Public health and addiction prevention professionals have been closely watching the development of regulations for, and roll-out of, a recreational marijuana industry in Massachusetts. Many concerning policies are being institutionalized with many public health and prevention professionals sounding the alarm regarding the “Social Equity Program” and all associated components included in the Cannabis Control Commission’s regulations, driven by industry representatives, both internal and external to the process. These regulations increase availability and access of marijuana to populations who are already disproportionately affected by youth marijuana use: One quarter (24.5%) of Massachusetts youth (grades 9-12) used marijuana regularly (past 30-day). LGBTQ and Latino youth have higher use rates and students who identify as “multi-racial” are almost twice as likely to use marijuana regularly (45.8% compared to 24.5%) (Monitoring the Future 2015). Although, on the surface the “Social Equity Program” sounds like a good idea, the Cannabis Control Commission’s regulatory language drives market growth, targets communities with high unemployment rates (low income), minorities, veterans, the LGTBQ population, and is counter-productive to the state’s addiction prevention goals.
The marijuana lobby and its spokespersons now are actively blaming communities who refuse to support commercial drug use promotion for the black market in marijuana.
And unfortunately, the Boston Globe, Gatehouse Media and other media outlets are buying in. The Globe’s July 7th, 2018 editorial “Mass. towns need to stop stalling on marijuana rules” is about the uncertainty created for the marijuana industry because of extended moratoriums. But behind that pretense is the new blame game: saying that communities who choose to refuse to support or promote commercial marijuana/THC are responsible for the marijuana black market.
The notion that all communities should increase marijuana/THC availability and sales because some of them are stuck with it is illogical. It’s like saying that because Flint has lead in its water, all communities in Michigan should have lead in their water for the sake of social justice. Both are known neurotoxins to the developing brain. And both hit vulnerable populations hardest. And we need less of both neurotoxins in all of our communities.
If the shaky numbers coming out of UMass Amherst for the “marijuana baseline study” (with a survey response rate of 20ish % — too low to be valid) are anywhere near true, with marijuana use rates at 19%, that number is worrisome and high. Tobacco use rates have been brought down to 11% in Massachusetts. The marijuana commercialization lobby is clearly driving a message that is encouraging more marijuana/THC use. That’s a public health indicator that is moving in precisely the wrong direction.
Fact-packed. 1st person, on the ground testimonials from family members, physicians, social servants, law enforcement, environmental officials, business owners, and communities harmed by marijuana/cannabis/THC normalization, legalization, commercialization. This is worth sharing with every local and state policy maker that you know. It’s time to regroup, refocus, and put the lid back on commercial Pot.
The Idaho premiere of Chronic State was a great success. Held at the historic Egyptian theater in downtown Boise, audience members were introduced to Idaho’s new marijuana education campaign “KeepIdaho” (KeepIdaho.org) before watching a powerful one-hour documentary that reveals the true consequences of legalization. This was followed by a panel discussion that included some of the amazing experts who appear in the film: Jo McQuire, Dr. Libby Stuyt, Dr. Brad Roberts, Aubree Adams, and Lynn Riemer.
The event concluded with a standing ovation from most members of the audience.
Chronic State was produced by DrugFree Idaho in partnership with the fantastic documentary film team of Ronn Seidenglanz and Tanya Pavlis (Sidewayz.com). Sidewayz previously produced our amazing youth video called “Natural High.” https://vimeo.com/181200245.
Although Chronic State was produced in Idaho as part of our statewide marijuana education efforts, it is being made available to everyone. After watching it you will find ways that it can benefit your state.
Chronic State can be accessed through the DrugFree Idaho website (www.drugfreeidaho.org).
Idaho’s new media campaign can be seen here: http://keepidaho.org.
Please forward these resources to everyone you know. If this information is widely shared with legislators, other public officials, community stakeholders, youth, and the general public, it will greatly assist you in your efforts to expose the real consequences of legalization.
As cities and towns in Massachusetts consider whether to allow marijuana-related uses in their communities, many are doing the math and deciding it’s not worth it.
Westborough was the first to “Opt Out” AND others are following suit having asked themselves whether increased drug use and it’s predictable impacts on youth use rates, adult heavy use of an increasingly potent drug, and youth and adult addiction, are compatible with the brand of their communities.
