By Monica Rodriguez, Published: January 06, 2016 at 11:24 PM PST
POMONA >> Marijuana for medicinal use is a complex issue, the head of national volunteer group that seeks to educate the public on the science of marijuana and promote health-minded policies that reduce marijuana use told a group in Pomona Wednesday evening.
Some components of marijuana have medical uses but they should be studied and then processed in a pharmaceutical laboratory, said Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida College of Medicine and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
“Let’s make it legitimate by putting it in a pharmacy with proper dosage,” he said.
Sabet spoke to a group of more than 70 parents, youth, educators and others during a forum on marijuana at the Village at Indian Hill Wednesday evening.
Many people think marijuana is a harmless substance and don’t realize that the material is much stronger than what was smoked in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, he said.
“Cheech and Chong in their wildest dreams couldn’t come up with this,” Sabet said, drawing laughter from audience members.
The marijuana that exists today is much stronger, according to Sabet, and it’s available for use in different forms, many of them edible.
The material can have negative effects, particularly in young people under the age of 25 who have brains that are still in development, he said.
Sabet’s talk was part of a forum organized by Partnership for a Positive Pomona, a coalition of residents and groups that are working to create a drug free environment in the city.
Sara Cooley, project coordinator for the partnership, said the event was organized in response to questions many parents, social service professionals, educators and other have related to marijuana.
Sabet said data has shown that one in six 16-year-olds who try marijuana will become addicted.
In speaking with youth who use marijuana, some have told him that unlike others this substance is not dangerous and even helps them when they drive. One teen told Sabet he drive 30 miles slower in a 65 mph zone.
“Marijuana slows you down but it doesn’t make you a better drive,” Sabet said. “It slows your body down.”
“Your reflexes are slow,” he said, adding such a condition doubles a young person’s chance of becoming involved in an auto crash.
Sabet said 2016 is an election year and in California a measure calling for the legalization of marijuana could be part of the November ballot. Not all has gone smoothly in Colorado where voters approved legalizing the adult use of marijuana for recreational use in November 2012. A component of legalization was to tax the purchase of the drug and using the tax revenue to support schools but that has still not been worked out not have other related issues.
Before making a decision on marijuana legalization, people must become informed, he said.
“We need to know what were getting ourselves into,” Sabet said.
Evelia Rocha, a Pomona resident and a parent, was among those who attended the forum.
She listened with interest to what’s been happening in Colorado and how legalization has affected the community, particularly young people.
“If there is so much negative stuff how is it that it’s still being approved” in other states Rocha asked after the forum.
Troy Littlejohn, a Pomona resident and an educator within the Pomona Unified School District, found the forum informative.
“It gave me insight into what (is) out there,” Littlejohn said.
He plans to share the information he collected with fellow teachers and parents.