Urgent Marijuana Questions
(Graphic from Cannibisinvestor)
Although not completely unexpected, the marijuana amendment to the New Jersey Constitution passed by 67% of voters in favor. While many feel this will ameliorate the travesty of racial injustice, and be a boon to all economies, those in prevention remain cautiously skeptical. Injustices with racial biases need to be addressed, but a sweeping amendment like this may bring many other unwanted consequences while still not addressing the issues as intended.
We now have several states that have modeled legalization and we can learn from their successes and failures. As New Jersey legislators rush to ram several bills through to shape New Jersey's marijuana policy, please keep in mind the following:
1) This substance is still illegal federally, there will be limitations that stem from this from financing, to security, to justice. While the state has deemed marijuana legal for those over 21, there need to be safety measures in place, as well as a wary eye towards federal intervention.;
2) Marijuana may be legal recreationally, but it is for people 21 and older. There is a mixed message (especially to our youth) that because something is legal, it is safe. Many like to compare the legalization of marijuana to alcohol and imply it is not a big deal. Please do not forget that alcohol contributes to over 95,000 deaths a year, exacerbates multiple health issues, and contributes to several societal concerns. Because brain development in humans continues beyond age 25, protecting young bodies and minds from altering substances is imperative to the health of future generations. A minimum blood level to indicate usage window needs to be researched as well, regardless of tolerance, much like blood alcohol levels (BAC). There needs to be regulations on how it is advertised and packaged as well as accessibility to youth.
3) The states that have legalized around the US have earmarked funds from revenue to education and prevention resources. There must be a balance of information so that New Jersey consumers are able to make informed choices for their health and bodies. For example, Alaska puts 25% of revenue towards marijuana education programs, and in; California 60% is spent creating and supporting youth drug prevention treatments programs. In Oregon, 20% of revenue is given to mental health, alcoholism, and drug services, and 5% of revenue is used to prevent alcohol and drug abuse through the Oregon health authority. In Washington, 8% of revenue is used to combat drug and alcohol addiction. References can be found here- special thanks to Hopewell Municipal Alliance for help with this research.
4) There needs to be THC potency limits. Marijuana of today- how it is cultivated, hybridized, processed, and delivered to the body- varies greatly from past decades. Potency on oils, solids, and edibles can reach into 90%, and even flower potency exceeds 30%. These levels more than quadruple THC levels in the 80s, and have much more damaging effects on the brain, addiction possibilities, and overall mental and physical health. this unprecedented level of THC and the frequency at which it is used can have lasting effects. Since these high potencies are so new, science doesn't even know to what extent they can have on the brain and overall health of frequent users, especially long term.
5) There needs to be protections in place for air quality, especially indoor air quality conditions, and revamped regulations regarding impaired driving,; including more training and procedures for law enforcement and medical personnel.; while there are current laws in place for various substances, the rushed nature of marijuana legislation may overlook additional needed concerns, leaving loopholes that can cause health and safety gaps.
These reasons just top the list of several more of why care and consideration needs to be taken in formulating the marijuana regulations in New Jersey. If any of these ideas cause concern to you, please reach out to your legislators to let them know. As a prevention agency that strives to inform communities on important health ramifications, Mercer Council has designed a lecture series help inform the residents of Mercer County and New Jersey and will soon post links to access these resources. In the meantime, please subscribe to our blog and continue to follow our events calendar for more information as this topic expands. Find your state legislator's contact information here.