Letters to the Editor

Marijuana can cause harm

Seems many on Vashon are eager to cash in on the legalization of marijuana, and everyone else seems to be rolling over and accepting the inevitable. No one mentions how harmful marijuana is to our youth.

I recently read an article by Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, a child psychiatrist and founder of Phoenix House, a substance abuse treatment and prevention organization. He stressed what many people choose to ignore — marijuana is not safe. Pot damages the heart and lungs; increases incidences of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia and can trigger acute psychotic episodes. Many adults seem to be able to use it with little harm, but not so with adolescents. Marijuana impairs their learning, judgement and memory and can do lasting damage to their brains. Dr. Nora Volka, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has found that it can damage cognitive function in adolescents by disrupting the normal development of the white matter that brain cells need to communicate with each other.

Last month researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine discovered marijuana causes lasting changes in “working memory,” brain structures critical to memory and reasoning — a source of ready recall for basic information like telephone numbers and solutions to everyday problems. Working memory is a strong predictor of academic achievement.

Vashonites want the best for their children and grandchildren. They are proud of their schools, team athletic superiority, cultural activities and clean, outdoor lifestyle, but their complacent attitude that pot is benign could undermine everything. Remember when smoking cigarettes was cool ... and then lung cancer. Let’s not kid ourselves about marijuana.

— Sheila Elliott

 

Community Events, April 2014

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