To The Daily Sun,
I oppose HB-481, an irresponsible bill that threatens N.H. youth and public health by legalizing and commercializing marijuana. It is imperative that lawmakers understand the facts before considering the impact this bill will have. Many states have tried to legalize marijuana and realized the consequences after. The Oregon Research Institute performed a study which indicates that following legalization of recreational marijuana, the frequency of use during the following year increased 26 percent among teenagers who had tried marijuana by 8th grade. N.H. can’t afford this increase in youth use.
Legalization of marijuana is causing increased problems for teenagers everywhere. According to a 2018 study by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years. And while this increase in use is concerning, even more troublesome is the findings by Harvard Medical School, which concludes, “Smokers who began using marijuana before age 17 had cognitive deficits not detected in those who began smoking later in life.” N.H. has seen a significant growth in substance misuse for the past 10 years. Any laws that might increase drug use could be catastrophic, especially for teens.
The 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey concluded that “One in four U.S. high school seniors would try marijuana or use it more often if it was legal.” N.H. can’t allow teens to have more access to marijuana. By doing so, we are increasing the chance of teens using it and increasing the possibility of misusing it.
New Hampshire substance use disorder professionals have been overwhelmed with the increase in overdoses and overdose deaths. Most people who overdose did not start their use of substances with opiates. Most started using marijuana or alcohol and then progressed to opiates.
By voting NO to House Bill 481, lawmakers are voting YES to a healthier life for teens.
Suzanne L. Thistle, MA, MLADC