Legalization doesn't mean it's safe

And so it begins. The talk of legalizing marijuana in New Jersey. According to this recent NJ.com article, proposed legislation could be brought before the statehouse within the next few weeks. There has been a lot of talk about the medical uses of marijuana, of which there has been no official FDA sanctioned studies, and even more talk of how marijuana isn’t dangerous or harmful and should be legalized. The Partnership for a Drug-free New Jersey isn’t here to take sides in political matters. We leave it up to the lawmakers in Trenton to decide what is legal and what is not and to the FDA to decide what constitutes safe and effective medicine. But simply because a substance or activity is legal doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous.

                             

                             Image credit: streetwise.co

According to recent studies, "drugged" driving, meaning DUI cases where the driver tested positive for marijuana, has risen in prevalance, tripling from 1999 to 2010. And this is when marijuana was illegal. Joanne Brady, the PhD candidate who led the study, expressed concern that the decriminalization of marijuana would lead to an increase in drugged driving cases, leading to more fatalities.

The misnomer with marijuana is that the short term effects aren’t dangerous and can cause no long lasting issues. However, what many users don’t take into account are the decrease in memory capacity or learning abilities, decreased motivation in areas of study or work, and increased risk of respiratory disease associated with the carcinogens found in marijuana smoke. It's these mixed messages that are proving dangerous when it comes to our kids. In this article about the myths of marijuana, an former DEA administrator decries the decision to make it legal in Colorado and the message sent to our kids when the President of the United States comes out and says it is no more dangerous than alcohol.

The debate will continue to rage on when it comes marijuana legalization. But parents need to know the facts surrounding it, so they can have honest conversation with their kids about it. Whether it is made legal or not is up to Trenton, but parents need to be aware of these dangers and trends as well.

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