The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 30, 2013

Our View: Legalizing pot not the answer

— Advocates of legalizing marijuana — either for recreational or medicinal uses — face an uphill battle in Missouri. But they do have one point.

Not enough is known about the medicinal value of the drug. Even the American Medical Assocation recognizes this. A few years ago, the organization of physicians passed a resolution calling on the federal government to change its classification of marijuana in order to open the door to more medical research.

They made it clear, however, that they were not endorsing any state laws that now allow for medical marijuana.

Those who want looser laws offer plenty of anecdotal and first-person experience, but hard scientific studies are lacking and that should be a critical piece of the debate.

There is, however, another study — published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences —  that presents a formidable hurdle for those who want to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use.

According to the study, 1,000 people in New Zealand were tested for their cognitive abilities over 25 years, from ages 13 to 38. Regular use of marijuana during teen-age years was associated with a drop in IQ of as many as seven or eight points.

It came under fire, as was to be expected, but other researchers have said the results are valid, and there are scientific reasons to believe marijuana can hamper learning and memory.

In Joplin, we know the damage that lead exposure has caused for children, particularly to their IQs, and we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to clean it up even now.

It would the height of stupidity to fight the flames at the front door while at the same time lighting the back of the house on fire.

Until we have more information, marijuana should not be legalized for either medical or recreational uses, but let’s at least give the medical question a thorough review.

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