Letter: Marijuana effects need honest study

I appreciated James Gill’s excellent column of the 26th of January on the use of pot in Louisiana, whether legal or illegal. However, there was one small problem that Mr. Gill fails to mention. Although some states are making marijuana legal for either medical use or even recreational use, according to our federal government, it is still an illegal substance. From what I have read, about 52 percent of the American population thinks that pot should be made legally available under conditions similar to alcohol and nicotine, however our federal laws have not agreed.

What I would like to propose is that our federal legislators, our two senators and our members of the House of Representatives, including my representative Dr. Bill Cassidy, encourage the federal government to sponsor a truly scientific study to determine if the legal use of marijuana causes more or less damage than the legal use of alcohol or nicotine. If marijuana causes less damage, as I suspect a truly scientific study will determine, then I think we should decriminalize the use of marijuana under the same circumstances as we do for alcohol or nicotine. This would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year in prison costs which could be better spent on education. At the same time, we might find that the costs of addiction to the nicotine in cigarettes might be serious enough to cause us to raise the tax on cigarettes, which our governor and Legislature seem to want to avoid.

If a majority of the readers agree, they might want to contact their federal legislators to push them to fund an accurate scientific study on the effects and costs of addiction to nicotine and marijuana and other drugs on our society. Especially contact your elected member of the United States House of Representatives as that is where the funding for programs starts.

Ray Schell

retired chemist