Magical Notion: Legalization of Marijuana will keep it away from kids

Pot brownie edible as "medical" just another part of the marijuana farseThe magical notion that legalizing marijuana is going to help to keep the drug out of the hands of kids is a pipe dream. We need much smarter policy solutions, which lower use rates and drive down demand for this drug.

Only two states have have legalized pot recreationally and yet diversion to youth is getting worse everywhere–the following story from NJ.

Even as this dangerous drug is promoted through legalization campaigns, uncontrolled supply is increasing, intentionally confusing messaging about the risks associated with use of marijuana are lowering perception of harm, and promotional media messaging is driving up demand.

When the novel solution (drug legalization) is making a bad situation worse, its time to find another way.

Drug policies must protect the public, not pander to those that would profit from putting drugs in candies that will poison more children — and adults.

Legalization is a very bad answer. Use of this drug should be discouraged. Supply should be minimized and secured. Addicts should be diverted to treatment — not to more “reliable” pot suppliers.

The war on drugs is a 20th century notion that many believe erred on the side of incarceration for a public health problem. Drug legalization, on the other hand, is a radical scheme that errors wildly on the side of permitting profit driven schemes to produce and sell more pot — with profound downsides for public health, mental health, and public safety.

The following story ran on on May, 11 2014


Pot candies, wax add fuel to NJ marijuana legalization fight

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger 
on May 11, 2014 at 12:06 AM, updated May 11, 2014 at 2:27 AM
While cleaning up around their Rumson home last month, the parents of a 12-year-old boy found something odd between the couch cushions — a half-eaten candy bar with a picture of a marijuana leaf on the wrapper.

Their confusion quickly turned to concern, officials said, when their son admitted to eating a portion of the loaded treat.

The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for lethargy and high blood pressure, according to the state’s poison control center.

That story ended without serious injury, but police leaders and medical experts say it is indicative of a troublesome trend, as more people are beginning to find new — and potentially dangerous — ways to ingest marijuana.

As the fight to legalize the drug here and across the country continues, New Jerseyans are passing on the blunts and bowls of old and instead seeking out pot candies and wax pastes that contain concentrated doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Dubbed “jollies” and “budder,” the substances have been linked to several house fires and other incidents in New Jersey, police and experts said.

Add two recent deaths connected to edible pot in Colorado, and officials say it’s enough to stoke new criticism about the purported harmless nature of marijuana.

Young people are extremely vulnerable to marijuana addiction, especially if they start using it prior to 14.”

“Looking at the media from the surrounding states, it may only be a matter of time until that starts accelerating, and that’s very dangerous because there are kids who could be accidentally dosed in the home,” said Capt. Stephen Jones, a State Police spokesman.

Pot candies and wax marijuana, both of which provide users with a high dosage of THC, are nothing new on the national drug scene. But Jones and Bruce Ruck, director of drug information and professional education at the state poison control center, say the substances only began showing up in New Jersey in recent months.

The “jollies,” which closely resemble Jolly Rancher candies, have been spotted in Ocean County. Samples have also been reported to the State Police forensics lab and the poison control center, but most experts believe the drug has likely spread further.

Despite the concerns of police, legalization advocates say their availability here actually strengthens the argument for a state-regulated pot market, modeled after those in Washington and Colorado.

“This is one of the good reasons to legalize it,” said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in New Jersey earlier this year. “So we can tax it, regulate it and take it out from the underground.”

The danger of “jollies” lies in their appearance, police say. Each candy possesses a high dose of THC that is meant for adults to ingest in smaller pieces, but unaware children are likely to swallow it whole.

“Budder” is created by coating dried marijuana leaves with the flammable solvent, butane, to yield an oil that is nearly pure THC, said Ruck. The oil can then be heated into a paste and smoked, but the process to create it has been linked to several fires, he said.

Both the State Police and poison control have come across “budder,” and Hudson County prosecutors seized 200 containers of the wax last year.

These incidents have reignited concerns among conservatives that pot is not the harmless recreational drug many supporters paint it. Gov. Chris Christie has repeatedly said he would veto any bill that makes it legal to use marijuana here.

“What makes the ‘jolly’ most troubling is that it appears to be marketed to young people,” said Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns. “Young people are extremely vulnerable to marijuana addiction, especially if they start using it prior to 14.”

Opponents of legalization have also pointed to two violent deaths in Colorado that were linked to edible marijuana. A man who ate pot candies, and possibly other drugs, was accused of killing his wife shortly after ingesting it in Denver last month. A college student from Wyoming also leapt to his death from a balcony in Denver earlier this year after ingesting six times what is considered safe of marijuana-laced cookies.

But those are isolated incidents, advocates say.

The fact that it is illegal won’t stop people who want to cook up the candies and wax at home, they say, but regulation might make it safer.

“Any substance, if it’s abused in some way … bad things can happen. They’re a lot less likely to happen if something is legalized and controlled and regulated,” said Roseanne Scotti, executive director of the state’s Drug Policy Alliance. “Because then somebody isn’t going to buy some shadowy substance from the street, they’re going to buy it from a respected distributor.”

The apperance of marijuana candies in New Jersey has some prosecutors concerned about the push to legalize marijuana in the state. Edible marijuana has been linked to the hospitalization of a 12-year-old in New Jersey and two deaths in Denver, officials said. (Courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)