Opinion: Marijuana is no different than other intoxicating substances

Health, safety interests need to be represented on Marijuana Control Board.

Just because marijuana is legal does not mean it is in the states’ interest to forge ahead with only industry interests in mind. This industry is going to have impacts on the communities and people surrounding it, including youth use, addiction and drugged driving. There is no reason why public health and safety interests shouldn’t also be represented on the Marijuana Control Board. Why does the industry believe that only their interests are the ones that are relevant to consider?

Brandon Emmett is quoted as saying that concerns for teen consumption and drugged driving is spreading “misinformation.” The fact is that nobody has definitive data yet to know what the long-term impact of marijuana legalization will be, and suggesting that they do is misinformed.

[Marijuana industry professionals say they heeded warning of Colorado’s mistakes, did a better job]

Those of us who work in the addiction treatment field are well aware of the negative impact of chronic marijuana use. There is no reason to think marijuana is any different than other intoxicating substances; some high functioning affluent people can use the substance recreationally with no problems at all, while other peoples’ lives and communities are completely devastated by it.

The marijuana industry is following a well-trodden path by the previous addictive substance industries: tobacco, vape and opioids, claiming their products are safe, harmless and not addictive. And that their product is going to cure you of whatever ails you: alcohol and opioid addiction, violence and cancer.

[Alaska moves closer to onsite marijuana use in certain areas]

I ask you, which is more likely to be misinformed? The claim that an intoxicating substance has the potential to be addicting and harmful or that it cures cancer? Asking to consider the potential impacts of marijuana legalization on public health and safety and to address prevention measures does not make one a prohibitionist.

Kristin Cox,

Juneau


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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