The media loves headlines pronouncing the amount of revenue that taxing marijuana commerce may bring into states. But as is often the case with marijuana coverage, rarely do reporters inquire deeply and rarely do they put marijuana revenue into the context of public health, enforcement and societal costs, and seldom do they do the math.
In the business world, any potential revenue stream is weighed against ability to meaningfully contribute to the financial health of the company and against its costs. The same should be true for revenue derived from State and Federal policy.
The possibility of $100 million a year in state tax revenue from commercializing marijuana is getting a lot of press in Massachusetts for example.
$100 million in revenue per year would contribute a mere .002% of the State’s annual ($40.1 Billion) budget. It takes around $110 million PER DAY to run the State. So all the revenue would net Massachusetts less than one day’s operating needs.
Many young people are being mistakenly led to believe that commercial marijuana is a solution for routine anxiety. The rebound effect from using this drug often leaves anxiety and depression worse. Many adults are being deceived, by those who would profit from cannabis commercialization, that increasing access to marijuana will stem the opioid crisis.
In their April 12, 2018 op-ed, “Easing access to marijuana is not a way to solve the opioid epidemic,” published on “STAT”, Nicholas Chadi (a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital) and Sharon Levy (director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital) make a compelling cautionary case for increasing and easing access to marijuana at a population level through commercialization.
“…There is ample evidence that individuals — especially adolescents — who use marijuana have much higher rates of mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders than their peers. The loss of motivation that we see in so many of our patients who use marijuana, its negative impact on functioning at school or at work, and its likely connection with cognitive decline are other serious and common harms.
Adolescents who use marijuana are also more likely to misuse prescription opioid medications. In our experience, nearly all of our patients with opioid addiction first used marijuana heavily.”
Here’s the full article as published at STAT:
Easing access to marijuana is not a way to solve the opioid epidemic
By NICHOLAS CHADI and SHARON LEVY APRIL 12, 2018
Marijuana IS NOT “Harmless”
Only the Cannabis Industry, and those deceived by their decades-long tobacco-like campaign of normalization, are saying marijuana is harmless. Those who are studying the effects of regular marijuana use are warning the drug is in fact clearly harmful — not only to those most vulnerable (youth and young adults with still-developing brains) but to regular adult heavy users as well.
Even as those appointed to regulate the marijuana industry in Massachusetts are being bombarded by the self-serving narrative of this next addiction-for-profit industry, doctors and scientists are amassing volumes of evidence that regular marijuana use IS harmful.
Here is the testimony of a neuroscientist submitted to the Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission. Lawmakers, voters, regulators, mothers and fathers, as well as would-be and current users, should read the following and its embedded links:
Dear Members of the Cannabis Control Commission,
I am a PhD level neuroscientist, trained analyst in mental health and substance use disorder pathophysiology and therapeutic areas, and parent of three young children; I have been a leader in youth substance abuse prevention efforts in the MetroWest region for the past 7 years.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that no amount of marijuana use is safe for children and youth; chronic use during adolescence is associated with long-lasting effects on the brain resulting in increased risk of addiction and negative impacts on mental health (including suicide and psychosis 1,2) and achievement metrics. Marijuana/cannabis is not “harmless”. Commercialization and use of high potency marijuana products, including concentrates and edibles, are of particular concern with respect to increased risk of negative consequences for public health and safety. Legalization of marijuana reduces youth perception of harm and increases access to marijuana by youth. Continue reading Recommendations to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission from a Neuroscientist
Heavy use and high potency commercialized marijuana are real dangers of pot commercialization. Already this latest addiction for profit industry is proved to follow the others: 80% of sales come from 20% of daily chronic users. And as prices inevitably collapse with over supply, so do the tax revenues leaving insufficient funding for health services, regulation, enforcement and prevention.
This is unprecedented — a side effect of pot commercialization: much more heavy use of a much more potent drug.
This pot market takes on a life of its own. It quickly slips out of control. Agricultural economics and commodity market stampedes.
