(Alexandria, VA) – Two significant studies released this weekend showed continuing problems of legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington State. The first study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that marijuana poisoning cases among children in Colorado has been rising an average of 34 percent per year — almost double the average 19 percent annual increase in the rest of the United States. The second study, conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, found a statistically significant increase in daytime stoned driving in Washington State since its implementation of legal retail marijuana sales in 2014.
With respect to the Colorado study, about half of the cases of child marijuana poisoning involved edible pot products. The average stay at the hospital was 11 hours. Moreover, the researchers concluded that, “Almost half of the patients seen in the children’s hospital in the 2 years after legalization had exposures from recreational marijuana, suggesting that legalization did affect the incidence of exposures.”
In Washington State, researchers conducted voluntary, anonymous drug tests of drivers via oral and blood tests, and found that more drivers tested THC-positive one year after implementation of the retail sales law than immediately before. Statistically significant increases were observed among daytime drivers, where that rate more than doubled from before implementation of legalization laws (7.8%) to one year after retail legalization was implemented (18.9%). Stoned driving at night also increased in the same time period (17.5% to 22.2%), although this difference was not statistically significant. Overall, more than one in five drivers tested positive for marijuana one year after implementation.
“A powerful marijuana industry lobby has emerged in Colorado and Washington — stopping at nothing to block restrictions on advertising and promoting marijuana candies — and now we are paying the price,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “Other states should look at the example Colorado and Washington offer when considering whether or not to legalize and commercialize marijuana. The best intentions do not matter — once legalized, the industry takes over and writes the rules.”
Jo McGuire, co-chair of SAM’s Colorado affiliate and president & CEO of 5 Minutes of Courage, a Colorado advocacy group for drug-free communities, workplaces, and youth, also commented, “It’s not surprising that we’re experiencing these problems. We have made pot use more socially acceptable for everyone. Other states shouldn’t follow our example.”
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens who oppose marijuana legalization and want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. Learn more at www.learnaboutsam.org.