Here is a brief rundown of marijuana news as well as an update on what we have been up to over the last month.
Public Health’s Biggest Victories over Big Pot in 2018
Malcom Gladwell Asks “Is Marijuana As Safe As We Think?” In The New Yorker
Public health and safety advocates, including Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and its state affiliates, are celebrating a year of victories against the growing marijuana industry as multiple marijuana legalization bills failed from coast-to-coast.
Healthy and Productive North Dakota, SAM’s affiliate, and other supporters worked to defeat Proposition 1 by the second highest margin in the recent history of such ballot measures.
NJ-RAMP and other partners in New Jersey have successfully slowed down Governor Phil Murphy’s attempt to legalize marijuana in the Garden State. The Governor sought to legalize the substance in his first hundred days. A year later, he has failed to do so thanks to the dedication of supporters like you.
All told, eight states said no thank you to the marijuana industry’s attempts to expand in their state either at the ballot box or in the state legislatures.
Additionally, we are working within states that have legalized, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and California, to help local communities “opt-out” of legalization by banning pot shops in their communities.
Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell questioned the rush to legalize marijuana in this piece entitled “Is Marijuana As Safe As We Think?”, and he made compelling points.
Gladwell questions the rush to legalize when we don’t have solid data behind the effects today’s highly potent marijuana has on the human brain. We know from the preponderance of data available what effects low potency marijuana can have on the human brain. Greater odds of mental illness and substance abuse, loss of IQ points, early onset of schizophrenia, and even marijuana dependence.
Additionally, Gladwell points out that:
“We’re only a decade or so into the widespread recreational use of high-potency marijuana. Maybe cannabis opens the door to other drugs, but only after prolonged use. Or maybe the low-potency marijuana of years past wasn’t a gateway, but today’s high-potency marijuana is.”
Indeed, by rushing to legalize today’s highly potent pot, our policy makers could be simply dumping more fuel on the fire that is the addiction epidemic our nation is currently trying to deal with.
SAM Unveils New Resource: Marijuana Industry Donation Tracker
This initiative seeks to expose elected officials who pocket money from the marijuana industry and then support policies that would benefit the industry. This blatant conflict of interest must be exposed, and we are proud to roll out this resource free of charge.
“These elected officials have decided to put the addiction-for-profit interests of Big Pot over the interest of public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of SAM. “We at SAM have been actively following the flow of money from the industry to elected officials and now the public can see if their member of Congress has been bought and paid for by Big Marijuana and its Big Tobacco investors.”
Corinne Lamarca-Gasper: “Don’t say marijuana is harmless. A stoned driver killed my daughter.”
Big Tobacco Invests Heavily into the Marijuana Industry
In an oped for the Chicago Tribune, Corinne Lamarca Gasper shared the tragic story of how her daughter was killed by a man driving while high on marijuana.
“In 2012, my daughter, Jennifer Hrobuchak, in the prime of her life, was hit by a man racing through a red light at more than 80 mph. His car slammed into the side of my daughter’s car. She had no time to react, to think, to even say goodbye. She died at the scene. She was only 22 years old.”
“This driver, who bought his pot in Michigan, crossed the state border into Ohio unnoticed and then committed a crime I hope no one else ever has to experience. Don’t tell me marijuana is victimless. Don’t tell me marijuana can be legalized in one state and stay put. Don’t tell me this drug is a benefit to society when the facts state otherwise.”
After sharing her heartbreaking story, Corinne shared how legalization of marijuana has led to dramatic increases in marijuana-impaired driving and fatalities.
It’s official. Big Tobacco is continuing its efforts to monopolize the marijuana industry. Altria, one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco products, announced it is investing $12.8 billion in vaping giant, Juul, a company that controls 68% of the e-cigarette market.
This came just a week after the Marlboro maker announced it is pumping $1.8 billion in Canadian marijuana grower, Cronos. It also came a week after we learned that marijuana vaping has risen significantly, up more than 50% among all age groups.
“Big Tobacco is officially going all in with the marijuana industry now,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “The men in suits who once told America that nicotine is not addictive are now doing the same with marijuana, and laughing all the way to the bank.
SAM Summit Confirmed: NYT Journalist and Author Alex Berenson
Alex’s book, published just weeks ago and already in its third print, has turned the pot industry upside down. Marijuana apologists have been working overtime to debunk Alex’s meticulously researched book.
While Berenson can offer an in-depth look at his research, featured keynote speaker former US Attorney Bob Troyer will present an eyewitness account of how marijuana commercialization has negatively impacted the state of Colorado. Make sure you check out his September 2018 op-ed ” It’s high time we took a breath from marijuana commercialization .”
