Editorial: Experimenting with drugs

Marijuana's legalization spurs spate of unanswered policy questions

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Sometimes it pays to show up late to the game.

That’s a prudent policy when it comes to legalizing marijuana, something other states have done in recent years.

Georgia – one of two-dozen states where marijuana is still totally illegal – has an advantageous view from the sidelines, where it can observe the social and economic impacts of legalization before entering the fray.

State leaders, including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, have indicated an openness to discuss legalization amid growing public support. A recent poll conducted by InsiderAdvantage for Atlanta’s WAGA-TV and Morris News Service showed 51 percent of the state’s registered voters support legalization for medical purposes.

President Obama recently – also, incredibly and irresponsibly – told The New Yorker magazine that he considers the drug to be a bad habit but no more dangerous than alcohol.

He should have checked with the government’s own National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has long reported that marijuana causes permanent brain damage among adolescents, including lowering their IQs.

And the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House, has repeatedly pointed out that marijuana smoke has more carcinogens than tobacco smoke.

“Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars warning about drugs, often about marijuana, but these efforts were dramatically undercut by the president’s comments,” former U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook wrote in Tuesday’s Washington Times.

The president also appears to favor legalization efforts, telling the magazine that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Though the drug has been legal for medicinal use in California since 1996, similar laws on the books in most other states are much more recent. Only two states – Colorado and Washington – render marijuana possession completely legal for people 21 and older.

Even Obama said – in a masterpiece of understatement – the legalization experiment in those two states “is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

But honestly – what are the costs, both real and hidden, in allowing the widespread availability of yet another mind-altering drug, particularly one whose primary form of ingestion is through smoking?

With all the alcohol, prescription pain killers and anti-depressants already in use (and too often abused), does a society already losing moral focus and educational acuity really need another legalized drug that negatively affects the brain?

Another nagging issue: Marijuana still is prohibited under federal law. Although the Obama administration has been reluctant to enforce federal law in states where pot has been decriminalized, what about future administrations? The marijuana debate inevitably will have to go national.

As an illegal substance, many states dealt with marijuana in a very simple and straightforward manner: You don’t use it, sell it or possess it. End of story.

But as a legal, regulated product, states will find themselves addressing a host of public policy issues, including secondhand smoke. When can you smoke in public? What about smoking at home with young children in the house? Should blowing psychoactive secondhand smoke in a house occupied by a child be considered abuse or endangerment?

Will there be a marijuana “legal limit” when driving a car? That’s important to consider when you realize the drug is detectable in your system for weeks or sometimes longer.

Or say you’re in a public place and you accidentally breathe someone’s secondhand marijuana smoke. You later test positive on a drug screen, and are penalized for the results, either by law enforcement or your employer. Who’s the real guilty party here?

Laws will be written, debated, passed, enacted and possibly later changed. It will not be easy, and mistakes will be made. But Georgia has the benefit of learning from those mistakes likely to strengthen the argument to keep marijuana illegal.

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OJP
6788
Points
OJP 01/22/14 - 12:16 am
14
4
I don't understand why more conservatives aren't all over this.

Broader tax base, less tax dollars spent to arrest and jail users, and a smaller government. And it can't really be said with a straight face that marijuana users are some sort of blight on society. The only real negative we'll all have to deal with is longer lines at Taco Bell.

deestafford
27835
Points
deestafford 01/22/14 - 12:39 am
5
13
No reason, I say again, no reason to legalize marijuana...

No reason, I say again, no reason to legalize marijuana no matter what an opinion poll says. That is why we are not a democracy...mob rule. There are so many lies floating around and many of them by Obama.

There are very, very few people sent to jail for smoking marijuana. Many arrested but they don't go to jail.

The drug makes people less productive and leads to long term brain damage.
It is a gateway drug to harder drugs for many people.

The current crop of marijuana is much stronger than when Obama was a pot head. If there are medical properties in the marijuana plant they can be extracted and made into a pill and sold as many others have been...legally.

Nothing good can come from legalizing marijuana and we will see that over the years in Colorado.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 01/22/14 - 06:03 am
5
12
OJP, did you even read the

OJP, did you even read the article? Try reading the last 4 paragraphs. There's more negatives than waiting in line at Taco Bell.

carcraft
26229
Points
carcraft 01/22/14 - 06:43 am
7
3
I read an article about heavy

I read an article about heavy marijuana use and mental illness. I'll see if I can find and post it later. I think the drug needs more study. One of the interesting things I do know is their are canaboid receptors in the spinal cord that can modulate pain.

