Legalized marijuana could produce some unintended public health and policy problems. Concerned psychologists are speaking up, so much so that the topic earned its own forum at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention, which ended Sunday. What lurks for grass lovers? Mental decline, poor attention and memory, plus decreased IQ, they say.
“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” Krista Lisdahl, director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee neuropsychology lab, told her peers.
Marijuana abuse is now up, as are serious side effects from a substance that is much stronger today than it was in the flower-child era.
“When considering legalization, policymakers need to address ways to prevent easy access to marijuana and provide additional treatment funding for adolescent and young adult users,” Ms. Lisdahl advised.
It’s complicated. Acceptance of legalized medical marijuana appears to lessen public perception of the drug’s risks, said Bettina Friese, a sociologist with Prevention Research Center, an NIH-funded facility in California. She recommends that legislators regulate levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana, to reduce potential mental effects. Which possibly leaves public officials to weigh out the expense of treatment, versus that of incarceration for drug possession.
STAY IN TOWN NEXT TIME
Ratings for Congress have slipped as low as 6 percent in recent opinion polls. Now we find that Americans say the lawmakers don’t deserve a vacation either. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds just 9 percent of Americans believe that Congress has been working hard enough to deserve its August recess.
“There isn’t much partisan disagreement on this question,” says poll analyst Kathy Frankovic. “Perhaps elected officials need to remember that many Americans don’t take summer vacations at all. In this poll, just 38 percent say they are taking a summer vacation.”
BABIES AS POLLUTERS
Infants are now deemed a possible “threat to the environment,” declares an incredulous Wesley J. Smith, a LifeNews.com reporter who cites an academic paper released by the Journal of Medical Ethics, which equates a conception practice to climate change.
“Through the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), multiple children are born adding to worldwide carbon emissions. Evaluating the ethics of offering reproductive services against its overall harm to the environment makes unregulated ARTs unjustified,” writes Cristina Richie, a doctoral student of theology at Boston College.
“By integrating ecological ethos into the ART industry, climate change can be mitigated. Although the impact of naturally made children on the environment is undeniable, I will focus on the ART industry as an anthropogenic source of carbon emissions which lead to climate change,” she says.
Mr. Smith notes, “It is ridiculous. Children are children, not bundles of carbon producers.”
A NATURAL FOR NETFLIX
An eager young guy goes to work for a member of Congress, falls wildly in love with a staffer from the opposing party, then discovers an illegal human smuggling cartel that’s got protection from Capitol Hill A-listers. Mystery and hardball politics ensues, and things get odd and dangerous in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, circa 1985. A John Grisham novel? No, this is a Roger Fleming novel — and it’s got potential as a “House of Cards”-style series written all over it.