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The pitfalls of legalized marijuana

To paraphrase Charles Dickens – it is the best of times; it is the worst of times. It is a winter of some despair. 2019 begins with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s embarrassing handling of the SNC-Lavalin portfolio. Could it be that Mr.
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To paraphrase Charles Dickens – it is the best of times; it is the worst of times. It is a winter of some despair.

2019 begins with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s embarrassing handling of the SNC-Lavalin portfolio. Could it be that Mr. Trudeau’s emerging lack of executive capability is attributable to his youth-time recreational smoking of marijuana?

Now that we are on that subject, there seems to be a general feeling that once we get our marijuana supply and distribution system in place to meet demand that we can move on to other issues. Were it was so.

The oldest known record of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes comes from Chinese Emperor Shan Nung in 2727 BC. China was the world’s first user and exporter. The Turks were the first to smoke it. The Greeks and Romans used it medicinally in 500 BC. Muslims substituted marijuana for alcohol as the Qur’an banned the latter. China remains to this day the world’s largest legal exporter of cannabis oils (annual US$790 million).

In the U.S., marijuana was first grown agriculturally as a fibre (hemp) starting in 1650. Medically, it was prescribed from 1850 to 1942 for labour pains, nausea and rheumatism. That stopped when marijuana was listed as an addicting substance and a “gateway” drug to more potent narcotics. Little has changed in thinking since.

In Canada, drug prohibition began in 1908, when the Opium Act was passed following a race riot against Chinese and Japanese communities in Vancouver.

Opium manufacturers were seeking compensation for damages to their properties. The resulting act prohibited the importation, manufacture and sale of opium for other than medicinal purposes. Cannabis (marijuana) was added to the Confidential Restricted List in Prohibition-time 1923.

However, marijuana did not become popular until the 1960s with the hippie generation and spillover from the Vietnam War. Another surge occurred in the late 1990s. Presently, about five million adults use cannabis once a month. An increase of 19 per cent is projected with legalization.

Much has been done to try to minimize consumption by youth. Less attention has been focused on adults but we will pay for that.

Besides an increase in motor vehicle accidents and adult onset depression, marijuana smoking can be devastatingly harmful for those who plan to have children or women who are pregnant.

Males smoking marijuana at least once weekly have a temporary production of abnormal-shaped, low count and lazy spermatozoa. Short-term impotence and non-seminoma germ cell tumours have been reported. No information on fetuses conceived at these times has yet been reported. Women who are regular users disrupt their menstrual cycles. Their ova are less fertile and slow moving.

Exposed fetuses can have decreased birth weight and fetal alcohol-like features with damaged brain nerve development and subsequent higher rates of hyperactivity, impulsivity, variable but low academic achievement, depression in adolescence, and higher risk of subsequent substance abuse. Unfortunately, the fetal brain can be damaged before pregnancy is detected. Little has been reported on the effects of cannabis on the placenta although it does have cannabis receptors.

Now about candy-flavoured vaporizer cartridges, marijuana-infused gummy bears, lollipops and snacks – with selfies at the beach ...

Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.