OJP
6788
Points
OJP 01/22/14 - 07:32 am
11
5
@ICL

If we are going to criminalize physically damaging behavior, then alcohol better be first on your list. You can't argue that marijuana should remain illegal while arguing that alcohol should remain legal. Those two positions are completely contradictory.

Smaller government, more freedom of choice in our personal lives. Why does the nanny state have to protect us from marijuana?

OJP
6788
Points
OJP 01/22/14 - 07:33 am
10
5
@deestafford:

Source?

According to this source, 1 in every 6 federal prisoners are in jail for marijuana: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/interviews/schlosser....

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 01/22/14 - 07:23 am
0
0
whoever put this article
Unpublished

whoever put this article together needs to do their research over again. Marijuana IS less dangerous than alcohol... it's 100% natural.. it's not made in a lab, it comes from the Earth... I don't buy the "it lowers your IQ" unless they mean WHILE you are smoking it, but alcohol does that too!

ymnbde
9894
Points
ymnbde 01/22/14 - 07:46 am
4
5
so Colorado would not feel so all alone

everybody must get stoned?
and the current drug dealers will apply en masse
to Circle K for work and give up their drug dealing ways?
hmmm...
the land currently illegally planted in pot will be used for something else
the illegal street corner pot market will change to something else
and it will be illegal and worse
what will take its place? we should know that before just taking all the free tax money
and we all know people who have been smoking for years
while there are exceptions, most are... well, unproductive
at work, at marriage, at parenting
will their care and feeding take all plus more of the free tax money?
we should know that before legalizing
and the children of pot smoking parents, with very few exceptions
don't do nearly as well in school as those with parents who don't smoke
alcohol has some immediately inherent limiting factors for most people
in hangovers and missed work and ineffective work
the limiting factors for pot do not show up for many years
it's a bit more complex than just comparing it to alcohol
as our President so recklessly did
if he doesn't like the racial component of illegal pot, perhaps he could
TRY EDUCATING BLACK KIDS!
Georgia is correct in waiting for more information
because why would anyone ever want to try cocaine and heroin?
and sorry, marijuana, but for now we can only withstand the side effects of one society accepted mind altering substance
and alcohol beat you to it...

Jon Lester
2321
Points
Jon Lester 01/22/14 - 07:52 am
10
8
So you think marijuana use lowers IQ's.

So do your editorials.

I don't think any of you on the ACES really believes in personal liberty.

Junior Dawg
309
Points
Junior Dawg 01/22/14 - 08:13 am
11
3
Who gives the government the power to decide?

As a Libertarian and one who actually believes in liberty, what gives the government the power to dictate what we put in our bodies?

What's next? Banning cars because thousands of people die each year in car wrecks? No more Big Macs and French fries because of the ill effects and premature deaths associated with a bad diet?

ymnbde
9894
Points
ymnbde 01/22/14 - 08:24 am
6
10
O's pot vs alcohol argument would be fine

if pot was replacing alcohol
but the pot is in addition to the alcohol
so his argument falls apart
and once again, what do you call a Libertarian when they actually have to govern a diverse group of people who must all live together and their ideas of freedom must be actually workable and compromised must be made between being true to yourself and being true to me?
a Republican!

Bodhisattva
6302
Points
Bodhisattva 01/22/14 - 08:28 am
11
9
If only Obama said he was

If only Obama said he was against it, the Chronicle would have been touting the new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UC San Diego that will be published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, that found that regular marijuana use doesn't damage brain tissue, while routine drinking does, or the study from University of Kentucky and the University of Maryland that showed transdermal delivery of one of the chemicals in marijuana can be used for the treatment of alcohol-induced neuro-degeneration. They'd also go into the cost of incarceration vs. the harmlessness of the crime, and on and on. If Obama said up, they'd say down. Instead, we get a quote from former U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, who, ironically, used to be director of the Oklahoma State Alcoholic and Beverage Control Board, and is now a Mormon, so (they got "official" approval that Coke and Pepsi are ok in 2012) can't even ingest tea and coffee much less alcohol or anything stronger, in a Moonie owned newpaper who, can have coffee and tea, after all its founder told them they could, and he was Jesus Christ reincarnated so I guess it's ok. What's the legal limit for Benadryl? Codeine cough syrup? A whole slew of legal meds, both OTC and prescription? Zero? Well, traffic would be a lot lighter.

pja5529
1957
Points
pja5529 01/22/14 - 09:17 am
7
5
Second Hand Smoke

The fact that the author asked about testing positive due to inhaling second hand marijuana smoke makes me question the validity of the rest of his facts. It has been proven that you can't test positive from inhaling second hand marijuana smoke.

