Dear Editor: Marijuana possessed in public and smoked in public for recreation is neither safe for driving nor for second-hand smoke exposure for non-users. Further, cannabis is not a safe drug for general private recreational use, in view of the body of toxicological effects.
Marijuana impairs a person’s ability to drive an automobile safely similarly with alcohol. This is because large numbers of cannabinoid receptors are in the basal ganglia and cerebellum, which function in motor control, and are also localized in the frontal cortex where binding of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major ingredient, distorts the sense of time. Plus, nearly 50 percent of regular marijuana users drink while using marijuana, which causes an additive deterioration in driving ability.
In terms of pulmonary effects, the toxic chemical components of both marijuana and tobacco smoke are similar, with ammonia, benzene, toluene, and naphthalene levels in marijuana exceeding those in tobacco smoke.
Research has shown evidence of bronchial irritation, inflammation and narrowing, reduced macrophage and ciliary cleansing mechanisms, and emphysema.
Further, as with alcohol, marijuana is associated with immunosuppression via cannabinoid receptors on spleen cells and lymphocytes, rendering persons susceptible to infectious diseases and cancer. The whole problem of the deleterious effects of second-hand smoke is thus widened with public marijuana smoking.
The argument to decriminalize marijuana, and basically legalize pot smoking de facto, if not de jure, on the grounds of its commonality with alcohol and tobacco, is absolutely irrational in view of the damning evidence of the latter products upon users and non-users in one way or another, from impaired health to social costs to the family and economy.
If anything, the most logical conclusion is to ban alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, not to legalize toxins. As for medicinal uses of marijuana, other drugs are available for the therapeutic use in these symptoms and conditions.
The bottom line, as Comptroller Scott Stringer stated, is tax revenue from a legal marijuana industry. What has Stringer been smoking to impair his cognitive functioning?
JOSEPH N. MANAGO
Editor’s Note: The writer identifies himself as a molecular cell biologist, formerly a visiting professor in biochemistry and physiology, at the Research Foundation of the State University of New York, Downstate Health Science Center, Brooklyn.