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Drug Talk on Effects of Marijuana

 

 

How much do you know about the medical impact of marijuana? How well can you separate fact from fiction on the impact legalized marijuana could have on a community?  These and other questions were addressed recently at a recent public meeting at the HOPE Center on North 10th Street, sponsored by the Lamar Elks Lodge.

Dr. Brad Roberts

The presenters were introduced by Jackie Manley who serves as the lodge’s liaison regarding drug usage in the local community. They were Dr. Brad Roberts, an ER physician from Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Dr. Karen Randall, Pediatric Emergency Medicine who is associated with several Pueblo hospitals, and Aubree Adams from Moms Strong, a support group headquartered in Colorado, Arizona and California, whose purpose is to inform and educate those who have been harmed by marijuana.

The meeting was attended by several HOPE members including director Lori Hammer, Anthony LaTour, director of the Alternative School located at Lincoln Elementary, a handful of adults and an assortment of high school students, mostly members of the Lamar High School soccer team and their coach.

Aubree Adams from Moms Strong

Both physicians voiced their opposition to the use of marijuana from a variety of viewpoints with Dr. Roberts stating at the outset, “Follow the money. Who stands to benefit from having marijuana legally introduced into your community?  You’ll find the people from outside your community talking in favor of it will probably be those who will financially benefit from the sales.”  He acknowledged that accurate facts are hard to come by, even in the medical profession, and urged the audience to conduct as much research from reliable sources as they can.

Both doctors stressed the importance of realizing that the level of the active hallucinogenic ingredient, THC, has grown over the decades. “You’ll discover that the marijuana being smoked at the Woodstock Concert in 1969 contained only about 2% THC compared to the 20% that is regularly being produced today,” he explained, adding that some new types are reaching upwards of 90% content, such as edibles, oils, shatter or dabs.

He told the audience the results are a more intense high, but that can also be coupled with an assortment of problems which become more pronounced the younger the person who consumes marijuana. He acknowledged that some medical studies do show that there can be some benefits to regulated usage for treating chronic pain, effects of chemotherapy or helping to curtail seizures but even those are not complete studies at this point.  Roberts said there have been studies that show a correlation to marijuana use and the negative impact on young people’s brain development.  “It’s called ‘brain-pruning’ and cannabis, when used by a young person when their brain is still developing, will not be able to grow healthy nerve connections and can become mentally impaired in various areas of function.”

Dr. Randall described some of the economic and social drawbacks she has seen and studied in Colorado communities where people are moving into towns, registering as quickly as they can once they’ve gotten an address and signed up for state and federal welfare benefits. “One of their only purposes is to take advantage of the legalization of marijuana in the state,” she explained.  “Some are just living in shacks or sharing motel rooms just to have an address they can offer on their forms.”    She noted the growth of homeless people in Pueblo between 2013 and 2016 and stated there has been a correlation with an increase in crimes in those same areas.

She said that those who thought that legalized marijuana would be an opportunity to reap economic benefits from working in the industry, were thinking wrong. “The promise of a lot of high paying jobs turned out to be around 1,300 people working in grow centers or pot shops for minimum wage.  She added that a lot of those people have been found to still be on public assistance or food stamps to make ends meet.

Aubree Adams brought a personal message to the audience, relating the negative impact marijuana had on her son who attempted suicide as he went through various stages of withdrawal, accompanied by hallucinations and depression. She said that although she had sought aid from the police and her own social services departments during the years he was under the influence, she was met with stone walls, unable to receive the aid she said they needed to help her son.  “We just had nowhere else to turn to at one point.”

Adams asked the audience to find out how equipped their community is to deal with associated problems that will likely grow from legalization in their town. “Are the police and law enforcement agencies, the Department of Social Services or the medical providers equipped to deal with increases of care and a strain on their resources when this is commonplace in your town?”

Adams laid down a challenge and a warning, stating, “Don’t be a lab rat for these people.” She said about the proponents in the states that have legalized, they are, “setting you up to be experimented on….it’s not worth your health, it’s not worth your life and I almost lost my son to it.”  She added that when someone tells you no one has died from marijuana, they are lying to you.  “I hope you’re smarter than that to simply buy in to the propaganda that’s being spread in the interests of profit.”

By Russ Baldwin

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