WalterBradfordCannon
1464
Points
WalterBradfordCannon 01/22/14 - 09:41 am
10
4
The scientific validity of

The scientific validity of this editorial is highly questionable. First, there are few, if any, negative consequences of marijuana consumption that endure more than 28 days after cessation. The aforementioned NIDA study found an IQ drop of 8 points for people who started smoking in their teens and continued for more than two decades, and then ceased. Of course the marijuana is to blame, and not the lack of intellectually stimulating activities (which are well known to exert even more powerful effects).

The balance of the evidence suggests that, if it has any relation to cancer at all, it is that marijuana is slightly (and only slightly) protective, in stark contrast to tobacco. However, marijuana or tobacco both contribute to COPD equally, and that is a real health issue. Marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol or tobacco (note: it IS addictive to some people, just like alcohol and tobacco).

Two states have legalized marijuana. A tremendous burden has been lifted off their police and jails. They are making more money. They have new fiscal resources dedicated to substance abuse treatment. They are not spiralling a moral drain any more than they were a year ago, and their people and police are better off.

Bizkit
32117
Points
Bizkit 01/22/14 - 09:42 am
5
8
The president has mentioned

The president has mentioned his "felony" use of pot and cocaine and no arrest-the statute of limitations must be up? Boy times have changed from "I took a hit but didn't inhale" to "Yeah man I was like a smoke stack." This explains why the president is so uneducated-he was stoned that day in social studies when they were suppose to learn the number of states. What's weird is even though the Prez tells the DOJ not to prosecute the pot laws the ATF makes bust in states with medical pot. Two arms of the fed do two different things producing a "patch work" of laws that the DOJ said was intolerable for immigration laws-boy there's logic for you.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 01/22/14 - 10:13 am
5
7
'@ICLIf we are going to

'@ICL

If we are going to criminalize physically damaging behavior, then alcohol better be first on your list. You can't argue that marijuana should remain illegal while arguing that alcohol should remain legal. Those two positions are completely contradictory."

OJP, where in my comment have I said anything about not legalizing marijuana or comparing it to alchohol. All I stated was that there are more negative issues to consider besides getting the munchies and having to wait in line at Taco Bell. I've not placed any arguement for or against legalizing marijuana so maybe you need to back off and calm down. Wow! Been smoking weed long? Don't some reports state it can make you paranoid. Hmmmm......

internationallyunknown
4244
Points
internationallyunknown 01/22/14 - 09:53 am
3
7
Propaganda

Marijuana can cure many diseases.
Legal Marijuana will KILL the PARMA companies.
Hemp is a storng plant which can be used for clothing, housing, and other practical uses.

I wonder why marijuana is illegal.....follow the $$$$$.

There are more benefits from using Marijuana than alcohol.

Marijuana doesn't always have to be smoked.....DUH!

Lastly, its not for everyone....just as with alcohol.

Some cultures use Mairijuana as a GATEWAY to GOD...

Bizkit
32117
Points
Bizkit 01/22/14 - 09:51 am
7
0
Pot usage doesn't correlate

Pot usage doesn't correlate with cancer but it does with emphysema. Pot isn't a gateway drug-that's a myth. Pot does affect your behavior like during driving. It isn't harmless-heres a 2013 Pubmed review article abstract-so lots of studies to support the posits: "Due to the high prevalence of cannabis use, the impact of cannabis on public health may be significant. A range of acute and chronic health problems associated with cannabis use has been identified. Cannabis can frequently have negative effects in its users, which may be amplified by certain demographic and/or psychosocial factors. Acute adverse effects include hyperemesis syndrome, impaired coordination and performance, anxiety, suicidal ideations/tendencies, and psychotic symptoms. Acute cannabis consumption is also associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, especially fatal collisions. Evidence indicates that frequent and prolonged use of cannabis can be detrimental to both mental and physical health. Chronic effects of cannabis use include mood disorders, exacerbation of psychotic disorders in vulnerable people, cannabis use disorders, withdrawal syndrome, neurocognitive impairments, cardiovascular and respiratory and other diseases."

Bizkit
32117
Points
Bizkit 01/22/14 - 09:56 am
3
0
The effects on our youth

The effects on our youth gives one moment of pause: "Globally, suicide has emerged as the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10-24 years old. In order to better understand the causes of this phenomenon, we investigate the relationship between suicidal ideation and cannabis use. Our empirical analysis is based on a 30-year longitudinal study of a birth cohort. We find that intensive cannabis use - at least several times per week - leads to a higher transition rate into suicidal ideation for males. We find no evidence that suicidal ideation leads to cannabis use for either males or females."

