Why We Opt-Out — The Emerging Narrative on Community Marijuana Opt-Outs

Marijuana commercialization disguised as compassion
Under the guise of compassion and rights lurks an industry bent on creating a market of lifetime users.

It’s time to take our communities back from the national pot lobby.

“Opting Out on marijuana profiteering is Opting In to Community Health and Wellness” 

Important local messaging:

  1. Marijuana IS NOT harmless.  The only people saying marijuana is harmless are those standing to profit from it and those who believe them. Science and medicine tell us otherwise.
  2. Where there’s more pot more people use. Increased supply and commercial access to this drug impacts youth and vulnerable citizens. 80% of marijuana revenue now comes from 20% of heaviest users–this is the definition of an “Addiction-For-Profit” industry.

3. Normalization of marijuana use impacts use rates, school performance and workplace performance. The highest rates of use, across age categories, are where the drug had been commercialized. 

4. Public Health:  Addiction prevention involves community environmental factors that delay and minimize drug exposures, especially to the developing brain through age 25.  But heavy use, daily/near-daily use, and “Cannabis Use Disorder” (addiction) is now a defined substance use disorder in DSM 5 and is a growing public health issue of concern. 

5. Community and Public Safety:  marijuana profiteering impacts community health norms and community safety. 

6. Black and grey market marijuana is now thriving where marijuana has been commercialized — hiding illegal activity in plain sight. It is most prevalent in communities that permit commercial marijuana establishments. 

7. Economic realities:  the social costs on local services  and health impacts outweigh potential revenues.  The Massachusetts law sets the tax rate at a level so low we will never see the numbers being teased by the industry from CO or WA. And, as supply increases, prices collapse and with them tax revenue. Social and enforcement costs remain the same and escalate. And in any case, some revenue is not worth taking.  Case in point:  CVS quit selling tobacco products, giving up $2B in tobacco revenues,  because it was incompatible with their brand, and it was the right thing to do. The State of Rhode Island’s study concludes public government costs run at over 120% of marijuana-derived tax revenues.

8. Community norms shape well-being.  What message does supporting and promoting marijuana use send? Elected leaders should ask themselves if they want to be on the record as promoting drug use or preventing drug use. Local leaders should act out of the Precautionary Principle which says where there is a disagreement on the facts, but a plausible risk, ACT TO DO THE LEAST HARM.

9. Incompatible with community brand. Community “brand”, or community character, is important.  A family-friendly community culture with family-friendly policies matters.  And marijuana promotion impacts a community’s public image. 

10. What we are seeing in states that have commercialized marijuana?

— increased homelessness

— increased emergency room visits

— increased THC exposures from normalized marijuana products 

— increased Mj-positive fatal car crashes

— school issues, including drug policy violations and increased suspensions, expulsions.  Drop out rates significantly higher among marijuana using high school and college students.  

Here’s an Opt-Out Action Plan.