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Kyla Kinzler, Ellendale, N.D., Published May 30 2012

Know dangers of medical marijuana

As a professional who has worked in the areas of substance abuse and mental health, I feel that the dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the positive effects that it may have. While I understand that there are individuals in this state suffering from chronic pain due to an illness or injury, I feel that using marijuana is not the answer.

Marijuana is not FDA-approved and various legal drugs are available for pain management. People tend to overlook or justify the detrimental effects of marijuana. For example, marijuana has been considered addictive by the American Psychiatric Association and meets the criteria for substance dependence. Also, cognitive impairment, distorted perception, memory loss, social withdrawal, and hallucinations have been known to correspond with marijuana use.

Respiratory effects can also affect someone smoking marijuana. An unexpectedly large proportion of marijuana users are experiencing lung cancer, as well as cancer of the larynx, pharynx and oral cavities.

Marijuana is also known to lead to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, leads to immune system deficiency, and causes damage to the brain. I urge all North Dakota citizens to actively research medical marijuana and know the pros and cons before you support or reject this initiative.