Press Statement

February 27, 2019

CONTACT
Meghan Farrell, mfarrell@new-futures.org, 603-225-9540 x129

IRRESPONSIBLE MARIJUANA COMMERCIALIZATION BILL PASSES HOUSE

CONCORD, N.H. – This morning, the N.H. House of Representatives voted to pass House Bill 481, an irresponsible bill which would allow commercial sales of all forms of marijuana products.  Following the 209-147 vote, the bill will now move forward to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. In response to today’s vote, health care providers and advocates, public safety officials and youth support workers from around New Hampshire issued the following statements:

Kate Frey, Vice President of Advocacy, New Futures:
“Simply put, HB 481 does not have the health and well-being of our families and our communities in mind. This legislation would allow a major industry to market highly potent marijuana products to young users, without needed regulations or protections for our children and our communities.  Looking forward, we hope that our legislators will recognize the detrimental effects that commercialization will have on New Hampshire. Our state and our families deserve better.”

Dr. William Goodman, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Catholic Medical Center:
“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:
"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:
“This proposal for the legalization of recreational marijuana has raised many public safety concerns to include the lack of an accepted method for testing for impairment, the emerging issue of vaping, the rising THC content in cannabis, and the fact that this conflicts with federal law.  It is also troubling that during an opioid epidemic when local, state and federal law enforcement officials are working together to combat this crisis, this proposed legislation has a provision barring local officers from expending resources, working with or providing information regarding marijuana to federal authorities.

Dan Goodman, Manager of Public Affairs, AAA Northern New England:
“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 in states that have legalized, 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:
“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 programs; 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.”

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