Rhode Island Legislators Side with Big Marijuana
(Providence, Rhode Island) After almost a decade of resistance from SAM and our allies, yesterday, Governor Daniel McKee signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, and legalized the sales, manufacture, use, and possession of marijuana in Rhode Island. Despite stopping this policy numerous times, and despite bipartisan opposition, marijuana is now legal in Rhode Island, though illegal under federal law.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, released this statement:
“We are disappointed in the Governor’s decision, and residents will soon find themselves dealing with the unintended consequences of the commercialization and normalization of marijuana in the Ocean State.
“We are calling on legislators in Providence to redouble investments in youth-focused prevention campaigns. These evidence-based programs have been found to reduce the use of marijuana, in addition to alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Education campaigns are needed to warn residents, especially youth, about the risks of dabbing, concentrates, waxes, and other high-potency products that the marijuana industry will soon begin promoting across Rhode Island.
“Many of the harms associated with marijuana use are being accelerated by increasingly potent forms of the drug, which is being engineered to contain up to 99% THC. Research has repeatedly shown that increasing THC potency means more risk. The use of marijuana with a THC potency of 15% or more results in a three-times greater risk of psychosis––daily users face a five-times greater risk. For this reason, we are also calling for the enactment of a 15% THC potency cap.
“Marijuana is not a risk-free drug and now is the time to educate residents on the harms of not only high-potency marijuana, but the risks of driving while high, how to stop increased accidental exposure of these drugs to young children, and warn residents of the exploitative and manipulative marketing tactics of this massive industry.
“As stated in the SAM Science Advisory Board’s letter to Governor McKee, the marijuana industry aims to minimize the real harm that marijuana can have on mental and physical health and exploits citizens who are suffering from addiction. We call on Rhode Island lawmakers to mitigate the harm that will come from this new policy immediately.
“Legalization has fallen short of its lofty promises in every state where it has been attempted––Rhode Island will be no different. Legislators in Rhode Island have failed to protect the public health and public safety of their constituents, instead prioritizing private profits and the interests of an addiction-for-profit industry.”