Letter: Youth at risk as pot laws broaden

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The Jan. 26 story "What now?" is in tune with the same question resonating nationally. Washington voters passed Initiative 502, allowing restricted recreational use of marijuana. The implementation of this law is proving to be troublesome. Complications and contradictions abound among legislators and law enforcement at all levels.

I have no problem with what people do in the privacy of their homes, assuming children are protected from harm. The tide is turning in favor of broader legalization, sowing the threat that young people will be caught up in riptides into treacherous waters.

As a father who lost a son to drug addiction, I witnessed his slow, painful destruction as he fell over the stumbling blocks of substances. Marijuana was a gateway drug leading him to harder drugs, eventually taking his life.

Federal law prohibits the possession and use of marijuana, however, President Obama chose not to stymie efforts by Colorado and Washington to legalize. Research and official positions by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (http://www.whitehouse.gov/) is opposite of Obama. Documented in agency reports, marijuana smoke has significantly more carcinogens than tobacco. The government's National Institute on Drug Abuse declares adolescent use of marijuana has no parallel to alcohol; it can cause permanent brain damage, eroded motor skills, impaired cognitive and immune system functioning, and respiratory illness. Our children are at risk.

Ironically, the nation has waged a rigorous and successful campaign against tobacco products, yet the current administration turns a blind eye to smoking the intoxicant pot. Hard to figure.

Frank Hoetker

Woodland