SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 19, 2012

Letter: 'Medical' marijuana could pose threat to teens

To the editor:

On Election Day, Massachusetts residents went to the polls and voted by an almost 3-2 margin to approve the use of “medical” marijuana. This vote, however, did not change the science behind the health risks of smoking marijuana and its status as an addictive drug. DanversCares’ role as a prevention coalition is to educate the community about preventing drug use, particularly among teens, so we will continue to provide information on this topic.

When we look at the research and the medical information regarding the risks of marijuana use, we know that the following is true:

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.

Medical marijuana in states that have such laws has been diverted to teens.

Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, contributing to the risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth and tongue.

In the past 15 years, the potency of marijuana (THC content) has more than tripled from 3 percent to more than 11 percent, making today’s drug highly addictive.

Developing teens’ brains are negatively affected by marijuana use. Teens who smoke marijuana demonstrate up to an 8-point IQ drop in early adulthood, compared to teens who do not smoke.

As this new law unfolds, and efforts to establish guidelines around implementation get under way, it is important to guard against potential abuse and prevent medical marijuana from getting into the wrong hands — the hands of our bright, healthy, young kids.

Will a marijuana store open in Danvers?

Will it be close to our parks, our schools or our youth recreation areas?

Will young people be allowed to browse on-site? Will marijuana candy-look-alikes (Cheeba Chews, BuddaFingers, etc.) and marijuana-based products be marketed to teens?

While we wait to see how this unfolds, it is in the best interest of all parents and adult community members to be informed on this issue, and to discuss with teens the difference between medical use and recreational use of this illegal drug. There are simply much healthier choices for kids to make than sending their futures up in smoke.

Peg Sallade

Project director

DanversCares

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