The leaders of the top state law enforcement agencies announced a renewed effort Tuesday to wipe out illegal marijuana growing operations in Iowa and one of the keys to the effort is battling the “marijuana myth.” People in some states are pushing to legalize pot, and there are all types of stories about athletes and movie stars using the drug. The former president of Des Moines Area Community College lost his job after he and his family got caught with a major stash. Marvin Van Haaften director of the Office of Drug Control Policy says people don’t seem to be taking pot as seriously as they used to.He says there seems to be a myth that marijuana has been with us since the 60s and it’s harmless. Van Haaften says the truth is that marijuana will harm you. He says the number of emergency room visits have increased 176-percent and has surpassed heroin in the number of hospital visits for use of illegal drugs. He says 77 percent of the 16-million drug users in the U.S. use marijuana. Van Haaften says 60-percent of the teenagers in the U.S. that seek treatment list marijuana as their drug of choice. He says that’s slightly lower for Iowa, where nearly 51-percent of Iowa teenagers in drug treatment list marijuana as their drug of choice. He says the pot of today is much more potent than the “ditchweed” smoked in decades past, and marijuana use can lead to hallucinations, paranoia, dependability, irresponsible behavior, lung cancer, and many other problems. Van Haaften and other state officials are urging Iowans to learn about the dangers of smoking marijuana, and also asked for help in finding and eradicating pot fields.
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