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Informational Text:  

What we know 

Marijuana is derived from the ​Cannabis sativa​ plant. It contains more than 100 chemical compounds, 

called cannabinoids. When ingested or inhaled, these compounds bind to specific receptors in brain 

and nerve cells, which slows pain impulses and eases discomfort. The two most prevalent compounds 

are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which is what gives people a "high" — and cannabidiol. 

From a research perspective, medical marijuana is simply hard to study. Marijuana is still classified as 

a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high risk for abuse and lacks any accepted medical 

use. 

Therefore, its use in any clinical trials requires registration by the researchers and their institution and 

approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency. As you can imagine, the amount of red tape can make 

research slow going. 

Some initial findings have suggested that marijuana may help with certain age-related ailments, such 

as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, and glaucoma. 

Yet, so far, most of the available data are from animal experiments or observational studies that rely on 

people's willingness to report their marijuana use. "And since most users are recreational, it's tough to 

accurately measure dosage and frequency," says Dr. Mukamal. 

It's no surprise, then, that the science is so cloudy. For instance, an analysis published in 2015 in T
​ he 

Journal of the American Medical Association​ examining almost 80 trials involving nearly 6,500 people 

found that most of these studies suggested that marijuana use was associated with relief of some 

symptoms, but the findings were inconsistent. 

By Harvard Heath Publishing 


Editorial Article:  
​Legalizing recreational marijuana is bad for public health 
By KURT ISAACSON NOVEMBER 2, 2016 from Statnews.com 
 
Much like Big Tobacco, the billion-dollar commercial marijuana industry cares more about 
making a profit than protecting public health. 
 
Cannabis promoters have been making use of their hefty advertising budgets to convince 
voters in five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada — that 
legalizing recreational marijuana will not only be economically beneficial to the state but 
will also help save lives. The latter is a frightening and misleading claim. Here’s why. 
 
Proponents argue that legalizing recreational marijuana reduces opioid abuse and overdose 
death. A recent article in STAT pointed to a 2015 white paper from the National Bureau of 
Economic Research suggesting that access to medical marijuana was associated with a 16 
percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths and a 28 percent reduction in opioid abuse 
treatment admissions. 
 
What the findings of that study don’t showcase are the increases in traffic fatalities, 
hospitalizations, and marijuana-related poisonings following the legalization of 
recreational marijuana. In Washington state, for example, the number of traffic deaths due 
to marijuana-impaired drivers doubled in the year after recreational marijuana was 
legalized. In Colorado, the number of fatal accidents involving marijuana rose by 62 percent 
since its recreational use was legalized in 2012. 
 
Law enforcement officers can rely on Breathalyzer tests to identify drunk drivers. But there’s 
no equivalent for drugged drivers, making it difficult to deter or punish them. 
 
Related: As record number of states vote on marijuana, public health questions remain 
In Colorado, marijuana-related hospitalizations have increased an average of 30 percent a 
year since legalization. Marijuana-related poisonings also rose sharply in both Colorado and 
Washington. 
 
Just as secondhand tobacco smoke can harm individuals who don’t smoke, marijuana can 
also harm nonusers. If the new laws pass, they would authorize the promotion and sale of 
highly potent marijuana edibles, including candy, cookies, and soda. These account for 
nearly half of all marijuana sold in Colorado. Edible forms of marijuana pose a particular risk 
for kids and pets. 
 
Advertisements for Pot Tarts, Hashees cups, and cannabis gummy bears will become as 
common as the soft drink promotions targeted at the youth market. No limits have been 
placed on the potency of edible products in Colorado, nor will such limits be written into the 
proposed laws in most of the states looking to legalize marijuana. Edible products have been 
known to have levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, reaching as high as 95 
percent, compared to 20 percent to 30 percent generally found in marijuana plants. 
 
 
When states legalize recreational marijuana, fatalities increase and the lives of children and 
teenagers are put at stake.