Bucking a national trend toward legalization of marijuana, 49-year-old former three-term Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) called the legalization movement a “Trojan Horse,” promising to corrupt the nation’s youth. Speaking at every turn, Kennedy sees himself as the counterbalance to the nation’s marijuana legalization movement. Kennedy believes that legalization “normalizes” the use of what he sees as an addictive drug, something undermining the nation’s youth. “The public health doesn’t stand a chance in this fight, because we’re up against money that is going to continue to grow as the industry spreads, comparing pot advocates to Big Tobacco. Heading Project SAM [Smart Approaches to Marijuana], Kennedy advocates FDA-approved synthetic drugs like Marinol, proving the medial benefits of marijuana use, not unknowns of smoking or ingesting natural cannabis
Kennedy knows that there’s zero research showing the Marinol provides any of the medical benefits of natural cannabis use. With only a handful of states legalizing recreational weed, including, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, Kennedy’s fighting a growing national trend to legalize pot for recreational use. In every state, the minimum age to buy weed for recreational use is 21-years-of-age, unless the state has a medical use law that permits doctors’ prescriptions for minors. “Right now, no one know what they’re buying—that can be a hazard to public health,” insists Kennedy, knowing that consumers know exactly what they’re buying from marijuana dispensaries. Most, if not all, cannabis sold through approved U.S. dispensaries is certified organic, with strict strain-typing [Indica or Sativa] and accurate THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] concentrations.
Kennedy says he’s concerned about marijuana addiction, something disputed by the scientific community studying drug addiction. Most addictionologists find no discernable physical withdrawal syndrome from going cold turkey off marijuana. Whether there’s psychological addiction is anyone’s guess. “Our country is susceptible to addiction,” said Kennedy told CNBC’s Bianna Golodryga, acting as if the U.S. has more addiction problems than other countries. “I just don’t know how much sense it makes to try to allow another intoxicating, addicting substance to be sold in the marketplace,” making the old D.A.R.E. [Drug Abuse Resistance Education], a national anti-drug movement started in the 1960s, a program adopted by law enforcement agencies and school districts around the country. Asked by Golodryga about alcohol consumption, Kennedy gives glib answers.
Asked by Golodryga about the adverse effects of prescription drugs and alcohol, Kennedy points to lax regulation in the drug and beverage industry, accounting for adverse effects from prescription drugs and alcohol. I don’t disagree with that. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Kennedy told Golodryga, pointing out that prescription drugs and alcohol are already here to stay. Why allow another substance to go out on the marketplace. Kennedy’s non-profit Smart Approaches to Marijuana mentions nothing about how legalizing marijuana damages the illicit drug trade, forcing otherwise law-abiding citizens to engage in criminal behavior to get weed. Kennedy talks about how recreational weed corrupts the youth, without mentioning the damaging effects of the criminal justice system on generations of marijuana users. Kennedy looks to turn back the clock on marijuana use.
Whether Kennedy likes the effects of legal marijuana or not, it prevents generations of users from suffering the career-ending criminal convictions and jail time. “Alcohol’s already legal, and there’s no putting that horse back in the barn. Let’s stop this horse from getting out the barn. . . . “ said Kennedy, looking at the small picture. Legalization for recreational use takes, once-and-for-all, the criminal element out of cannabis use. How many generations of marijuana users rotted in American jails or prisons for violating obsolete laws, branding recreational users common criminals. “I just don’t think we should relish the thought of any American is kept from their God-given potential,” said Kennedy, not admitting that it’s not weed but the criminal justice system that prevented generations of convicted marijuana uses from reaching their “God-given” potential.
Kennedy’s arguments are so obsolete, so out-of-step with current thinking, so backward that they defy imagination. No one on the legalization or pro-recreational use side argues that weed enhances one’s academic or work performance. What they do argue is that keeping marijuana illegal punishes to many citizens for non-violent drug-related crimes. “What I worry about is marijuana sapping the motivation and cognition of our young people . . “ Kennedy said, arguing that enforcing existing marijuana laws is the only way to discourage future use. Generations of pot users proved that they’re willing to endure harsh punishments to obtain and use marijuana. Nothing robs human potential more than languishing in prison for non-violent drug-related crimes. Comparing marijuana to opiates shows that Kennedy’s anti-marijuana crusade is sadly out-of-touch with today’s trends.