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Dr. Robert S. Kiefner: Opponent of legal marijuana relies on ‘wild speculation’



For the Monitor
Saturday, December 08, 2018

In her op-ed piece headlined “The high costs of legalizing marijuana in New Hampshire” (Monitor Opinion, Dec. 3), Kate Frey presents some appropriate concerns about legalized marijuana, which are overshadowed by wild speculation regarding potential adverse social and economic impacts.

Her cautions about drug use among young people cannot be disputed. The adolescent brain is highly susceptible to harm from alcohol, marijuana and all other substances of abuse. Among heavy users, the neurologic templates, upon which personality and judgment are formed, will be significantly altered. At issue is the concern that legalized and regulated marijuana (for persons over 21) will invariably target younger users. These are kids who, by the way, can now easily obtain unregulated marijuana products on the street, along with more dangerous drugs (opiates, cocaine, meth) that might be in their dealer’s inventory.

Sadly, Frey garners support for her concerns about “Big Marijuana” and the unraveling of our social fabric from the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University. This organization publishes reports based upon right-wing ideology and speculative distortion of data rather than facts. Among the speakers at the 2018 Western Conservative Summit, supported by the institute, were disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt, the blatantly racist Rep. Steve King of Iowa and the notoriously tone deaf NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

We are surrounded by states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults, with the intent of regulating and taxing the product. We should not be supporting the state budgets of Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont when adult New Hampshire citizens choose to purchase marijuana across the state line, nor should we be supporting the gangs and cartels that are benefiting from the status quo.

Marijuana is not a totally innocuous substance, and those who elect to use it should be fully informed of its risks as well as any perceived benefits. But harm reduction and prevention of death should be paramount. To focus efforts upon an anti-marijuana campaign, especially when individuals and families suffer catastrophic consequences for lack of ready access to treatment for alcohol and opioid addictions, makes little sense.

The majority of New Hampshire citizens support legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, with a substantial portion of those tax revenues going toward drug education, recovery and rehabilitation services. To support anti-legalization efforts, at this point in time, is just creating a smokescreen to conceal other agendas.

(Dr. Robert S. Kiefner lives in
Concord.)