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It is really difficult to determine what is or is not true about marijuana. It is glamorized via entertainment media in music videos and youth popular music, and in movies featuring use and involvement without serious consequences. Many people want to legalize it. Parents who used marijuana in their youth now find it difficult to talk to their own children about it. Some think it is safer to use than alcohol. Many know individuals who have used marijuana either in the past or currently and who appear to be successful and have no apparent problems.

What is a person to think? Is it really harmful? The following information will give you a pretty good idea of how dangerous marijuana can really be.

  • Marijuana compromises the ability to learn and remember information.
  • Critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are significantly impaired.
  • Marijuana users have more trouble sustaining and shifting their attention and in registering, organizing, and using information.
  • Marijuana's adverse impact on memory and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.
  • Marijuana was the third most commonly abused drug mentioned in drug-related hospital emergency department visits.
  • One-fourth of marijuana users drink at work, one-fourth use drugs at work, and 40 percent use drugs with coworkers.
  • One-fourth of marijuana users admit to cocaine use.
  • Driving:
    • In a recent study of over 1,000 patients in shock trauma because of traffic accidents, 32 percent had marijuana alone-no other drug or alcohol-in their blood.
    • In a summary of a number of studies, 4-16 percent of fatally injured drivers had marijuana alone in their blood.
    • Hundreds of performance studies have demonstrated that marijuana significantly impairs fine and gross motor control, divides attention, impairs vigilance, impairs reaction time and decreases the ability to maintain a straight lane position.
  • Heavy users of marijuana develop tolerance for it and require increasing doses.
  • Other health affects-cancer decreased immune response, increased risk of heart attacks, etc.
  • Psycho-social-aggressive behavior, lack of caring, fatigue, poor job/learning performance.

The impact on an individual and in the workplace is clear. If an employee's position calls for utilizing motor skills-driving, operating machinery, etc.-or anything that requires memory, attention to detail, learning, etc., the marijuana user may well be a liability not only to himself/herself but to other workers and the company itself.

Gary L. Glisan
Superior Training Solutions, Inc.

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