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[MONTPELIER, VT] - Today the Vermont Department of Health released a grim report on marijuana, Health Impact Assessment: Marijuana Regulation in Vermont,outlining health and safety issues related to the drug. The report's top-line findings are that marijuana negatively impacts most health and safety harms (p. 3) and that high school senior marijuana use would rise 6 points - or 10% - from 52% to 58% (p. 30). The report also predicted a staggering near-30% increase in emergency room admissions due to marijuana if the state legalized (p. 7), based on data from Colorado.
"Today's pot is not what Vermonters may have used in the 60s and 70s. The health impact is clear," remarked Kevin Sabet, President of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "Governor Shumlin has been an outstanding leader on issues of substance abuse, with the glaring exception of marijuana. This report by his own department of health should be a wake-up call to any Vermont lawmaker mulling legalization," Sabet added. "This strategy will play into the hands of the increasingly well-financed marijuana lobby, which like Big Tobacco, seeks to put profits above public health."
In the report, several health and safety consequences are assessed - from psychosis to motor vehicle accidents to negative pregnancy effects - and almost all of them are found to be worsened by marijuana:
"Wall Street entrepreneurs are chomping at the bit to get into Vermont and sell things like marijuana-infused gummy bears and sodas," remarked Debby Haskins, SAM Vermont's Montpelier-based Executive Director. "The newly released health report specifically warns against edibles, but if the corporate special interests get their way and marijuana is legalized, all bets are off."
SAM-VT and SAM are not against all marijuana reforms. Both organizations urge Vermont lawmakers to adopt health, prevention, and treatment-related strategies toward marijuana. SAM does not support imprisonment for marijuana or hampering young people with unnecessary criminal records. Legalization and industrialization would, however, only make existing policies worse.