- supply goes up
- prices plummet
- a glut of product results
- cheap excess drug gets pushed onto new consumers
- potency is driven up as producers try to differentiate their products
- more people use more potent pot more often
- predictable health and mental health consequences
This selection of 30 references is a thorough compilation of current research findings on the health impacts of marijuana and the public health impacts of marijuana legalization and commercialization.
Any policymaker or journalist seeking to be better informed than by the spin of industry promoters would do well to inform their decision making, advocacy and reporting by studying and referencing this work. Continue reading What Scientific & Medical Journals & Experts Say About Marijuana
VOTE YES to OPT OUT to KEEP OUT Pot Shops:
When do we vote?
TOWN ELECTIONS BALLOT – Tuesday, March 7, Westborough High School, 8am-8pm
TOWN MEETING – Saturday, March 18, Westborough High School, 1pm, (potential continuation to Monday, March 20, 7pm)
Do we have to vote twice?
We encourage you to vote twice. The two voting venues are independent of each other. If you are unable to vote twice, it is absolutely fine to just vote in one of the two voting dates.
Why do we need 2 votes – Town Ballot: Tues, Mar 7 and Town Meeting: Sat, Mar 18-20th?
To avoid the state mandate in the new marijuana law that our community host pot shops, we must “opt out.”
To “opt out” of commercial pot sales requires a “vote of the voters” to pass a “bylaw” preventing pot shops. A “vote of the voters” occurs at the ballot box. A “bylaw”, however, must be passed on the Town Meeting floor. To withstand legal challenge, Westborough, under the current law, must do both. The Board of Selectman and Town Manager are referring to it as a belt and suspenders approach.
Who can vote?
To vote you must be a U.S. Citizen, age 18 and older, and a Massachusetts resident. You must register 20 days prior to the election. Continue reading Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana Law Opt Out — Westborough Voter Guide
Update April 3, 2017: The Massachusetts Municipal Association continues to advocate for changes to the Massachusetts Marijuana Law that simply and clarify local control options for cities and towns. This is their letter to the Joint Committee on Marijuana.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association sent, in November 2016, a strongly and thoughtfully worded appeal to State leaders urging changes be made to the law passed with Ballot Question 4 to regulate commercialized marijuana for recreational use. On December 7th, 2016 MMA issued a call to action to Massachusetts members and citizens to urge their legislators to delay and rewrite this law that is fraught with “many unanswered questions and many significant flaws”. Continue reading MMA Appeals to State Leadership to Amend Marijuana Law to Protect Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Public Health, Interest and Safety
“Marijuana use during pregnancy interrupts fetal brain development. This can result in permanent damage and compromise the development of future cognitive abilities (1). It is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, that impacts the growth of the brain and this stage of the brain’s development.
Update 02/04/2017: The New York Times may finally be taking the public health impacts of marijuana commercialization more seriously if their article, “Pregnant Women Turn to Marijuana: Perhaps Harming Infants” is an indication. THC ingestion is among the more insidious downstream effects of the normalization of cannabis use. The percentages of pregnant moms using pot seems smallish, but the numbers have nearly doubled since legalization and commercialization. And that with more potent pot on the market.
The comparison with alcohol still irks. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a more universally understood risk. Don’t drink while pregnant is common advice. These are two completely different chemical exposures. With a beer or a glass of wine the water soluble alcohol is metabolized and excreted from the body in 24 hours. With cannabis, THC not only crosses placenta, but it is fat soluble and persists in the fatty tissues and breast milk for weeks or months–much more health education needed here.
Colorado hospitals have THC-positive babies needing extra care now in there maternity wards nearly every day now.
Marijuana investors and businesses would be wise to begin to accrue a legal liability fund. It is only a matter of time for evidence and public health policy to catch up, as it did with the tobacco industry and spurn lawsuits to reoup the costs caused by the downstream effects of THC normalization. Continue reading Marijuana During Pregnancy — Real Risks Real Harm
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce announces its opposition to ballot Question 4 which proposes the
legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. Please see below for the official statement.
“The case against Question 4 is a compelling one on many levels, starting with the broad public health concerns raised by elected officials. The bill is drafted with the wants of the marijuana industry placed before the needs and safety of our communities, including the business community. Continue reading Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Announces Opposition to Question 4 and Commercial, Retail, Recreational Marijuana Industry
By PAUL M. McNEIL
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
When people ask me why I am against the legalization of marijuana, I need to take a deep breath and compose my thoughts, for I consistently struggle knowing where to begin.
