Our Turn: Jerry Vaccaro & Rebecca Plonsky: Questions still loom about marijuana
We read with great interest the May 18 Commentary piece by Patrick Kennedy (“Pot is wrong answer to children’s stress”), in which he opposed the legalization of marijuana, citing several compelling reasons. As leaders in a provider system that has Rhode Island’s only comprehensive addiction medicine program, we wish to add our voices and perspectives to this important area of changing public attitudes and policies.
We understand many of his concerns, and we believe that the dialogue about this huge shift in public policy should be broadened to include multiple groups of citizens, professionals and policymakers.
One area that deserves further attention, in our view, is the association between currently available THC, and related products, and the marijuana of years past. We won’t go into great depth about all of these, but it is important to note several issues.
First, as former Congressman Kennedy rightly points out, the variable concentrations of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in different delivery systems are not fully understood or regulated.
Second, delivery systems are evolving rapidly, such that greater amounts of THC are rapidly bio-available.
Third, the reliance on delivery systems and ad campaigns about gummy bears, lollipops and other treats engender both curiosity and uninformed sampling — and therefore concern.
There is a growing realization that many marijuana users and legal distributors of the drug do not understand the health risks that too much THC, the active agent in marijuana, can pose to a person’s health. Marijuana that is easily available in nearby Massachusetts has absolutely no controls in the amount of THC it contains, nor are there appropriate health warnings given at the time of purchase.
Under certain circumstances, THC can cause paranoia, depression or severe anxiety in users. Ironically, many marijuana users take it to relieve depression or anxiety —