Prof Enters Pot Debate
Prince George, B.C. – A UNBC professor has commented on the buzz surrounding 4/20 day.
Dr. Russ Callaghan, an associate professor with the Northern Medical Program at UNBC, has been researching some of the long-term health consequences associated with marijuana use for the past five to 10 years, and says public dialogue is needed before marijuana reform is brought forward.
“When we talk about legalization, it’s important for the public to weigh the costs and the benefits,” says Callaghan. “We already have legalized two drugs which carry tremendous burdens for our society, tobacco and alcohol, so this discussion about legalization needs to be seen in that background.”
He concedes the benefits of legalization are well known, including the ability to tax the drug and to cut back on police enforcement, but Callaghan says there are drawbacks as well, especially among young people.
“The evidence seems to indicate that chronic use of marijuana in adolescents is associated with a number of poor health outcomes, the development of psychotic disorders, especially schizophrenia,” he says. “It can also be related to poor educational outcomes. The biggest issue as well among young people in cannabis use is that there’s a two-fold increase in motor vehicle collisions which can be quite serious.”
But despite the drawbacks, he says we as a society shouldn’t shy away from change.
“We have two great experiments down in the U.S. right now (Washington State and Colorado) and we have good evidence so I would probably lean more towards legalization,” says Callaghan. “But I think also we have to be aware that it would probably carry increased usage and some of those harms would follow as well.”