Vote No to banning cannabis shops in Acton

The debate around cannabis sales in Acton and other towns has largely come down to questions of teen safety.

For some teens, habitual marijuana use leads to short- and long- term health issues. For adults, the research leads to much better conclusions: for example, states that allow cannabis sales show a drop in opioid issues: it's simply a better and safer way to manage pain. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/where-marijuana-is-legal-opioid-prescriptions-fall/

Is preventing local retail sale a good strategy for reducing teen use? No.

First, let's compare with cigarette use. Teen cigarette use has been falling substantially across the country in recent years. This is because of persistent educational efforts, partly funded by lawsuit settlements with cigarette manufacturers, not because we don't allow the sale of cigarettes to adults.

Second, for those teens that continue with marijuana use, obtaining regulated marijuana from older friends is a lot safer than obtaining it from drug dealers, who often lace their product with unknown and dangerous additives. Drug dealers, participating in this illegal and lucrative business, often carry and use weapons, which create additional threats for buyers.

Studies of whether retail marijuana cause an uptick in teen use have mixed and complex results: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2593707 What's clear is that attitudes toward marijuana are changing, including among teens. Acton teen attitudes are not going to be affected by whether or not a retail store is in Acton: these are wide-spread trends spread by media and supported, for adults, in science. The best way to reduce the harmful effects of teen use is targeted fact-based education, the availability of treatment options for those who are becoming addicted, and increased awareness among teens teachers, parents, and medical professionals on how to notice and intervene when there are problems associated with marijuana use.

I recently received an email from Greg Hutchins of Acton on this ballot question. He gave me permission to publish it here in the form he was trying to get published in the Beacon, since that paper has repeatedly failed to publish it:

"Many towns are weighing bans on legal marijuana businesses. I am sympathetic to the concerns of parents. Children and adolescent’s brains are still developing, so anything that alters brain chemistry is a concern. But denial is not the solution.

Teenagers are not the unknowing innocents we would like them to be. High-schoolers likely know who to ask about obtaining marijuana. That they know who to ask doesn’t mean they are customers. That is the black market. It does not check ID or lab test for purity, and does not sell only marijuana.

The way to end the black market is to turn it into a legal market overseen by the town and state. That is the lesson taught by Prohibition and its repeal, and reinforced by lotteries and legalized gambling nationwide. Prior to those changes, organized crime and gangs provided alcohol, numbers games, and bookmaking. They also provided the violence.

By all means, protect your children. The way to do so is to regulate and oversee the business. Legal shops WILL check ID and lab test, and WILL sell only marijuana. Please oppose a ban on the solution to the black market."

Please vote no on this local initiative ballot question on November 6.

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Comments

marijuana

good comparison to tobacco. same naive judgement that allowed one of the most tragic drug being let loose on society. Feels good, has medicinal benefits, no real negatives. instead of allowing its use to the general public after the FDA has tested & reviewed we do what the was done in the 1600s

Al Dennison
Acton, Ma

No to banning cannabis shops

All points well taken. Now that pot is legal, there is no reason to prohibit it's sale. It would seem appropriate to locate such outlets in the same manner as liquor stores. I don't advocate the use of pot. But it is not our job as a community to restrict the sale of a product that is used daily by a great number of our citizens. If made unavailable in a controled licensed setting, it will still be obtained very easily. And the tax dollars won't be collected.
Bill Alstrom