Reasons legal marijuana is not good:
- Marijuana’s long-term negative impact on youth. Use by adolescents can impair brain development, reduce academic success, and lower IQ. Marijuana is also associated with susceptibility to long-term mental health issues (e.g., paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia) and heart attacks.3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
- Marijuana can be addictive. The earlier someone begins using marijuana, the higher their risk of addiction –one in six users who start under age 18 become dependent; 25-50% of teen heavy users become addicted.1
- Marijuana’s potency is greater than in the 1970s. Marijuana products available today range from 5% to85% THC (the psychoactive part of marijuana). This includes edibles (candies, cookies, sodas). Highly concentrated marijuana is more likely to be associated with addiction and the negative health consequences in young people seen in recent years.2
- Marijuana dependency is associated with addiction to other drugs. In a prospective study, marijuana use was linked to a 6.2 times higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. The younger marijuana is used, the higher the rates of addiction to marijuana and to other drugs, including opioids.11,12
- Where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it. Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the #1 state in the nation for teen marijuana use. Teen use jumped 20% in Colorado in the two years since legalization, even as that rate has declined nationally.13,14, 17
- Colorado saw a 49% increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits during the two years after marijuana was legalized (2013-14) compared with the prior two years. 14, 15, 16, 17
- Increased accidental marijuana use by young children. Marijuana infused products such as gummy bears, candy bars and “cannabis cola” are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children, placing them at significant risk of accidental use. 14,16, 17
1Comparative Epidemiology of Dependence on Tobacco, Alcohol, Controlled Substances, and Inhalants: Basic Findings From the National Comorbidity Survey,”
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 1994;
2Potency trends of Δ9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated cannabis preparations from 1993 to 2008. J Forensic Sci., 2010.
3Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., 2012.
4“Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America;
5Cannabis use and depression: a longitudinal study of a national cohort of Swedish conscripts. BMC Psychiatry, 2012.
6Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables. Health Econ., 2010.
7Proportion of patients in south London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: a case-control study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2015.
8Daily use, especially of high-potency cannabis, drives the earlier onset of psychosis in cannabis users. Schizophrenia Bulletin., 2014.
9Marijuana use in the immediate 5-year premorbid period is associated with increased risk of onset of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia
10Adverse cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular effects of marijuana inhalation: what cardiologists need to know. Am J Cardiol.,
11Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders: Prospective Evidence From a US National Longitudinal Study. JAMA Psychiatry, 2016.
12Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. 2014.
13“20 percent increase in youth marijuana use,” WSAV, 1/13/2016; SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health, December 17, 2015;
14“The Legalization of marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, September 2015.
15“Marijuana Tourism and Emergency Department Visits in Colorado,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2/25/2016.
16The Implications of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2015.
17“The Legalization of marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Vol. 4, September 2016.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: What Does Ballot Question 4 Mean?
- Sets no limits on potency of marijuana products. Ballot question 4 specifically authorizes marijuana edibles (products like candy bars, gummy bears, “cannabis cola,” etc.), oils and concentrates.
- Severely limits municipalities’ (and the state’s) ability to limit the nature and presence of the marijuana industry in their communities. Ballot question 4 potentially invalidates any state or local rule deemed “unreasonably impracticable.” Municipality must allow marijuana retail businesses in an amount at least 20% of the number of alcohol package stores – unless voters pass an ordinance or bylaw by majority vote. 94G, s. 3(a)(2)(ii).
- Sets no limit on the number of stores that can sell marijuana statewide or number of operations to grow or manufacture marijuana and marijuana products. As written, ballot question 4 prohibits communities from enacting meaningful numerical caps on the number of marijuana stores (or types of marijuana businesses) except if explicitly authorized by special city/town referendum.
- Mandates that communities must allow retail marijuana stores to open in any “area” that already has a medical marijuana dispensary. Additionally, it grants existing medical marijuana facilities the right to enter the recreational market at the same location—i.e. convert their dispensary into a “pot shop.” If ballot initiative is enacted in November, then any existing or future medical dispensary is guaranteed cultivation, manufacturing and retail licenses for recreational sales until a 75 quota is reached. Ballot initiative SECTION 10 and 11.
- Bars communities from restricting “home grows.”
- Sets the tax rate very low, meaning little or no net revenue benefit. Ballot question 4, prohibits host agreements that require marijuana businesses to pay anything over and above whatever costs are directly attributable to their operation. This would limit the amount of money a community could collect from “pot shops”.
- No protections against drugged driving. Evidence shows that marijuana use impairs driving but there is no standard test to clearly identify a person under the influence of marijuana.
- No provisions for data collection and research. This would limit the ability of Massachusetts to determine the impact of commercialization of recreational marijuana on our communities and our state without significant costs to taxpayers.
**Commercialization of marijuana will result in increased access to marijuana by our young people. This coupled with decreased perception of harm associated with marijuana use as a result of the “normalization” of marijuana products, including candies, cookies, and sodas, will increase the likelihood that MA adolescents will use marijuana.**
Sources: “What legal marijuana in Mass. would mean for your town,” Boston.com, 4/22/2016; “Medical pot dispensaries get first crack at licenses, exemptions under referendum,” CommonWealth, 5/24/2016; http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/government/2015-petitions/15-27.pdf