Marijuana Legalization's Big Enemy: School Nurses
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) In January, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) joined a growing list of public health, medical, and scientific experts and professional organizations in opposing marijuana legalization.
This is another hole poked in the arguments made by pro pot politicians to legalize the drug for medical and/or recreational purposes.
The NASN's position is that "to date there is not sufficient scientific evidence for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the smoked marijuana plant for medical use." The NASN also believes that when any marijuana is made available for adult recreational, it will make it easier for youths to obtain this. This "is not in the best interest of the health and well���being of students," the association says.
The NASN thinks that medical marijuana for kids and adult recreational marijuana should remain banned.
"We believe the availability of marijuana for recreational purposes for adults poses the potential for more accessibility for students," said NASN executive director Donna Mazyck. "We have not taken a position on medicinal marijuana for adults. We would have to study that more. But legalization of smoked marijuana for medicinal use is not recommended for students."
The organization, located in Silver Spring, Md., represents 15,000 school nurses across the United States. The organization's position paper cited the 2012 summary, issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the safety risks of smoked marijuana use and the physical and mental health consequences. This report said:
The acute (present during intoxication) are:
- Impairs short���term memory
- Impairs attention, judgment and other cognitive functions
- Impairs coordination and balance
- Increases heart rate
- Creates psychotic episodes
The persistent (lasting longer than intoxication but may not be permanent) are:
- Memory and learning skills impairment
- Sleep impairment
Finally, the long���term (cumulative effects of chronic abuse) are:
- Can lead to addiction
- Increases risk of chronic cough, bronchitis
- Increases risk of psychosis, schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals
- May increase risk of anxiety, depression
Because it seriously impairs judgment and motor coordination, smoked marijuana also contributes to accidents while driving. The NASN also noted that a recent analysis of data from several studies found that "marijuana use more than doubles a driver's risk of being in an accident."
The NASN also noted that statistics from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) illustrate that the perception of harm from smoking marijuana has been declining. Declines in these perceptions are predictive of increases in use according to the report.
Furthermore, the NASN cites the American Academy of Pediatrics's (AAP) 2004 position statement on the issue of marijuana legalization. This states that "any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents."
Another study used by NASN was from the University of Pittsburgh. It illustrates how the adolescent brain may be more vulnerable to addictions. The study said "a strong reward���related activation in the adolescent but not in the adult dorsal striatum, a structure associated with the formation of habits and the adaptive control of behavioral patterns."