Marquette Wire

NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

Back to Article
Back to Article

NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Unpopular opinion: Legalizing marijuana is not a good idea. Wisconsin’s strong support for legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in the midterm elections suggests that if politicians bow to public pressure, full legalization may not be far off. But recreational marijuana legalization opens the door to a host of long-term risks and consequences that referendum voters don’t seem to consider.

In Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, 21 is the minimum age to buy cannabis products. Some argue that legalization’s age restrictions prevent teens and young adults, the people most at risk to form dependency or suffer damage in brain development, from getting access. But has being under 21 ever stopped a teen or young college student from drinking alcohol if he or she really wants to? Why would marijuana be any different? Legalizing it gives more access to more people of age, who can hand off anything they buy to other people, underage or not.

Since brain development stops around age 25, setting the bar at 21 means the state is letting people legally lower their own IQs for four years. While of course the government cannot make people’s choices for them, it has a responsibility to warn people of negative consequences. Will the government put those black and white warning labels on marijuana products that they do on cigarettes? They should, since it can be worse than cigarette smoke for the lungs, according to the American Lung Association. Those warnings should include the effects on brain development. Problems with specific learning and memory tasks are some of marijuana’s effects on brain development, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The person smoking the marijuana is not the only one affected. Secondhand marijuana smoke can affect nonsmokers’ lungs and cardiovascular systems and expose them to THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, and other chemicals. If legalized, marijuana smoking should be prohibited in restaurants and public buildings like cigarette smoking currently is. Even with those limitations, and even if you choose not to smoke it, legalized marijuana will affect those passing by people smoking it on the street or those who visit smokers’ homes. Children of parents who would be legally smoking marijuana would be at particular risk of developing heart and lung problems, and just like tobacco, would be at increased risk for becoming smokers themselves.

Some people turn to marijuana to self-treat their anxiety and depression. While this works for a short time in low dosages, it’s no different from turning to alcohol. Mental illnesses and drug addiction form a vicious cycle called comorbidity. As the mental illness gets worse, the substance abuse gets worse and vice versa. Legalizing marijuana would permit people more access to the drug, especially if for “medical” purposes, instead of seeking actual help like therapy or anti-anxiety drugs. Also, according to a paper published in the medical journal Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery, prolonged use of marijuana reduces the anti-anxiety drugs’ effects, making recovery from mental illness more difficult even through proper methods.

For the people who refuse to believe all the studies proving that marijuana usage is bad for the lungs, brain development, drug dependence and mental illnesses and continue to claim that it is safe, marijuana is always dangerous for someone behind the wheel. Driving under the influence of marijuana can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol since there is not yet a mass-market, foolproof breathalyzer for marijuana.  Additionally, THC limits for impaired driving have not been set scientifically, meaning law enforcement is less able to consistently prevent or charge people with drugged driving. In Colorado, as of 2013, 10 percent of fatal crashes involved marijuana. By 2016, it was 20 percent, according to The Denver Post. Legalizing marijuana without increasing warnings of how dangerous it is to smoke marijuana and drive will lead to senseless grief.

The bottom line is this: To permit is to promote. Legalizing marijuana means telling people it is safe. It is not. If Wisconsin legalizes marijuana then a few years later starts slapping warning labels on the products it has authorized the sale of once the negative effects are clearly visible, it will be just like last century’s public awareness campaigns against cigarettes that we’re still fighting today. The difference is Americans didn’t know tobacco was unsafe for a long time. We know marijuana is unsafe, we know its varied and wide-reaching consequences, so why would we legalize it in the first place?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4 Comments

4 Responses to “NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization”

  1. Dawn Radford on December 5th, 2018 9:19 am

    Reefer Madness hysterics backed by the usual discredited pseudoscience, and propaganda from NIDA. It sounds as if this author would prefer the 70-something percent of the population continue to buy cannabis from unregulated, black market merchants. Not only do they have incentive to upsell truly damaging drugs, such as opiates and amphetamines, they take on little additional risk if they sell to minors. Licensed points of sale are in locations known to law enforcement; compliance checks are practical to perform.

  2. Jim Romenesko on December 6th, 2018 10:07 am

    I’ve been reading the Marquette Tribune since 1972, when I enrolled as a journalism major. This is the most unconvincing op-ed the paper has ever published.

  3. Jojo on December 6th, 2018 1:51 pm

    “Driving under the influence of marijuana can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol since there is not yet a mass-market, foolproof breathalyzer for marijuana.”

    Drunk driving safer than driving under the influence of marijuana?! You had some good points until you made this statement….

  4. BVS on December 8th, 2018 9:30 am

    I agree with the authors sentiment here. I see no compelling reason why WI should legalize marijuana. My question is simply, what are the positives should legalization take place? How’s Colorado doing? Washington? Certainly Gov-elect Evers is pleased…he won the pothead vote…to the detriment of this state that will play-out over the next four years.
    Q. You think health care costs are out of control now? Just wait.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Editorials

    EDITORIAL: Course evaluations lack details crucial for adequate responses

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Featured

    BEG: Celebrity opinions affect public

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Opinions

    HARTE: Trump policies unnecessarily cruel to asylum seekers

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Featured

    HARTE: Title IX proposal would decrease misconduct reporting

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Opinions

    HARRINGTON: Small businesses deserve increased focus during holidays

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Opinions

    BEG: US relationship with Saudi Arabia unethical

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Editorials

    EDITORIAL: University unfairly scrutinized for decision regarding homeless

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Editorials

    EDITORIAL: Residence hall policies for break periods alienate students

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Opinions

    HARTE: Early morning classes harmful to learning

  • NITSCHKE: Risks ignored regarding marijuana legalization

    Opinions

    KORENICH: Prison health care reforms needed

Navigate Right