As there have been discussions about the legalization of marijuana for medical use in Iowa; the SAFE Coalition would like to share some facts for why it should not be legalized in Iowa. Marijuana is a hallucinogen with signs of intoxication including distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, problems with learning and memory, and difficulty in problem solving. Studies continue to show a connection between chronic marijuana usage and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. Marijuana growers continue to genetically engineer plants that have higher levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the main psychoactive ingredient in the plant. This has lead to an increase, statistically doubling the potency of the drug from 1998 to 2008.
Marijuana specifically impacts our communities in negative ways. National rates of marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders are higher than rates for any other illicit drug. According to the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey, 26% of 11th graders in the state of Iowa report having ever used marijuana, with 13% being current users. 21% of Iowa youth report having begun marijuana use between 13 and 16 years of age. Iowa youth are being exposed to marijuana more often and at a younger age than historically seen. The facts above reflect a “Perfect Storm” of potential substance use.
A “Perfect Storm” occurs at the juncture of perception of risk/harm, perception of/or actual disapproval and availability of substances. By making marijuana more available in our towns and cities, the perception of the potential harm of marijuana will decrease as will the perception of disapproval associated with using marijuana. Marijuana use will become less physically harmful in the thoughts of youth and marijuana use will hold a lesser level of potential negative social consequences. Making marijuana more accessible impacts the public health and well being of Iowans, the strength of our families, and the lives of our children.
In addition, according to The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society (U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, 2011),illegal drugs already cost the United States $193 billion annually in increased health care costs, crime and lost productivity. Legalizing marijuana would exponentially exacerbate these costs.
For more information on the dangers of marijuana use and talking to your teens you may visit www.theantidrug.com or contact The SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412, firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out on Facebook or at www.vbsafecoalition.com.