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  • August 2014

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Rebuttal to Sandra Platt's letter outlining “A case for legalizing pot”

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Daily Commercial
Printed on Sunday, June 8, 2013

On Sunday , May 18, 2014 the Daily Commercial printed a Letter of the Week from Sandra Platt of Fruitland Park outlining “A case for legalizing pot”. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University showed 88 percent of Floridians supporting marijuana for medical use and 56 percent supporting recreational use, legalization will be a hot item on the November ballot. Through print and television it is difficult not to be inundated with pro legalization statements such as the one printed in Ms. Platt’s letter but it is important to remind people of the negative impacts of marijuana with a factual response.

“…alcohol encourages risky driving whereas “THC encourages greater caution,“ and users seem “better able to compensate for its adverse effects while driving under the influence.”

With the legalization of Marijuana, fatal car crashes are expected to rise. Fatal vehicle crashes nationwide involving marijuana have already tripled in the past decade, as reported by the Columbia University School of Public Health. Deaths from drugged driving accounted for more than 28% in 2010 with one in nine drivers
testing positive for marijuana.

The Academic research has shown marijuana use impacts short term memory and leads to information processing deficits, and an average 8-point drop in IQ to name a few. With no accepted nonblood test to determine THC intoxication there is no deterrents to drugged driving, yet the potency of marijuana has increased 151% from 1983 to 2007.

In the first 5 years after establishing a “medical” marijuana program, California saw nearly a 100% increase in fatal crashes where the at-fault driver tested positive for marijuana.

“Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales could reach up to $8.7 billion per year if taxed like alcohol or tobacco…”

While federal and states collected an estimated $14.5 billion in tax revenue, alcohol related costs totaled over $185 billion. Tobaccon use costs over $200 billion but only $25 billion is collected to offset those costs. That mean the costs of legal alcohol are more than 12 times the total tax revenue and the costs of legal tobacco are about 8 times the revenue collected. This is an economically disastrous tradeoff.

“…billions in saved law enforcement resources. With 757,969 individuals incarcerated for marijuana-related cases…”

Yes, prosecutions for marijuana possession will be reduced with legalization. However, a study in Denver, Colorado revealed that 39% of inmates arrested for violent crimes and 34% for domestic crimes tested positive for marijuana. Legalization would increase the need for more law enforcement, in more dangerous situations, not less.

“The esteemed medical journal, The Lancet Neurology, has stated that marijuana’s active components “inhibit pain in virtually every experimental pain paradigm.” Allowing  patients legal access to medical marijuana has been endorsed by numerous organizations…”

Putting the word medical in front of marijuana does not make it a harmless substance. In fact, most medical associations have rejected smoked marijuana as medicine: American Medical Association, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and The American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Since marijuana has not been approved by the FDA, doctors will not be prescribing “medical” marijuana. Medical marijuana will not be sold in regulated pharmacies like other pharmaceuticals, but instead will be sold from “pot shops.”

90% of people registered for medical marijuana are treating “pain”, yet more than 80% of registered users are young adults and most in California and Colorado are white men between the ages of 17 and 35 with no history of chronic illness and a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

The active ingredients that have been found to be medicinally beneficial have been and continue to be studied and used, just not recommended in smoking form.

“Kids would have less access to pot if it was regulated, just like alcohol and tobacco.”

34% of marijuana using 12th graders living in states with medical marijuana laws say that one way they obtain the drug is through someone else’s medical marijuana prescription!

The impact on our youth cannot be ignored. Marijuana, NOT alcohol, is the number one reason why adolescents are admitted for substance abuse treatment in the US. In Florida, marijuana is the primary substance of abuse for 26.7% of adolescents, with 54.5% between the ages of 12 and 17. According to the FYSAS 2012 survey, 14.6% of Lake County middle and high schoolers had used marijuana within 30 days of the survey date.

Though the work of organizations like Safe Climate Coalition and other organization dedicated to the health and well-being of young adults, youth marijuana use has fallen by 25 percent, LSD by 60 percent and methamphetamine by 64 percent. Yet surveyed high school seniors who don’t currently use marijuana said they would try it if it became legal. Scary thought considering one in six adolescents who try marijuana will become addicted and the mean age of first time marijuana use in Florida is 13.9 years of age.

As November approaches keep in mind that the negative impacts of marijuana on community are real and for the sake of our children…Be the Wall.

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