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/22/14 - 10:07 am
6
5
"And it can't really be said
Unpublished

"And it can't really be said with a straight face that marijuana users are some sort of blight on society."
Pot makes people stupid. Obama voters must smoke a lot.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 01/22/14 - 10:19 am
4
5
(pja5529) "The fact that the

(pja5529) "The fact that the author asked about testing positive due to inhaling second hand marijuana smoke makes me question the validity of the rest of his facts"

I suppose the same could be stated about you. According to newhealthguide.org a drug test might not trigger a positive due to second hand pot smoke. Do you want to bank your job on a "might".

Actually it can register on a drug test but it's what they call a false positive. It also states, "however, you can avoid the chance of it showing up at all by avoiding that second hand smoke as much as you can. Stay out of smoke-filled cars or unventilated rooms. If you are breathing in the smoke in an enclosed space, your levels might go high enough that a drug test would detect them. If you are in a room that is hazy from the smoke and you stay there for several hours, you could easily breathe in enough smoke to not only make you high, but enough that it will show up on a drug test – even if you never took a puff yourself."

So smoke it if you wish (if it becomes legal) but don't complain when an employer refuses to hire you (just like with cigarette or alchohol use), don't complain when landlords refuse to rent to you because of it and don't complain about the extra hassle to prove your drug test is due to just being in the room where people are heavily smoking pot. As an employer I'd have to question some of your bad habits and whether you would be benficial to my company or just another problem I'd have to deal with down the road.

*comment edited (should have stated "legal" instead of illegal)

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/22/14 - 10:09 am
5
5
'Some cultures use Mairijuana
Unpublished

'Some cultures use Mairijuana as a GATEWAY to GOD...'
It is the gateway to stupid

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 01/22/14 - 10:10 am
8
1
Try Something Different

Sure, Mary Jane is bad for you. So are all drugs. So is alcohol. But for the billions of dollars we have poured into law enforcement and prisons, the rate of usage has only increased to the point where states are now legalizing Mary Jane. Use a fraction of the money to educate people not to use it and treat addicts. The fact is you will do more to decrease usage. Criminalizing MJ and drug use hasn't worked so far. Try something different.

Bizkit
32117
Points
Bizkit 01/22/14 - 10:13 am
2
2
I still have friends from

I still have friends from "back in the day" who are long time smokers-50 years or more. First they tell me the comparison that pot today is better than past is horse manure, second none want it legalized-all wish they never smoked it -because after 50 years they realized they are addicted. The hid it from their kids, don't want their kids to smoke it, and wish they never had-yet still it has been a big part of their lives. Many of them were part of the Athens Pot growers or another group but have given up that because of risks. Many lament would they have been more successful if they hadn't become a pothead. Funny because my attitude is more like Obama's but actual abusers tell me I'm wrong.

corgimom
33151
Points
corgimom 01/22/14 - 10:15 am
2
8
Marijuana doesn't cure any

Marijuana doesn't cure any disease, what a ridiculous thing to say.

But Obama does have a point, it isn't any more dangerous than alcohol. Because alcohol can kill you, that's as dangerous as it gets.

And somebody who is stoned is just as obnoxious as a drunk.

I'd say they were about equal.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 01/22/14 - 10:23 am
3
4
Riverman, has legalizing

Riverman, has legalizing cigarettes and alcohol decrease the usage or has preventive treatment done any good?

Dang Corgimom, I have to agree with you....someone stoned can be just as obnoxious as a drunk.

Little Lamb
46370
Points
Little Lamb 01/22/14 - 10:23 am
4
5
Money

WalterBradfordCannon posted:

Two states have legalized marijuana. . . . They are making more money.

Well, technically, those state governments are taking in more tax money, but there is no change in GDP of those states. The marijuana consumers just became poorer because the price per ounce of marijuana went up because of the new taxes.

State governments do no create wealth. They re-distribute it.

OJP
6788
Points
OJP 01/22/14 - 10:55 am
6
0
@ICL

Okay, that's fair... so, do you support the legalization of marijuana?

And I'm fairly certain that personal attacks are a violation of the TOS.

LillyfromtheMills
13505
Points
LillyfromtheMills 01/22/14 - 10:55 am
7
0
Pot

Some of ya'll do make me laugh

harley_52
23618
Points
harley_52 01/22/14 - 10:56 am
4
6
Excellent Editorial...

....as is usually the case.

Whether marijuana is better, or worse, than alcohol is a debate which will rage forever. I don't know. I don't care. We don't need to legally unleash yet another intoxicant into a society already imperiled by the use of other intoxicants. We've spent billions fighting DUI across the Nation and now discuss whether we should legalize a substance that will only make the issue FAR more difficult to deal with.

Ask yourself this question..... 'Are the President's comments most likely to be part of the solution, or part of the problem?'

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