Recreational marijuana use for adults becomes legal today in Minnesota. A professor who has been guiding students on these laws says there are many factors for the public to consider.
For the past few years, Peter Morrell, professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, has helped teach a class called the Science of Cannabis, with guest experts discussing a range of issues as more states relax rules surrounding marijuana use.
Morrell predicts it will not become a major public nuisance, such as non-users having to constantly wade through recreational users’ secondhand smoke when venturing out.
“I don’t expect that we’ll see an enormous change in the culture around smoking and open-air use,” he said.
Smoking is allowed in parks, on sidewalks, and outdoor establishments unless local governments enact their own restrictions, and several are doing so. And as with cigarettes, smoking marijuana will be banned in all indoor public places. Morrell said while nobody will get a “contact high” from limited exposure, users should know cannabis smoke contains tar and other contaminants not helpful for those breathing it secondhand.
Morrell added that point is especially important when considering the effect on minors. Whether it is young children who live in the household, or teens who pick up smoking marijuana themselves, he said researchers have laid out the impact long-term exposure can have on developing brains.
“There is pretty strong evidence that marijuana exposure in young people has long-term cognitive effects—negative cognitive effects,” he explained.
Supporters hope a key benefit of legalization will be a reduction in disparities within the criminal justice system, and Morrell agrees the action is helpful on that front. Meanwhile, he warns those who want to grow marijuana plants inside their homes should do some careful planning.
“It’s also sort of famously difficult on houses to grow marijuana in the basement, because you have to elevate the humidity,” he contended. “And so, you end up sort of having very warm, moist air that’s not good for the structure of the house itself.”
Morrell added federal law and most neighboring states still prohibit recreational use, meaning you cannot carry the drug into those jurisdictions, or into airports.
Mike Moen writes for the Minnesota News Connection.