This is not your father’s marijuana!

With increased efforts to legalize marijuana, it needs greater examination. The marijuana used by the previous generation contained 2% THC, the chemical in cannabis responsible for psychoactive effects. Today’s marijuana contains 20 to 25%. In 2017, the National Academy of Medicine found that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses.”

Because of the increased strength of THC, the higher incidents of users impacted is inevitable, even if they smoke less.

Why, then, is there increased encouragement for legalization? The answer has long been identified, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The benefits of increased income for government is often noted as a virtue of legalization. It is advocated that the income can be used to fund free college tuition. For what? Larger numbers of students will have less brain power due to brain cells being dulled.

In Australia, because of the time lapse between conception and birth, many Aborigines have never associated the two. So with marijuana, the time lapse between the use and the result is often not made. Some years ago, I worked with the student who had the largest distribution of the drugs in one of our high schools. He gave every evidence of being heavy user of marijuana. He experienced real spiritual new birth and life transformation. His salvation not only changed his life, but the culture of his school. His conversion led to him entering the ministry some years later. He married and had a beautiful family. I believe he lived a changed life and desired to do so, but a chemical took control of his life. Suddenly, he became violent and abusive of his family. He is now in prison. A study of his case indicates he experienced deferred schizophrenia. I have known other less dramatic cases of people who came out of the drug culture but didn’t have enough brain left to maintain the new life.

Here are other often deferred traits that are not always deferred: change of mood, impaired body movement, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving and impaired memory. When taken in high doses, the following have occurred: delusion, psychosis, hallucination and long-term effects.

Marijuana also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.

If a pregnant woman uses marijuana, the drug may affect certain developing parts of the fetus’ brain. Children exposed to marijuana in the womb have an increased risk of problems with attention, memory and problem-solving compared to unexposed children.

Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among teens.

Government quickly gets addicted to the tax income from marijuana. How much profit in the public coffers makes it worth this cost in human lives? What expense is then placed on government by these traits?

For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization. Costs related to the health care system and from high school dropouts are the largest cost contributors.

Overall, it is not profitable at all, but it costs society in human lives. Meanwhile, what people seek in its use is found in the solution afforded the high school student to whom I referred.

The Rev. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

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