La Crosse County Prevention Network hosted three sessions with a guest speaker on the topic of marijuana Wednesday.
Ed Shemelya is a retired Kentucky State Police officer who is now the director of the National Marijuana Initiative. His presentation focused on the effects of marijuana with higher THC concentrations and possible negative effects on developing brains.
"All the studies done about the harm of today's marijuana are done with THC concentrations of between 12-15%" Shemelya said. "We are seeing smokable products in these states that exceed 40% and edibles and concentrates that are well into the 90% range."
Though possible, overdose death from THC is very unlikely. However, high concentrations of THC can cause extreme anxiety or psychotic reactions like paranoia or loss of touch with reality. Marijuana also affects reaction time which can be dangerous behind the wheel of a car.
Shemelya went on to argue that in his opinion, marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs due to what we do not yet know about its effects.
"It's the most misunderstood of all the illicit drugs," said Shemelya. "You get cocaine, you get methamphetamine, you get the opioid crisis that's going on. There's so much misinformation [and] disinformation about this drug, and that's what makes it so dangerous."
Marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug along with heroin and MDMA. Cocaine and methamphetamine are schedule 2 drugs. Some scientists have argued that marijuana's schedule 1 status with the DEA has made research on its effects more difficult.