Proposition 64, also known as the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, not surprisingly passed statewide in November 2016 but wisely failed in Fresno County with 54 percent of the people voting against legalization. The district I represent strongly opposed Prop. 64.
It now allows individuals 21 years or older to legally smoke marijuana and to grow up to six plants in their home, even if they are next to elementary schools. What many people don’t know is that Prop. 64 also allows recreational marijuana dispensaries or businesses to be opened throughout the state unless a municipality officially prohibits or bans them, which a majority of the Fresno City Council and mayor wisely did last month.
While I support medicinal marijuana for people who are truly ill, I’m concerned that recreational marijuana advocates, in their zeal to have unrestricted access to this drug, overlook important studies that have documented the many potential dangers of this drug.
Adolescents clearly go through many biological, developmental and social changes as they grow. Young people’s brains are still developing until their mid 20s. We know from numerous clinical studies that smoking marijuana affects their memory, ability to learn and focus, and can decrease neuropsychological functioning.
Kids who are smoking marijuana also have poor school performance, higher rates of absenteeism and increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. We also know that ongoing usage of marijuana with any user can pose risks for immune-system damage, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory problems and lung cancer.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that “When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how brain builds connections between the areas necessary for functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long