Letter to the Editor- Marijuana Legality

Two weeks ago I attended a substance abuse prevention conference put on by the Northland Coalition. I left more informed, yet discouraged, shocked, inspired, and convinced there must be deliberate, communal, educated, and diversified efforts toward protecting children from the harms of substance abuse.

Last week, Missouri State Legislators entertained a bill proposing the legalization of marijuana in Missouri. Laura and her coworkers drove three hours to sit in on the committee hearing. Their side was out numbered in testimony air time, financial backing, and bodies in the seats, yet they spoke boldly on behalf of what they believe is best for the state, especially for the future members of Missouri’s adult community.

In response to a communal urging to write a Letter to the Editor of the newspaper, I submitted these 200 words to the KC Star:

As a parent, advocate for area teens, and Colorado native, Missouri’s consideration of a bill to legalize marijuana raises concerns. The “facts” come from many sides. There’s confusion and delusion around marijuana’s medical potential. Lay citizens encourage the comparison of marijuana to alcohol and the relaxation of control laws. The loudest voice comes from the propaganda of big pot lobbyists. “Big marijuana”  money has a loud voice and a list of lies. Purporting legalized pot will increase tax revenue and cut down on muddled drug legalization, are weak allegations with grave consequences for young people. The scientific data affirms danger and devastation for developing brains: losses in IQ, memory, attention span, and learning abilities, as well as increased risks for mental illnesses and heart attacks. Near my childhood home in Colorado, today’s marijuana, containing unprecedented concentrations of THC, is sold in strip malls, baked into brownies or laced in candy. Casual, inviting, and available, legal pot finds its way into the hands and heads of kids. Increased availability has led to increased illness, accidents, addictions, and deaths. We cannot afford to lose the heads of MO teens. Legalized pot will injure the development of our most precious resource: kids.

Despite my intentional attempt to sound off, I know very little of the facts. I’ve asked Laura to write with her most convincing evidence to clarify the confusion and encourage Missouri to move with wisdom and care for kids!

Here is Laura-

I’ve worked in the field of prevention for the past 5 years. Those who know me are familiar with my ongoing passion and desire to protect area kids from the unforeseen dangers of underage drinking and drug use.  Even with this intense passion, I used to shy away from conversations about marijuana, preferring to avoid the airing of strong opinions in heated arguments.  After spending the last 2 years digging in the research, hearing from national experts, and seeing the effects in national trends and data, I’ve crossed over from “l don’t want to  ruffle feathers” to “I need to tell everyone.”  Below I share three tenets of truth that highlight dangers of marijuana’s rapid mainstream movement.

·         The pro-marijuana movement is a multi-billion dollar business.  Marijuana investors and companies, through greed and commercialism, are swooping into communities and neighborhoods and making money off of an addictive and harmful substance.  In Denver, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks.  Cannabis food and candy, like “Ring Pots” and “Pot Tarts” are marketed to children and sold through vending machines.  A former Head of Strategy for Microsoft has said that he wants to “mint more millionaires than Microsoft” with marijuana.    I’m not concerned of simple pot possession or use, but I am concerned about a multi-billion dollar industry selling a dangerous product. 

·         Marijuana now is much more harmful than it was at Woodstock.  In the 60’s, THC (the chemical that makes you “high”) levels in marijuana were between 4-5%.  Now, marijuana found in Missouri is packed with 15%-30% THC…and it’s just getting stronger. As a result, 1 in 6 youth who use marijuana will become addicted, 1 in 10 adults will become addicted. Marijuana use has been shown to be significantly linked with mental illness, especially schizophrenia, psychosis, depression and anxiety.  Legalization laws don’t protect about potency either.  This winter, school resource officers have found marijuana they believe to be 90% pure THC (see dabbing)

·         More kids are using marijuana. While rates of underage drinking and tobacco use among high school youth is decreasing, marijuana use is increasing.  In a survey of high school students in Colorado in 2011,  22% used marijuana.  In Missouri only 8.6% of our kids use.  Because kids hear the messages that it’s not harmful (“it’s medicine”), along with increases in availability, use will and is going up among our kids. The price kids will pay in their brains and their futures is steep.

Thank you for listening in.



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