Broad Coalition of Health Organizations Urges Democratic National Committee to Reject Marijuana Legalization

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For Immediate Release
July 6, 2016
Contact: Jeffrey Zinsmeister
[email protected]
(703) 665-1410

Broad Coalition of Health Organizations Urges Democratic National Committee to Reject Marijuana Legalization

(Alexandria, VA) – A broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy. These groups, which include Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC) , and Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) specifically urge the DNC “not to view legalization and commercialization of marijuana as a solution” to any current issues related to marijuana policy. The letter was also signed by Patrick Kennedy, Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco. Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration. So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?”
Indeed, the letter also details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell. Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014). Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014, when retail sales of marijuana began.

“The pot lobby has successfully fought off Colorado’s attempts to regulate advertising targeting children, rules restricting the use of pesticides, and rules to limit marijuana potency. This same lobby is now exporting these tactics to other states in November,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “This assault on health and safety regulations is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from the 1960s and 1970s. Our broad coalition urges the DNC to resist these calls.”

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