Pubdate: Wed, 02 Mar 2005
Source: Stoneham Sun (MA)
Copyright: 2005 Stoneham Sun
Author: Bill Downing


Stoneham Safety  Officer Laurence Rotondi's intentions for writing his
article, "Teens continue  to be tempted by marijuana and cocaine" of
2/23/05, were undoubtedly good. The  results from attempts such as
his, on the other hand, have been bad. Overblown  scare propaganda has
not and will not stop kids from trying marijuana, whether  it
successfully frightens parents or not. There are  good reasons why
kids should not try marijuana and most of those reasons hold  true for
any mind altering substances. There is no reason to resort to "Reefer 
Madness" tactics.

There are many good reasons why Officer Rotondi should not do  so.
Officer  Rotondi is in a unique position where he can be seen as an
authority on safety  and drugs.

When he writes things that are unsupportable, he looses credibility 
and his unique opportunity with it. In 1997  sociologist Dr. Lynn
Zimmer and pharmacologist Dr. John Morgan published  "Marijuana Myths,
Marijuana Facts", which is available at Stoneham Library upon  request.

There's a good chance at least some Stoneham High School students have
seen it. It addresses many of the "Myths" Officer Rotondi reiterated.
For instance,  Rotondi wrote, "...marijuana impair(s) the immune
system..." This myth is  addressed in chapter 14 of the "Myths" book
where the doctors respond by  stating, "There is no evidence that
marijuana users are more susceptible to  infections than nonusers."
Rotondi wrote  of a mythical Fetal Marijuana Syndrome. The doctors
address that in chapter 13  saying, "Studies of newborns, infants and
children show no consistent physical,  developmental or cognitive
related to prenatal marijuana exposure. The  administration of
hundreds of tests to older children has revealed only minor 
differences between the offspring of marijuana users and nonusers, and
some are  positive rather than negative." He wrote  that, "Heavy
marijuana use by males may lower sperm count and cause abnormal  sperm
production," and "Marijuana use by teenage girls may impair hormone 
production, menstrual cycles and fertility." The doctors respond to
that myth in  chapter 12 saying, "There is no evidence that marijuana
causes infertility in  men or women.

There is no evidence that marijuana delays adolescent sexual 
development..." He wrote that  a, "...student who uses marijuana is 60
times more likely to use cocaine." The  doctors, in chapter 4,
explain, "Marijuana does not cause people to use hard  drugs.

What the gateway theory presents as a causal explanation is a
statistical  association between common and uncommon drugs...Marijuana
is the most popular  illegal drug in the United States today.

Therefore, people who have used less  popular drugs, such as heroin,
cocaine and LSD, are likely to have used marijuana.

Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a terminus 
rather than a gateway drug." There were so  many myths in Rotondi's
article I could go on ad nauseum. Suffice it to say  that, he should
become more familiar with the real problems associated with  children
using marijuana and speak to those issues, rather than damage his 
credibility with ineffective fear mongering.

Bill  Downing