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How Do President Obama’s Marijuana Comments Affect Northwest Iowa?
Date posted - January 22, 2014
After President Obama’s one sentence quote regarding marijuana, I wonder what northwest Iowa thinks about that? It sure made me pull my head up out of the sand. What, he said, “Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol,” and that’s it. There must be more to the story. It didn’t take long to uncover the entire interview for The New Yorker. His comments seem to be ambiguous at best and perhaps have brought us to wondering just what this is going to mean for Iowa and closer to home, your town.
Dr. Christian Thurstone, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado and the medical director of the Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention Program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority Company, recently visited Orange City, Iowa and spoke at the Blunt Truth Symposium hosted by the Circle of Support coalition. Dr. Thurstone spoke out regarding the health risks of marijuana use and the prevalence of Colorado marijuana in our state. Dr. Thurstone’s stated that, “In 2012 alone, over 7000 lbs. of marijuana have been seized all which were headed to eastern states. Iowa is one of the 37 states set receiving Colorado marijuana.” According to Thurstone, statistics are being complied on the effects the new laws have on the citizens of Washington and Colorado but this we do know, that marijuana puts users at risk of health and physical related impairments, not to mention risking the health and well being of others.
What do other researchers say? According to an article entitled Marijuana Use Among Youth by Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D. and Padma Ravichandran on the National Research Center for Women and Families, “the short term dangers (as seen in teen use) include but are not limited to memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, and increased heart rate.” Further information includes increased risks for impairment problems such as car accidents. Long term effects include lower attention levels later in life (IQ decrease of 7 to 8 points in adulthood), cancer, and weakened executive function.” Smokers can’t process newly learned information and store it for later use. Several studies indicate the loss of “executive functions” such as learning lists and doing homework, and that this continues when the individual is no longer high.”
Marijuana is here and according to the youth today, just as easy as alcohol to find. According to the 2012 Iowa Youth Survey, only 1% of all Iowan 6th graders have ever used marijuana but by 11th grade 22% have used it. How does Sioux and Lyon County compare? Zero percent of Lyon and Sioux County 6th graders had used pot and 13% of the Lyon County and 12% of the Sioux County 11th graders had used pot. Fortunately this is a low percentage, many of our young people are making wise choices but use is evident and bound to increase if the perception of risk remains low and acceptance (becoming a social norm) increases. What can we do in our towns? Continue to educate ourselves and others regarding the risks of marijuana use at any age and promote city ordinances that address the issues should it ever become legal in Iowa.
Substance Abuse and Problem Gambling Prevention Consultant