My biggest concern is that by legalizing this increasingly potent psychoactive drug we are creating the next “Big Tobacco.” At the height of tobacco commercialization, over 50 percent of Americans smoked. That is not “progressive.” That’s an epidemic – and it’s the last thing I think Massachusetts wants and deserves with regards to marijuana legislation. Continue reading Weed worry: Why I dread advent of recreational pot
The Massachusetts Assocation of School Superintendents (MASS) has taken a unambiguous position against the proposed Massachusetts ballot question that would open the doors to legal marijuana commercialization and an industry interested in expanding use of the drug. Citing negative impacts on young people in their communities, MASS “are strongly united in opposition to House Bill #3932”
BOSTON – Raising concerns about the negative impact increased access to marijuana will have on students and young people in their schools and communities, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) announced their opposition to the ballot question that would legalize commercial marijuana in the Commonwealth.
The Association, which represents 277 Superintendents and 148 Assistant Superintendents, cited numerous concerns about the impact on young people, including:
• In states where Marijuana is legal, minors and young adults have seen an increase in use. Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the #1 state in the nation for teen marijuana use. Teen use jumped 20% in Colorado in the two years since legalization, even as that rate has declined nationally. Continue reading Massachusetts School Superintendents Oppose Ballot Question To Legalize Commercial Marijuana
Some adults become so self-absorbed that they don’t tend to the age-appropriate needs of kids.
We are given birthing classes when our children are on the way. But we are not given classes on the adolescent stage of development. We need them.
The internet is awash with messages that glorify the use of pot. Often these messages employ sarcasm and irony to drive home a message in contradiction to the more sensible advice of parents whose boundary-setting is based in the good advice of fact-backed research or often just good common sense.
This Cult of Marijuana is rife with messages that introduce “good reasons” to get high — appealing directly to the insecurities most teens feel. Kids do not get irony. Even if they laugh along. These are adolescents and pre-adolescents.
What does a young, black DC urbanite think of marijuana legalization?
“Let’s not legalize a third drug, isn’t two enough?”
“It’s my people that will pay the cost.”
Will Jones, spoken word. The truth to marijuana legalization and commercialization. In DC, more whites voted for weed for blacks than blacks voted for marijuana in their communities. Here’s what the chattering intellectual class is missing…
The amount of stores selling liquor to blacks is disproportionately high and it’s the same for cigarettes.
If we want to change statistics of people of color locked away let’s be realistic and act in a more rational way.
Let’s address racial profiling and unjust discrimination and clean up the defiling of our criminal justice system,
Let’s work to create better jobs and school opportunities, instead of changing the rules, lets try and change our communities.
Let’s make our voices heard above the media and all their stuff, let’s not legalize a third drug, isn’t two enough?
They say it’s about civil rights and equal opportunity but we’re in a fight targeting black communities. Not a war with guns and knives but with smooth, strategic words. Still the cost will be our lives if the voice of truth is not heard.
They say it’s about discrimination so their plan is untouchable, but I say it’s an indication that some people are gullible. They’re deceived to believe what the media breathe…
Have they helped to create responsible men or just boys trying to have fun?
With support for legalization slipping (down to just 44% from 51% a year ago) there is finally some encouraging news.
Legalization of another drug for recreational purposes might have looked like to good idea on paper to some drug policy and criminology intellectuals. But its not looking so great in reality.
Fortunately, there are now new resources to help Americans better understand the most misunderstood illicit drug in the country.
We don’t determine medicine by public opinion in this country.
And we should not have addiction for profit lobbying groups and wall street speculators pressuring America to legalize a third major addictive drug for “recreational” purposes.
The target market is always the most vulnerable. Predatory advertising targets the suffering and young people to create lifetime customers. Private profits soar, along with over-consumption and public health and safety fallout. Its time to get smart about the about the facts of this drug. Its not your Grandma’s Woodstock Weed anymore. Marijuana harms. Component medicines may heal — but that hasn’t been proven. Continue reading Marijuana Legalization: Not Looking So Good In Reality
Its becoming increasingly common to hear proponents of marijuana legalization to say its “the government” who wants to keep this drug illegal. Understandably, if one cannot win an argument on the merits, then attack either A) the person making the better case, or B) the government or any other convenient conspiracy canard.
