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Letters: Marijuana not the so-called ‘gateway drug,’ has beneficial uses

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Dear Editor:

This letter is in reference to Joanne Leonard’s letter to the editor about marijuana, posted July 19. In response to her claim that medical marijuana is nothing more than an effort to bring in full legalization, I must say that she needs to do some homework on the subject and not rely on one website for your conclusions. I happen to be kind of an expert on the subject of addiction. Along with countless hours of studying addictive substances and their effects, I am also an ex-alcoholic and drug addict.

First, I would like to address the issue of marijuana being a so-called “gateway drug.” From my research and own experiences, I can tell you with great confidence that alcohol is the number one gateway drug. In a study by the American Addiction Centers, over 1,000 Americans shared their past experiences with substance use and the order in which they started and potentially furthered their experimentation with other substances. Nearly 70 percent of them said that alcohol was the first drug they tried that led to further experimentation with other substances.

Second, I would like to say that her claim that marijuana has a negative effect on the community, lack’s substance. Let’s take a look at the effects of alcohol, for example, on the community. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes today, and according to the Department of Justice, 37 percent of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail, report that they were drinking at the time of their arrest.

Alcohol, more than any illegal drug, was found to be closely associated with violent crimes, including murder, rape, assault, child and spousal abuse. About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking and statistics related to alcohol use by violent offenders generally show that about half of all homicides and assaults are committed when the offender, victim, or both have been drinking. Among violent crimes, with the exception of robberies, the offender is far more likely to have been drinking than under the influence of other drugs.

If compared with alcohol, marijuana is basically harmless. You can’t overdose on marijuana and if you consume too much the results are you fall asleep. I don’t think I have ever heard of anybody smoking a little weed and going home and beating up his wife. Alcohol on the other hand, literally changes the personality of people and incidents of a domestic violence, with alcohol involved, are too numerous to count. Ask any police officer about the effects of alcohol on the community. His answers would probably shock you.

And, finally, I would like to say that medical marijuana would actually be beneficial to the community as it has so many uses. It can help with anxiety, depression, glaucoma and pain, and can also help when quitting a much harder, much more dangerous substance, like opiates and methamphetamine. It helps people with cancer, going through chemotherapy by stimulating appetite and relieving pain. These are just a few of the beneficial things medical marijuana could provide while offering a natural substitute for pharmaceuticals.

So, as you can see, marijuana is not the monster you have been led to believe that it is. It’s a plant, a very beneficial plant, that is illegal for no other reason than its potential effects on the profits of the alcohol and pharmaceutical companies. Like it or not, that’s the truth.

Gary Wadzinski of Weston.

Editor’s note: The views of our readers are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to P.O. Box 532, Wausau, Wis., 54402-0532.

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