Letter: Studies show pot’s negative effect

To the editor:

Hats off to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who gave us the straight scoop about marijuana in his June 15 letter (“Legislators, don’t legalize pot”), a recommended reading for everyone.

First and foremost, the average human being’s brain does not complete the development of pathways and connections until the age of 25. Using drugs prior to the age 25 may cause permanent changes and damage that may last for a lifetime. If you don’t believe this, talk to a user or rehaber and decide if their brain is working as well now as it did before using drugs.

The legal age to buy and use tobacco products is 18; 21 for alcohol. But the knowledge about the brain’s development was not known years ago when these limits were established. One argument for legalizing marijuana is to legalize but restrict the sale and use for those under a certain age. Sound reasonable?

How good of a job have we done keeping cigarettes and alcohol out of the hands of our underage youth? What makes you think legalizing marijuana would be any different?

One study, recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed more than 10,000 scientific abstracts and found evidence for only two health benefits from marijuana (cannabis) — one for chronic pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, and the second for nausea and vomiting while receiving chemotherapy.

And that was from one ingredient in the the marijuana plant — not all the ingredients. And that ingredient was not THC, the buzz drug.

A more recent study reported a reduction in seizures in one particular severe form of epilepsy (Dravet Syndrome), again using one ingredient found in marijuana. But also reported were the side effects of vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, sleep problems, etc. Even this one ingredient is not a wonder drug.

Marijuana contains more that 400 known chemical compounds, one of which is THC that produces the high or stoned feeling. Marijuana smoke contains thousands of chemical compounds, of which over 50 can cause cancer.

So it’s not the THC, the chemical producing the high, buzz or stoned feeling that is being used for certain medical conditions. If one finds a single ingredient in a plant that may be beneficial, do we legalize the whole plant to be used? Without the THC, most potheads would probably not recommend marijuana for any reason.

Marijuana use is also associated with an increased risk for several substance use disorders, which cost the U.S. an estimated $700 billion annually from related crime, lost work productivity and health care expenses. Marijuana users often use multiple drugs and teenage marijuana users are 15 times more likely to use cocaine than a non-using teen.

As the Institute of Medicine concludes, if there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components. So find the components that may have health benefits and continue the research. But THC, the mind-altering component, does not appear to be one of the beneficial compounds.

So what would be the purpose of legalizing marijuana? For one, greed. Look at all the money from taxes, regulation and distribution. And THC, to affect the mind, emotions and behavior, but offering no medical benefits. Hoosiers, listen to the scientific studies and not the moaning and groaning of the THC lovers.

Dr. Dick Huber