As cannabis becomes legalized, concern about its impact is growing, Watchdog says

Marijuana plants are on display at Hepworth Farms in Milton, NY on July 15, 2022.

Marijuana plants are seen at Hepworth Farms in Milton, NY on July 15, 2022. CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

According to a national monitoring group, residents of two states that voted to approve recreational marijuana use during the midterm must closely monitor local regulatory details and the local impact on youth.

Five states had marijuana legalization on their ballots for the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Voters in North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas rejected such initiatives.

But not those in Missouri and Maryland, bringing the number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use to 21, plus the District of Columbia.

“The unintended consequences of (marijuana) legalization become a little clearer in terms of the states that didn’t swoop in and where we’ve been able to get the message across that legalization and commercialization boils down to the state helping an addiction industry to grow. said Colorado-based attorney and Catholic mom Rachel O’Bryan.

“The election (outcome) recognizes that marijuana legalization and commercialization isn’t all ‘hunky dory,'” she said, “and that there are many issues related to consumer protections, youth access, public education funding and increased substance use needs in abuse prevention services.” and addictions to come.”

O’Bryan, who served on a criminal justice working group for the Colorado Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force in 2014, is the co-founder and director of strategic projects for One Chance to Grow Up, a Colorado-based nonprofit focused on community education focuses on the impact of marijuana commercialization.

She has claimed that people — and parents in particular — are not sufficiently aware of what marijuana legalization means for society as a whole, and for youth in particular.

She said the full societal impact of today’s popular high-potency marijuana products has not yet been fully studied and understood — but the experiences gleaned in Colorado over the past decade point to the need for greater public skepticism about the multibillion-dollar industry.

O’Bryan’s view of the impact of cannabis legalization echoes concerns raised in a June study by the Drug Free America Foundation, which called for more research into the link it believes between increasing marijuana use by young people, especially teenagers, and a growing rate was found of depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

“Cannabis use is higher across all age groups in states with higher permissiveness, with 47% more monthly cannabis use among youth ages 12-17 and 81% more monthly cannabis use among young adults ages 18-25 in US states with full legalized recreational cannabis programs than (in) states where cannabis use has not been legalized,” the report said.

For her part, O’Bryan has teamed up with concerned community partners and parent organizations in Maryland and is urging both that state and Missouri to look closely at the impact of legalization, which is now becoming more apparent in Colorado, a decade after voters gave their OK to legalizing given marijuana.

These effects included a correlation between high-potency marijuana and increases in emergency room visits, mental illness and addiction, and increases and younger drug use among teens.

Commercially available marijuana products today are typically many times stronger than the widely available marijuana of 30 years ago, and are often marketed, packaged, and sold in youth-friendly, discreet products that are suitable for vaping pens and are lightweight in front of adults and teachers to hide, O. added, “Bryan in a phone interview with Catholic News Service from her winter home in Sarasota, Florida.

“We would absolutely hope that they would draw on our experience. We’re telling people, don’t be 2010’s Denver, be 2022’s South Dakota. Technology and science are evolving and we know so much more now. Regulate for today – not what Colorado did a decade ago,” O’Bryan said.

She pointed out that the Netherlands, which preceded the US in decriminalization or non-enforcement, has never actually legalized or commercialized marijuana.

This country considers marijuana with more than 15% THC a hard drug, while some common marijuana concentrates and vapor products in Colorado contain over 90% THC.

“THC” is tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in weed.

The concentrates and vaping products are thought to be a source of an increase in cannabis-related emesis and chronic cannabis use disorder episodes being seen more frequently in hospital emergency rooms.

“Vermont has a THC concentration ceiling of 60%. I also know that Massachusetts and Washington have both introduced potency-limiting legislation in recent years. Potency has been on our radar for a long time, so it’s reassuring to see that education is making policymakers more aware,” O’Bryan said.

She urges parents and coalitions of concerned citizens to recognize these technological differences and that simply telling children that “I smoked in high school and found it OK is not the way to help parents through these new challenges through legalization.” became”.

“This is a processed product and the teenage brain is still developing up to 25 years of age – if you start using a substance while your brain is still developing, it will change your brain,” O’Bryan said.

With so much industry money supporting growth in the commercial marijuana industry, she added, it takes a broad coalition of religious, criminal, parental, and medical interests and action to push for greater regulation and public safety.

About 68% of Americans support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to Gallup. When Gallup first began polling this question in 1969, “only 12% of Americans supported the idea.”

Too few voters who support legalization do so without fully thinking about how marijuana use would be restricted, taxed or regulated, let alone understanding issues of potency or use in public places, O’Bryan added .

In South Dakota, where legalization recently failed, a fairly broad opposition coalition managed to communicate its public safety concerns to enough voters with less than half a million dollars in public funding, according to Protecting South Dakota Kids.

This facility is chaired by James Kinyon, executive director and advisory director of Catholic Social Services in Rapid City, South Dakota, who has linked the dots between legal marijuana laws to higher youth drug use, unemployment, mental illness and crime.

“We know how destructive marijuana is to residents of states that have already legalized the drug,” Kinyon said in a press release.

“We have presented a well-researched, fact-based information campaign to as many communities across the state as we could physically reach over the past three months.”

The promise of huge tax revenues from marijuana legalization campaigns has been exposed as false, leaving taxpayers to blame for the astronomical costs associated with emerging social problems, he added in a statement.

“Years after the legalization of recreational marijuana, once-beautiful cities like Denver, Missoula, Montana, San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, Chicago and Washington, DC are now facing the reality of increasing crime, increasing addiction, greater poverty and less family stability . ‘ continued Kinyon.

“As is clear in states that have legalized marijuana, we know the grim reality: marijuana is destroying,” Kinyon wrote.

“It robs children of their innocence and youth, it destroys the lives of young people when dreams give way to addictions, it tears families apart with grief, it takes a once thriving, vibrant community and turns it into a tragic tent city of broken individuals with shattered lives.” “, he said.

Even Colorado is exploring its options for greater public health awareness and education about marijuana commercialization.

Colorado Springs, which currently only allows the sale of medical marijuana, recently this month rejected a ballot initiative to accommodate retail recreational marijuana stores within city limits.

And last year, O’Bryan’s “One Chance to Grow Up” successfully pushed for a state regulatory pamphlet warning legal marijuana users of the potential medical dangers of high-potency marijuana concentrates.

That effort was the result of a coalition list of 60 companies last year, according to O’Bryan. “This is the model. It takes that to regulate the industry.”

tags: Amendment 64, Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, Drug Free America Foundation, Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, Lent Regulations, Marijuana, Marijuana Legalization, Regulation

category: US and World News