Thursday, we introduced you to a man who uses marijuana to treat Crohn’s Disease. In part two of our series, examining medical marijuana in the Gem State, we talk with a local law enforcement officer who has concerns about what legalizing medical marijuana could mean for Idaho, specifically the youth.
It’s an issue our elected leaders have firmly planted themselves in opposition of, marijuana. During the 2013 session lawmakers passed a resolution declaring themselves against the drug’s use medicinally or otherwise.
Darin Burrell is the Director of Juvenile Probation for Fremont and Clark Counties.
“Approximately 72 percent of kids that we are treating on intake are being treated for marijuana use,” Burrell said.
Arizona is one of the states that allow marijuana to be used medicinally. A report from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission says one in nine students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades who reported using marijuana in the last 30 days got the drug from either a patient or caregiver under the state’s medical marijuana law. A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2012 found states that had medical marijuana on the books had higher rates of marijuana use.
“The impression that it’s harmful and that you can use it without any negative consequences and my feeling is there is a definitive negative potential to using this substance,” said Burrell.
Nationally, a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found, in 2009, 7.3 percent of kids 12 to 17 had used marijuana in the past month, down from just over eight percent in 2002. Close to 52 percent of teens in the same age group reported using alcohol in the past month.
Prohibition advocates also point to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2002 that found marijuana use by teenage girls predicts later higher rates of depression and anxiety and also a strong association between daily use of cannabis and depression and anxiety.
“It’s so important that they are able to stay clean and sober through their developmental years,” Burrell said. “What we do know about marijuana is it does impact the neurological development as they are developing.”
Burrell says he could support the legalization of medical marijuana, if it included the thorough research necessary.
“I certainly have compassion for people that are suffering but I’m not totally sold on the idea of medical marijuana solving all the problems of illness,” said Burrell.
The American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and American Academy of Family Physicians have all endorsed a reclassification of marijuana for additional studies into its effectiveness of treating disease.
If you missed part one of our series you can find a link at the top of the page.