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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why You Should Vote "No" On Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Ohio

Election day in Ohio is drawing near. Passage of Issue 3 would grant monopoly rights for the production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes in Ohio. I believe whether you are a voter who has never have smoked pot, who has smoked pot at some time in your life, or who smokes pot now, you should consider that voting "yes" endorses a poorly tested and potentially dangerous product. I feel you should vote "no" on Issue 3. I will give you some good reasons.

I would be in favor of a proposal allowing medicinal marijuana; however, the recreational use of the substance is a vice that can only aggravate health and work and concerns in the Buckeye State. Passage of Issue 3 presents risks that voters cannot allow.

Rich Thompson, director of political programs at the Ohio Chamber, said there are some major concerns with Issue 3. According to Thompson, the large number marijuana sales outlets possible (1,159), which is three times the number of state liquor stores in Ohio and even more than McDonald’s and Starbucks locations in the state, will practically make marijuana "available on every street corner."

The Effect of Issue 3 on the Workplace

Thompson also believes workforce safety, with businesses likely unable to ban marijuana use in the workplace, could be a huge problem. Here are some examples of potential difficulties in the workplace:

* Litigation will be forced to define when and where marijuana can be used, and what businesses can do to maintain workplace safety.

* Workplace marijuana use would decrease productivity and lead to an increase in accidents, injuries, and absenteeism.

* In Ohio communities that already face problems finding workers who can pass a drug test, legalizing marijuana would exacerbate that problem.

* Workers’ compensation issues could also arise for workplace injuries caused by an employee impaired because of marijuana use.

* Issue 3 seeks to specifically list 10 pieces of real estate in Ohio’s constitution as the only property on which marijuana can be grown for commercial purposes. And, these pieces of real estate are already owned by the handful of wealthy investors in the Issue 3 campaign who hope to turn their investment into a billion dollar a year industry. This constitutes and exclusive monopoly.

(Dave Mosier. "Ohio Chamber opposes marijuana issue. The Van Wert Independent.
September 23, 2015.) 

The Effect of Issue 3 on Children

Most alarming about Issue 3 is the threat to our children and youth.

Issue 3 would allow for the sale of brownies, cookies, gummy bears and many other common food items that would be packed with dangerously high levels of THC. These products are inviting to children and have led to severe problems in those states which allow recreational marijuana.

According to Children’s Hospital Colorado, admissions of children under the age of 12 who ingested edible marijuana spiked sharply in 2014.

But the effect on children is not just limited to food. State Representative Bob McColley says since marijuana’s legalization in Colorado in 2012, the state has seen a 56 percent increase in overall marijuana usage among children aged 12-17. The same result is likely to happen in Ohio.

And what about the effect of legalized marijuana on youthful drivers? In Colorado there has been a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths since legalization.

(Rob McColley. "State Rep. Rob McColley: Marijuana legalization would be disastrous for Ohio." September 19, 2015.)

Consider Youth and Vote Against Issue 3

I believe you should share this information with your children. Here are some facts for youth about marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Marijuana can be addictive.

Not everyone who smokes marijuana will become addicted—that depends on a whole bunch of factors, including your genes, the age you start using, whether you also use other drugs, your relationships with family and friends, success in school, and so on. Repeated marijuana use can lead to addiction, which means that people have trouble controlling their drug use and often cannot stop even though they want to. Research shows that about 9 percent, or about 1 in 11, of those who use marijuana will become addicted. This rate increases to 17 percent, or about 1 in 6, in people who start in their teens, and goes up to 25 to 50 percent among daily users.

(Anthony J, Warner LA, Kessler RC. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1994;2:244-268.)

(Hall W, Degenhardt L. Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet.

(Hall W. The adverse health effects of cannabis use: what are they, and what are their implications for policy? Int J of Drug Policy. 2009;20:458-466.)

(Lopez-Quintero C, Pérez de los Cobos J, Hasin DS, et al. Probability and predictors of transition from first use to dependence on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011;115(1-2):120-130.)

After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to car accidents, including those involving deaths.

A nationwide study of deadly crashes found that 36.9 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used marijuana. Marijuana affects skills required for safe driving—alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana makes it hard to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road.

(Wilson FA, Stimpson JP, Pagán, JA. Fatal crashes from drivers testing positive for drugs in the U.S., 1993-2010. Public Health Rep. 2014;129:342-350.)

