So-called ‘medical marijuana’ results in increased use by youth

Community groups from around the state of California celebrated the fact that neither marijuana legalization nor an expansion of the current “medical” marijuana system will be on the statewide ballot this November. The Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that none of the six pro-legalization measures gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Legalization failed in 2010 and last July the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban “medical” marijuana storefronts.

“We may be seeing the beginning of the end for marijuana advocates in our state,” noted John Redman, Executive Director of Californians for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the state’s oldest anti-drug coalition. “After sixteen years of experimenting with de facto legalization, the majority of Californians who don’t smoke marijuana have realized that more marijuana availability isn’t good for our kids or our state.”

Initiatives 1516, 1518, 1524, 1544, 1571, and 1579 varied in their specific provisions. Initiatives 1516, 1518, 1524 and 1544 would have essentially legalized marijuana, whereas initiatives 1571 and 1579 would have expanded medical marijuana and legalized industrial hemp. Prevention and youth advocates feared these initiatives would have further pushed up drug use rates in the state.

“We have seen a direct correlation between increase marijuana availability through dispensaries and increased youth marijuana use,” remarked Aaron Byzak, President of the Vista, California based North Coastal Prevention Coalition (NCPC).

Two peer-reviewed studies published in prominent scientific journals in late 2011 reveal that states with mature medical marijuana programs, like California, have youth marijuana rates significantly higher than states without such programs. This has translated to a significant increase in marijuana use over the last five years.

“For a time it appeared that we were losing ground as we fought for the future of our kids,” Byzak continued. “But it appears that the people of California have seen through the smoke screen and chosen a healthy future.”

“Preventionists in California can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief,” Redman commented. “And focus on preventing marijuana use before it ever starts.”

Source: Press Release Californians for Drug Free Youth August 30th 2012

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