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Marijuana Puts Education, Kids Futures at Risk

Heather Mizeur naively campaigned for the governorship of Maryland by supporting universal pre-Kindergarten and paying for it by legalizing marijuana.  Her support came from NORML and the marijuana industry.

What good does earlier education do for child welfare when you introduce a whole set of new problems?

Look at what is going on in Colorado and Washington, and the unusual types of child endangerment that have gone on with legalization.   Many very young children have gotten into marijuana edibles which look like cookies and candy.

“Encouraging marijuana commercialism and consumption to fund and support education are two inconsistent goals,” explained Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Bravetracks, a non-profit devoted to encouraging youth activity, employment and engagement in Colorado.  “Even before Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana, Denver, where marijuana was first commercialized, had some of the highest youth use rates in the nation,” she said.

“The THC content of marijuana is extremely potent with levels reaching 20% and above in Colorado, due to competition in the industry.  Highly potent pot has become incredibly commercialized here and yet our kids have been told it’s benign. Increased access and use is a huge issue for Colorado teens who have no idea how such highly potent products can impact their health and their futures,” according to Carlson.

Since legalization, the pot problem only seems to be getting worse. “Disturbingly, Colorado kids will suck on lollipops, chew on gummy bears, or munch on granola bars without anyone knowing highly potent marijuana is being consumed. They have ‘vaped’ on pens, asthma inhalers or highlighters loaded with a concentrated form of THC that can go undetected in class.”

One high-school teacher in Denver, who wishes to remain anonymous, exclaimed, “Our job is so difficult and there are so many challenges to educating kids well in the best circumstances.  She added, “So why did the state add this other layer of challenge to our jobs and make it harder for our students to achieve success?”

Marijuana Money

“Where Commerce Meets Revolution” is how the Marijuana Policy Project (MMP) describes the Cannabis Business Summit held yesterday and today in Denver.  This title leaves no doubt that the MMP and other pot advocacy groups are about the money.

Amendment 64 passed in Colorado despite warnings of the teachers’ union and a persuasive letter from teacher Christina Blair to the Huffington Post.  It is probably because big money paid for the win in Colorado, with most of that money coming from the industry’s out-of-state lobbying groups.

One year later, by December 2013,  school administrators and law enforcement noticed the changes that came into the schools.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has warned the governors of other states not to follow Colorado’s example.

Revolutionary ideas grab attention, but Heather Mizeur didn’t win her primary.  She only promoted an idea which was heard all over the nation’s capital region.

Most likely the children who heard Mizeur’s TV commercials about marijuana will end up believing marijuana is completely harmless and could indeed be tied to education.

The pot industry regularly promotes it as a way to fund education.   It is an ironic that they would suggest a solution that only makes a problem worse.

Beware that many local candidates and representatives in Congress are taking money from the marijuana industry.   We need to watch out for the fallout from this “green rush.”  It could be worse than the mess left by the mortgage industry.

Marijuana and Teens

With the push to legalize and expansion of medical marijuana, children and teens have gained an erroneous perception that pot is harmless, studies show.  Surveys of teens indicate use would definitely go up, if marijuana is legalized.

According to David G. Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition,  “Studies indicate that usage will increase to levels near between those of tobacco and alcohol users.”   The annual survey show that all teen marijuana use, and daily marijuana use, have consistently gone up over the last five years.  As a nation and for our individual children, we need to be concerned.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It is not a way of saying “yes to life, yes to love, yes to opportunity and yes to education,” as recommended by the Pope Francis in a recent address at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.

Dr. DuPont and Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, wrote an article to suggest that changing policy necessitates a large, multi-year study using technology that has developed over the past 2 decades.  The study would aim to understand more about the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain.  Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry gives  a warning about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

 

Pot Industry Uses Deceptive Ads Without Protecting Kids

The medical marijuana industry doesn’t assure that expansion into more states will not include marketing marijuana products to children.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment,  which passed in the House of Representatives last week, may be considered in the Senate.  The provision takes away the Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute medical marijuana distributors who endanger others.  If a similar amendment passes in the Senate, it could cripple the government’s ability to investigate in states with thriving medical marijuana industries.

Abuses by the medical pot industry have been rampant, particularly in western states.  Potent edibles come without warnings; businesses have located close to schools and day care centers, and pot has been diverted to other states.

The use of seductive names has promoted the allure of pot – making it a symbol of wellness, rather than coming with the typical warnings needed for tobacco, alcohol, other drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore, the marijuana industry and their public relations campaign have misled voters by suggesting that CBD, one treatment for children with epilepsy, is the same as the medical marijuana used for stimulating appetite in cancer or AIDs patients, or for generalized pain.
Let’s cast a healthy doubt on any products whose promoters believe it to be a “wonder drug” or “elixir of the gods.”   Medical marijuana has expanded exponentially since 2009.  It’s available in 22 states, up from 13 states at the end of 2009.   A current medical publication summarized the problems coming with rapid medical marijuana expansion.

