Effects of Marijuana: Second-hand Smoke, the Brain, and the Court System
A look at the impact of marijuana
As marijuana is becoming legalized around the country, more bad news is surfacing about its harmful effects. The HealthSite website reports that that “Breathing second-hand marijuana smoke could damage your heart and blood vessels as much as second-hand cigarette smoke.” And when blood vessels don’t function as well as they should, that could lead to a heart attack.
In the study mentioned in the article, “blood vessel function in lab rats dropped to 70 percent after 30 minutes of exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke.” Tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke are chemically similar, and as this study shows, second-hand smoke is a public health concern because it can negatively impact others.
The study was actually presented at an American Heart Association conference this year as preliminary research.
Not only that, but Science Now in the L.A. Times reports that researchers have found pot smokers have a smaller orbital frontal cortex than non-pot-smokers. However, they can’t tell if that’s a cause or result of chronic marijuana use. IQs of pot smokers are lower, too, but again, this article says it hasn’t been proven whether that’s indirectly linked to marijuana use.
Effects on the Court System
Heath problems from smoking pot have made the rounds, but articles about the ramifications of legal changes are still cropping up, too. An article I found interesting has to do with the reduction of legal penalties for possessing small amounts of pot. New York City just shifted from arresting people who possess small amounts, to issuing tickets. Sounds good, right? Just a ticket? BUT, it could wreak havoc with the New York court system. As a Brooklyn district attorney explains, a huge amount of bench warrants may be issued when people don’t appear to answer the summons (perhaps because they forgot.) If they’re stopped again, they may be arrested and held until they’re arraigned before a judge.
Say a person does show up in court, he says—it may still take a long time before the person’s case is called, and in some cases there may be a public record for “a conviction of a violation.” The prosecutor goes on and on and on about what may happen, and none of it is pleasant for the pot smoker. But what’s worse is what it could do to the court system, which is already overburdened just about everywhere, as far as I know. “Justice will stagger under the increasing weight,” the prosecutor says.