NEWBERRY — Danielle Center, prevention director at Keystone Substance Abuse Services and co-chair of Blunt Truth SC Task Force, was the guest speaker Thursday during a Lunch and Learn Seminar presented by the Newberry County Coalition of Underage Drinking.
During the seminar, she went over the five steps required for the legalization of marijuana as seen in other states: legalization of Industrial Hemp, legalization of Cannabiodiol for medical purposes, legalization of Medical Marijuana, decriminalization and legalization of recreational use.
In South Carolina, the legalization of Industrial Hemp was passed June 2, 2014 and the legalization of Cannabiodiol for medical purposes was passed June 2, 2014, she said.
Two bills for the legalization of Medical Marijuana were introduced this Spring with no crossover while decriminalization stalled in Spring 2015 and were reintroduced for veterans with PTSD, but with no movement. There has been no movement on legalization of recreational use because the other steps have not been met.
Center also discussed the dangers of marijuana, including the health risks and the dangers of edibles.
When it comes to health risks, Center said there is very little research because marijuana is federally illegal. The research that has been done has been with government grade marijuana, which is not the quality or potency of marijuana that consumers are using.
The health risks include addiction, cognitive impairment, pregnancy risks, respiratory effects and mental health problems.
When it comes to addiction, research suggests that about nine percent of users become addicted, and that is increased to about 17 percent among young users and 25 to 50 percent among daily users.
“Young people argue with me that it is not addictive. I ask, ‘Well have you stopped?’ and they cannot answer,” Center said.
Center added that today’s marijuana is four times stronger that in the 1960s, and as much as 18 percent stronger for marijuana edibles.
Center said that marijuana can affect response time and processing speed, executive functioning, memory ability, visuomotor skills and oculomotor control.
“Use of Cannabis during neurodevelopmental periods can alter brain structure and function,” she said.
When it comes to marijuana use and pregnancy, Center says this is where the least amount of research has been done. However, the research that has been done has shown it can lead to growth restrictions and low birth weight.
As for respiratory effects, marijuana has four to five times more tar than cigarettes.
When it comes to marijuana and mental health issues, Center said it can worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and paranoia. While during the initial high, marijuana will alleviate the symptoms, once it wears off the symptoms will worsen.
Because marijuana is illegal on the federal level, edibles have no regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, nor do they include serving sizes which means they tend to have more THC.
“In legalized states, edibles are more popular than smoking and a lot of people buying them do not understand them,” Center said.
For example, Center said that one marijuana gummy bear can get four people high. Due to the fact that edibles have a slower absorption rate, people will tend to eat more because they are not getting high right away and this is leading to marijuana overdosing.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.