January 31, 2019
Jim Potter, Executive Vice President, NH Medical Society
James.Potter@nhms.org; (202) 520-5809
AHEAD OF NEXT WEEK’S HEARING, ADVOCATES WARN OF THE HARMS OF MARIJUANA COMMERCIALIZATION BILL
CONCORD, N.H. - On Thursday, January 31st, health and wellness advocates gathered to warn lawmakers of the negative impacts marijuana commercialization would have on our state, including on children.
Health care providers, public safety officials and youth support workers, among others, discussed the risks of HB 481, which will be heard Tuesday, February 5th in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee. As it stands, the bill would allow retail sales of all forms of marijuana products without including the necessary protections to keep our youth and communities healthy.
Dr. William Goodman, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Catholic Medical Center said:
“It would be irresponsible to pass a bill that allows for the commercialization of recreational marijuana at a time when we have seen the aggressive marketing tactics of big tobacco and the vaping industry. The potential marketing of marijuana would touch our children and likely lead to the rampant use of marijuana by adolescents and children just as we have seen with vaping products in schools across New Hampshire. It is the youth who are most vulnerable to the damaging effects of marijuana."
Kim Haley, Student Assistance Program Coordinator, Second Start said:
"HB 481 is both poorly timed and ill planned. N.H. is already grappling with some of the highest substance misuse rates amongst youth in the nation and presently there is still not enough resources to confront the problem at hand. Increased youth accessibility to marijuana would surely complicate this situation. In designing this bill, legislators failed to consult with those of us who work the front lines of prevention to inquire how marijuana legalization might impact N.H. youth or what provisions should be put in place as part of the bill to protect the wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, it feels like profits over people."
Chief Mark Chase, President, NH Association of the Chiefs of Police said:
“The proposed legislation for the legalization of recreational marijuana has raised many safety concerns to include lack of proper oversight, the lack of per se law for those operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana, and that it conflicts with federal law. It is also troubling that during opioid epidemic when local, state and federal law enforcement is working together combat this crisis, that this proposed legislature has a provision barring local law enforcement from expending resources, including time or providing information to any federal law enforcement authority or prosecuting entity regarding marijuana that would be legal under state law.”
Dan Goodman, Manager of Public Affairs, AAA Northern New England said:
“Recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana more than doubled – from 8 percent to 17 percent – in Washington one year after the state legalized the drug for recreational use. There is a growing body of evidence that states that have legalization, marijuana is being detected more often in drivers responsible for fatal crashes. Additionally AAA studies found that, unlike tests used today by law enforcement to measure blood alcohol content, to enforce drunk-driving laws, there is no similar, reliable or scientific way to test for marijuana impairment. AAA is concerned with the traffic safety implications related to the legalization of recreational marijuana use.”
Patrick Tufts, Chair, Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drugs said:
“The Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drugs has voted unanimously to oppose NH HB 481, legalizing recreational marijuana use. It is the Commission’s positions that: legalizing a potentially addictive drug, in the middle of an addiction crisis, is imprudent and would have a negative impact on public health; legalization and retail sales will lower the perception of harm, particularly among young people, which will increase the likelihood of use; people with marijuana use disorders are already using significant treatment program resources so that legalizing this potentially addictive drug will only increase demand on our already strained treatment program; and there is a lack of favorable, or even neutral, evidence, on the harm or benefit from states who have legalized on the public health impact.”
Kate Frey, Vice President of Advocacy, New Futures said:
“HB 481 is an irresponsible bill. It fully legalizes and commercializes marijuana without protecting our youth or communities. Science shows that marijuana use during youth, when young brains are developing, can have long-term negative health effects. Allowing Big Marijuana into New Hampshire will allow this major industry to manufacture, sell, and market an addictive substance to our kids, setting them up for long-term health problems, like impaired cognitive functioning, an elevated risk of developing mental illness, and an increased chance of developing a substance use disorder.”