Connecticut is now one of 18 states where the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized for adults over the age of 21. Cannabis retailers have already demonstrated a persistent interest in establishing shops across the state. It is vital at this time for communities to address how to mitigate youth substance abuse in light of these changes. We have learned a lot about what to expect from the experiences of other states that have legalized this substance.
What We Know:
- Legal states throughout the country saw a 25% increase in cannabis use disorder among 12-17 year old youths in 2019 (Cerda et. al., 2019).
- Youth use of cannabis in legal states continues to outpace non-legal states (NSDUH State Comparisons, 2019).
- Calls to Poison Control Centers for marijuana exposure increased 103.2% in Washington, 112.8% in Colorado, and 140% in Massachusetts (Washington Poison Center, 2018; Rocky Mountain HIDTA, 2019; Whitehill et al, 2019).
- In Washington state alone, cases of marijuana exposure in children five and younger increased 176.5% (Washington Poison Center, 2018).
The cannabis industry over the last 15 years has developed strains of marijuana and produced concentrated products with much higher levels of THC, the psychoactive component in pot that causes addiction. Today’s marijuana retail market promotes products with THC levels between 17%-28%, with even stronger products–such as shatter, oil, wax, and edibles–hitting as high as 80% concentrate. This is more than a 200% increase in the amount of THC found in dispensary products in the early 1990s, according to the National Institutes of Health. Plants engineered to cultivate THC at these levels produce far less CBD, the beneficial compound in cannabis plants widely known to help with symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain.
On November 9th, 2021, the East Haddam Planning and Zoning Commission enacted a moratorium on new cannabis establishments in town. This measure was put into place, to allow the community the necessary time to develop regulations that will not only meet statutory requirements, but also promote the general health, safety, and welfare of East Haddam residents [see Proposed Amendment to Section 2.10 of the East Haddam Zoning Regulations below for further context] .
At least 75 out of 169 municipalities within the state of Connecticut have now instituted bans or moratoriums against the selling of cannabis according to a Hearst Connecticut Media Group analysis(Bergman & Monk, 2022; CTinsider). The town of East Haddam and its elected officials are now facing an impending decision as to whether or not they accept submitted applications for approval for any and all cannabis establishments to be approved for zoning within our community.
What is decided over the next several months will have a lasting effect on the landscape of our community. As residents, we have the power and responsibility to define what that looks like.How should our community navigate this issue? Be the voice to make your choice. Find out more about what is happening in our town and how you can get involved by visiting https://www.easthaddam.org/.
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