Voters in Washington and Colorado approved a ballot question to allow the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, allowing adults to possess and grow marijuana with state regulation and taxation. The legalization measure in Oregon was defeated.
Arkansas voters rejected the use of so-called medicinal marijuana, but voters in Massachusetts joined 17 other states and the District of Columbia in supporting “medical” marijuana. Montana retained their “medical” marijuana law with more restrictions.
Under federal law, any marijuana use is still illegal. CADCA opposes marijuana use by anyone for any reason. “We are confident the U.S. Department of Justice will uphold the Administration’s position against legalization and deem these initiatives to be a clear violation of Federal law,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO.
According to recent research from the National Institutes of Health, marijuana is significantly associated with lower IQ scores and learning problems, mental illness, car crashes, and a lower quality of life.
“Despite being outspent by several million dollars, CADCA member coalitions faced with these ballot challenges have done an outstanding job of mobilizing and educating the public that more marijuana availability isn’t good for public health or their states’ economy. Unfortunately, there is a well-funded effort to misinform the American people when it comes to the facts about marijuana, contributing to a disturbing disconnect among the media and the voting public. Allowing marijuana use will further increase overall drug use rates, youth access and use and treatment admissions,” said Gen. Dean.
CADCA does not subscribe to smoked marijuana being called “medicine” by citizen voting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have said smoked marijuana has no medical benefit. The American Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine have stated their opposition to legalize marijuana. Research shows marijuana harms adolescent cognitive brain development, contains carcinogens, and is linked to mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Marijuana use by drivers doubles the risk of car crashes. A longitudinal study supported by NIDA shows that persistent marijuana use decreases IQ as much as 8 points, moving a person of average intelligence into the lower third of intelligence.
“Marijuana use is related to a host of health and safety concerns, and frankly, dulls your brain. Our nation cannot afford to raise a generation of pot smokers and expect to compete in this high-tech, global economy. We need a reality check,” Gen. Dean said.
Although the negative impacts will undoubtedly be the same, the approaches of the two states differ:
• In Colorado, Amendment 64 allows those 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate six marijuana plants. The initiative also allows for over-the-counter sale of marijuana, reduces penalties for larger possession charges and legalizes hemp farming;
• In Washington, Initiative 502 allows adults 21 and older to purchase marijuana from state-licensed and state-regulated businesses. It also creates a regulatory system, much like the liquor control system, in which a board oversees licensing of marijuana producers, processors and retailers, and imposes an excise tax of 25 percent at each step.
“Tuesday’s results give coalitions in those states and around the country even more work to do to build a healthier environment around our kids,” said the CADCA Chairman and CEO. “CADCA will continue to serve as a resource to its members facing marijuana-related ballot, legislative and associated issues as this continues to unfold in states around the nation.”
CADCA’s National Coalition Institute will host the webinar “Marijuana: Science and Strategies for Community Coalitions” from 3-4:30 p.m. EST Nov. 15 featuring former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, Dr. Susan Weiss, Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Sue Thau, CADCA Public Policy Consultant; and Rhonda Ramsey Molina, Deputy Director of Dissemination and Coalition Relations for the CADCA Institute. Register here.