Don’t let Utah follow other states down the primrose path of marijuana

Don’t let Utah follow other states down the primrose path of marijuana


Suzanne Dean



I don’t care if 26 states have legalized so-called “medical marijuana” or if two neighboring states, Nevada and Colorado, have legalized recreational marijuana use.

I hope Utah will not be so foolish as to tread down the same pathway.

I have heard some of the anecdotes about marijuana being a tremendous help for chronic pain, PTDS, seizures, cancer and other problems. Great. Let’s have controlled studies and release marijuana derivatives as pharmaceuticals.

I’ve also heard people argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, that lots of people can use it in limited quantities with no adverse effects.

But my observation, which I admit is based on personal experience with people who use or have used marijuana, is that more often than not, pot is a problem.

Since marijuana frequently causes problems for users and society, why make it easier to use by legalizing it. I believe the fact that it is illegal is a barrier to use for many people.

But back to my personal experiences with users. One lady I know is in her 50s or 60s and has used marijuana pretty much daily all her adult life.

When I first met her, I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t do a little better in finding and holding jobs, and in bringing in income.

She raised a son as a single mom. He went into the military and did pretty well. But for several years after leaving home, he refused to communicate with his mother. Why? Because she had been high the whole time he had been growing up.

Ultimately, this lady sold a nice house in Salt Lake City, took the cash and moved to a small farm in California where she could grow her own pot with little chance of detection.

That’s where she’s been for at least 10 years. From what I hear, she doesn’t work much, if at all, so I’m not sure how she gets by. But the bottom line is that marijuana has been the controlling influence in her life.

Another young man I know got off marijuana—and then relapsed. He got in a car in Salt Lake City and drove, sometimes at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, to Axtell. He got one speeding ticket on the way.

From Axtell, he traveled north to Manti. The time was after 2 a.m. in the middle of the winter. Suddenly, he had a hankering to see if he could drive up the side of Temple Hill.

He ended up high-centering his vehicle very near the edge of a precipice. Fortunately, the car didn’t roll down the hill with him in it. But the vehicle was destroyed, and the young man ended up with charges.

In another case, a person who had used pot multiple times per day for several years quit. Almost immediately, he was plagued with paranoid thoughts. People were looking at him. They were talking about it.

I decided to do a quick search on WebMD, an authoritative health website. I found out that paranoia is a common withdrawal effect. The thing that stood out was a statement on the site that 75 percent of people who try to quit smoking marijuana go back on it in order to stop the effects of withdrawal. It can take months after cessation for those effects to go away.

Recently, the Utah Medical Association (UMA) published an article in the association magazine about medical marijuana. Dr. Robert Armstrong at the Manti Clinic gave me a copy.

The main point was that whole-plant marijuana is not medicine because it has never been studied or approved for any medicinal use.

The article cites two drugs containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in marijuana that produces the high, that were approved by the FDA in the mid-1990s and can be prescribed for nausea and pain.

Another drug using cannabinol, another substance from the marijuana plant, is being studied, but while research is going on, it can be prescribed for “compassionate” use. One of the study sites is the University of Utah.

In 2014, the Utah Legislature approved very limited use of cannabis oil for children suffering from a specific type of epileptic seizure. Much as I sympathize with the parents, I agree with the UMA that legislators have no business approving drugs.

Meanwhile, according to the Utah Medical Association article, eight other studies attempting to prove the value of marijuana derivatives have been terminated without a drug being approved.

As Dr. Mark Bair, the author of the article, a physician, pharmacist and former UMA president, said in a press conference last week, “As much as has been claimed (about the medicinal benefits of marijuana), not much has been proven, and much of it has been debunked.”

The final paragraph in a statement released at the press conference made it clear where most Utah doctors stand on marijuana. It called on physicians to let their patients know they will not be prescribing pot because “it just isn’t good medicine.”

I’m not a doctor, but based on what I have observed and learned, I heartily agree.