Marijuana — wrong for the unborn, infants and children

The OpEd entitled “Is Marijuana right for Ohioans?” that appeared in the DDN misses the constituency that is most in need of representation – the unborn, infants and children. The author, Phillip L. Parker (CAE, CCE President & CEO), seeks advice on what Ohio’s choice should be on marijuana legislation from legislators, employers and everyday citizens, all of whom are saturated with prochoice marijuana propaganda. The crucial testimony on this issue coming from medical and pharmaceutical professionals is virtually unheard. The first voices that should be heard are those of qualified researchers in the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

Does this plant that contains a hodgepodge of psychoactive compounds cause harm to the fetus when being toked by the mother? Is it truly the best choice for treating seizures in children? Is a mother that used marijuana during and after her pregnancy a reliable source of information regarding the efficacy of marijuana in treating her child’s seizures? The smoking of marijuana in the first trimester has been linked to fetal disease such as leukemia, growth retardation and malformations.

The Children’s Cancer Study group identified causation of leukemia in children whose mothers smoked marijuana in the first trimester. These are conclusions of recognized scientific and medical professional organizations (i.e. the Association of Clinical Scientists). The Director of Pediatric Epilepsy at Univ. of California-SF, Dr. Maria Roberta Cilio states: “Anecdotal reports can give a potential signal of efficacy and safety, but doctors, patients and parents are all biased. Rigorous investigation of the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana or individual components such as cannabidiol (CBD) are necessary for patients with epilepsy before any conclusion is made.”

The marijuana plant is a cornucopia of cannabinoids with profound pharmacologic effects — both short and long term. Most researchers in both the medical and pharmaceutical professions have taken a strong position against its usage. The American Medical Association (AMA), American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Glaucoma Foundation, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are against their usage while others feel significantly more research is required.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine points out that cannabis should not escape the control and approval by the Food and Drug Administration as is required for all ethical drugs. The Federal government has failed to enforce existing laws regarding cannabis and has deferred to states rights on an issue that has federal implications and knows no state boundaries. The Surgeon General, whose job it is to protect the health and welfare of all American citizens, has yet to make a statement on the subject out of ambivalence or political sway.

Surgeon General Luther Terry, whose warning is printed on every pack of tobacco products, had the courage to take on the powerful tobacco industry. His successors waged an unrelenting and largely successful war against smoking. Surgeon General Koop took it further and warned of the dangers of second hand smoke on children and adults. As a result smoking is prohibited in federal buildings and other venues. They also had the courage to call smoking an addiction. Today tens of millions of Americans, including children, are healthier as a result of their encouragement to quit an enjoyable — but toxic habit.

After these voices have been heard, the Ohio legislature, employers and Ohioans in general will be in a position to give informed consent regarding the legality of marketing and purveying the drug or entertainment tool to the public and their unborn, infants and children.

Charles E. Reier MD and Rebecca A. Reier RN, BS, CRNA, CCS-P, Greenville, Ohio.

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