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The article on pushback in regard to marijuana dispensary locations raises some important issues that weren't thoroughly covered by the reporter ("Neighborhood tensions arise as residents learn of plans for medical marijuana dispensaries," July 23). Why did the Natalie LaPrade Medical Marijuana bill, sponsored by Del. Cheryl Glenn and passed into law, fail to allow local communities to decide the particulars of where dispensaries could be located? It seems possible the bill sponsors and the legislature realized that if local hearings were allowed for approving specific locations, many communities would block having one in their neighborhood, and for good reason.

For example, a study by Colorado addiction specialist Dr. Christian Thurstone found that 74 percent of teens entering treatment for marijuana addiction in Denver obtained their marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana card, back when Colorado only had medical and not recreational dispensaries. The neighborhood dispensaries weren't selling to minors, but the local medical marijuana patients were, and there is no reason to think that Maryland will do a better job of preventing that kind of diversion than Colorado did.

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This January, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report, "The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, 2017," listing several areas in which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing marijuana poses substantial risk for psychiatric harm, particularly psychosis and suicide and presenting only a few ailments in adults that might show benefit.

Marijuana does show great promise for treating the spasticity of multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition for which no other drugs are very effective. Yet, studies have also shown that marijuana use in MS patients accelerates their cognitive decline, so the risk/benefit profile is not so clear. And for anyone of an age to be at risk for cardiac complications, an Internet search will reveal the scientific evidence is mounting that marijuana can trigger arrhythmia, stroke and cardiomyopathy. These complex questions of risk/benefit balance are why components of marijuana should be subject to FDA scrutiny. No state can match the depth and breadth of the FDA approval process.

Our politicians may support medical marijuana both because of the anticipated tax revenue and the vocal minority of their constituents who have been clamoring for it, but when medical marijuana dispensaries finally arrive in our backyards, the rest of us will be forced to pay attention to what will happen to our youth and the overall health of our communities.

Christine L. Miller, Towson

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