National marijuana policy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) participated in an end-of-year Holiday Hill Day, bringing concerned parents, substance abuse and prevention professionals, and others to the United States Capitol to meet with lawmakers to discuss the potential harms of rewarding the marijuana industry by passing legislation such as the SAFE Banking Act and how legalization is fueling the ongoing marijuana vaping epidemic.
“As an organization fighting to give a voice to those who so often go unheard in the debate over legalization, we are proud to be able to hold events such as this,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Legalization and efforts to further legitimize the marijuana industry have proven to be harmful to the health of our nation’s young people and are currently at the root of a deadly epidemic of vaping. We are doing all that is within our power to counter the smokescreen being perpetuated by Big Marijuana’s lobbying and PR efforts.”
Partnering with SAM in the Holiday Hill Day are members of Community Coalitions of Virginia (CCoVA), a Virginia-based coalition focused on strengthening education and advocacy efforts to reduce substance abuse and related risk factors in Virginia communities.
“As was recently pointed out by Surgeon General Jerome Adams, our nation’s youth are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of marijuana use,” said Dr. Mary Crozier, Immediate Past Chair of CCoVA. “The marijuana industry regularly targets young people through the use of flashy products, social media advertising, and celebrity endorsements. Our policymakers must understand the very real danger to our young people this addiction industry poses and abandon attempts to expand and reward it.”
Use of marijuana is addictive, can dramatically harm the developing brain, increases the risk of severe mental illness, and can even predict future substance abuse. According to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, nearly one in five people who begin marijuana use during adolescence will develop a marijuana use disorder. We also know that the younger a user is when they initiate use, the greater the odds are that they become addicted.
Moreover, marijuana vaping products are currently at the center of a nationwide epidemic of serious lung illness responsible for at least 50 deaths and more than 2,000 cases of illness. Several deaths and numerous cases of the illness have been linked to “legal” stores despite the marijuana industry’s insistence that the illicit market is solely to blame.