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Pot Holes. Legalizing Marijuana is Fine.
But Don’t Ignore its Dangers.
 
This scientist says she supports legalization but laments the absence of any acknowledgment of the drug’s dangers in the legalization debate.
 
She says studies are revealing a host of dangers with which the drug is associated, particularly for teenagers who use pot daily. Compared to nonusers, they are:
  • 60 percent less likely to complete high school,
  • at substantially increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism, and
  • 7 times more likely to commit suicide.
Even lower levels of use put adolescents at risk for negative outcomes.
 
But “recent data is even more alarming,” she writes. “The offspring of partying adolescents, specifically those who used THC, may be at increased risk for mental illness and addiction as a result of changes to the epigenome — even if those children are years away from being conceived.
 
“The epigenome is a record of molecular imprints of potent experiences, including cannabis exposure, that lead to persistent changes in gene expression and behavior, even across generations,” she explains. 
 
Read her Washington Post article here.

 
Why Colorado’s Black Market for Marijuana is Booming 4 Years After Legalization
 
CBC News, a Canadian news outlet, queried Colorado officials about marijuana legalization to learn what that nation might expect if its government legalizes marijuana later this week.
 
Although Colorado has more than 500 pot shops, the black market is booming. Mexican and Cuban cartels set up shop in homes they rent and turn into indoor grow houses, then ship product to states where marijuana is illegal. Even within the state, the cartels sell the drug for less than dispensary prices.
 
A Drug Enforcement Administration official told CBC news that marijuana trafficking cases in Colorado now consume about 15 percent of DEA’s time, three times the amount spent before legalization.
 
A Teller County sheriff said his team has raided eight houses so far this year and seized marijuana worth more than $3.5 million. The team arrested 20 cartel members connected to Cuba and Mexico. He says there are another 60 to 70 marijuana houses in his county to be raided, mostly because neighbors call them in complaining of strong odors emanating from the houses.
 
A drug dealer who agreed to talk to CBC anonymously said he grows pot illegally or buys it from a network of growers who have “extra,” advertises it online, and delivers it to customers. The father of two guarantees delivery anywhere in Denver within an hour.
 
An advocate who periodically surveys her 17,000 Facebook friends says nearly 50 percent of respondents do not shop at Colorado licensed dispensaries, preferring the black market instead.
 
Read CBC News story here. Scroll down to second picture to see video.

 
Glut of Marijuana in Oregon is Cautionary Tale, Experts Say
 
Oregon marijuana prices are in free fall as growers in the state outdid themselves amid regulations that backfired. To bring illicit growers into the legal business, the state made it easy and inexpensive to obtain unlimited licenses. Oregon now has about 1 million pounds of flower (bud), a staggering amount for a state with nearly 4 million people, and the retail price has dropped by 50 percent.
 
One result is that regulators announced last week they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses to try to catch up with the backlog and will ask state legislators to address the issue at its next session. Some 1001 producer licenses have been awarded and another 950 await processing.
 
The state has no caps on the number of licenses that can be issued, and it lifted a ban on out-of-state ownership. This allowed deep-pocketed investors to enter Oregon and begin to consolidate the industry, squeezing small owners out of business.
 
Experts say California faces the same set of difficulties because its regulatory system is similar to Oregon’s and that prices there are already beginning to fall.
 
Read OregonLive.com story here.
 
Washington is Breaking Promise
to Keep Illegal Pot in Check
 
As with Colorado and Oregon, voters who passed legalization in Washington state were promised this change would get rid of the black market. Officials backed up this claim. Shortly after legalization passed in his state, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced, “It’s very important for us to give the federal government confidence that we’re doing everything possible to achieve the goals of this initiative, which is to reduce the criminal association with marijuana.”
 
The state has broken its promise, says US Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Annette L. Hayes. Organized criminal groups are buying homes in urban, suburban, and rural communities and turning them into illegal marijuana grows, she says.
 
Just a few weeks ago, she notes, federal, state, and local law enforcement executed search warrants for 17 locations in the Puget Sound region, and seized nearly 4,000 marijuana plants. Some $600,000 in wire transfers sent from China and laundered through a network of banks financed the purchase of homes for cash so grows could be set up, a pattern that is prevalent throughout the state.
 
She calls for the state to set aside funds from marijuana taxes specifically for enforcement so more cases can be made against illegal grows financed by foreign entities.
 
Read her Seattle Times Opinion piece here.

 
Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States
 
In 2016, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers with known results tested positive for drugs, up from 28 percent 10 years before.
 
Additionally, this new report discusses the challenges involved in addressing drug-impaired driving; outlines data available on drugged driving; details the effects marijuana and opioids have on driving ability and crash risk; and provides recommendations for states to curb drug-impaired driving.
 
To download the report, read here.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action's website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report.

Our mission is to protect children from addictive drugs
by shining light on the science that underlies their effects.

 
Addictive drugs harm children, families, and communities.
Legalizing them creates commercial industries that make drugs more available,
increase use, and expand harms.

Science shows that addiction begins in childhood.
It is a pediatric disease that is preventable.
 
We work to prevent the emergence of commercial
addictive drug industries that will target children.

We support FDA approved medicines.

We support the assessment, treatment, and/or social and educational services
for users and low-level dealers as alternatives to incarceration.

 
About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
 
SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.

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