marijuana legalization

A POWERFUL NEW “STATEMENT OF CONCERN” ISSUED BY MASSACHUSETTS DOCTORS, CLINICIANS, AND SCIENTISTS

A powerful new “Statement of Concern” was published recently by a cohort of Massachusetts doctors, clinicians, and scientists. They strongly reject their state’s treatment of marijuana as an “ordinary commodity” that requires little or no consideration of its impact on the health of the citizens of Massachusetts, and call for it instead to be “Regulate[d] and govern[ed]… using a Public Health Framework…[that] prioritizes population-level health over commercial market interests…”

They observe that while not all marijuana users will experience negative effects, “the risk is substantial enough to require policies which discourage use.”

Among the key points of the Statement are:

  • that just like the previous “regulatory failure[s]” of the state regarding tobacco, opiods, and vaping, such regulatory failure is likely in the case of marijuana as well if the state does not prioritize public health

  • Marijuana is a potentially addictive drug, and its potency is ever-increasing, thereby increasing the risks of harm

  • “the tobacco industry has spent billions of dollars” to enter the vaping and marijuana markets, and they are likely to combine the two interests to produce high-THC vapes, which are of particular and growing risk to youth.

  • “Marijuana use by adolescents can impair brain development…reduce academic success, impact long-term career growth, and even lower user IQ. (These two points are a particular focus of IBH through its One Choice teen drug use prevention initiative.)

  • Massachusetts doctors and clinicians are seeing these effects first-hand in their own patients.

IBH encourages everyone who cares about public health to read this Statement of Concern, and to actively seek to implement its conclusions in their own states as well as at the federal level.

Click here to read the Statement of Concern via marijauna-policy.org

Click here to visit the Marijuana Policy Initiative’s web page about the Statement.

ALEX BERENSON OP-EDS: THE ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA ARE IGNORED AND DENIED BY AN INDUSTRY THAT PROMOTES ITS USE

In two op-eds, one in The Wall Street Journal and the other in The New York Times, author Alex Berenson highlights the growing support for marijuana legalization has been fueled by misinformation about a drug that is not harmless as its advocates suggest. He notes that “as marijuana use has become more socially acceptable, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have reached a consensus that it presents more serious risks than most people realize.” There are clear connections between marijuana use, psychosis and violence. Although“legalization hasn’t led to a big increase in Americans trying the drug, it has meant that those people who already use it do so far more frequently. In 2005, about three million Americans used cannabis every day. Today, the figure is eight million. Put another way, about one cannabis user in five uses it daily. By contrast, only one in every 15 drinkers, about 12 million Americans, consumes alcohol every day.” The dramatic increase in heavy use is just one of many causes for serious public health concern as the legalization and normalization of marijuana continues. Read more in the WSJ and the NYT.

OP-ED: THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELUSION

An op-ed by Paul J. Larkin in The Regulatory Review explains how “regulation of marijuana has been based on a false distinction for almost a century.” Although components of the marijuana plant may be synthesized into real medications in the future — like the FDA-approved drug Marinol, synthetic THC — medical marijuana will never meet scientific criteria of modern medicine. Larkin concludes, “The real question is whether lawmakers should revise federal law to allow marijuana to be used for recreational purposes, just as alcohol and tobacco can be so used today. If Americans are to honestly debate marijuana use, the debate must be over its utility as a recreational drug, not as medicine, and who should regulate its potential uses—the FDA Commissioner or the U.S. Attorney General. The United States has followed the wrong approach to marijuana regulation for 80 years. It is time to get it right.” Read more.

OP-ED: IT’S HIGH TIME WE TOOK A BREATH FROM MARIJUANA COMMERCIALIZATION

The Denver Post published a remarkable op-ed from Colorado US Attorney Bob Troyer urging Colorado and other states considering marijuana legalization to pause and assess the results of this policy experiment. Among the highlights he mentions:

  • Colorado's youth use marijuana at a rate 85 percent higher than the national average

  • Marijuana-related traffic fatalities are up by 151 percent

  • 70 percent of 400 licensed pot shops surveyed recommend that pregnant women use marijuana to treat morning sickness

  • Colorado has a booming black market exploiting our permissive regulatory system

  • Marijuana tax revenue adds less than one percent to Colorado's coffers, which is more than washed out by the public health, public safety, and regulatory costs of commercialization 

  • Colorado's alcohol consumption has steadily climbed since marijuana commercialization

He wisely says, “We should pause and catch our breath before racing off again at the industry's urging.” Read more.

A Strategy to Assess the Consequences of Marijuana Legalization

There is a pressing need for a formal repository of information related to the public health, safety and other consequences, both of marijuana use and of marijuana legalization itself, as well as changes in public attitude about marijuana use and policies.  This requires a sustained and systematic annual collection, analysis and reporting of these data to the public. Because of the burdens imposed and the controversies sure to result from managing an annual report on the consequences of marijuana use and legalization, it is likely that no federal agency will step forward on its own to systematically collect, analyze and report these data.  For this reason this Strategy calls on the US Congress both to designate an entity to perform this vital function and to providing adequate funding for it for a period of at least 10 years.

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