Don’t be fooled by marijuana support

Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored the fourth annual National Drug Facts Week. The official observance of the event is over, but the conversation continues, at least it should. For several months now, the has been saturated with stories about legalizing marijuana, whether it’s for medical or recreational use.

If your personal world is far removed from the drug culture (as mine is), it’s very easy to be oblivious to it. For most of us, it does not exist. In my professional life, however, I see it much more clearly. There are a lot of people out there using drugs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 8.9 percent of all full-time workers use illicit drugs and 12.5 percent of part-timers do, too. It’s not discussed much, I think, because of the stigma attached.

As a parent of three teenagers and one who understands the issue fairly well, I don’t worry too much about them. My concern is for those very young, or not yet born, who will grow up in a world where marijuana is OK, where there is no stigma.

Recent press coverage has desensitized many of us to the bad side of marijuana, and the talk primarily about its medicinal properties. Regardless of the President’s recent comments, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor and even the White House’s official website make it crystal clear that marijuana is a dangerous drug. In fact, marijuana is the only “medicine” that’s been approved, not by the FDA, but by voters and legislatures.

So what’s the fuss?

Regardless of public opinion, the following come from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy:

  • It is physically addictive for one in 11 users.
  • It causes numerous health problems.
  • It lowers users’ IQs by as many as eight points.
  • It stays in a us­er’s body for weeks and can cause cognitive impairment at least seven days after use, and,
  • When perception of risk drops, usage increases.

As a parent, I am concerned about the message associated with removing the stigma of drugs in general, and marijuana in particular. And in my business, I see first hand the issues of safety, productivity and pilferage that go with substance abuse in the workplace. Companies that test have fewer of those issues. Parents, schools and students should have similar concerns.

Tim Thoelecke Jr., Glenview resident

President, InOut Labs