- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2014

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.

An insider’s insider, author Mr. Fleming is a Virginia lawyer, a former congressional legislative counsel and an appointee in the George H.W. Bush administration who frequented those very hallowed halls himself. It is one of the few novels that includes footnotes citing the Pew Research Center and congressional transcripts, among other things.

“The book is an historical lesson about Capitol Hill, and illustrates how Republicans were so often outmaneuvered by Democrats there in the 1980s — including on the Immigration Act of 1986 which resulted in full amnesty but no border security,” Mr. Fleming tells Inside the Beltway.

“Although fictional, the storyline is tethered to reality by dozens of endnotes including this prescient quote from a committee report on the House immigration bill in 1986: ‘We strongly believe that legislation without — border control will only encourage millions of new immigrants to come into this country illegally and require another amnesty program in the future.’ Has the lesson been learned?” the author asks.

A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

A former secretary of state is not keen on President Obama’s latest slogan to describe his foreign policy doctrine. “Don’t do stupid stuff,” he said.

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Hillary Rodham Clinton tells The Atlantic magazine in an interview to be published Monday.

O’HILLARY

For someone who has yet to declare her political future, Hillary Rodham Clinton draws vigorous interest from distant sectors. “Ready for Hillary” — the unofficial grass-roots political action committee that has raised $5 million for its namesake — will hold a fundraiser in Ireland at month’s end.

Brian O’Dwyer, a New York lawyer and longtime Clinton friend, confirms to the Irish Central, that why, yes indeedie, the event is on, scheduled the same weekend when 15,000 Americans will arrive for a Penn State/University of South Florida football game.

This is not a first. Way back in 2007, Mrs. Clinton sent husband Bill Clinton to Dublin for a similar foray. The take at the time: $300,000 according to the Limerick Leader, a local newspaper.

VOTERS VERY UN-PHARRELL

The Ukraine crisis is now on low heat; there’s some peacemaking motions between Israel and Hamas; and the public, though alarmed, has not disagreed with the U.S. humanitarian role in the Ebola outbreak. But things go sour for the White House after that, says pollster John Zogby, who faithfully grades President Obama’s weekly job performance. Yes, it hit “F” only last month.

“The border crisis continues unabated no thanks to policymakers who refused to make policy,” Mr. Zogby says. “The president’s approval slipped a point again and public trust is down very low. Economic growth plods along, but no one is singing and dancing to Pharrell Williams‘ ‘Happy.’ Economic inequality is worse, and the public hates everyone, all on Obama’s watch.”

But he gives the White House polite applause for acting “deliberately and responsibly to protect a religious minority in northern Iraq.” The pollster doles out a grade of C-minus.

POLL DU JOUR

76 percent of Americans say the federal government in Washington does what’s right “some of the time”; 78 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of independents agree.

12 percent overall say the government does what’s right “most of the time”; 7 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of independents agree.

10 percent overall say the government “never” does what is right; 14 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of independents agree.

1 percent overall say the government “just about always” does things right; no measurable percentage of Republicans, 3 percent of Democrats and 1 percent of independents agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,012 U.S. adults conducted July 18-20 and released Friday.

Positive thinking, negative poll numbers to [email protected]

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