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No need to encourage use of marijuana

It is with great sadness mixed with anger that I write to you about the article on the Aug. 22 Opinion page titled "'Reefer Madness' reprised". It's articles like those that only encourage our young (and old) to smoke the drug marijuana, even proclaiming that it is a "good thing."

This article isn't focusing on the controversial "medical marijuana", but rather the kind that's bought on the street for "recreational" purposes. The last I heard it's still illegal in some states (Minnesota included), so why print a commentary that actually encourages law breaking? Not only is it illegal, it encourages dependence on a drug which the commentary claims enhances "contentment, relaxation, sedation and euphoria." He makes it sound like addiction to a drug is a wonderful thing. The last I heard, any drug addiction is progressive, chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Most legal drugs prescribed by medical doctors have strict rules and limitations, and with good reason. Drug addictions (legal and illegal) are harmful.

Associations have also been found between marijuana use and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities.

Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to abstain.

Additionally, because it seriously impairs judgment and motor coordination, marijuana contributes to risk of injury or death while driving a car. A recent analysis of data from several studies found that marijuana use more than doubles a driver's risk of being in an accident. The combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either substance alone with respect to driving impairment.

All that said, glamorizing marijuana use through your choice in commentary articles is irresponsible in my opinion. I wonder how welcoming your printing of the article was to local law enforcement and the many programs throughout the county that are treating people with addictions? I would guess not very.

Cindy Stevens