What you permit, you promote

February 23, 2013

Upon reading your editorial of Feb. 14 and the Feb. 17 letter to the editor from Oren Spiegler, both of which supported the legalization of marijuana, I would be remiss if I did not respond.

I saw several flaws in your argument that failed to look objectively at the question. First, you failed to adequately address the health issues surrounding marijuana. According to Heather Ashton, an emeritus professor of clinical psychopharmacology at Newcastle University in England, THC in marijuana is not soluble in water but is absorbed into the fatty deposits in the body and brain and is retained there with more prolonged effects than that of nicotine or alcohol which, according to former Washington County pathologist Earnest Abernathy, dissipates at the rate of 0.015 percent per hour.

In a study by the National Institutes of Health, subjects were given neurophysiologic tests in adolescence. The same people were retested in adulthood. Those who consistently used marijuana showed a greater decline and a greater impairment across five different cognitive domains, especially executive function and processing speed. Another study has shown that teen use in the U.S. has grown over the last five years. The results of the studies are consistent with the notion that regular cannabis use causes neuropsychological deficits. The National Institutes of Health also reports that 4.5 million people who use cannabis meet the clinical criteria for abuse or dependence.

The second fallacy is that crime related to the use of marijuana will be lessened by legalization. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, more than 80 percent of the marijuana that comes into this country is brought here from Mexico. In case you missed any headlines about the cartel wars in Mexico, the Latin American Herald reported Feb. 15 that there were 5,630 drug-related homicides in 2012 along the border and in the cartel-infested interior of that country. These deaths are mostly due to the consumption rate in this country. Think of what our customs and border protection people would face if there were new markets opening up for the dispensing of the cartel’s product and greater competition for paying customers.

Lastly, we still learn nothing from history. Twenty-three years ago, the Netherlands legalized the use of marijuana. That country has become the drug mecca of Europe because of legalization. One Dutch border officer said that “… people hold up their hands in front of their faces with their fingers spread so they can see only what they want to see.” That country has seen dramatic growth in the use of such “club drugs” as Ecstasy and a rise in the use of heroin. So much for the fallacy that marijuana is not a gateway drug.

Legalization is naive and shortsighted. Remember, what you permit, you promote.

T. William Bryker



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