Legalization Doesn’t Make THC Drugs Any Less Risky

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After a multimillion-dollar effort and several setbacks, marijuana legalization advocates finally won in Ohio this month. Voters approved a referendum to legalize off-label use of the drug 57-43 percent. Although the harm caused by legalizing marijuana is irreversible, policymakers in any state with legal marijuana must take additional steps to prevent future harm and protect the health and safety of users and nonusers alike. Policymakers should learn from the failure of states that have tried this reckless policy.

Governor after Ohio voted to legalize recreational marijuana Mike DeWine The polling station rightly warned.”Many holesState officials shouldDo this in a very responsible way.” Fortunately, this ballot measure is an introduced law, not a constitutional amendment, meaning the state legislature can make changes before it becomes law.

Governor Devin identified “four generals”. Security related areasLegislators to address: prevent accidental marijuana use, restrict public use of marijuana, adopt regulations that limit driving under the influence of marijuana, and advertising.

At Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the leading national organization dedicated to advocating for health-first marijuana policies, we fully support Governor Dewin’s focus on these four policy issues. Ohio has the opportunity to become a national leader in taking a sensible approach to marijuana regulation.

Accidental use of marijuana––often through THC-added foods, such as candy and brownies––is a growing problem, especially among toddlers and young children. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics Found a It increased by 1,375 percent. In edible marijuana foods for children under 6 years of age between 2017 and 2021.

To prevent this danger, policymakers should prohibit the use of marijuana packaging and products with bright colors and images that appeal to children, both teenagers and young adults. Packages must be in child-resistant containers. Drawing on policies implemented in Connecticut and New Mexico, states must require marijuana products to come with warning labels.

To prevent public use of marijuana, lawmakers should ban marijuana wherever tobacco is prohibited. in ColoradoThe use of marijuana is prohibited in public, including sidewalks and common areas in parks, resorts, businesses, concerts, restaurants, and apartments. in addition, California It prohibits smoking marijuana “within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center or youth center when children are present.” Non-users are not required to smell marijuana in public.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 20: A man smokes marijuana in Washington Square Park on April 20, 2023 in New York City. The annual 4/20 is known in cannabis culture as Cannabis Day or Weed Day and is celebrated by cannabis smokers all over the world.
Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress/Getty Images

Driving under the influence of marijuana is becoming more of a concern, as it causes traffic deaths involving marijuana It has doubled. After legalization in Colorado. In the year According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, More than 20 percent of users He admitted Driving under the influence Marijuana.

Therefore, policy makers should develop state-level campaigns on the prevention of impaired driving. in Massachusetts, students partnered with AAA to watch a 25-minute video on marijuana at hundreds of driving schools. Police departments should invest in training patrol officers to help them identify individuals who are driving under the influence of marijuana. The state should prohibit the consumption of marijuana while driving or in a vehicle, just like alcohol possession laws.

Following the tobacco industry’s playbook, the marijuana industry seeks to promote its addictive products and normalize their use — to make consumers believe that using marijuana is normal and perhaps attractive. This will increase usage rates and profits.

Many agree that the marijuana industry should not advertise on platforms viewed by children, including billboards, newspapers, TV and social media. Distributors should refrain from using sales gimmicks aimed at encouraging customers to try more potent products, such as offering “buy one get one free” sales and giving away free samples.

But policymakers should not stop at the four priorities outlined by Governor Dewin. In particular, prevention education should be prioritized for school-age children and other vulnerable populations, including pregnant and lactating women. Products with more than 15 percent THC must produce 15 percent THC potency after they cause severe mental health damage. Strict ethical guidelines should be adopted for members of governing and regulatory bodies, as some members may have ties to the marijuana industry.

Policymakers should mandate reporting on data relevant to public health, such as drug-impaired driving, THC-related poison control calls, marijuana-related hospital and ER visits, marijuana-related psychosis, increased potency, environmental effects, and rates of workers who test positive. They have to come up with criteria. For THC, and other issues affecting children and youth—Colorado is an example of a state that reports comprehensive data. Unfortunately, now that marijuana is legal in Ohio, we know that many, if not all, of these parameters will increase. The public needs to know the consequences of what they voted for and what they were sold by the industry.

After the vote to legalize marijuana in Ohio, the Buckeye State is in danger of failing to legalize it, as many states have done in the past. New York has seen the process of expanding legalization, and New Mexico’s regulatory system remains ineffective. More must be done to eliminate and prevent the harms associated with the legalization of marijuana.

Kevin Sabet, Ph.D. He is a former three-time White House drug policy advisor and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading organization and individuals for a health-first approach to marijuana policy.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.