The Problem of Marijuana

By Donald P Ames

We are living in an age in which the use of marijuana is becoming recognized as the number one problem facing parents. It has found its way into nearly all the school systems (if you doubt this, you need to take another look). We even have some legislators seeking to pass laws legalizing the use of it. And, the most frequently heard argument in its defense is that it is “no worse than alcohol.” Against this kind of reasoning, and with a lack of information at hand, how do we as parents, teachers, preachers and concerned young people meet this growing problem?

That it is becoming a real problem is evident by the rapid increase in the number of arrests and the amounts seized by the federal authorities. In 1968, they seized 85,715 pounds of marijuana. This figure grew to 782,033 pounds in 1973. Then in 1974, it jumped clear up to 1,291,000 pounds! When you consider that only one pound can intoxicate about 200 people, and that roughly eight pounds reach their destination for every one pound seized, one can begin to realize the seriousness of the situation.

However, when opposing the sale and use of marijuana, we are confronted with various statements issued by former studies concluding that it is only a mildly stimulating intoxicant and not really anything to get upset about. Although we can look at the results and be convinced otherwise, how do you argue against such reports?

Well, there is an answer! I am very pleased to be able to commend a 61-page booklet by Dr. George K. Russell, entitled Marihuana Today. Dr. Russell is the Associate Professor of Biology at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, and was awarded a doctorate in biology by Harvard in 1963, where he specialized in genetics, biochemistry and cellular physiology. He has done an excellent job in this booklet of not only exposing the harm involved in the use of marijuana, but of listing and exposing the previously mentioned reports as well. He pointed out the grave medical evidence that has been accumulated in recent years (of which the press has had little to say) and notes that “much of what has been said in the 1960’s about the harmlessness of its use (is) obsolete.” And, although dealing with technical material, yet it was written on a level that anyone with a high-school education can easily read and comprehend. It has 53 pages of rich material, plus an eight-page bibliography and is rather shocking, to say the least.

Dr. Russell noted that most of the tests revealed that the effects of marijuana are cumulative and dose-related, and concluded (along with other quoted authorities): “marijuana must be considered a very dangerous drug . . . the most dangerous drug on the market today.” He listed seven basic reasons for so concluding, and provided material in support of each.

(1) The THC from cannabis tends to accumulate in the brain and gonads and other fatty tissues, much like DDT.

(2) It has a tendency, even in moderate usage, to cause massive damage to the entire cellular process, reducing resistance to certain diseases by as much as 41%.

(3) Growing evidence shows that it tends to be stored in the sex glands, and may well produce deformed babies such as the thalidomide babies of the last decade. The marijuana products also can do serious damage to the normal process of sexual maturation in teenage boys undergoing adolescence, can produce impotence, and also enlargement of the male breasts to the point of desiring surgical correction.

(4) Evidence that it produces irreversible brain damage, and because of its easy storage in fatty tissue, the brain is one of the first areas to be affected. In fact, “an individual smoking even one marihuana cigarette a week is never free of the drug.”

(5) That it is actually worse than cigarettes in producing sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory diseases. He noted that evidence shows that marijuana can do in one year or less as much damage as it takes smoking twenty years to accomplish.

(6) That it is far more damaging to the lungs than smoking, and that such damage is “pre-cancerous.(Interestingly enough, ABC News on December 2, 1975, reported several new reports out that show a definite relationship between the use of marijuana and cancer susceptibility.)

(7) A deterioration of mental functioning, forms of paranoia, and a lack of motivation and destruction of the will, that lead to more sexual freedom, opens doors to stronger drugs, and a lack of desire to pursue former goals. This also affects one’s concentration, learning, and ability to talk sensibly (coherent thought).

Dr. Russell concludes: “Inexcapably, the time comes when each must ask himself: What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of society do I want to live in?” These questions need to be faced-both by those who may be trying marijuana and those who could be affected by others using it. “Can the use of marihuana, in any amount, ever be reconciled with the clarity of thought, the personal integrity and the strength of will that an individual must have who would play an active role in helping humanity find the way out of its everworsening difficulties?” This is a very sobering question in light of the material presented.

In my opinion, this is one booklet every Christian (elders, oeacons, preachers, teachers, parents and young people) needs to have and read! It is published by the Myrin Institute Inc. For Adult Education, 521 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10021, and is available to any who will send the modest fee of only $1.00 (to cover printing and handling costs). You owe it to yourself and others to be informed on this subject! Why not sit down and order a copy today?

Truth Magazine XX: 31, pp. 493-494
August 5, 1976