I read with interest the guest column of Nick Taiber regarding Sen. Charles Grassley’s poor time management in discussing the hazards of marijuana use versus the other potential use of the senator’s time.
The same day I read a Clinical Pathological Conference in the New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 374, No. 13, describing a stroke in a 22-year-old male with sickle cell disease who “smoked marijuana regularly.” The article in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world stated, “cannabis use is often considered in cases of cerebral vasoconstriction.” In a review article 59 reported cases of cannabis-related strokes were summarized. Despite knowing many adverse affects of marijuana, I did not know this.
I am not an expert on controlled drugs (narcotics, marijuana, sedatives, analgesics, tranquilizers, etc.), but as a retired physician I am able to intelligently review the medical literature and have much experience with their use and misuse. I believe Mr. Taiber, a Cedar Falls city councilman, gives totally false and dangerous information concerning the safety of marijuana and its alleged benefits.
I base my argument not on my personal beliefs but upon published and confirmed scientific evidence.
The review article “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use,” NEJM, June 5, 2014, states long-term marijuana use leads to addiction in about 9 percent of those who experiment with it, and about one out of every six who start using it as a teenager become addicted. About 2.7 million people 12 years of age or older are addicted.
Marijuana affects brain development. Exposure to it from childhood through age 21 is associated with decreased alertness and inhibiting control and with a significant decline in IQ.
Mr. Taiber tell us the idea marijuana is a gateway drug “has been widely debunked.” The same article in the NEJM notes marijuana is considered a casual gateway drug (a drug that would influence multiple addictive behavior in the future).
Continuing marijuana use impairs cognitive function, and evidence suggests its use is associated with “measurable and long-lasting cognitive impairment.”
Both immediate exposure and long-term exposure impairs driving ability. Marijuana is the illicit drug most cited in impaired driving and accidents including fatal accidents.
The article continues to list many other adverse affects of marijuana, but as I am writing this article by hand my thumb has grown sore.
Mr. Taiber goes on to state marijuana “is proven to help Iowa children cope with debilitating conditions.” In reviewing conditions in children in which marijuana may be of benefit, I see epilepsy or seizures. Another article in the NEJM, Sept. 10, 2015, suggests preliminary data indicates cannabis may be effective in some patients with epilepsy and current data in humans “are extremely limited and no conclusions can be drawn.” I know there are anecdotal articles — i.e., the Courier — about families whose son or daughter’s life has been markedly improved by medical marijuana for seizure control. However, these “testimonials” don’t constitute scientific evidence. For this we need the Food and Drug Administration. To date, “The FDA has not approved any marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.”
I am not taking six hours of my time in researching and writing this article to attack any person but to give you a brief scientific medical view of the safety and questioned benefit to children of marijuana use. I encourage you to study this issue as to whether you really want your children or grandchildren to initiate the use of marijuana.
I know Charles Grassley is a U.S. senator of nationally known integrity and duty to office who knows best when and where his time management is needed. Incidentally, the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, has risen from about 3 percent in the 1980 to 12 percent in 2012. I believe Grassley is diligently doing his duty by saving and protecting American lives, including the most vulnerable, our children and grandchildren.