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Experts Disagree on Merits of Legalizing Marijuana

By Hempology | September 24, 2002

From the Iowa State Daily, September 24, 2002

By Stefanie Peterson

Campus experts believe what could be an emerging trend of marijuana legalization
may have a big impact on campus. The state of Nevada is considering legalizing the
possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for residents over 21 years of age.
Nevada voters will make the decision in November.

Derrick Grimmer, scientist at Iowa State’s Microelectronics Research Center,
believes prohibiting drug use is a method the government uses to control citizens.

“Prohibition has nothing to do with worries about health,” said Grimmer, member of the Ames
chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “It has nothing to do with
the well-being of the citizens of any country.”

He said the United States treats drugs differently than many countries.

“Various states have tried to liberalize the access of drugs for medical use, but these efforts always
run up against federal law,” Grimmer said.

If marijuana were legalized in Iowa, safety concerns – including lowered inhibitions and driving
under the influence – would be a serious problem on campus, said Denise Denton, lecturer on
health and human performance.

Marijuana is “not worse or better than cigarettes, but different,” she said. But marijuana is
typically taken in more deeply and held in the lungs longer, and has no filter, Denton said.

“The half-life for marijuana is seven days, meaning half of it is still in your system seven days
after consumption,” she said. “One marijuana joint is equal to about 10 cigarettes in terms of
cancer-causing properties.”

“Marijuana is stored in fat cells … It can stay in your system for 30 days.”

Grimmer said Nevada’s efforts to legalize the drug are reasonable.

“Nevada is trying to come up with some sanity to this problem,” he said. “We need to look at the
problems due to any substance, then look at the problems due to the prohibition of that substance
and try to maintain a balance between the two.”

Prohibition, Grimmer said, has produced negative outcomes.

“The iron laws of prohibition are the source of organized crime, street crime, alteration of
substances, refinement of substances, involvement of children in the drug trade and disrespect for
the law,” he said.

He said drug use is a personal decision and can be handled responsibly.

“At worst, people are only hurting themselves,” he said.

There are alternatives to using marijuana medicinally, Denton said.

“I think people are accepting of the idea that marijuana has medicinal properties, but for everything
you can do with marijuana medicinally, there are other drugs that do those things as well,” she said.

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