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Pot reform group touts health-based debate in N.H.

Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, right, listens to a question, as he sits with daughter Harper, 5, left, as wife Amy holds their newborn daughter Nora Kara, in Pomona, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, as they prepare to leave a New Jersey hospital with their newborn one day before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy is the son of the late Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, right, listens to a question, as he sits with daughter Harper, 5, left, as wife Amy holds their newborn daughter Nora Kara, in Pomona, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, as they prepare to leave a New Jersey hospital with their newborn one day before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy is the son of the late Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Former U.S. representative Patrick Kennedy and supporters of his advocacy group yesterday railed against a bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in New Hampshire.

Kennedy and his group – Smart Approaches to Marijuana – say legalizing marijuana would create another class of addicts, akin to those hooked on tobacco and alcohol.

“We’re talking about a public health nightmare coming down the road,” Kennedy said. “I’m against legalization because I don’t want to see a for-profit industry whose only motive is to get more customers.”

SAM is partnering with New Futures – a Granite State nonprofit working to reduce drug and alcohol problems. The partnership makes New Hampshire the 20th state in which SAM has a presence.

Speaking at a press conference in Concord’s Legislative Office Building, Kennedy and other advocates urged New Hampshire lawmakers to wait and see how “the experiment” unfolds in Washington state and Colorado – two states that legalized recreational marijuana use.

New Hampshire already has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but has not yet implemented rules for its use. The proposed legislation would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use by adults.

Opponents of the bill pointed to the already-high rate of marijuana use by New Hampshire teens.

Results released this month on the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that about 1 in 10 adolescents in New Hampshire report regular use of marijuana – the ninth-highest in the country.

The survey also found that 80 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who entered state-funded treatment in New Hampshire sought treatment for marijuana dependence.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, acting president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, urged lawmakers not to be swayed by the “spin” that no one is harmed by smoking a joint.

“Nobody ever died from smoking a cigarette,” Gitlow said. “They became addicted and smoked another and a third and kept on going.”

Gitlow said heavy marijuana use creates a decline in the brain’s ability to process, reducing productivity. Youth are particularly vulnerable, he said, because the brain isn’t fully formed until age 25.

“There is absolutely nothing to be gained from this, other than a short-term tax windfall,” Gitlow said, adding that treatment would cost far more than any revenue the state receives.

Chuck Rosa, who founded Chucky’s Fight after his two oldest sons died of accidental drug overdoses, said he works daily with teens and adults battling drug addiction. He said he doesn’t know of a worse idea than legalizing marijuana.

“It troubles me to think we’d compromise the well-being of our youth to make a few bucks,” Rosa said.

Legacy Comments1

"The survey also found that 80 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who entered state-funded treatment in New Hampshire sought treatment for marijuana dependence." You think those kids were entering treatment voluntarily? I guarantee you, most were parents who overreacted and forced their kids to go or teens that were arrested and given a choice between a rehab and a harsher sentence. Most people would choose rehab over juvenile detention or jail. A report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association reported in 2008 "that only 15 percent of marijuana treatment admissions were self-referred (a category that includes individual self-referrals, as well as referrals by friends and family). Yet, the DEA and that douche-canoe Kennedy get to point to that statistic and say "Geez, why are so many young people entering treatment for marijuana addiction? I guess because it must be such an addictive drug". The apparent high rate of marijuana dependence is a result of our approach to marijuana prohibition and is a bold faced lie. http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/teds08/TEDS2k8NatWeb.pd... "Nobody ever died from smoking a cigarette," Gitlow said. "They became addicted and smoked another and a third and kept on going." There is not a single death, in recorded history, that was shown to be directly caused by marijuana use alone. On the other hand, 443,000 people die every year in the US directly from tobacco-related illnesses. Sensationalists like Kennedy keep trying to suggest the two are the same, but they are not in terms of both addictiveness and potential harm. Marijuana is as or even less addictive than caffeine. Legal (tobacco, alcohol, and prescription) drugs do more than illegal ones. http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/graphs/dea... http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/graphs/Dru...

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