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Legal Does Not Mean Safe!

Beware of Dangers of Legalized Marijuana As Deaths from Prescription Meds are Warning Sign

Philadelphia—If it’s legal, it’s must be OK, right? Very wrong! With the rush to legalize marijuana for recreational use, many assume that pot is safe and accepted, with no risks. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is a great danger when social policy or accepted public opinion dictates that something is right or safe. We are at that dangerous tipping point with the legalization and normalization of marijuana. We teach our kids that their parents, teachers, the president, and any authorities know more and are in a place to look out for our kids’ safety. So when our kids hear some of their authorities approve of legalizing marijuana, both medical and recreational, and see it is more widely accepted, they believe pot is safe and its use will have no consequences.

Benzio points to the skyrocketing rates in the abuse of, and deaths associated with, prescription medications as an example—medications that are, in fact, in many cases safe and prescribed by a doctor. But a new CDC report shows that deaths resulting from prescription drugs have quadrupled over the past decade. Specifically, according to a National Center for Health Statistics brief, from 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

Prescription drugs are certainly seen as acceptable and safe if used within their correct dosages. Now, we see the same thing happening with marijuana. More and more people think it’s fine to experiment with pot recreationally because legalization is being pushed—and medical marijuana is being promoted. But we’ve seen from the downfalls of prescription drugs that ‘legal’ does not necessarily mean safe.

We can look at many, many celebrities who died as a result of a dangerous mix of safe, legal prescription drugs that were prescribed by a doctor. These were not drugs bought on the street under the cover of darkness, but drugs written on a prescription pad by a member of the medical community. Yet, things went very, very wrong with these ‘safe, legal substances.’ When we give too much leeway to drugs that have so much power to damage a person and society on so many levels, it’s just a matter of time until we reap the predictable destruction.

The push for the legalization of marijuana is not a project of the masses, Benzio says. The Washington Times recently reported that billionaire philanthropist George Soros has spent $80 million since the mid-‘90s toward making pot legal, along with marijuana proponent, the late Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, who contributed another $40 million to the cause. Marijuana legalization has not been a grassroots effort, but rather a well-orchestrated campaign backed by celebrities.

Instead of putting that money into lobbying and buying votes or trying to sway public opinion, why aren’t they putting their money into research to find out the facts and use the facts to make their point. “The reason: The research shows and continues to show the dangers of marijuana and cannabis, so they invest their money into buying votes to support the habit they don’t want to give up, hide, or feel ashamed about. Legalization will validate their childish, me-centered addiction to getting high with pot.

Benzio offers alcohol as another example. Consuming alcohol is legal, yet the dangers are evident.

The direct damage caused by alcohol or alcohol addiction is blatant and easy to see. But innocent victims of drunk driving and a national support group, Adult Children of Alcoholics, is a testimony to the other life-debilitating consequences of alcohol on not just the drinker, but also on the people in their life. Yet, alcohol, this dangerous and addictive substance, is widely accepted. As narcotic pain medications are legal and easily acceptable, we now see similar damage as with alcohol.

Now marijuana is widely accepted, too, and legal in a few places. It isn’t rocket science to be able to see the pattern and predict similar outcomes of destruction and hurt. Additionally, marijuana is not as scrutinized and studied as it should be, and we are just scratching the surface of knowing the effects of this drug. All the older studies were of a weaker pot compared to the 5-12 times greater potency pot now in circulation. Considering that pot is readily available to so many—including teenagers and twenty-somethings—we’re making the access point even easier.

Benzio noted that those struggling with addictions can be helped through a three-pronged treatment approach involving the spirit, mind and body, as well as a recognition of the important and necessary ongoing growth and transformation process.

Those who are concerned about a friend or loved one and their struggles with depression, drugs, alcohol or any life-interfering or -endangering behaviors should reach out for help with a trusted Behavioral Health specialist, a local hospital, or their pastor. Remember, the most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring true hope, deep healing and lasting life transformation.

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb