As a healthcare professional, I am both personally and professionally opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana and concerned with the consequences of that legalization.
My concern is that the profit to the state through taxation, the profit to those manufacturers and to the distributers is the driving force in this initiative with little regard to the negative impacts to our communities.
Additionally, legalization has been moving forward in the state without much input from the public health, addiction, and medical professionals. I believe there is a significant impact legalization will have on the communities of our state and on those who are at risk of addiction.
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Not Your Father’s Marijuana
It should noted that today’s marijuana is very different from the marijuana of even 10 years ago. Not long ago the smokable vegetative forms of marijuana was 5% THC. Today it can be up to 30% THC and sold in other forms such as “wax” in higher concentrations.
Research shows that 1 in 10 adults will become addicted with regular marijuana use. Increase that usage to daily and couple it with higher levels of THC there is an increased likelihood to become addicted. Higher THC potency leads to other health risks such as psychosis and long lasting changes in brain function.
Accessibility to Youth
Legalization makes marijuana more accessible to children and adolescents. Youth friendly products available in Colorado with as high as 47% THC are promoted as harmless, but there are increased accidental poisoning showing up in their emergency rooms.
These concentrated forms are smoked in vapes and consumed in gummy bears, lollipops, and brownies which are enticing to youth and can accidentally be consumed by very young children with deadly consequences.
There is also a misrepresentation that legalization will eliminate legal consequences for marijuana used by children and teens. Current legalization only legalizes marijuana usage for those over 21. My opinion is that decriminalization alone may be more effective in addressing the concern for social justice in our vulnerable communities.
Although the tax revenue generated is being touted in Trenton, the real cost of increased law enforcement efforts, additional healthcare costs, and treatment needs at the local level is being ignored. It doesn’t make sense to increase access to a drug that we know is addictive, while dismissing the negative affects to our community and citizenry.