Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to legalize adult-use marijuana in his State of the State and reinforced that statement by putting this initiative into his state budget proposal announcement.
As moms, we have a few things to say about that.
Let’s stop talking about legalizing marijuana and start talking about regulating marijuana. None of us are naive enough to think that our kids aren’t already exposed to marijuana — the unfortunate reality is that our kids have more access to marijuana because it isn’t regulated, like alcohol.
The legality of alcohol does not mean that we approve of underage drinking. Legalizing alcohol set the rules of recreational use and importantly set a legal age. And yes, like alcohol, I know that some of our kids are likely to experiment, but as we all know, many of them already do.
The opportunity we have right now as parents is to demand the regulation of marijuana to make our children safer.
Today, marijuana is only available from the illegal market — an illegal market that has laced marijuana with other dangerous and addictive chemicals. And I don’t know one parent who isn’t troubled by how widespread vaping is.
Unregulated marijuana sold for vaporizers has been cut with Vitamin E acetate that becomes toxic poison gas when burned. Right now, buyers have no way of knowing what is in the products they’re buying. Dealers aren’t pedaling vodka, not because underage drinkers don’t exist or don’t want liquor, but because it is regulated.
The myth that marijuana is a gateway drug was debunked time and time again, but this fact persists: unregulated, our kids are exposed to gateway dealers that introduce them to increasingly dangerous addictive drugs like cocaine, opioids, and heroin.
We need to fix it.
Myths abound, but facts don’t lie. In Colorado, what we’ve seen is not an uptick in adolescent use, but rather a decline from 43 percent in 2009 to 35 percent in 2017 due to regulation. The biggest jump Colorado saw was in users over age 55. There’s a good chance that once marijuana is no longer illegal, some of the appeal to kids would be lost. Like Facebook, once parents start using it, it’s no longer cool.
Let’s regulate marijuana and get drug dealers and gangs away from our kids.
The authors are Co-Founders of LI Mothers for Sensible Regulation