Florida — Don’t be Doped, Smoking Pot is NOT medicine

“Why should we care about pot?” by Veora M. Little, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

We sometimes hear kids ask: “Is marijuana really bad for you?  Marijuana is legal in several states, so doesn’t this mean it’s OK to smoke?”  Make no mistake; this push to legalize marijuana is affecting how children view drug use.  As the perceived risk goes down, marijuana use goes up.  Don’t kid yourself, our children are listening and watching!

Anyone who cares about children should know that marijuana use can lower IQ.  Research published by the National Academy of Sciences, shows regular marijuana use that begins in adolescence can have long lasting effects on the brain that may not be reversible.  The more one uses marijuana, the greater the IQ decline. For some, this means a loss of up to 8 points.  Since an IQ of 100 is the average, a decline this large is significant and creates lasting damage that places many individuals at below average or lower intelligence. Furthermore, states having medical marijuana are at the top of the list in terms of drug addiction and usage by 12 to 17-year olds, according to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services.

If you care about our public safety, you should also know that marijuana is the most detected illicit drug in auto fatalities.  Colorado, in particular, has seen double the number of drivers involved in traffic fatalities who tested positive for marijuana in recent years.

In your work environment, you should know that employees who use drugs impact the bottom line by increasing absenteeism, workplace accidents and higher healthcare costs.

Too many Floridians are unaware that Amendment 2 will legalize smoked marijuana as medicine and also creates other concerns for our state.  For example, the process to obtain medical marijuana is done by “recommendation” rather than a prescription by a physician. Only FDA approved medications demand a prescription.

In addition, none of the symptoms that marijuana claims to cure or help have the support of any major medical associations.  The Florida Medical Association; American Pediatrics Association; American Medical Association; American Cancer Society; American Academy of Ophthalmology; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Glaucoma Foundation are among the growing number of professional organizations opposed to legalizing marijuana.  The Florida Sheriff’s Association and Drug Enforcement Administration also do not support marijuana as medicine.

There are strict standards for what constitutes a medicine in this country.  It must be deliverable in exact doses, and must be made up of measureable amounts of compounds so it can be produced and controlled in its impact.  Marijuana potency and purity varies from plant to plant. It often contains harmful contaminants and when it is smoked or ingested in foods and beverages as is permitted in states with medical marijuana, the dosage can vary greatly.  Marijuana simply does not fit the basic definition of medicine. When it is self-delivered, the dosages frequently are random and inconsistent, as are the effects on the human body.

Current “evidence” supporting smoked/home grown pot, as medicine is self-reported and not scientifically or medically verified.  In an article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “The Role of the Physician in ‘Medical’ Marijuana,” and its companion Public Policy Statement concluded that smoked marijuana is not, and cannot be, a medicine.  ASAM explains that any chemicals in marijuana shown to be effective and recognized as safe for use as treatments for any illness, have already been available for over 20 years. These are standardized and characterized products in the U.S., approved by the FDA, dispensed by professional pharmacies like all other medicines.

All Florida voters should carefully consider the following issues with Amendment 2:

  1. No age limit- No parental consent required.
  2. No background check or training for personal caregivers.
  3. Pot shops – Marijuana will only be sold by storefront dispensaries, not in medically controlled facilities, and will not be monitored by pharmacists.
  4. Medical marijuana laws only require a physician recommendation, not a legitimate prescription (since it is not FDA approved, a physician can not write a prescription.)
  5. There is no consumer protection when it comes to quality, purity or dosage.

Let’s do it right! We are all compassionate and caring about our loved ones’ pain and suffering, but there are far too many unintended consequences with this current proposal.  Let’s move forward with continued research. Let’s keep our kids safe and let’s keep working to keep drugged drivers off our roads.

As a parent, grandparent, I take this issue very seriously, I remember the pill mills! Please know the facts about the dangers of marijuana and what the proponents of this measure ask you to consider. I ask you to consider voting No to Amendment 2.

Veora M. Little, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, veoralittle@gmail.com.

Additional sources: NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), www.drugabuse.gov, ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy, The White House), Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., Director, Drug Policy Institute and Assistant Professor, University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Drug Addiction Treatment California.

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