With growing pressure by special interests to push forward with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, Kilmartin, in partnership with Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the Ocean State Prevention Alliance, and What’s the Rush, RI, hosted a press conference Thursday morning to hear from individuals and organizations who believe that legalization of recreational marijuana is fraught with public health and public safety problems and is the wrong direction for the State of Rhode Island.
The press conference drew sharp criticism form the State's leading marijuana policy reform agency, Regulate RI, whose Director believes the Attorney General is stepping out of bounds and providing false information.
"We question whether it is appropriate for full-time state employees from the Attorney General's Office to focus so much time and resources lobbying against marijuana when most voters support adopting a more sensible approach," said Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate RI. "In addition to the press conference today, their office is pushing cities and towns to adopt a very misleading and inaccurate anti-legalization resolution."
In the press conference, where the Attorney General paraded concerned local leaders and health professionals across the podium, Kilmartin urged Rhode Island's cities and towns to oppose potential deregulation and to pass resolutions in opposition of potential marijuana legalization,
In response, Regulate Rhode Island, an affiliate of the Marijuana Policy Project, has issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the Attorney General's proposal.
For example, Regulate RI disputes Kilmartin's assertion that teenage use and impairment-related fatalities have dramatically increased in state's with legalized cannabis:
[From the AG's resolution] “WHEREAS, the states of Colorado and Washington that have been the earliest adopters of commercial marijuana are already experience highest-in-the-nation teenage use and a doubling of marijuana impaired driving fatalities...”
REALITY: According to a recent report from Colorado’s Dept. of Public Health and Environment, the rate of marijuana use among adults and adolescents “has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users." The report also states, “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average." Virtually every survey of teens in Washington and Colorado has found that marijuana use rates have either remained stable or declined since legalization laws were implemented.
REALITY: There is no evidence for the claim that there has been a “doubling of marijuana impaired driving fatalities” in Colorado and Washington. A 2016 analysis from the Cato Institute concluded that there is no evidence linking legal marijuana with increased traffic fatalities in any states that have legalized for adult use. The Attorney General’s office is most likely thinking about a study of car accidents in Washington conducted by AAA. But the report itself notes that "results of this study do not indicate that drivers with detectable THC in their blood at the time of the crash were necessarily impaired by THC or that they were at fault for the crash," since "the data available cannot be used to assess whether a given driver was actually impaired, and examination of fault in individual crashes was beyond the scope of this study."
Read the full point-by-point rebuttal here
"Three out of five Rhode Islanders support legalization because they understand that the sky has not fallen in Colorado, Washington or other states that have chosen to make marijuana legal for adults, Moffat added. "Massachusetts has decided to tax and regulate marijuana and there will likely be stores open across the border next year. Now is the time for Rhode Island to finally end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition."
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