By CALVINA L. FAY
As parents today struggle to keep their children drug free, they need to arm themselves with the facts about the dangers of marijuana and be aware of the deceptive campaigns that attempt to legitimize this illicit substance. Recently, New York lawmakers introduced two bills in the state's Senate and Assembly. These bills would legalize the possession, manufacture, sale, administration, delivery, dispensing and distribution of marijuana in connection with so-called medical use. Efforts such as these have contributed to the increased use of marijuana and other drugs by young people.
In 1996, California voters approved the use of marijuana for pseudo-medicinal purposes. Since that time 10 other states have approved its use for this purpose, and 33 more states have proposed similar legislation. As a result, between 1999 and 2001, marijuana use by juveniles increased 3.2% nationwide. This national average is far exceeded in most states that have legalized marijuana as a so-called medicine.
California and Colorado had a spike double the national rate, while Hawaii had quadruple the rate and Maine experienced a 54.4% increase. In addition, between 1992 and 2001 there was a 49% increase in adolescent admissions to treatment programs. Of these, marijuana admissions rose to 62% from 23%.
According to the FDA and every major medical association in the United States, there are no proven benefits to marijuana use for medical purposes. In areas where medical marijuana is legal, people are already toking up under the guise of treating other "serious maladies" such as premenstrual syndrome, athlete's foot and ingrown toenails. The reality is that most people with fatal diseases are not smoking pot to treat them - they are under the care of legitimate doctors and are receiving valid medicines to treat their ailments.
If New York makes an exception for the people who claim marijuana is a medicine, it will open the door to widespread marijuana use and fraudulent claims of illness for all drug users. It will have devastating effects for millions of families struggling to raise drug-free children and for those battling addiction.
Fay is executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting drug use and promoting effective drug policies.
Info on the Drug Free America Foundation from sourcewatch.org
Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. is a "partner" of the United States Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).