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Barbara Dittrich: Don't believe that marijuana isn't dangerous
Barbara Dittrich: Don't believe that marijuana isn't dangerous

Barbara Dittrich: Don't believe that marijuana isn't dangerous

Barbara Dittrich

Barbara Dittrich

The nationwide push to legalize marijuana state by state may make its passage seem like an inevitability to the public. But Americans are smart to question this push, examine the facts and slow down this process before it’s too late.

I could tell you how this illicit drug has nearly destroyed my family and the families of others I love. Aside from that, facts that are solid and unemotional should give every one of us pause in allowing marijuana to be legalized in Wisconsin.

First, fans like to peddle the false narrative that pot is not a gateway drug. Countless families can testify that marijuana was indeed a stepping stone to their loved one’s addiction. While every person who uses pot does not become addicted, nearly every person who becomes hooked on drugs, whether it be pot or harder substances, begins with pot.

Marijuana interferes with normal transmission of neurotransmitters in the brain. Over time and with regular usage, a higher dosage of the drug is needed to achieve the same “high” that is initially experienced. This phenomenon is what leads individuals to move on to newer and more deadly substances.

At the same time, it is false that marijuana is not dangerous. Pot today is not the weed baby boomers were smoking. While concentrations vary by sample, today’s loose weed THC content measures as much as 30% higher than that consumed back in the 1980s. Add to that the new dawn of “dab” or marijuana wax consumed through vaping, and levels can be off the charts.

While a joint can contain anywhere from 5% to 28% THC levels, the wax can contain more than 60%. These levels can result in hallucinating, psychotic breaks, increased heart rate and blood pressure, along with increased anxiety, paranoia, and fractured sensory perception, not to mention lung damage, none of which promote health.

New studies continue to be published showing the detrimental effects of marijuana on mental health, especially where youth are concerned. One of the educators in my legislative district aptly stated, “Where there are adults with marijuana in the home, youth have free access to it.” Advocates from the pharmacy community have also stated that use of this illicit drug complicates their care of those using prescription drugs because they don’t have adequate science on interaction nor adequate notification that patients are using.

Legalization promises hope and financial windfall but continually falls short. One mother I served prior to being elected to the Legislature relocated to another state just so her daughter with a severe seizure disorder could have access to medical marijuana. She is now back in Wisconsin, disgusted with the lack of results and competence she experienced in her quest.

Also disappointing is the evidence that money coming into state coffers because of legalization often goes right out the door in law enforcement, emergency room care and homelessness in places where it is legalized. No widespread and speedy field sobriety tests can be given for those using, so they cannot be stopped just as we apprehend drunken drivers. It creates a huge obstacle for employers, especially in manufacturing and trades, because of safety concerns.

While some evidence suggests cannabinoids offer some medicinal benefits, it should be the responsibility of the federal government with all of its resources to study this drug and create uniformity for applied use and safeguards for the public.

Legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin is a gaslighting measure, attempting to make Wisconsinites believe they are not seeing what they are truly seeing in the drug dilemma. With increased suicides, mental health crises and deaths from drug overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing we need is to add to our societal ills with this sort of proposal. It’s past time our governor leave the dope in the rearview mirror and begin concentrating on issues that will truly move our state forward.

Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, represents the 38th Assembly District: Rep.Dittrich@legis.wisconsin.gov.

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