Since Santa Barbara County is now the state leader in the growth of cannabis, it is appropriate to examine issues of health, politics and money.

While county government huddles and muddles to come to agreement about marijuana, no mention has been made about health issues. One would think this should be a primary guide to such legislation. Apparently, our representatives do not care about that.

A medical research undertaking in Australia from 1993-2013, at the Center For Youth Substance Abuse Research, found that adolescents who are regular users are twice as likely to drop out of school and experience cognitive impairment and psychoses as adults. Use by adolescents leads to the use of illicit drugs. It is clear the perception that cannabis is a safe drug is a mistaken reaction to a past history of exaggeration of its health benefits and risks.

In a study of 50,000 men in Sweden, users 10 or more times by age 18 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. These cases could be averted if all cannabis use had been prevented.

Broad legalization has convinced people that marijuana is safe. However, research indicates the risks to youth are quite grave. The product is addicting, has very adverse effects on the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes.

Further, the legalization of marijuana has substantially raised unintended rates of exposure to young children and increases use among adolescents.

Solid research also tells us that continued use from adolescence through adulthood shows a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38. Marijuana contributes to driving accidents, doubling the risk to drivers.

Some CBD manufacturers have been cited for wild, indefensible claims such as that cannabis is a cure for cancer.

The American Medical Association has issued a policy statement as follows: “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern; sale of cannabis should not be legalized. We also recommend that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under new federal drug applications are necessary to assess the safety and effectiveness of all new drugs, including cannabis products for medical use.”

Scant research means we don’t know the risks.

There is no established control administration to determine manufacturing testing standards and oversight of cannabis products. What you buy may contain much less or much more CBD than a label states. It may contain more THC than desired and may contain contaminants such as mold or pesticides.

A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 70 percent of CBD products were mislabeled.

The only reasonably reliable use of CBD is in the reduction of symptoms in rare forms of epilepsy.

Use of cannabis may lead to social avoidance and may promote anxiety. People with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are very vulnerable to relapse and aggravation of existing of existing conditions.

Regular use of cannabis can interfere with learning and personal development, abnormal changes in brain structures and poor performance in academic and everyday functioning.

Research has shown a strong relationship between adolescent drug use, emotional distress, depression and lack of purpose in life.

Cannabis also causes tachycardia, peripheral vasodilation, postural hypotension and elevation of systolic and diasystolic blood pressures.

Reports have linked marijuana use to serious heart problems. That risk increases substantially in the first hour after marijuana use.

There is much more revealing the potential health dangers of marijuana that needs to be given to the public, policymakers and health care providers.

Lee Rosenberg is a Santa Ynez Valley resident.

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