After our last blog “Straight Talk About Weed,” which was shared by many people, I saw comments that said, “That’s her opinion. She’s welcome to think that, but there are no studies that can back up her statements.” Yes, I wrote from personal experience and personal beliefs. Ray Lozano did not. Every bit of his “straight talk” was backed by scientific research and evidence.
With the recent discussions regarding the legalization of marijuana, I’ve had to take a step back and really evaluate what the issue is to me. Many of my friends would love for marijuana to be legal, and have no problems expressing this viewpoint. When I start to raise questions, they immediately come back with, “Oh that’s just because of your problems with xxxx.” My viewpoint is rarely taken seriously. They throw out statements with no fact based evidence, but they are so passionate in their stance that sometimes I do believe I’m just uptight and “don’t get it.” Even our President touts that marijuana isn’t a dangerous drug. His experience with smoking pot was without problems, and in his mind, marijuana is no worse than alcohol and cigarettes. The White House Drug Czar and many medical doctors disagree with our President and believe marijuana is harmful, but who is right? Many Americans do smoke pot without problems. (I always have the hardest time with that sentence, because recreational marijuana use is illegal in 48 states. I believe that participating in an illegal activity is not ok or without problems.)
The United States does have research and evidence that supports marijuana’s detrimental effects on the human brain. The U.S. doesn’t have as many studies as Europe and Australia do, but overwhelmingly those studies agree marijuana isn’t the “no problem” drug that some would like to espouse. Especially in the adolescent brain, there are numerous studies that show the longer you smoke pot and the younger you start, your brain is affected. There are abnormal changes in the brain relating to memory and reflexes. Parents can be the “worst enemy” to teens when they don’t understand these harmful effects.
Ray and I love it when we can find additional information to put in our toolbox. Why? We work with adolescents and prevention programs all over this country. We are constantly teaching and speaking about living a healthy lifestyle. We understand the complexity of the problem and the rampant amount of mixed messages people give and receive. Here are the facts:
According to a number of research and experiments, medical professionals and scientists have extracted the conclusion that the use of marijuana in adolescent age causes various highly dangerous impairments and harmful effects on the physical growth and mental development of a young individual. The drug serves to create a euphoric and relaxed state, which only lasts till the effect of the marijuana wears off in 2 to 2.5 hours.
The side effects of the drug are numerous, and very harmful in the long run, as it affects the hippocampus part of the brain, which is responsible for the memory and learning patterns of an individual. Research provides evidence that the use of marijuana by young individuals causes such severe harm to the nervous system, that the verbal and spatial learning abilities of an adolescent is affected, even after three weeks of abstinence from the drug!
The various physical and mental impairments caused by the use of marijuana by individuals in their adolescent age, include:
• Abnormalities in hippocampus asymmetry
• Impaired verbal learning
• Negative effect on learning memory
• Problems in focus and attention deficit
• Affected psychomotor speed
• Negative impact on manual dexterity
• Irregular and abnormal brainwave patterns in different parts of the organ
As the body of younger individuals is constantly growing and developing, their natural capabilities are affected the most, because of their consuming marijuana at such an early and tender age. Their bodies are more vulnerable to suffer from the drug and have a detrimental impact on their overall growth.
Unless someone can dispute this evidence, we are going to maintain our stance that the legalization of marijuana is something that should be avoided at all costs. While no one is advocating for teens to use alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana, it is a problem that is already widespread. We must educate ourselves with facts before opinions. Passionate viewpoints mean very little if the facts show validity in a completely different direction. Let’s keep talking about and researching the effects of marijuana. Let’s be educated so we can lead future generations in the right direction. We all can be passionate. Let’s just be passionate with purpose and have clarity regarding the issues.
Harriet Turk: In her more than 20 years as a public speaker, Harriet has challenged teens and adults to see possibilities and make things happen in their lives. For over 25 years she has worked with alcohol/drug prevention programs and has a specific interest and background with safe driving programs for teens. For more information, or to have Harriet to speak for your group, contact Harriet at www.harrietturk.com, or by phone at 800-789-9559.
Ray Lozano: For more information, including having Ray speak to your group, or to get his newly released Marijuana DVD “High Expectations,” feel free to contact him through his website at www.raylozano.com, via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/speakerray, his marijuana blog, www.highexpectationsblog.com, or by phone at (909) 855-6871.