Let’s not legalize a drug that affects motivation
How do I begin to express my disappointment in last week’s editorial on legalizing marijuana? I have been in the field of mental health and substance abuse since graduating from URI in 1980. I have worked and volunteered in Jamestown for 20 years. There is only one reason why I do what I do and that is because I care.
Research shows that marijuana negatively affects learning, memory and motivation. Studies link it to testicular cancer in men and strokes in young people. A longterm study showed an eight-point drop in IQ for those who began to use the drug relatively young. Do we want to have a substance like this glamorized and glorified as a legal, marketable drug?
I have listened to the arguments, mostly from the Drug Policy Alliance, who had an $8.5 million budget last year and posts in its strategic plan a goal of having R.I. laws passed in its favor. I attended its “round-table discussion,” which did not allow for direct audience participation. I do not believe that, if a substance is taxed as they say, people would not continue to grow and sell marijuana without having to pay the taxes.
I’ve been told by a member of the R.I. National Guard that the Mexican drug cartels are already here and just hoping marijuana will be legalized. They gut mills and buy up whole neighborhoods to set up shop. This isn’t going to go away, but just get worse. We need to allow the new decriminalization law to take effect. Why race to legalization? Perhaps we should try to learn from Colorado and Washington.
Having a harmful substance illegal is a deterrent. Uncle Bob wouldn’t try smoking marijuana at the family barbecue now because it’s illegal, but if it wasn’t, what’s the big deal? Parents smoking in front of their kids? Hey, we’re OK, it’s legal! Walking down the docks? Outside the Narragansett Café? At the beach? Why not!
We would have more stoned drivers on the road and more people on unemployment and disability because they can’t work. Is this a good scenario?
Proponents of legalization claim that it will be more difficult for teens to access marijuana. Yet, with tobacco and alcohol, we know the challenges of reducing youth access and the cost the misuse of these legal substances have on youth and society. Do we want to add another substance that the tobacco industry is just waiting to promote?
We’re worried about students’ test scores. We’re already seeing a rise in use among students from the medical marijuana. Students think it’s healthy and some think it cures cancer. Making a drug more available and appealing to youth will increase substance abuse.
We have a lot to lose if this drug becomes legalized. Helping people to have clear minds and healthy bodies is what we need to focus on, in Jamestown and statewide.