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updated: 2/5/2018 11:05 AM

Be careful about legalizing marijuana

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Recent research indicates marijuana is not as safe as many people probably think. It may be that the legalization of medical marijuana gives people the impression that it is safe. However, this should not be assumed. Medications are always a balance between the risks of the disease being treated versus the risks of side effects. Some chemicals in marijuana have a medicinal effect that can be useful for some conditions, but it also poses a risk for abnormal brain development. It is more accurate to think of marijuana as another abused prescription drug like a host of others, from opioids to steroids.

I have heard some argue that marijuana is "not as bad as alcohol." But using alcohol as the criteria to determine if a substance should be legalized is setting the bar extremely low. Alcohol is the cause of many problems in our society, from the health of individuals and fatal car accidents to the disintegration of families.

Despite these problems, it is legal and that will not change. However, it is poor justification to legalize another substance that will most likely inflict similar problems on our society in addition to those we already have from alcohol.

And new research shows there are serious risks. A study done by Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School finds casual marijuana use is linked to brain abnormalities. Their research finds recreational use showed significant brain abnormalities and these were directly related to the number of joints a person smoked per week, even when getting high only once or twice a week.

This is just the latest of many studies to raise questions about the safety of marijuana. I hope our politicians will realize they should not legalize recreational marijuana while it's safety is in question.

Richard Galer II

Hanover Park

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