It is sad that in a time of disputes on issues of the utmost importance to Israel, the parties that control its unity government have managed to agree on only one subject: the “need” to decriminalize and legalize cannabis.
For experts on the issue of drug use, like myself, watching the Likud and Blue and White parties announce last week that they would work together to normalize cannabis use in Israel was like watching a disaster unfold on the big screen, facilitated by people who on any other matter are reasonable and rational.
Decriminalization is a clear path to legalization, and the legalization of this supposedly “harmless” drug is a threat to society, especially to its youth, who are society’s most vulnerable members. Please, let’s put the arguments about the medical advantages of cannabis into proportion: Cannabis might be able to help the treatment of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other diseases, but that research is still in its infancy—like the research about the dangers of becoming addicted to it.
It’s important to remember that the medical discourse focuses on CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, or, to use more familiar slang, the component that doesn’t cause a “high.” If CBD is proven to be of medical value, it can be produced in pill form. From here, the puffers asked for permission to consume the drug in its natural form, catching a lift to the desired “high.” Of course, the negative financial interests of the producers are also hovering in the background.
Cannabis is a gateway drug to harder drugs, and normalizing cannabis in society, among normal adults, will quickly find its way to minors, an especially vulnerable group whose brains continue to develop until the ages of 21-25. The drug itself could have catastrophic effects on these young people and minors.
Not only does early familiarity with drugs make them more widely used farther down the road, but cannabis also harms the development of the young brain and impairs the ability to make decisions. Studies show that a young person who starts to use cannabis at age 14 or 15 has an 18 percent chance of becoming addicted to opiates as an adult. The chance increases to a frightening 28 percent among those who start to use cannabis at age 13. Studies have shown that the IQ of children who used cannabis dropped six to eight points lower than that of children who did not.
It’s unequivocal: The drug makes those of our teenagers who use it, the next generation, less intelligent and more likely to waste their lives. Israel has been blessed with human treasure, wonderful young people who reach international achievements in every field. We must not harm them by legitimizing cannabis, a plant that damages motivation, IQ, poses a risk of addiction to soft and hard drugs, and facilitates the onset of psychosis.
You’ve been warned.
Dr. Miriam Adelson, M.D., is a specialist in chemical dependency and drug addiction. She is the publisher of “Israel Hayom” and, with her husband, Sheldon Adelson, the owner of “Israel Hayom” and the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspapers.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.