Marijuana is linked to school failure.

Marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days and sometimes weeks—especially if you use it often. Someone who smokes marijuana daily may have a "dimmed-down" brain most or all of the time. Compared with teens who don’t use, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.

Research even shows that it can lower your IQ if you smoke it regularly in your teen years. Also, longtime marijuana users report lower life satisfaction, memory and relationship problems, poorer mental and physical health, lower salaries, and less career success.

(McCaffrey DF, Pacula RL, Han B, Ellickson P. Marijuana use and high school dropout: the influence of unobservables. Health Econ. 2010;19(11):1281-1299.)

(Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012;109:E2657-2664.)

(Zwerling C, Ryan J, Orav E. The efficacy of preemployment drug screening for marijuana and cocaine in predicting employment outcome. JAMA. 1990;264(20):2639-2643.)

High doses of marijuana can cause psychosis or panic when you're high.

Some people experience an acute psychotic reaction (disturbed perceptions and thoughts, paranoia) or panic attacks while under the influence of marijuana. This reaction usually goes away as the drug’s effects wear off. Scientists don't yet know if marijuana use causes lasting mental illness, although it can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who already have schizophrenia, a severe mental illness with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. It can increase the risk of long-lasting psychosis in some people.

During a 10-year study of 1,923 participants aged 14 to 24 in Germany, researchers found participants who had no psychotic symptoms and had never tried marijuana when the study began and then started using marijuana had nearly double the risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms in the future.

(Rebecca Kuepper, et al. "Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow-up cohort study." BMJ. December 31, 2010.)

Smoking marijuana will not make a young person "cool" or better equipped to handle the stresses of maturation. Getting high is merely a chemical escape from reality and from the problems of life. There are much better manners in which to handle social issues than to develop a habit of lighting up a joint. No responsible parent wants their child to become a stoner, and the claims of recreational legalization having no effect upon children who are, by law, unable to consume the substance are simply untrue.

Speaking To Those In Scioto County

I agree that alcohol is potentially more dangerous to youth than marijuana. I have seen firsthand the destruction and death caused by alcohol addiction. Yet, to me, the old cliché of "two wrongs don't make a right" applies to this vote. We, in Scioto County, are considered an addictive population. Add to current fights against alcohol abuse and heroin abuse the potential risks of legalizing recreation marijuana, and we will open ever wider the gates to injury and health problems for Scioto youth.

Let's stick with the facts from the "Monitoring the Future" Pride Surveys -- current information that is part of Ohio's 2015 Conference on Opiates and Other Drugs. The survey is a part of statistics compiled by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities and Mission Possible 2015. Here are some figures we all -- no matter what our feelings about the legalization issue as it relates to adults -- must consider:

Past 30 days Substance Use by Teens in Scioto County vs. United States (2013)

Alcohol 25.5% of teens in Scioto County used compared to 23.3% in the United States
Cigarettes 19.2% of teens in Scioto County used compared to 7% in the United States
Marijuana 17.3% of teens in Scioto Country used compared to 14.76% in the United States

In the Past 30 Days, Scioto County Teens ...
Used alcohol at a rate 9% higher than the national average
Smoked cigarettes at a rate 93% higher than the national average
Used marijuana at a rate 15% higher than the national average

Drinking, using marijuana, and smoking cigarettes are all illegal activities for teens, yet these are the facts about their current use. Teens in Scioto use these substances now, and at an average rate higher than teens in the entire country. Consider that all three become habits, all three are vices, and the use of all three depends upon the environment of the adolescent -- by the use of their friends and by the use of their loved ones. Inescapable evidence? Ironclad in my experience.
I don't give a damn about selfish reasons to get high promoted by Responsible Ohio and by proponents of recreational legalization -- even about the logical ones that apply to the vote. Why? Because we must protect the future generation by teaching them by better examples. Protecting your precious freedom to get high from a natural substance will selfishly show your unconcern for society.

Just do this: Take a trip to a local grade school and look into the beautiful, lively eyes of the young students there. Watch how they enjoy thoroughly reality and truly experience joy in living sober, creative lives. And then, imagine those same pupils in a stoned, chemically induced haze. Do you want to present even more reason for those young children to smoke dope? Vote no. This is a no-brainer. Do it for the children.
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