California Dems want mental-health warning on pot – NY should heed the lesson

New York’s Cannabis Control Board is seeing the state’s retail legal-pot sales start at a slow pace, possibly until next year. But we’ve already seen how limited its views on public-health alerts are. Posters on commuter trains advise that only people 21 and older can use the drug – and that you cannot consume it in public. Anyone who has gone through Gotham knows what a great job they have done.

But as the board continues to push for social justice in granting weed-distribution licenses to ex-offenders and Gov. which legalized recreational marijuana. in 2016. That state is now considering another kind of pot lesson: one about mental-health dangers.

A Democratic lawmaker-pediatrician filed state law This would require “product labels and inserts to include a clear and prominent warning” that “cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems.” The legislature will hear this this week.

The bill, which was co-authored by Sen. Richard Pan with two liberal Democratic Assembly co-sponsors, Jackie Irwin and Kevin McCarthy, suggests chilling language reminiscent of cancer warnings on cigarette packages. One caveat: Cannabis use may contribute to “mental disorders such as schizophrenia.” The risk is greatest for frequent users.”

California State Sen. Richard Pan wrote the bill, which emphasizes warnings on drug-induced mental disorders.
ap/rich pedroncelli

This is not a contemporary version of the infamous 1936 film “Reefer Madness”. Oakland’s public health institute Such a law says “would address a gap regulatory hole by requiring more prominent and accurate health warnings on cannabis products.”

To that point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has nothing positive to say about pot — and confirms its link to mental illness. “People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis (what is real, hallucinations and paranoia) and long-lasting psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.” What’s more, the CDC continues, “the association between marijuana and schizophrenia is stronger in people who begin using marijuana at a younger age.”

State law may limit the sale of pot to a minimum of 21 people, but in California, notes supporting the text in Pan’s bill, “the percentage of California teens who use cannabis is between the ages of 12 and 17.” The national survey on drug use between 2016 and 2019 in age and health has increased significantly.” Those are the first three years after legalization.

This is true not just because pot became legal – but because it has been commercialized. As was once true of cigarette makers, pot marketers can promote its use. Anyone who thinks such messages will only reach people 21 and older is smoking something. As the bill notes, “the perception of harm caused by cannabis use by consumers of all ages, including adolescents, has declined dramatically.”

Hochul and the Cannabis Control Board need to stop the cheerleading of the advent of legal pot. This does not mean that the genie of legalization can be thrown back into the pipe. This means focusing on mitigating the imminent loss of legalization. Legalization shouldn’t mean incentive—not when drug-overdose deaths top 100,000 annually and the CDC warns that marijuana use is linked to addiction.

State hospital data show that three years after legalization, emergency-room visits for cannabis-induced psychosis rose 54% across California, from 682 to 1,053. These are potential mass shooters and subway psychos.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Speaks To Reporters In The Red Room At The State Capitol On July 1, 2022, About Legislation Passed During A Special Legislative Session In Albany, Ny
Gov. Kathy Hochul has hailed the legalization of marijuana.
AP/Hans Pennink

The Cannabis Control Board needs to be busy producing leaflets warning about the mental-health risks of pot. The state needs to abandon its dream of pot tax revenue and instead reduce taxes so that adulterated black-market weeds don’t flood the market and overgrow. In California, illegal suppliers “still account for somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of sales” thanks, in large part, to higher taxes, Jacob Sulam noted recently in these pages.

In New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and all 19 states that have legalized recreational pot, public health is more important than feeding the public. It is wrong for state and local governments to rely on a risky product that harms the health of their own citizens. Let’s heed California’s warning.

Howard Hascock is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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