Author: Jon Ferry
Dr. Volkow Says Cannabis Should Not Be Legalized
Marijuana is an addictive drug that can blunt people’s memory, damage their lungs and even cause them to become psychotic. And it should not be legalized.
It’s an uncompromising American assessment. And, coming from anyone but Dr.Nora Volkow, you might suspect he or she had been smoking something, especially here in the pot capital of socialist Canada.
But there are good reasons why British Columbians, especially teens vulnerable to the marijuana industry’s siren call, should listen.
For one thing, Volkow hails from a half-Jewish, half-Spanish family which has endured great suffering. She is the great-granddaughter of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. And she grew up in the Mexican house where he was assassinated with an ice axe.
But, despite the turmoil this caused her and her three sisters, Volkow managed to become one of North America’s top drug-abuse researchers.
Last year, she was appointed director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds most of the world’s research into the health aspects of drug use and addiction.
Volkow herself has done imaging studies on the brains of long-term marijuana users. And she has witnessed first-hand the frightening paranoia the drug can cause.
“I’ve seen them become psychotic,” she told me yesterday during a working visit to Vancouver.
Volkow is equally insistent marijuana harms a person’s ability to drive an auto, despite what diehard Vancouver pot activists claim. “Of course, you can be marijuana-impaired,” she stressed.
It also impairs one’s thinking. “Over all, studies have shown that you cannot learn as well, that you can’t memorize as well,” she said.
Now, marijuana often gets billed as a happy drug. But, Volkow points to a Harvard study indicating heavy pot smokers lead unhappy lives.
“Ultimately, you are really disrupting the chances that you will succeed in your life,” she said. Also, smoking pot increases the likelihood of a wide range of lung diseases. And so on.
No, don’t count Volkow among those eggheads who think marijuana should be legalized: “It will end up increasing the number of people that get exposed to marijuana on a regular basis. And that will increase the probability of these individuals becoming addicted.”
As for heroin addicts, she says, it’s much better to give them treatment rather than simply a “safe” place in which to shoot up.
Volkow insists she’s not a political person. After all, her own family’s experience with politics has been far from pleasant. Her father, an engineer, wound up with Trotsky in Mexico in 1938 because “no one else in her family was alive.”
Myself, I don’t think people can help being at least a little political.
Volkow’s visit, for example, was co-sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver, which can hardly be considered politically neutral — at least on drug issues.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe we in B.C. should let the prevailing whiffs of anti-Americanism cloud our judgement in the great pot debate.
Whatever our political stripe, we should heed strongly the warnings of the great-granddaughter of one of socialism’s great grandfathers.