I am writing to you today with grave concerns about the legalization of recreational use of marijuana.

As a health care professional, I feel that it is my duty, obligation and responsibility to share the knowledge that is in the professional, scientific literature about the use and abuse of marijuana. In my opinion, marijuana is not only a frequent gateway drug, but a dangerous and harmful substance to the human brain in and of itself.

Recent research indicates that marijuana has major deleterious effects on neurophysiology (brain functioning). Neuroimaging studies show abnormally low blood flow in multiple brain regions in marijuana users. Reduced global cerebral blood flow was observed in the brains of 982 (almost 1,000) marijuana users, while cerebral blood flow was normal in healthy controls. This reduced blood flow was noticed particularly in the hippocampus, a brain area vital for memory and learning. Other studies have had similar observations, suggesting that the hippocampus actually shrinks with marijuana use.

The day-to-day, practical meaning of these results is that marijuana users, regardless of age, are more likely to have difficulty with memory and learning, which would also result in poor judgment and decision making, a lack of motivation and reduced drive to accomplish anything. Not to be minimized are the effects of coordination, reaction time and a host of other motor coordination functions. Marijuana use over time may actually be a significant harbinger of brain damage.

The last thing we need in New York state, or America as a whole, is a majority of the population being continuously high and persistently inert and unmotivated to do anything but continue to get high.

I hope you are listening and thank you for considering my input.

Dr. Frank W. Isele, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Glens Falls 

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