In Response to: Growing Like a Weed

PAW’s “Growing Like a Weed” (feature, April 10), essentially an infomercial with glamorous glossies of Princeton alumni cashing in on this growing public-health threat, unfortunately dedicates relatively scant space to the serious risks. 

Marijuana is, in fact, addictive — hooking 9 percent of people who use it and about 17 percent of adolescent users. More regular use, especially in teens, is associated with brain underdevelopment, a decline in IQ, greater risk of anxiety and depression, dropping out of school, and unemployment. Since legalization in Colorado, the number of children showing up at hospitals with marijuana intoxication has increased. Marijuana use among high school students has been rising. 

Our worst drug, nicotine, is legal — the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. It wasn’t always this way. In the 1880s, few people smoked, and only 1 percent of tobacco was consumed as manufactured cigarettes. But the tobacco industry turned nearly half of Americans into smokers by the 1950s. We didn’t get a free pass with tobacco, and we won’t with marijuana, either. While it may not make sense to criminalize tobacco or marijuana, the current rush to legalize marijuana has outstripped our knowledge of its consequences.

The marijuana industry is using the Philip Morris playbook. Smiling hipsters in ads. Progressively more potent formulations. Production of edibles that taste like candy. Our kids are at serious risk. 

Ron Strauss ’93, M.D.
San Francisco, Calif.