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Stop kidding

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Bad cigarette nicotine, good marijuana THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – that’s our liberal media.

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 state-licensed pot shops. Pot is always good for a giggle, and that makes it hard to take marijuana seriously. Legalizing marijuana isn’t just amusing. It’s increasingly popular with legislators and the public.

There’s no benefit to marijuana. It’s simply people wanting freedom to be stoned. That’s all it is, yet marijuana is far from safe, despite the widespread effort to make it seem nonthreatening. 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 teenagers.

Teenagers are vulnerable to making rash and risky choices because their brains aren’t fully developed. The part of the brain that censors dumb or dangerous behavior is last to come on line (generally not before the mid-20s). Meanwhile, the brain’s pleasure-seeking structures are up and running by puberty. Linking teenager pleasure seeking and risk taking to marijuana’s impairment of perception and judgment, it isn’t surprising that a study of seriously injured drivers found half the teens tested positive for pot.

If marijuana is more widely viewed as a harmless amusement, that’s not funny, it’s tragic. Our president says: “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” but it’s still dangerous.

Robert Meale

Woodstock

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