Pharmaceutical products require rigorous testing and similar standards have not been in place for the marijuana drug industry.  Most people only want medical marijuana available in pharmacies rather than through upstart ganja-preneurs, or the tobacco industry, according to surveys.

Pressure from an industry group, Americans for Safe Access, has resulted in a deceptive campaign which suggests that innocent citizens go to jail and that opposition to medi-pot industry’s expansion represents a lack of compassion.

The Television Ads

The well-funded lobby effort, “Vote Medical Marijuana,” is running 30-second TV spots on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida, the homes of two of the members who voted “no” to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment— Republican Andy Harris and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Over the past two years, the marijuana lobby has consistently threatened politicians who don’t vote with them.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz, who represents Miami, Florida, is keenly aware of the determination of the illegal drug traders in that region.  A 30-second ad against her alleges that Wasserman Schultz wants medical marijuana users to go to federal prison, while 88 percent of Floridians support legalizing access. The same man’s voice asks whether Wasserman Schultz is “out of touch” with Florida, and an image flashes across the screen of an elderly man and his wife, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a fatal neurological disease.

(A  personal injury lawyer in Orlando, John Morgan, is funding a medical marijuana ballot vote in Florida, using $4 million of his own money to finance the initiative in November, 2014.)
We need to be aware that Americans for Safe Access is manipulating us and our children with deceptive suggestions.  The ad in Maryland claims that Rep. Harris’ vote on May 30th will result in sending Maryland’s patients to prison.  A voice says,  “Congressman Andy Harris thinks it’s OK for medical marijuana patients to go to federal prison, even though Maryland passed a medical marijuana bill in April. ” and then shows the image of a 4-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy and his mother.

Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America explains the problem and suggests a solution to assure that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment is not considered in the Senate.    There’s  a simple form to notify your Senator of opposition.

A Look Inside Colorado’s Pot Industry

By Ben Cort, Board Member, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM); Director of Business Development/CeDAR at the University of Colorado Hospital. The original article is from CADCA’s  website.

Last month I was honored to speak at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum about marijuana legalization in my home state of Colorado. I wish I could say that I was caught off guard by the reaction I received but I wasn’t. It’s the same everywhere. When people hear what is going on, when they see the pictures and advertisements, the reactions are inevitable; shock, outrage, anger, even fear.

I live in Colorado, work inside of substance abuse treatment, am in recovery myself and I have three young children in public school, that’s my platform.

Make no mistake about it, we did not just legalize weed in Colorado we christened the commercialization and industrialization of the marijuana industry in Colorado.  We welcomed in a new industry that knowingly promotes an addictive and harmful substance SO THAT PEOPLE COULD MAKE MONEY. The business of business is to make money and when there is money to be made people will signup no matter how messed up the means are.  Let’s take a quick look at how the money is and will be made inside of this industry.

As of this writing there are 47 stores in Colorado that can sell recreational weed, there are about another 300 in the queue. Already the competition is fierce and the marketing wars are heating up, imagine what will come next. Right now we have everything from free T-shirts with your weed purchase and take-out orders to home delivery and a $1 joint when you show your ski pass for the day. For these businesses to continue making the huge money they are making they will need to do two things: 1) engage new users, 2) convert current users to more frequent users.

To differentiate themselves from the competition they will offer the most amount of THC they can for the lowest price possible, sound like some potential for trouble? Our weed in Colorado is so strong (20-30 percent THC in its smoked form) that we have a strain called “green crack.” We also have a full range of edibles and concentrates, these businesses are diversifying and engaging with new (and younger) customers through new products.

Our concentrates, which are advertised aggressively, are 80-90 percent THC, and are often smoked on a super-heated needle and puts the smoker on their back with one hit.  Our edibles come in gummies, fruit sodas, suckers, candy and yummy looking baked goods that are so potent that a single pot brownie in Colorado comes with a warning that it has to be cut into fourths before consuming.

I’m guessing the 2-year-old child who ended up in the ER a few miles from my house last month didn’t read the label on the weed cookie she found before eating it.

A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man from the mistakes of others. Consider that old saying and the plight of Colorado when considering legalization in your home state.

Three people were shot at Denver’s first 420 celebration after legalization in 2013, and chaos followed. This year more police took precaution. Photo: Joe Amon/ The Denver Post
Three people were shot at Denver’s first 420 celebration after legalization in 2013, and chaos followed. This year more police took precaution. Photo: Joe Amon/ The Denver Post

Legalized Marijuana: A Lesson in Failure

Supporters of pot reform promised legalization would “regulate” it and keep profits away from cartels.  It was “inventive” to think a “weed” could be regulated. In practice, the lure of without much worry about devious marketing practices, kids’ perceptions and the consequences of child abuse. It was national news when 4th graders bought and sold marijuana at a Greeley, CO, school, on two separate occasions  during the week of April 21, 2014.  Both children had taken the marijuana products from grandparents.

The “trickle-down” effect that comes when pot is promoted for its money-making potential, and the increased usage, have been tragic for children in Colorado and in Washington.  A two-year old died Continue reading