||October 24, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 18 • Oakland, CA|
No 'safe path' for children
Proposition 64 asks voters to legalize the sale and use of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21. The cannabis industry asserts that it is only for adults. But the measure actually endangers 10 million Californians' children in ways that are entirely predictable today.
In analyzing available cannabis research JAMA editor Dr. David Goldman concluded that "studies of humans and animals strongly indicate that cannabis changes the structure and function of the brain, and the propensity to cannabis addiction is heritable, which means that some are more vulnerable."
Third, children could unknowingly find and consume marijuana, sometimes suffering serious health impacts. That outcome already is occurring in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana just two years ago. Hospitals there now are reporting emergency room admissions of very young children who have ingested marijuana as cookies or other attractive edibles they found in their homes.
We hope that Californians would be careful with their recreational marijuana. But human nature is not perfect and we can expect at least some adults will not adequately keep the edibles away from their kid.
For these reasons, Proposition 64 does not create "safe paths" for our children. In fact, as is unfortunately being demonstrated in Colorado's experience, it does just the opposite.
Dare we risk the learning potential of children in school, or even before they enter school, from casual or inadvertent exposure to marijuana advertising and marijuana itself? How many children will fail to achieve their potential because of this law?
Legalizing marijuana for recreational use presents a risk to California's children. As responsible adults we should not expose our society's children to the potentially devastating impacts inherent in Proposition 64.
(Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, is bishop of Oakland.)
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