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Legalizing marijuana is wrong for N.H.; please help kill HB-656

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Currently, the New Hampshire Legislature is considering HB 656-FN-A-LOCAL. This bill proposes to legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years or older. It also calls for retail sales and state the generation of revenue through taxation. On October 12, a five-person subcommittee voted three to two in favor and sent the bill back to the 21-member full committee. The House Criminal Justice Committee will be deciding on the merits of this bill at a hearing, scheduled for November 14, that will be held in Concord. The Executive Session begins at 10 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building in Room 204. I am tremendously concerned with the health, safety and wellbeing of our state’s citizens, particularly our youth. I analyzed this bill and found this to be very wrong for New Hampshire.

Throughout the country there are a substantial number of scientific and peer reviewed studies which document and warn of the negative consequences of marijuana use. These studies are too many to list in this letter. I strongly encourage you to review a paper entitled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse”; U.S. Department of Justice; Drug Enforcement Administration; Demand Reduction Section; May 2014, (https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com) which presents a compilation of numerous scientific studies. Statistics used are from this source.

Unfortunately, this bill sends a mixed and opposing message to the public. The state continues to spend significant monies in battling the drug and opioid crisis. Yet here is a bill which is saying that it is okay to use marijuana and hemp. Last March, a forum was held for high school students which focused upon the dangers associated with opioids and other drugs. Youths are particularly vulnerable to marijuana as their brains are still developing. Several studies indicate that this mind-altering drug can actually lower IQ by 8 points and impair mental function in adulthood. Please review the “2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results”; N.H. High School Survey; pages 88-117; N.H. Department of Education. Which message is being sent to our youth? That drugs are okay? Both drugs, referred to in this bill, are NOT OKAY!

Marijuana and hemp are considered by some to be gateway drugs leading to the abuse of other drugs, such as opioids. Whether they are considered a gateway drug, or they precede to abuse, either way, these drugs are a health risk. Often, they lead to continuing drug abuse as study data supports.

The main ingredient responsible for mood altering effects is a cannabinoid called “delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol” or THC. THC determines potency and this strength varies depending on the strain or variety of the plant, how it is grown, the part of the plant that is used, and its storage. Marijuana is substantially more potent today than in the past. Potency increases have been reported to range between two to seven percent higher than in the 1990s. Scientists do not yet know what this increase in potency means for the health of our citizens. Is our state willing to take this risk?

Why are retail outlets allowed to sell marijuana and not licensed pharmacies as with other drugs? Is the desire to pass HB-656 for state revenue generation through taxation? If these questions are answered in the positive, is the state placing these reasons above the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents?

Legalizing marijuana is wrong for New Hampshire because of its many the potential lasting harmful effects it has upon the brain; the message it sends, especially to our youth; the health impact unknowns of increased potency over time; and the weighting of revenue over public health. I encourage you to attend this important Hearing that affects all of our state and give your own thoughts and opinion.

David E. Provan