However — many doctors treating kids derailed by this drug, which is almost always a pre-cursor for their young patients and clients who move on to other drugs or developing other co-occurring mental health problems, think expanding the supply of this drug through open commercialization is a bad idea for public health.
The Lancet tells us why:
Dr. Muiris Houston emphasized the recent findings published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry regarding youth marijuana use, which included research showing teenagers who are daily users of marijuana are:
- 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a university degree
- seven times more likely to attempt suicide
- 8 times more likely to use other drugs
- more likely to become addicted to marijuana
- more likely to become welfare dependent
In the US, adolescent marijuana use is at the highest levels since 1992. Canada’s stats look similar. And the marijuana they are smoking is at least 3 to 8 times more potent than the weed of previous decades.
What was happening in 1992 that led to some of the lowest rates of use of this drug over 40 years?
What was the messaging that persuaded kids not to use?
What was the funding for education, prevention and enforcement of marijuana laws?
What has changed?
Something was working then that is not working now . . . and our kids are paying the price. We are trending in the wrong direction with exposures to this drug.
Having pot profiteers waiting in the wings, advertising and glamorizing this drug — without consequence — is a very clear part of this picture.
Is this what we want for the coming generation? In the United States, Mental Health Parity is now the law of the land. Insurance companies will have to cover the treatment costs for drug abuse and addiction when it strikes. We know that one in six adolescents who use today’s marijuana will become addicted. And that risk of addiction goes up to 25-50% among those who smoke marijuana daily. Continue reading Mental Health Parity and Marijuana — Insurance Companies Will Have to Pay
Those who say a 21-year-old age limit on marijuana sales solves the problem of youth exposures are dreaming . . . society is porous . . . where there is more pot, more pot falls into the hands of young people.
Adolescent development is a stage where the brain does not process long term consequences, and it is a time of egocentrism and a strong need to figure out peer relationships and find a place to belong.
The euphoria of a cannabis high, when it falsely appears “all the kids are doing it” can trump what well intentioned adults have told their kids about the rules.
We are seeing the highest levels of youth marijuana use in 30 years. And it is a much more potent drug this time around as profiteers seek to deliver the most impactful high to eager consumers looking for just that.
Prevention education will be more critical than ever for this drug. Sound drug policy, law and messaging should be driving use rates down, not up.
That will be the measure of success.
Here is an interesting infographic about youth marijuana use.
Pertaining to the Boston Globe’s recent publishing of an opinion piece advocating to “End Prohibition of Heroin”…
The Manipulation of the American Public
In 1912 the United States signed an international convention restricting the use of opium, heroin and cocaine and as a direct result of prohibitive drug policies, the use of these illicit drugs has remained below .5% for the American population.
Is the fact that 91% of Americans over the age of 12 don’t use drugs , and that only .01% or 200,000 people use heroin really a failure of prohibitive drug policies?
This video from a self-described “nerd” with no dog in the fight of legalization, takes a careful look at peer reviewed literature to address the many myths that are being perpetrated by the pot-lobby and marijuana proponents. Here are the YouTube notes and the bibliography:
This video deals exclusively with the documented negative health consequences of recreational cannabis use.
I used data from over 140 papers in the process of preparing this video. I’ve done my best to document sources. Below are some key papers for reference. Continue reading Video: Peer-Reviewed Publications on Negative Marijuana Health Effects
Those that have succumbed to the decades long indoctrination of the Cannabis Cult love to spout the notion that drugged driving on marijuana has not led many car accidents at all, let alone life-threatening ones. They go so far as to say that marijuana mellows you out and, if anything, makes you drive slower and therefore more carefully. Here’s a very typical comment that might show up on any story on drugged driving:
“pot heads have been driving our roads since it became widely used in the 60’s. this is nothing new. you don’t hear of many wrecks from pot.”
Well tell that to the friend of a stoned driver in Halifax, MA who is still on life support…here’s the story from CBS:
Decriminalization, Medicinalization, Legalization — three steps to full legalization and big marijuana.