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News Opinion

Don't be so quick to dismiss the dangers of marijuana

Last Friday, I appeared on the Marc Steiner show to discuss marijuana policy.  Also on the panel were state Sens. Jamie Raskin Bobby Zirkin (Democrats from Montgomery and Baltimore counties, respectively). You can listen to a podcast of the show by clicking here. Needless to say, I was the only person in the discussion, including the host, who did not favor the full legalization of marijuana.

 As you listen, here are a couple of tidbits that I added to the discussion in addition to my December op-ed in the Baltimore Sun and my piece on this blog discussing the harms of marijuana use.

 First, I shared the results of a recent University of Michigan survey which found that 60 percent of high school seniors believe that marijuana use is harmless.  Second, the pervasive view that marijuana is harmless was recently rejected once again by the American Medical Association, which found specifically that:

 "cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern, [and that] sale and possession of marijuana should not be legalized..."

While the AMA prefers a public health approach to marijuana use, the organization emphatically asserts that the weight of medical evidence shows that marijuana is dangerous and harmful, and the AMA opposes its legalization.  The AMA, by contrast, makes no statement calling for the prohibition of alcohol, although noting its dangers and promoting abstinence of use. 

At the end of the broadcast there was a discussion of teen use of marijuana by Canadians.  I mentioned the government report from Canada noting the spike in teen use during the Canadian government's debate over decriminalization.  Senator Zirkin insisted that Canada was a model of teen use.  He might want to read this:

"Teenagers in Canada use cannabis more than any other developed country, according to a new study released by UNICEF. The report released last week shows that 28 percent of 15-year-olds admitted to having used cannabis in the past year. The figure comes from a World Health Organization (WHO) study conducted in 2009, which surveyed teenagers across 29 developed nations, including more than 15,000 in Canada."

Clearly, this debate will continue during the upcoming General Assembly session.  Let us hope that there is an honest discussion of what legalization would bring and a scientific based discussion of whether marijuana is a dangerous drug or not.

--Greg Kline is a co-founder and contributing editor for Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. A Maryland attorney, Greg was part of the legal team that defeated the General Assembly's effort to fire the Public Service Commission in 2006. He is a former Republican candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates and for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. His Red Maryland posts appear here regularly.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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