Marijuana law experts discuss negative impact of cannabis on young minds as legalization gets one step closer


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Recreational marijuana is one step closer to legalization in our state. As the bill moves forward with Governor Ned Lamont’s support, doctors at the Connecticut State Medical Society say the legalization of marijuana will be more harmful than most people think.

There are a lot of little reasons, but there are two big reasons: the impact of marijuana on young brains, and the dangers if you get behind the wheel while stoned.

Related: Gov. Lamont’s recreational marijuana bill passes in key legislative committee

Just like with vaping, doctors say a big problem is they market towards kids with flavored E-juice editions like a Girl Scout cookie flavor. Doctors also say some clear studies show smoking pot can slow down brain growth.

When you think of young minds, you maybe think of teenagers or college-aged students. But doctors with the Connecticut State Medical Society say the brain doesn’t stop developing until about 25-years-old.

“You’ve seen and states that have legalized it, an increase in suicides, an increase in mental health, in one study there showed an IQ drop of up to eight points,” Dr. Gregory Shangold, president of the Connecticut State Medical Society.

When people say, “Relax, it’s just pot,” the doctor says this is not the same pot smoked in the ’80s. That was four percent THC. Now with edibles, they say modern marijuana can reach over 25%.

The CT State Medical Society also says legalizing marijuana is not the same as alcohol. When driving, alcohol intoxication levels can be measured in the bloodstream. Marijuana cannot. Doctors say it could lead to a lot more impaired driving and deaths on the roads.

Dr. Shangold: “There are clear studies that show using marijuana up to four hours after you use it, it affects your driving. And in Colorado, they saw a double in car accident fatalities, when it was legalized.”

Since this whole debate has come up, and medical marijuana was legalized, we’ve been talking to the dispensaries and they say one thing they have going for their industry in Connecticut is highly regulated. The growers have regulated as well as the dispensaries.

Carl Tirella, general manager of Acreage Holdings in Connecticut explained, “There are two independent testing sites as well, so it is a very regulated market to make sure that it all meets the standards of the Department of Consumer Protection and the medical marijuana program.”

And the dispensaries say education is a huge part of marijuana, whether it’s medical or recreational.

“What we look to do is educate our patients as much as possible, not only people who are currently patients but any recreational user that would come through the door because we do have pharmacists and technicians on staff,” Tirella added.

The medical dispensary says when lawmakers give them the go-ahead, they can flip the switch and be ready for recreational in a matter of days.

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