Letter: Marijuana legalization a bad idea

The Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition was formed in 2011 to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan using prevention, treatment and law enforcement to reduce the negative consequences of the use of illicit drugs and other drugs of abuse and the abuse of alcohol in the Greater New Orleans area, with a primary focus on youth and the prevention of youth substance abuse.

In response to the Sept. 6 front-page article, “Majority favor legalizing marijuana,” the GNODDRC would like to call your attention to the following:

A recent report from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) states it is not in the interest of public health to make marijuana more widely available and acceptable given its adverse consequences and its addiction potential.

Scientific research indicates that marijuana causes impaired brain development, poor school performance, loss of productivity and accidents in the workplace.

Data shows that drivers with marijuana in their systems are two times more likely to be involved in a highway accident. Epidemiology data from road traffic arrests and fatalities indicate that after alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently detected psychoactive substance among driving populations. Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks and on open and closed driving courses for up to approximately three hours (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Marijuana is addictive. The levels of THC (marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient) have never been higher (Office of National Drug Control Policy). Data shows that marijuana is now the most commonly cited drug for drug treatment admissions in Louisiana.

Facts such as these seem to indicate that legalization will cause a tremendous increase in marijuana use. Further, legalization simply sends the wrong message. Louisiana cannot afford the human and economic cost of marijuana legalization.

With a balanced, unbiased presentation of the facts regarding the complex issue of marijuana use presented to our citizens and legislators, we believe better decisions can and will be made that will benefit all of the citizens of Louisiana.

Else Pedersen, chair

Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition

New Orleans