Medical Professionals, Parents, Addiction Specialists, Deliver Truth About the Dangers of Commercial Pot to Legislators
(ALBANY, NY) – Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York (SAM-NY), the leading voice in opposition to the push to open New York to commercialized pot, were joined by representatives from the Medical Society of the State of New York State (MSSNY), medical professionals, parents, and addiction specialists to deliver “Pot Packs” to legislators at the Capitol today in an effort to urge them to put the brakes on legal weed.
The “Pot Packs,” – oversized cigarette boxes – provided officials and media with the facts about the risks and realities of today’s Big Tobacco-backed pot industry. Inside, SAM-NY provided examples of the kind of THC-infused products being sold by “Big Pot” in other legalized states, along with fact sheets detailing the dangers commercialized weed.
“The only winners under New York’s plan is Big Marijuana, who will be happy to make billions in profits at the expense of another class of addicted people. Legislators have been fed a line by industry lobbyists. They need to hear the voices of the medical community, parents, teachers and law enforcement about the dangers of commercial pot. Ramming it through in New York would be dangerous and irresponsible for communities here,” said Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for SAM NY.
Big Tobacco has invested more than $2 billion in marijuana businesses. Big Marijuana is investing heavily in advertising in New York to ensure it is well positioned to corner the New York market.
“We’ve watched Big Pot’s tactics in other states, preying on minority communities, developing products geared toward younger users and producing high-potency forms of pot despite the significant health risks. We know it’s not a boon for taxpayers. It’s a drain on government resources,” said Niforatos.
“Decriminalization, not legalization, is the best path forward to ensure vulnerable communities don’t continue to be adversely impacted by this drug,” he continued.
“We appreciate the Governor’s proposal to create a public health campaign and to place strict advertising restrictions, however, MSSNY continues to be concerned about Marijuana diversion to young people,” Dr. Frank Dowling said on behalf of the MSSNY.
“The legalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana has the potential to create a public health crisis worse than the opioid crisis. In Colorado, we are already seeing THC-induced diseases that did not exist when I was in medical school, for example cannabis hyperemesis syndrome- a severe vomiting disorder. Children poisoned from THC candies have ended up in the intensive care unit. Marijuana use has shifted from weed to highly concentrated THC products. Marijuana related hospitalizations have tripled. The cost of medical care alone will use up any expected tax revenue from pot,” said Dr. Russ Kamer, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College and a practicing primary care physician.
Under the current proposal, New York would be the first state to legalize weed by legislative action instead of public referendum. SAM NY and its supporters want a full, honest, science-centered debate about the health, mental health, public safety, fiscal and societal impacts before the state commercializes what every major medical association has classified as a dangerous substance.
- Research surrounding commercialization of marijuana demonstrates:
- Marijuana use is up significantly with 63 percent for eighth and tenth graders and 53 percent for twelfth graders admitting to vaping the drug;
- Regular marijuana users were more than twice as likely to move on to abuse prescription opioids;
- During the first two years of legalization in Colorado, the Department of Public Safety reported Hispanic and African American kids arrested for marijuana-related offenses rose 29 and 58 percent, while the number of white kids being arrested for identical crimes dropped eight percent.
- For every $1 Colorado received in tax revenue from marijuana sales, $4.50 must be spent to mitigate social, workplace, highway, health, criminal justice, other costs;
- Drugged driving rates have more than doubled in Colorado, going from killing roughly one person every 6.5 days to every 2.5 days;
- Nationwide, 40 percent of driver fatalities who were tested for drugs tested positive for some form of marijuana; and
- Car and business insurance costs have dramatically risen in states following legalization.
There are also serious workplace concerns surrounding commercial marijuana, which include:
- In Colorado, construction industry companies are forced to hire out of state, because too much of the state’s population is testing positive for marijuana;
- Worker reliability has tanked, with studies finding that, even when controlling for alcohol use, pot users are 106% more likely to have missed at least one day of work in the last month because they “just didn’t want to be there”; and
- Combined absenteeism and workers compensation costs could be up to $78.8 billion or more full-time employees alone; and
- Chronic marijuana use can impair a person’s ability to drive for up to three weeks after stopping marijuana use.
Following the press conference, volunteers hailing from across the Empire State delivered pot packs to Legislators’ offices, urging them to slow down before throwing the doors open to Big Marijuana.