At Running with Amanda, we are steadfastly against the constitutional amendment that would approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and we urge all to vote NO on Issue 5 at the polls.
Our opposition to this issue is based on both anecdotal and research-based evidence.
First and foremost is that a major part of our mission here is to prevent teen substance abuse. It is our opinion that legalizing marijuana for medical use will increase the use of the drug among teens. In Colorado, 12 years after the state approved the drug's use for medical purposes, a University of Colorado study has found many teens receiving treatment for drug abuse have used medical marijuana prescribed to someone else. The drug is being prescribed to others and finding its way into the hands of teens.
Second, we have long held the opinion that marijuana acts as a "gateway drug," meaning users of the drug are at a higher risk of taking chances with harder drugs. A recent study by Yale University researchers supports our theory by finding that marijuana users are 2.5 times more likely to become abusers of prescription drugs.
Published in September, 2012, a Michigan State researcher found a strong correlation between legalizing medical marijuana and the perceived risk and the use of the drug. Simply stated, in those states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, the population views the drug as a lower risk and a higher percentage use it than in states where pot has not been approved for medical use. This study also found that medical marijuana laws increase the rate of illegal marijuana use, noting that marijuana arrests of males age 18-29 increased by 20% in said states. To the surprise of the author of the study, referrals by medical providers of young adults to treatment centers for substance abuse increased after medical marijuana laws were passed.
The evidence makes clear that passage of medical marijuana laws INCREASES not only the use of the drug, but the illegal use AND abuse of the drug. Potheads, stoners, and drug abusers, along with those they've snared into believing marijuana has no negative effects on users or society, will say, "So what!" to this evidence. They claim the use of the drug is harmless or, as I so often hear, "Alcohol is more destructive than pot!"
Let's address the "no-negative-effects" argument first.
Web MD, pretty much a go-to source for medical advice on the web, tells a different tale of the effects of cannabis.
The increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate should cause some concern. I mean, something's going on in the body to create these changes. Your heart, blood pressure, and breathing are pretty important functions in your body. To have any noticeable impact on these vital functions should cause at least a little concern. I'll grant you the red eyes and dry mouth may not be cause for great anxiety. But the increase in appetite should concern everyone out there with the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. But the physiological effect that concerns me the most is the last one, slowed reaction time.
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased rate of breathing
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite, or "the munchies"
- Slowed reaction time
You see, our body senses danger when our neurological system is firing on all cylinders. Reflexes save us from injury and even save our lives countless times throughout our years on this earth. Slowed reaction times mean interference with the body's natural defense system that recognizes danger and implements those reflex actions in dangerous situations. That's the real danger!
When your reflexes don't work right, when your mind doesn't perceive danger, that's when bad things tend to happen. We usually call them accidents. But are they really accidents?
If they could have been prevented had we been sober and of sound mind, are they really accidents? We don't treat them as such with regard to alcohol. Drunk drivers are sentenced to prison these days when their irresponsibility leads to the death of another. That brings up another point.
What about the argument that marijuana isn't as dangerous as alcohol?
I can't say it isn't, and I can't say it is. What I can say is that we have tests available to prove, instantaneously, if a person is under the influence of alcohol at the time of an accident. If someone gets killed or injured by another's negligence, a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test will tell us if the person responsible was impaired by alcohol.
NO SUCH TEST EXISTS FOR MARIJUANA!
At the trial of my daughter's killer, a witness was prepared to testify that her murderer was smoking pot that night. Cody Gorecke, Amanda's killer, never admitted he was high on marijuana when he fired the shot that took my 17-year-old daughter's life. The prosecutor told us she couldn't prove he had smoked before murdering Amanda.
We asked why a drug test wasn't administered that night, and she replied that it was. The problem is, the test couldn't determine WHEN he smoked the cannabis that showed up in his system. He could have gotten high that night, or it could have been in his system from two weeks prior. There was no available test to determine if he was impaired by marijuana when he murdered my daughter!
So even if the argument that pot is no more dangerous than alcohol, even if it's less dangerous, the fact that it impairs reaction time will undoubtedly result in accidents, much like alcohol. But we CANNOT prove a pothead is high when he wrecks and kills an innocent person, or when he picks up a gun and blows a hole in a young lady at a party!
Without the ability to prove someone is impaired by pot, it is idiotic to equate the two--marijuana and alcohol--or even compare them. We cannot enforce DUI laws against motorists who are high. We cannot prove they were high when they cause an accident in the workplace or anywhere else. They cannot be held accountable the way someone who is drunk can be held to account for his actions.
Therefore, in my mind, there is no way I'd ever vote to make the drug more available, even if I bought the potheads' argument.
Another point, it is my belief that legalizing the drug for medical purposes is just an attempt to open the door to completely legalizing it, for recreational or any other use. One of the largest backers of legalizing pot for medical purposes is NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). The group proudly boasts on the home page of its website, "NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty."
Those who say this is ONLY about compassion for those suffering are either liars or are convinced by liars! The goal is to make this destructive, gateway drug legal. Period!
So what about the compassion argument?
I asked a friend who has worked in a pharmacy for years about this a while back. That's when I was surprised to learn there are already synthetic versions of the drug available by prescription for treatment. There is NO NEED to smoke marijuana, only a political agenda using the compassion argument in an effort to evoke sympathy to sway voters.
My position is clear, and I've already cast my vote against this ill-advised measure. I ask that you consider the arguments I've put forth here before you vote on Issue #5 on the ballot in Arkansas this year, then vote NO!
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