The author of these comments and questions knows from first-hand experience in the ‘60s the effects of psychoactive drugs (as well as mood altering substances such as alcohol and tobacco).  The author has worked since the ‘60s to promote public health approaches to discouraging use and to intervening in early stages of psychoactive drug use and experimentation.  The author also has emphasized the need for in lieu of prosecution programs, including drug court type programs that focus on education and information, and counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation where needed. This might be viewed at a campaign to dissuade individuals from engaging in drug taking behavior and to help enlighten individuals concerning the innumerable mental, psychological, physical, and spiritual effects of using marijuana and other psychoactive substances. The spiritual effects of marijuana are particularly insidious as they result in the near instantaneous abeyance of one’s “soul power” and initiative. For those in the process of developing a moral compass, marijuana use can drastically impact that developmental process.  See http://SpiritualHarmofMarijuana.com and also see the video of the exchange between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, that took place in the fall of 2013. The video can be found at http://dalailama.com/webcasts/post/300-mind-and-life-xxvii---craving-desire-and-addiction/4588. Alternatively, Google “Dalai Lama + Nora Volkow” for the link.

There is a public policy approach that can be taken to addressing the use and abuse of intoxicants and psychoactive substances, including marijuana, an approach that does not involve incarceration or a permanent record in the criminal justice system.  The public policy approach can be taken in a way that advances the health of individuals and the public health of the nation.  Undertaking such a public health approach can make it totally unnecessary and counterproductive to legalize marijuana.  Individuals who are intoxicated as a result of using psychoactive substances and who are apprehended for public intoxication or driving under the influence can be remanded through the court system to “in lieu of prosecution” programs, including drug court type programs.  Such programs focus on education and information, and on counselling, treatment, and rehabilitation where needed.   With the completion of such programs, records can be expunged.  Numerous such approaches and policies are already in place in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As is evident from the experiments in Washington and Colorado, legalization contributes to the spreading use of marijuana among all age groups. Legalization has also increased the lucrative nature of the illicit sales trade since it is easy for those selling marijuana outside of the legal distribution system to undercut the prices of the legal distributors. There has been testimony from illicit sellers to this effect.

There has been an increase in DUIs and fatalities involving marijuana use since marijuana was legalized in two states.

Some questions:

  • Do you think that it is possible to drive safely with any amount of marijuana in one’s system?

  • Are you aware that increasing numbers of individuals of all ages have begun using marijuana as a result of the changes in the laws in Washington and Colorado?  Are you aware of the increased demand for treatment by those using marijuana?

  • Are you aware of the public health consequences of this and of the fact that no amount of tax revenue could possibly offset the public health consequences and costs to society?

  • Are you aware that the use of marijuana has increased in adjacent states?

  • Are you aware that THC has been shown to have idiosyncratic psychotomimetic effects in human subjects?

  • Do you know about the research, including brain scans, showing anomalies in the brains of casual users?  (April 16, 2014, Journal of Neuroscience posted at http://jn.sfn.org/press/April-16-2014-Issue/zns01614005529.pdf )?

  • Do you know about the complementary research findings, that have also included brain scans of users, and that have been reported on over the past few years? These research findings show that marijuana affects the development and functioning of the brain and that use of marijuana lowers the IQs of users whose brains are still developing.  The brain is considered by many to be developing in individuals who are 25 years of age or younger.  There are those in the scientific community who would put the age the completion of brain development between 35 and 50.  The age that one must be to purchase marijuana in Colorado is 21.

  • Did you know that individuals who were high on marijuana have been involved in crimes of violence and in major accidents that have resulted in multiple deaths?  Christopher Darden, attorney for the prosecution, is on record as having said that O.J. Simpson had marijuana in his system at the time of the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. There has also been a recent murder in Colorado involving an individual who was high on marijuana.

  • Are you aware that a percentage of those using marijuana who become addicted to it?

  • Are you aware that the smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco are both carcinogenic and both impair the heart and respiratory system? Are you aware that there are recently reported cases of those using marijuana who have died of heart-related causes?

  • Do you think that legislators or the public had any idea that they would be legalizing marijuana that could have a THC content of 85% or more?  Are you aware of the much higher THC in today’s marijuana as contrast with the marijuana that was used in prior to the ‘80s and the ‘90s?

  • Do you foresee the involvement of the FDA in regulating the advertising claims made by marijuana distributors to recreational users?  For instance, see the warnings included in the information provided by a distributor in Colorado of paranoia as a possible negative result of using a product that has a 17% THC content. (See http://eufloracolorado.com/Menu/jack-herer/.)  The same distributor is promoting medicinal uses for most all of the products being offered to all of the customers of the business.

  • Do you foresee law suits being brought on behalf of those harmed by marijuana use that would likely equal if not rival the law suits that were brought on behalf of those smokers harmed by tobacco?  Do you think that such lawsuits would be likely to have an effect on the marijuana industry, “Big Marijuana”, that would be similar to the effect that lawsuits have had on “Big Tobacco”?

  • Are you aware of the effect that marijuana smoke can have on innocent bystanders and on non-using family members of all ages?  Are you aware of the civil liberties implications this has for bystanders, especially former users, the mentally ill, individuals who are infirm, and sensitive individuals and children?

  • Are you aware that there is no way to extrapolate to the U.S. the experience that Portugal, a small predominantly Catholic country of around 10.6 million people,  has had with its unique multidisciplinary assessment and rehabilitation of those engaged in drug taking behavior? The closest thing to it in this country would be the remanding of users to drug court programs or other “in lieu of prosecution” approaches involving education, treatment, and rehabilitation.  There is no comparability between what Portugal is doing and what is happening at the present time in Colorado.

  • Are you aware of the voluminous research that exists on the full range of harmful mental and physical effects of marijuana?  See the various lists of references in the articles and reports and lists of references posted on http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com.

  • Especially see the “Open Letter to Those Who Believe that Marijuana Use is Harmless or Relatively Harmless to Themselves and Those in Their Surround”.

Some Comments and Questions for Proponents of Marijuana Legalization

by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.
May 30, 2014

Some Comments and Questions for Proponents