To the Editor:
On November 6th, Medfield and all towns in Massachusetts will vote for or against the legalization of marijuana as “medicine” – Ballot Question 3. This proposed law was not written to provide compassion to our friends and loved ones who are chronically ill, suffering from debilitating pain, or dying. This legislation, if passed, will pose a vital Public Health risk to our youth through increased access to marijuana, decreased perception of risk, and an increase in drugged driving incidents -- all clearly documented in data from states that have approved this legislation.
The proposed law is written with minimal regulations and is to be overseen by our already overburdened Department of Public Health. The 35 marijuana stores, slated to open in the first year with more to follow, and the ability of card holders and their designated caregivers to grow marijuana in their homes is of grave concern to me as a parent and prevention specialist. The loophole of NO expiration for card holders to buy marijuana, NO minimum age limit for a doctor recommendation and the freedom of card holders to carry a 60 day supply (at least 200 marijuana joints) present unprecedented access to marijuana. Please consider the research below and the realities of the loopholes in the proposed law. I urge you to read the details of the law and to Vote NO on Question 3 in order to protect Medfield youth.
It is well known that marijuana is the most widely abused illegal drug among teens, and that more teens now smoke marijuana than tobacco. Marijuana has many more adverse health and safety risks than typically recognized. Here are the facts:
* Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.
* Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Just like drinking and driving, drugged driving is a very serious issue that can have tragic outcomes.
* Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, contributing to the risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth and tongue.
* In the past 15 years, the potency of marijuana (THC content) has more than tripled from 3 percent to more than 11 percent.
*Approximately 9 percent (1 in 11) marijuana users become dependent. The earlier young people start using marijuana the more likely they are to be dependent later in life.
*Nationwide, 6.6 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana every day, rendering them unemployable in companies that use routine employee drug screening.
*Rates of teen marijuana use in Massachusetts are 30 percent higher than the average for the nation.
* Teens that smoke marijuana regularly demonstrate up to an 8-point IQ drop in early adulthood, compared to teens that do not smoke.
In Massachusetts more kids are admitted to treatment for marijuana use than all other illegal drugs combined – a startling fact! A study published this August by the University of Colorado, a state with legalized medical marijuana, demonstrates that nearly three-quarters of teens in the treatment programs studied said they have used medical marijuana bought or grown for someone else, meaning “medical” marijuana is indeed being diverted to youth.
As a parent and citizen of Medfield, I have always been inspired by the commitment our community makes to our youth. We are a community that strives for the best opportunities for our youth and for their healthy growth and development. Voting NO on Question 3 will uphold our commitment to the young people in our community. As parents, we are the strongest protective factor in reducing youth substance use. To learn more, go to www.mavotenoonquestion3.com
Carol Read, M.Ed., CAGS
Carol Read, Medfield resident and former addictions counselor, works as a prevention specialist and serves as the Vice President of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance, a statewide, volunteer organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for sound public health and safety policies for youth. Click here for more information.