It’s time to legalize marijuana

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By BETO HOYOS

 

It’s no surprise that marijuana has earned high praise in recent years as a go-to medicine and popular recreational substance.

 

A new Gallup poll said 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. Support has increased by eight percentage points since 2011.

 

If marijuana was harmful, why would it be used for medicinal purposes? Recent studies have shown it has many legitimate medical applications.

 

The data convinced at least one former skeptic, neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

 

Gupta has become an advocate for medical marijuana, and made a documentary titled “Weed” that aired on CNN in August 2013.

 

The change of heart comes after Gupta wrote an article for LIFE magazine in 2009  titled, “Why I would vote no on pot.” Gupta later apologized to his readers, and admitted he did not look hard enough for proof that marijuana can be helpful.

 

In some cases, marijuana is the only substance that helps.

 

Charlotte Figi is a 3-year-old who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of intractable epilepsy. Her seizures were not controlled by medication.

 

Before doctors treated Charlotte with marijuana, she was having 300 seizures a month. After using marijuana, her seizures decreased to two or three a month.

 

It’s understandable why parents would be skeptical but Charlotte did not smoke the marijuana. The CBD components were extracted and given to her in food.

 

The future of marijuana might not even see people rolling J’s. Medical patients who do not want to inhale smoke can use a popular alternative, cannabis edibles.

 

Edibles are foods cooked with cannabis, usually as an oil or butter. Patients consume the cannabis edibles to alleviate their symptoms.

 

Marijuana can harm a young developing brain. Opponents point to studies that show users who begin to smoke at age 16 may experience lower IQ and short-term memory problems. Use can also heighten the risk of psychosis.   

 

However, just 10 percent of adult users become dependent on marijuana. Cocaine hooks about 20 percent. The most addictive drug is tobacco. About 30 percent of users become addicted, and many eventually die.

 

You don’t have to try marijuana, but please give it a chance.

 

Hoyos, a journalism major and a supporter of marijuana, plans to attend the University of Arizona.

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