Op-ed: ”Allowing Oregon to Export Marijuana is a Folly That Will Encourage More Growing”
In the past few years, marijuana use is up significantly, by 10%, among 10th graders, and current vaping of marijuana is up 63% for eighth and tenth graders and 53% for twelfth graders, according to new numbers from the largest drug use survey in the United States.
In addition, the study found that the percentage of youth who say they would use marijuana if it was legal has increased, and that 12th graders admitting to driving after using marijuana is significantly higher. Marijuana use has been known to more than double the chance of being in a car crash.
“The marijuana industry’s efforts to glamorize and normalize marijuana appears to be working. After a decline in use, marijuana use is on the rise again over the past few years, particularly among 10th graders, and especially with respect to vaping,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “We call on regulators to stop the sales of 99% THC vapes and edibles, the two most likely modes of administration after smoking, and to press pause on further proposals to commercialize THC.”
Recently, Oregon lawmakers have proposed the idea of exporting marijuana grown in the state to other states in an attempt to mitigate its glaring overproduction problems.
Oregon Utterly Fails to Regulate the Marijuana Market; SAM Calls for Moratorium on Sales
An audit conducted by the Oregon Secretary of State found that the recreational marijuana market has failed to stay up to date on mandated inspections, its testing system continues to allow exposure to harmful contaminants, and regulators of the industry have done next to nothing to stop legal marijuana from fueling the black market.
This remarkable report found that only 3% of Oregon’s retail stores and only a third of its growers have been inspected for shortcomings, like molds, metals, and bacteria. In a remarkable statement for a legal-state government entity, the state admitted: “Oregon’s marijuana testing program cannot ensure that test results are reliable, and products are safe.”
“This earth-shattering report makes one thing clear: states cannot regulate the marijuana industry. Earlier this month, it was reported that Oregon was seriously considering exporting pot grown within its borders to other “legal” states. Now it comes to light that the problem is worse than we thought,” said SAM President Dr. Kevin Sabet. “It is painfully evident that the state is not just failing to hold the industry accountable, they aren’t even trying.”
In response to this report, SAM is officially calling for the following:
-An immediate moratorium on marijuana sales in the state of Oregon.
-An audit of state inspection facilities
-An independent state commission to examine problems
-DOJ and/or special master intervention to ensure the state secures public health
Stephen Reid: “NJ Marijuana Legalization: Promises About Legal Weed Benefits are False”
Oped: “Cuomo backs recreational marijuana legalization, but at what cost, drug policy expert asks”
In his State of the State address, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy restated his call for marijuana legalization in the state for social justice and also for the revenue it could bring the state. In response, NJ-RAMP Executive Director, Stephen Reid, penned an oped blasting Governor Murphy’s promises as hollow.
“New Jersey isn’t the first state to hear big promises about budget-fixing tax revenue from marijuana legalization and should our lawmakers move to legalize, we surely won’t be the first state to be let down.
“In 2014, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper projected the state would rake in $118 million in pot taxes the first year of legalization. In reality, it only brought in around $67 million…well short of the promised windfall.
“While on the topic of promises failing to materialize, a recent NBC report found that the vast promises of social justice that would come with the legalization of marijuana (as we have heard from many here in our state) have simply fallen short.”
After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out his proposal to legalize marijuana during his State of the State address, SAM president Dr. Kevin Sabet wrote an oped for the Journal News calling out the governor for his reckless plan and promising pushback:
“Pot legalization is not a done deal. Recent polling shows support for legalization among New Yorkers has dropped 10 percent since Cuomo chose to push for it, even though just one year ago he was adamantly opposed to it. Additionally, an Emerson College poll found that a majority of New Yorkers prefer better forms of decriminalization over full legalization.
“On his way out the door, California’s governor, a Democrat, stated plainly: “I have not counted on any revenue from marijuana. Who’s counting on the marijuana revenue? People said that to make it more plausible for voters.” What makes us think the New York experiment will be any different? Let’s not turn the New York State of Health into the New York State of Pot. We can do better than that.”
Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana: New Book Co-Edited by Dr. Kevin Sabet Available Now
This new book, co-edited by Drs. Kevin A. Sabet and Ken C. Winters, comprises chapters by other experts hailing from a wide range of fields including psychology, epidemiology, medicine, and criminal justice. It is a balanced, data-driven volume highlighting new theory and clinical evidence pertaining to marijuana.
The volume features a comprehensive review of research into marijuana’s impact on public health, including how it affects cognitive and neurological functioning, its medical effects, suggested treatment approaches for marijuana use disorders, marijuana smoking and lung function, and marijuana-impaired driving.