By Dale Guthrie MD FAAP
(May 7, 2015)
As a fourth generation native Arizonan with twenty-six years as a practicing Pediatrician, Past President of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, father and grandfather, I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Arizona. It is clear to me that the science and research shows what serious detrimental, even dangerous effects this would have on the youth of our State.
With data now flowing in from states where legalization has occurred, there has been an increase in marijuana use in adolescents, which happened after the laws passed but even before those laws took effect. The message sent to our youth is that marijuana is not harmful because adult voters would not legalize a dangerous drug. But that message does not square with reality.
New research shows that the young brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex responsible for controlling judgment and decision-making, is not fully developed until the mid-20s. Exposing this immature brain to marijuana has been demonstrated to cause short and long-term severe changes in cerebral function.
Brain consequences of short-term marijuana use:
Alterations in motor control, coordination, judgment, reaction time, and tracking ability have also been documented, which may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries especially considering motor vehicle accidents if driving while intoxicated by marijuana.
Higher incidence of psychosis in youth who are predisposed to schizophrenia.
Perhaps more concerning are the brain consequences of long-term marijuana use:
In a dose-dependent pattern, marijuana use lowers the odds of high school completion and increases the use of other illegal drugs and suicide attempts.
Even casual use of marijuana causes changes in brain shape, volume and density in regions responsible for motivation and emotion.
Our children’s brains are too important to sacrifice for this experiment. I urge Arizonans to be vocal in their opposition to the legalization of marijuana.
Dale Guthrie MD FAAP
Immediate Past President
American Academy of Pediatrics
I suppose booze, which has ruined and taken God knows how many lives, and which anyone can buy, and which we had little problem getting as kids, is OK then?
Guthrie’s sentence, “The message sent to our youth is that marijuana is not harmful because adult voters would not legalize a dangerous drug,” could just as easily be written “The message sent to our youth is that booze is not harmful because adult voters would not legalize a dangerous drug.”
I think we all know how well booze prohibition worked out, and most of us, except Guthrie and his ilk, know how well pot prohibition is working.
If you don’t like pot, then don’t use it. If you don’t think kids should use it then teach them that. But we can no longer afford the War On (people who use non-corporate) Drugs.
And no, I don’t smoke pot or drink booze.
I agree with Dr. Guthrie that marijuana does not belong in the hands of children. Except in those well documented cases of children having sever seizures and other ailments where there is no hope but marijuana, and it works for them. I agree that children should not be using marijuana while their brains are still developing, as they should not be using alcohol for the very same reason.
In this age old argument as to Legalize or Not Legalize marijuana we always hear ‘The Children, what about the Children’, and to that I say “The Parents, where are the Parents ?”. Marijuana in Arizona is Illegal today, and children the age of grade schoolers seem to have no problem obtaining and using it, where are the parents?
Marijuana being illegal leaves the doors open to underground drug dealers, murders and worse, and is not something you want your children caught up in. In My opinion legalization would put a strict control on this substance, raise state income from taxes, and greatly damage the underground drug dealers.
Dr. Guthrie says… “With data now flowing in the states where legalization has occurred, there has been an increase in marijuana use in adolescents”, of which I would like to see Facts not Verbiage, tractability vs non-tractability. He also says “marijuana use lowers the odds of high school completion and increases the use if other illegal drugs and suicide attempts.” What He does not include is that everyone is an individual, in a different environment, with parents who either care or care less about what their children do, and is one of the reasons we have adolescent alcoholics today.
Looking back, I Myself started smoking regularly a bit to young, but continued to get My high school diploma, My bachelors degree and My masters degree, have Never touched another illegal substance, nor attempted suicide. Have always had a high paying job until starting My own successful business over 20 years ago.
Parents, do you know what your children are doing and who they are?