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Prop 64: Legalization of Cannabis the effect on Voter Health and the Environment

Posted on November 7, 2016 at 4:01 PM
        The California ballot has prop 64 which is the legal recreational use of marijuana.  Voters will decide whether to make recreational cannabis use legal. There are positives and negatives of this initiative if enacted. If legalized it will compete with current initiatives to stop smoking and protect the public from second hand smoke, which is a negative aspect.  The legalization of cannabis in other states, has decreased the number of arrest for possession, which is a positive aspect (Boeker, 2016). The concern of voting yes on prop 64 is that it could deteriorate voter health and destroy our ecological system.

        The greatest threat to public health from marijuana comes from motor vehicle accidents. There is evidence that marijuana use is associated with approximately twice the number of both fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle accidents. Nationally, fatal collisions increased from 29% in 1993, to 37% in 2010. In Oregon, the percent of fatal crashes increased 49% after the legalization of medical marijuana (Sewell, Poling, & Sofuoglu, 2009). In 2014, Sonia Toor a 21-year-old female was so intoxicated on Marijuana, she ran over and killed a 84-year old elderly woman with a minivan in the parking lot of Walgreens in San Mateo, California (Journal Staff, 2014).

       Marijuana advocacy groups, and marijuana magazine promoting cannabis use; claim cannabis use is the cure for pain with no side effects and no addiction issues. Research discovered a mild pain reduction effect but with overwhelming side effects.  The psychological effects of cannabis usage are: lower IQ, disconnected personality, schizophrenic issues, inability to maintain gainful employment, fear, anxiety, lack of attention, poor impulse, reduction in memory and decision making. Heavy use of cannabis results in schizophrenia-like psychosis called substance induced psychosis. “It is estimated that 8–14% of schizophrenia cases are due to marijuana use” (Repp & Raich, 2014). The effect caused by marijuana use is depression and anxiety that is not fully restored with cessation of cannabis (Repp & Raich, 2014).

        The physical effects are” deficits in vision span, verbal fluency, hypertension, cardiac issues, strokes, increased heart rate, lethargy, lung congestion, asthma, bronchitis, phlegm production, and lung infections” (Cox,2014). The consensus that cannabis is not addictive is refuted by “research clearly demonstrating that approximately 9% of those who experiment with marijuana will become addicted. This percentage increases to 17% for those who start using marijuana as teenagers and up to 50% for those who smoke marijuana daily” (Volkow, Baier, Compton, & Weiss (2014).  Many cannabis users advocate that cannabis use is better than cigarettes but the research also noted “the use of cannabis is associated with cancer and cancer causing agents” (Repp & Raich, 2014).

         The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible states “Marijuana is a water- and nutrient-intensive crop, cultivation requires land clearing, ​ the diversion of surface water, agrochemical pollution, and the poaching of wildlife.” (Cervantes, 2006). California is in a constant flux of drought, so the toll of cultivation of Marijuana would further endanger our water supply and clearing land would reduce our forest. The pesticides used would increase the number of birth defects and cancer related illnesses and greatly diminish our wildlife. Cannabis grown in a greenhouse type setting requires about 20 TW/h/year nationally (including off-grid production) of electricity. This is equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes, corresponding to approximately 1% of national electricity consumption or the output of 7 large electric power plants” that is a huge carbon foot print (Mills, 2012). 
            Legalization of cannabis will also lock out local individuals from growing cannabis since as seen in other states, only big business will be allowed to grow cannabis like tobacco companies since it will be a taxed controlled substance of the government. So while the lower income neighborhoods will benefit from a decrease number of arrests for possession of cannabis. The legalization will not increase the revenue in those neighborhoods, it will not decrease unemployment, and it will not improve or reduce neighborhood disorder. Instead of growing more cannabis locally it will be grown by big corporations which will increase the likelihood of a huge carbon foot print. Mostly likely the home grow variety will be gone and subject to prosecution. And as for the Cannabis enthusiast who have long for the day for it to be legal to smoke they will likely have to make more money to afford Cannabis.  In 2014, the National Association of School Nurses can out against legalization of marijuana, stating “there was not sufficient scientific evidence and legalization marijuana for adult recreational use, would give youth access” (Endsley & Embrey, 2014). Voting Yes on prop 64 may prove to be the Cannabis advocates worse nightmare. It could also be a degradation of the environment, an increase health cost to pay for the health issues and increase mortality.  Is it worth it?
            Boecker, K. (2016). On D.C.’s one-year anniversary with legalized marijuana, work remains. Washington Post 2016, Febuary 25. Retrieved on October 13,2016 from
Carah, J.K., Howard, J.K., Thompson, S.E., Short Gianotti, A.G., Bauer, S. D., Carlson, S. M., …(2015). High for conservation: adding the environment to the debate on marijuana liberalization. Bioscience, 65(8) (2015) 822-829. Retrieved from PubMed - bib12
Cervantes, J. (2006) Marijuana horticulture: the indoor/outdoor medical grower’s bible. Van Patten Publishing Copyright 2006 pp 125-237.  Retrieved on October 23, 2016 from - reader_187882323X
Cox, L. (2014). Marijuana: Effects of weed on brain and body. Live Science (31, March, 2014). Retrieved on October 7, 2016 from
Endsley, P. & Embrey, M.L.  (2014). Marijuana and children: position statement. National Association of School of Nurses (NASN). Retrieved on October 23, 2016 from
Journal Staff (2014). Woman, 84, dies after minivan runs her over: female driver, 21, charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI. San Mateo Daily Journal. (2014, November 18). Retrieved on October 23, 2016 from
Mills, E. (2012). The carbon footprint of indoor cannabis production. Energy Policy 46 (2012) 58-67. Retrieved on October 10, 2016 from
Repp, K.K., Raich, A.L. (2014). Marijuana and health: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research. Washington County Oregon. Retrieved on October 16, 2016 from
Sewell, R. A., Poling, J., & Sofuoglu, M. (2009). THE EFFECT OF CANNABIS COMPARED WITH ALCOHOL ON DRIVING. The American Journal on Addictions / American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions, 18(3), 185–193. `

Volkow, N.D., Baier, R.D., Compton, W.M., & Weiss, S. R. B. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014; 307:2219-2227. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1402309

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