Vote NO to legalizing the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
28 04, 2016

ICYMI: Recovery High School Principal Takes Stand Against Legalizing Pot

"Why would we even tinker with the thought (of legalization) knowing what's happening to this generation right now?"

By Arianna MacNeill, as published in The Salem News

BEVERLY — While voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use this fall, the highest rate of users right now is a population that wouldn't legally be able to buy it, according to the principal of a high school for teens in substance abuse recovery.

Northshore Recovery High School Principal Michelle Lipinski, along with Dr. Sion Harris of Boston Children's Hospital, wrote a letter to Will Luzier of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, dated April 20, accusing him of "trying to misdirect voters."

The campaign is the "driving force" behind a ballot question, which will appear before voters in November, that aims to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.

According to the campaign's "The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act," people 21 or older would be able to buy marijuana and keep 10 ounces or less in their homes.

"On Friday (April 15), your campaign staged a press conference in which you labelled marijuana a relatively 'benign plant,'" Lipinski and Harris wrote. "We can tell you first-hand that marijuana is not benign."

In the letter, the pair describes how marijuana is 300 percent more toxic than it was two decades ago. They said scientific research has proven that the drug also negatively affects many aspects of an adolescent's development, from IQ to brain development.

In a later interview, Lipinski, an educator for 20 years, said she can't speak of the drug's negative effects on other age groups; however, the top reason adolescents age 12 to 17 enter substance abuse treatment in Massachusetts is for marijuana use, she explained. The rate of dependency drops dramatically after age 21, research has shown, she said.

In addition, research conducted by Dr. Nathaniel Katz, president of Analgesic Solutions, has shown marijuana use can lead to opioid use, said Lipinski.

"Why would we even tinker with the thought (of legalization) knowing what's happening to this generation right now?" she said.

Lipinski has met with educators in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where marijuana has been legal statewide for several years. There, marijuana use is much more complicated, she said — students don't necessarily smoke it, but may eat brownies, gummy bears or other foods containing the drug.

One of the problems with marijuana is the perception that it's harmless, according to Lipinski.

"It's not taboo," she said, adding that students at Northshore Recovery High School sometimes come in wearing shirts that include a marijuana leaf in the design. "It's just embedded in the culture."

In the beginning, adolescents may not see the negative effects of marijuana use. But eventually it can lead to interruptions in sleep cycles, eating habits, and other aspects of life, she said.

There isn't enough data yet from Colorado to show the full effects of legalizing pot, Lipinski said, other than it being highly profitable. If, in a few years, studies show it isn't harmful or doesn't have negative consequences, she acknowledged she may change her stance on the issue.

But for now, Lipinski knows from working with her students — and seeing some lose their lives to addiction — just how harmful drugs can be.

27 04, 2016

Massachusetts Superintendents Oppose Ballot Question To Legalize Commercial Marijuana Cite Negative Impact On Young People In Their Communities


BOSTON - Raising concerns about the negative impact increased access to marijuana will have on students and young people in their schools and communities, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) announced their opposition to the ballot question that would legalize commercial marijuana in the Commonwealth.

The Association, which represents 277 Superintendents and 148 Assistant Superintendents, cited numerous concerns about the impact on young people, including:

  • In states where Marijuana is legal, minors and young adults have seen an increase in use. Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the #1 state in the nation for teen marijuana use. Teen use jumped 20% in Colorado in the two years since legalization, even as that rate has declined nationally.
  • Regular marijuana use that starts in adolescence has been shown to impair brain development, shrink school and career outcomes, and even lower IQ.
  • According to data from the National Poison Data System, marijuana exposure has been on the rise among children under six, particularly in states where the drug is legal and high potency edible products are more common. These products are rarely labeled properly to reflect their THC content, which is particularly concerning given that edible marijuana products constitute half of the legal marijuana market in Colorado.

“As Superintendents, our primary focus is on helping each and every student reach their full potential, and we believe the commercial legalization of marijuana runs directly counter to that goal,” Tom Scott, Executive Director of MASS said. “Where marijuana is legal, we see increased use and abuse by young people. We urge all parents in our communities to vote against this proposal this fall.”

The Superintendents’ Association joins a growing coalition of health care and community leaders, addiction prevention advocates, educators, business groups, first responders, and families who are opposing this proposed legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.

Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative include: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts is the Committee formed to oppose this ballot question.

25 04, 2016

ICYMI: Legalized marijuana is too much, too soon


By Renee Loth, as published in The Boston Globe

WHEN I think about the prospect of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts, I surprise myself by sounding like my father. Cannabis tourism? THC-infused lip balm? “Budz and sudz” crawls? What is the world coming to?

