallucinogens. This means that even the lowest-level offenders are subject to severe penalties for even possessing a drug with zero documented deaths. Meanwhile other drugs which kill thousands each year, like methamphetamine and prescription opioids are regulated under Schedule 2 of the federal code. Proponents of looser restrictions have been decrying this distinction for years, and will apparently continue to do so.

 

“No Medical Value” Claim is a Tough Pill to Swallow for Many

While marijuana is certainly not without its share of dangers, varieties with lower concentrations of THC have actually been found to yield numerous medical benefits. Rosenberg claims his rejection of the request was not a rejection of marijuana’s uses and potential when properly regulated; he merely said that determining the medical legitimacy of the drug is the purview of the FDA, and that he largely deferred to them in making his decision. The ruling is a bit of a surprise in an age when marijuana is becoming incrementally more accepted in medical and scientific research, and when the United States has a viable third-party candidate for President lobbying for its legalization.

 

The Cost of the Status Quo

All but eight states in the Union have legalized some measure of medical marijuana use. While the issue over total legalization is one that warrants considerably more discussion, many are arguing that such tight restrictions ruin the lives of those who are using a drug no more dangerous than what physicians are often quick to dispense on a daily basis. Federal regulators have, however, recently facilitated clinical examination of marijuana’s effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy.



 

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