I recently read an opinion piece in USA Today written by Patrick Kennedy, titled “Legalizing Pot Endangers Children”. Naturally as a mother and Cannabis Entrepreneur I had to read. The takeaway from the article is that Marijuana must be banned to save “The Children” from trying marijuana, becoming addicts, ruining their brain, and throwing their lives away. Patrick Kennedy’s own battle with addiction has been highly publicized so I am choosing to believe that his opinion comes from a genuine desire to save others from the troubles he has experienced. Yes, he was a US Congressman (1995-2011) for Rhode Island, but perhaps if he were not a ‘Kennedy’ his addiction cycle would have landed him in jail and made him highly unemployable.
In his write-up, Kennedy attributes the push for Marijuana legalization to the “people ready to profit from addiction”, (wrong) and completely discounts sound arguments for legalizing marijuana, tax revenue, health benefits, violence reduction, and individual liberty.
- Tax revenue, YES: Colorado has earned $23.6 million from taxes, licenses and fees in only the first five months of legal, recreational marijuana sales, and that figure does not include revenue earned from ancillary support industries (tourism, hotels, restaurants, etc.).
- Health Benefits, YES: There are plenty of reputable sources that highlight the health benefits of Marijuana (both CBD and THC derivatives), though much of this work has to be done overseas because US Federal rules prohibit the study of any positive health benefits associated with Marijuana
- Violence reduction, YES: Colorado crime rates have dropped since recreational marijuana became legal in January 2014 (Property crime down 14.6%, Violent crime down 2.4%), a trend that is opposite of doomsday predictions. Uruguay legalized recreational marijuana in December 2013 in an effort to reduce the violence from Drug Cartel trafficking in their country, and Mexico may soon follow.
- Individual Liberty, YES: For adults who choose to use Cannabis products the decision seems to be on par with drinking alcohol.
The “For the Children” argument is close to my heart because, despite my association with the Marijuana Industry, I do not want my children to try Marijuana until they are of legal age. I also don’t want them to drink until they are of age, over-indulge in sugar, salt and fat, watch too much TV, or run with scissors. But what about the medical benefits “For the Children”? I think Representative Daylin Leach’s (D-PA) #MeetthePAkids Twitter campaign is one of the most effective for getting the message to doubters...these are not the faces of people that just want to get high, and yes, marijuana can reduce their seizures and save their lives. What is there to think about?
Aside from the medical need for some children to access Medical Marijuana, supporters of the legalization movement are NOT in favor of giving access to children, so Kennedy’s worry “For the Children” seems unfounded. There are plenty of black market sources of Marijuana available to children in nearly any town, of any age that have the money to buy. If Kennedy really wants to protect The Children we must legalize and regulate. Make sure Marijuana is laboratory tested, packaged descriptively so consumers know what they are buying, what an appropriate portion size is, and sold through licensed retailers to ensure that it is sold to adults. With proper traceability through the system, children will be protected, tax revenue will be generated, US-based research and development for additional life-saving Marijuana Medicinal uses and products can be conducted, and freedom will ring for the of-age adults who choose to consume.