Following, are excerpts (and my comments) from an article by Kayleigh McEnany –
As Colorado “celebrates” its third year of marijuana legalization, marijuana enthusiasts gloat of the state’s sweeping success. But perhaps, cannabis devotees should pause and ask themselves by what success using pot ought to be measured.
Colorado and other legalization states like Washington, Oregon, face … perhaps, not so coincidentally – both, the first two states to legalize, were among the top three states with . . . “apparent unintended consequences?”
- Sadly, in Colorado, “pot-positive traffic fatalities” have increased 100 percent; emergency room visits related to marijuana have increased 57 percent; and infant exposure, has increased 268 percent since legalization.
- the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use Among Students, conducted in public and private schools in the 32 states, which also indicated that children are beginning to consume illegal drugs at 10 years old, two years younger than had been thought.
- The largest increases in youth homelessness from 2013 to 2014. In each state, the youth homelessness rate grew by 27 and 13.3 percent respectively in just one year.
- Just this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a survey showing that Colorado now ranks number one for regular marijuana use among youth. This proud achievement only came incrementally, though; Colorado once ranked a distant 14th in the country for youth usage. The jump in the rankings coincided with Colorado’s 2012’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use.
- There is a direct correlation between availability of marijuana and teen usage. Colorado is just one state and should not be a bellwether for the nation. Colorado, average youth use among teens in recreational/medical marijuana states rests at 10.5 percent compared to 8.9 percent in states where it is only legal for medicinal purposes and 6.1 percent in states where the drug is banned altogether.
Teenage use numbers alone do not fully capture the impending crisis Colorado and other states following their lead face. According to Arapahoe House Treatment network in Colorado, teenage admissions for marijuana addiction in Colorado increased by 66 percent between 2011 and 2014.
Dr. Christian Thurstone of the University of Colorado explains the epidemic this way:
Marijuana is the No. 1 reason why adolescents seek substance-abuse treatment in the United States. 95 percent of the teenagers treated for substance abuse and addiction in my adolescent substance-abuse treatment clinic at Denver Health are there because of their marijuana use, and because nationwide, 67 percent of teens are referred to substance treatment because of their marijuana use.
Citing a study by Wayne Hall and Louisa Degenhardt, Dr. Thurstone points out that two-thirds of new marijuana users annually are under the age of 18, and one in six of those new users will go on to use regularly or become dependent on the substance. For Colorado, that’s troubling.
Marijuana usage is not only detrimental for its addictive characteristics but also for its long-term effects on the adolescent brain. Marijuana has “acute (meaning up to six hours), subacute (6 hours to 20 days) and long-term (more than 20 days) effects.” Where the subacute effects of alcohol can be the annoyance of a brief hangover, marijuana can have substantial lingering effects, especially for young people.
Charles Stimson of the Heritage Foundation reports that, while alcohol is broken down quickly, THC – the main active chemical in marijuana – is stored in the body, where it can remain for days or weeks and impair cognitive ability for enduring periods of time. Consequently, using the drug is associated with “lower test scores and lower educational attainment.”
Long-term effects are most worrisome. A comprehensive New Zealand study of 1,000 individuals over many years found that participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens had an astonishing average loss of eight IQ points.
Accordingly, Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Pediatricians, notes that “[m]arijuana’s impact on the teen brain leads to an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, permanent loss of IQ, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”
But the adverse impact on America’s youth should be enough by itself to trigger scrutiny and reform. Former Drug Czar William Bennett remarked: “We know we have a problem, and we have not managed to keep those things from kids. Colorado was supposed to eliminate the marijuana black market, but it did not.” While supporters applaud America’s new cash cow – marijuana – perhaps we should ask ourselves whether this newfound flow of revenue should be hoarded at the expense of America’s youth – the marijuana martyrs.