Is anyone satisfied with the state of education in Arizona in relation to funding and test scores?
Then why would Arizona legalize a dangerous drug shown to increase high school drop outs, lower IQs, induce memory loss, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucination?
With considerable discussion about Arizona’s education funding, along with high school and college graduation rates, shouldn’t we do all we can to improve our state of education instead of making it much worse by legalizing marijuana?
Out of state special interest groups have already begun to aggressively push recreational marijuana here in Arizona. By now, some Phoenicians have seen advertisements claiming marijuana provides little harm. They base this claim on a fraudulent study involved in a pay to publish scheme.
A former editor of the journal Scientific Reports that published this study resigned in a public protest because the authors paid to have their work quickly reviewed by a private company. This means the study in question lost any claims to objectivity normally associated with the careful review of peer reviewed, scholarly research.
As for the substance of the study, the authors use what they say is “a novel approach to compare the health risk of different compounds and to prioritize risk management actions.” Novel indeed. This novel approach revealed that, beyond marijuana, every drug they studied was safer than alcohol, including cocaine, heroin and meth. One does not need to meet a meth, coke, or heroin addict to know how absurd this claim is.
Further, states that have already legalized marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, have seen a dramatic spike in marijuana exposure to children. The Journal Clinical Pediatrics has also found an over 600 percent increase in the amount of marijuana exposure to children six and under in states with marijuana-friendly legislation. This 2015 study suggests, “the rate of marijuana exposure among children is associated with the number of marijuana users.” This means if Arizona chooses legalization, we will see many more children exposed to marijuana, primarily through ingestion.
Nor can the toxic health, educational, and behavioral impacts to children be overstated. A 2014 New England Journal of Medicine study lists the damaging health effects of just short term marijuana use, including: impaired short term memory and motor coordination, altered judgment with an increased risk of catching and transmitting sexually transmitted diseases, and paranoia and psychosis in high doses. And let’s not forget that today’s marijuana is much more potent than that of previous decades. We are not talking about Woodstock and commonly grown marijuana anymore, we are talking about a high potency drug.
Similarly, long term or heavy use effects of marijuana include: addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes with an increased risk of dropping out of school, cognitive impairment with lower IQs among frequent users during adolescence, and diminished life satisfaction and achievement. These effects are “strongly associated with marijuana use early in adolescence.”
It gets even worse. They also found effects of chronic bronchitis symptoms, and an increased risk of psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia).
This is something every well-meaning adult voter should consider before pulling the lever to vote for recreational marijuana in Arizona next year.
Meanwhile, the out-of-state special interests pushing legalization will not have to deal with the consequences of marijuana exposure to our children. Instead, parents, teachers, and the healthcare system will have to pick up the pieces left in the wake of legalization’s destruction.
Given all our debates about funding education in Arizona, one is left asking what the point of all that would be if we introduce a substance into society that will nullify, if not reverse, everything we are trying to improve when it comes to our children’s education. Whatever plan we settle on with education, adding marijuana into the mix will render this debate—and its result—essentially pointless.
— State Rep. Paul Boyer is the chair of the House Education Committee, a member of the House Health Committee, and teaches 10th grade Humane Letters.