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Is Big Marijuana The Next Big Tobacco?

by Hugh McQuaid | Feb 10, 2014 1:16pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, Legal

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Director Kevin Sabet and John Daviau, president of Connecticut Association of Prevention Practitioners

A national anti-marijuana organization put down roots in Connecticut on Monday and warned that legalization efforts are poised to create a public health crisis in the form of the “next Big Tobacco.”

At a Hartford press conference, the Connecticut Association of Prevention Practitioners announced it would be partnering with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national group co-founded by former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet, a former White House policy advisor.

Sabet said that the marijuana movement that has led to the drug’s legal recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington is being driven by money and not from a “mom and pop” marijuana industry. He said it is “multimillion dollar, multinational conglomerate.”

“This is not your old college roommate from the ‘70s with long hair in a drum circle,” he said. “. . . They look a lot more like the hedge fund managers an hour away from this state than they do your old college buddy.”

The new partnership and a panel discussion Monday at the state Capitol come as the state is setting up its medical marijuana program which was adopted in 2012 and is considered one of the most tightly regulated programs of its kind.

Last month, the state Consumer Protection Department named the four companies that have been approved to grow the substance at facilities in West Haven, Portland, Simsbury, and Watertown. The agency plans to announce five licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries within the next couple of months and expects that they will have cannabis on their shelves for patients by sometime this summer.

During the press conference, Sabet and Connecticut Association of Prevention Practitioners Director John Daviau did not call for a repeal of the program but suggested the legislature consider policies to enable police to test the level of the drug’s active chemical in the blood of drivers.

“In this state the political reality is that medical marijuana is here, now the question is: are we going to handle it responsibly or irresponsibly?” Sabet said.

Medical marijuana laws are often viewed as a step in a national movement toward outright legalization. Sabet said his group was trying to stem any efforts to allow the drug beyond its medical use.

“This is as far as we’re going to go. That next step . . . is not going to happen here in Connecticut,” he said.

At a press conference in January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he did not view Connecticut’s medical marijuana law, which he anticipates will be used as a model for other states, as a step closer to legalizing the drug for recreational use here in this state.

“We don’t want to duplicate what we think are failures elsewhere and we’re not moving down the road to legalization. We decriminalized” possession of small amounts of the drug “and now we have medical marijuana and we’re very proud of that fact,” he said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo However, Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said the law is having consequences in the way the drug is being perceived by Connecticut youth. He said he has heard his son and other young people talk about the substance as a medicine rather than an illicit drug.

“We can already see that in the children — the fear is being psychologically broken down and when the fear of certain drugs are eliminated, use is going to increase,” he said.

Sabet said his group is looking to “bridge the gap” between public perception of the drug and what he said is the medical consensus. He said he also will continue to stress the threat of a “Big Marijuana” industry funding the movement to legalize.

“It’s not about the personal use of marijuana among adults. This really is about creating the next tobacco industry and we are going to be repeating that on and on for the next few years as we have this national conversation about marijuana,” he said.

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(13) Comments

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 10, 2014  3:15pm

I agree I agree I agree. Don’t agree? Look at sex and apply that to what he is saying.

“We can already see that in the children—the fear is being psychologically broken down and when the fear of certain drugs are eliminated, use is going to increase,” he said.

posted by: Gommesen | February 10, 2014  3:28pm

If the tobacco industry has taught America anything, it is that education and further regulation is the most effective way to discourage its use.

posted by: SocialButterfly | February 10, 2014  6:59pm

I gave up smoking 25 years ago
but now have glaucoma and prostate cancer—and qualify
for medical marijuana. This blog makes it sound like medical marijuana is available to the general public—which it is not. The title of story is deceptive to actual reality of the program. 

give people qualifed

posted by: StillRevolting | February 10, 2014  7:25pm

This fear probably can’t be realized without the government making it possible. Wait till the feds cave, we see it a couple farm bills from now, and Monsanto owns the patents on the seeds. The group’s core concern of message seems valid. Medical benefit is a lot harder to overcome for mom and dad than being able to offer lung cancer for tobacco and liver disease for alcohol in their conversations about choices with their kids. Goals for this group: Change the message from benefit to choice with a description of benefit as appropriate and keep it out of the farm bill to ensure that cousin Mary’s lovingly cared for garden does not need to originate from a seed packet in order to be clear of patent infringements and that users aren’t paying obscene taxes on inferior, overly regulated products.

posted by: SocialButterfly | February 10, 2014  7:46pm

This story and the title of the blog appears to sensationalize medical marijuana law starting with the title: “Is Bg Marijuana the Next Big Tobacco?” This is not BIG MARIJUANA available to the general public—and to compare it to BIG TOBACCO is a disservice to a medically approved group of ailing people qualified to receive the drug legally. I personally doubly qualify for medical use of marijuana
and should be allowed to use it without this fanfare.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 10, 2014  8:53pm

DrHunterSThompson

Well, if the weed industry is the next big tobacco, how lucky for us!

twist one up! watch the olympics.

HST

posted by: Sioul | February 11, 2014  11:51am

It doesn’t matter if any substance that alterates the mood and the mind is legal or not. People die every day from both legal and illegal ones. See the article in this link

There is shows that in 2010, prescription drugs killed more than 22,100 people in the US, more than twice as many as cocaine and heroin combined. How many more prescription drugs do we need? And how many more people do the legislators want to see die from those? What does it matter if it is legal or not? Abuse of any mind and mood altering substance eventually kills any user! My family and many other families suffer a lot from addicted people. When will enough be enough for all those who suffer and die from drug addiction and those who make money from it, legal or not?

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 11, 2014  12:07pm

You are right Sioul. My family has been there as well.

posted by: SocialButterfly | February 11, 2014  12:44pm

@Sioul: The fact that presription drugs killed 22,100 peoples a moot point—as all these drugs by law described the dangerous side-effects associated with each prescription - and people are allowed to choose their own medically approved poison.  The same warning will be given to medical users of marijuana.Just because you don’t have a medical use or marijuana—please do not speak for other people that do.

posted by: kbro23 | February 11, 2014  3:30pm

@StanMuzyk Medical marijuana become Big Marijuana when products like pot-laced soda, candies, and lotions begin to hit shelves, whether at dispensaries or not. Youth become the targets of these products and messages - just like with Big Tobacco and alcohol marketing.

posted by: Reader K | February 11, 2014  4:31pm

It has been documented that those with their eye on successfully marketing legal marijuana have said verbatim “Out target population is high school seniors”.  Last I knew high school seniors were NOT over 21, ever.  A lot of money stands to be gained by some, but if it follows the track of alcohol communities will ultimately lose.  With alcohol for every $1 gained in tax revenue, communities spend $10 in treatment and medical costs.  Def not a win.  This is a big issue that should be handled responsibly, thoughtfully and intentionally.

posted by: Janster57 | February 11, 2014  4:36pm

As with any Connecticut political organization or politician, the first question is who is paying them. I’m sure they’re not doing this as concerned citizens. How much would you bet that kennedy and friends are financed by the applicants who didn’t get a growing license? Their outrage seems a little late in the game to

posted by: SocialButterfly | February 11, 2014  4:39pm

@kbro23:  You are obviously in no medical need for marijuana—but please do not advocate the denial of medical marijuana—for people who have a valid medical need for the product,  It’s state law whether you like it or not.