The combination of vice and capitalism is a powerful one, so it might be expected that entrepreneurs are rushing to market these artisanal highs. In Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, cannabis concierge services are thriving, from ganja yoga retreats to weed weddings. Sales nearly hit $1 billion last year, with the state raking in tax and licensing fees of $135 million…

….But in Massachusetts, at least, the political establishment is arrayed against the proposition. Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh all oppose the ballot question voters will likely face this November, on the grounds that it poses a public health and safety threat, and that it sends mixed signals to a populace struggling with opioid addiction.

At the risk of my own anti-establishment cred, I find myself mostly agreeing with them. But for different reasons.

Like most Massachusetts citizens, I voted for legalization of medical marijuana when it was on the ballot in 2012. But the chaotic rollout of that measure is a cautionary tale. Recall that within weeks of the election, implementation of the new law was on its way to becoming a fiasco of falsified license applications, shoddy background checks, allegations of corruption and influence-peddling, voided licenses, and lawsuits galore. Communities objected, and licensing stalled, as dispensaries were sited in residential neighborhoods instead of clinics or pharmacies, where they might have maintained at least the patina of therapeutic purpose…

Part of the problem lies with the ballot process itself, an unsubtle tool for writing complicated public policy. The medical marijuana initiative allowed the state just over a year to establish dispensaries, setting off the gold rush for licenses and all the attendant opportunities for mischief. Similarly, the legalization measure lays out a complex framework for taxes, penalties, packaging, testing, cultivating, inspecting, storage, local approval, and more, and requires an appointed three-member commission to have all the regulations promulgated and to begin issuing licenses by January 2018 – less than 14 months after passage. By bureaucratic standards, that’s head-spinningly fast. State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who would oversee the law, has the right idea trying at least to slow down the juggernaut…

…But marijuana revenues, like gambling income and other forms of “voluntary taxation,” are a cheap, fractured way to fund public services. Instead of people contributing equitably to the common good, a smaller subset foots the bill. Sure, some people will smoke pot whether it’s for sale at the 7-11 or not. But does the state need to endorse it, or — worse — come to depend on it?

Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in Massachusetts for seven years. Before we embark on this billion-dollar bender, maybe we should just take a breath.

21 04, 2016

ICYMI: Child Wellness Advocates – When It Comes To Impact On Kids, Marijuana Is Not “Benign”


BOSTON – Two child wellness and anti-addiction advocates responded to comments made by marijuana legalization proponents that sought to diminish the harmful impact of the drug.

At a press conference on Friday held by the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, legalization proponents called marijuana a relatively “benign plant.” In response, a letter was sent by a doctor from Children’s Hospital and the Director of the Northshore Recovery High School objecting to those “unfortunate comments that diminished the harms marijuana imposes on our kids.”

“We can have a healthy debate on the issue of legalization,” wrote Dr. Sion Harris and Director Michelle Lipinski. “But the fact that marijuana is addictive and has a negative impact on young people is not debatable.”

Harris and Lipinski then referenced their work with families and outlined basic facts about the impact of marijuana on youth, including:

  • One in six people who start using marijuana as minors become dependent.
  • Marijuana products now have THC content that is 300% higher than it was in the 1990s.
  • Use of marijuana can have serious impacts on young people’s brain development, career growth, and even their IQ.

They labeled the attempts of the legalization proponents to tie the impact of marijuana to alcohol as a “misdirection.”

“There is one issue before the voters this November, and that is whether to legalize the marijuana industry in Massachusetts and dramatically expand access to a drug that we know is harmful to our kids and communities,” the child advocates said.

For a complete copy of the letter, click here.

19 04, 2016

ICYMI: Colorado Becoming Haven For Organized Crime, Drug Traffickers’ “Pirate Grows” Following Legalization of Marijuana


Arrests In Colorado Last Week The Latest Example In Which Traffickers Are Moving Into State To Establish New Black Market

COLORADO - The state of Colorado is seeing a new trend in which organized crime and drug traffickers are moving into the state to set up trafficking operations following the legalization of marijuana, according to recent reports.

Last week, police and federal authorities arrested more than 40 people for the illegal growing and trafficking of marijuana. It has been reported that this case involved traffickers who moved into Colorado from out-of-state to establish their drug ring and then ship the drugs out of state. This case followed a bust earlier this month in which 12 people from Florida were arrested after the seizure of 2,400 marijuana plants.

“There’s a lot of people coming from out of state,” said Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman. “It’s getting to be a pretty big trend.”

“We are still learning the impact of commercial legalization on the illegal drug market in Colorado,” said Corey Welford, spokesperson for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts. “But one thing is clear – it certainly doesn’t eliminate it. And in this case, it is creating an entirely new black market for out-of-state drug traffickers to come in and set up shop.”

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts is a growing, bi-partisan coalition of health care and community leaders, anti-addiction advocates, educators, business groups, first responders, and families who are opposing this proposed legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.