Sadly for the public health of the state I live in, Governor Lamont just signed the cannabis legalization bill into law. There were so many issues from a public health standpoint, that made me advocate against passage until a time that our state could do it right. Ironically, the Governor signed the bill on the same day that a study was released about increased suicidality among young adults, noting the correlation with increases in cannabis use and addiction. In addition, Phillip Morris International announced that it is moving its corporate HQ to Connecticut, and has already publicly stated its interest in using its vaping technology in the cannabis field. As my April op-ed stated, CT should have taken a public health approach to cannabis, which would have enabled medical and science experts to put severe limitations on marketing to protect youth.
Despite this disheartening outcome–with many people I respected succumbing to the pressures as opposed to the facts–I am grateful. During this advocacy journey, I met and befriended many kindred spirits from the faith, medical and prevention communities. Thank you friends, for all you did on behalf of parents to promote public health, as the bill would be even worse without our outreach.
I am proud of the CT legislators who listened to the science and agreed that Connecticut needed to do legalization right and prevent a Big Tobacco 2.0. The brave legislators who spoke out–especially during a June 16 marathon House Session just before the critical vote–were parents, who worry about another substance being normalized and derailing their loved ones’ futures. You can view the session speeches here: http://ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=18713. I would highlight compelling testimony from Representatives Tom O’Dea (2:59:30), Rosa Rebimbas (5:31), and Vinny Candelora (7:22:30).
Finally, I have to put into print what I think are likely outcomes of the Governor’s Bill. I pray that I’m wrong, but here they are:
My 10 Worst Fears with Passage of Cannabis Legalization in Connecticut
- Normalization—medical MJ, CBD, recreational THC will be all mixed together (conflated), and the different products will be aggressively marketed and promoted.
- The number of young adults struggling with cannabis use and mental health increases further along with marijuana use in the vulnerable 18-25 age cohort.
- Black market grows–causing crime rates to increase especially in larger cities.
- CT’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is not up to the task of protecting consumers of highly-THC products, with edible, vape and beverage products flooding the market.
- Number of pediatric food poisonings from cannabis products increases.
- Increases in auto-related deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers using cannabis.
- We will see continuing growth of emergency room hospitalizations from cannabis-related diagnoses including psychosis and hyperemesis syndrome.
- Preponderance of retail dispensaries will be in marginalized communities and inner cities.
- Worker’s comp and auto insurance rates will increase in CT.
- High school graduation rates and test scores will start to decline as a result of increasing numbers of heavy cannabis users.