For the vast majority of people who consume marijuana today, the greatest harms associated with their consumption are not health-related. They are the criminal and civil penalties that can prohibit them from gaining employment, housing or an education in the future.
Using the criminal justice system to deal with marijuana misuse has failed. It’s time to shift to a public health approach.
Marijuana is less addictive and less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, and many other substances, and the myth that it leads users to more powerful drugs has long since been disproven.
This doesn’t mean that marijuana is harmless. Research suggests that heavy, daily use of marijuana can lead to dependence in approximately nine percent of users. It’s time to strengthen in our medical system to better prevent, diagnose, and treat problematic use.
New Jersey can do a better job of preventing misuse of marijuana under a legalized system with regulation and education.
How will this be done?
Restricting advertising and access to youth.
Investing in evidence-based prevention programs that focus on youth, their families, their schools, and their communities.
Enhancing our capacity to treat, not criminalize, individuals who misuse marijuana.
Eliminating the criminal stigma of marijuana and adopting a public health approach to marijuana that can reduce youth marijuana use and encourage adults to only use responsibly.