NJ marijuana legalization: Don’t ignore the research on dangers of pot – Asbury Park Press

Kevin Sabet Published 10:37 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2019 | Updated 10:40 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2019

CLOSE

How big an issue will legal weed be in the 2020 election? What’s it take to get a medical marijuana dispensary license? And what about home grow? These questions answered in the NJ marijuana mailbag. Mike Davis, @byMikeDavis

After a bipartisan consensus crushed efforts to legalize marijuana in the spring, New Jersey leaders are once again ready to give pot a second chance.

They are making a bad mistake.

While this may be a great way to snag some pot industry donations, New Jersey is not ready to adopt a policy that would lead to more car crashes, higher drop-out rates and workplace accidents. For these and other reasons, in fact, Democrats and Republicans came together to reject legal pot once already. And a 2018 poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University found when presented with choices for marijuana policy, most New Jerseyans did not prefer legalization.

In its hunt for sky-high profits, Big Marijuana is relentlessly marketing super-potent, 99% THC dabs, concentrates and edibles in kid-friendly forms such as gummies, candies, ice creams and sodas. Studies released since the canceled vote on the bill have confirmed worrisome links between marijuana use and severe mental illness. One study, in the prestigious Lancet Journal, found daily users of average potency marijuana were three times more likely to develop psychosis. Users of the heavy stuff, the aforementioned 99% THC products, were five times more likely.

RELATED:

NJ marijuana legalization: Phil Murphy wants ‘one more shot’ at legal weed in 2019

NJ marijuana legalization: Activists already preparing for 2020 legal weed ballot question

NJ marijuana legalization: Top 10 reasons to oppose it: Editorial

NJ marijuana legalization: 7 more reasons to block legal weed: Editorial

The National Academies of Science reviewed thousands of studies on marijuana and found additional links to issues with severe mental health problems — such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Use over a long period of time was also found to be linked with permanent IQ loss, lower motor function and other harms to the developing brain. This information comes from studies conducted using marijuana at much lower potencies than what is available over the counter in Colorado and California. We have no clue what 99% THC is doing to brains.

We look out for you, your wallet and your quality of life. Whether it’s ticket-fixing judges, police misconduct, or Little League officials’ questionable finances, we’re here for you. Stay with APP.com or consider a subscription today. 

By legalizing marijuana and encouraging its use, we could potentially see New Jersey’s highly congested roadways loaded with more impaired drivers. The number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal accidents more than doubled in Colorado since legalization. AAA found the same has occurred in Washington state.

The workforce in legalized states are suffering, too. A recent study by Quest Diagnostics found workers are testing positive for marijuana at historic rates. As a consequence, Nevada recently passed a law forcing employers to hire individuals regardless of whether or not they can pass a drug test.

The industry wants everyone in New Jersey to believe legalization is about social justice, but in reality, it is a social injustice. If legalization supporters in Trenton were serious about social justice, they would hold committee hearings on Sen. Ron Rice’s decriminalization bill. Instead they let it languish.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

True marijuana reform would stop hampering people with arrest records, while discouraging drug use in vulnerable communities. But to the marijuana industry, these communities are profit centers.

In Los Angeles, the majority of dispensaries are disproportionately located in African-American communities. The same holds true in Denver, which by the way has more dispensaries than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. And the industry’s grand promises of social equity? They never happen.

Some will say we must legalize to combat the underground market, but is this the case in “legal” states? California is having to launch an expensive public awareness campaign urging folks to buy marijuana from licensed stores. Additionally, they’ve had to dispatch the National Guard to take down illegal grow operations.

New Jersey Sen. Steve Sweeney was recently quoted as saying he is “not going to give up trying” to legalize marijuana. That might make sense for him, because the general counsel for the Senate Majority Office, Fruqan Mouzon, has fled to the pot industry.

But you’d have to be smoking something to think it would be good for New Jersey.   

Kevin Sabet is president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and its New Jersey Affiliate, NJ-RAMP.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Read or Share this story: https://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/08/13/nj-marijuana-legalization-research-dangers-mental-illness/1995608001/