Letter to the Editor: Senator encourages Carney to veto marijuana legislation


Editor’s note: The following was sent to Gov. John Carney on March 30.

I am writing to urge you to veto House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, the marijuana bills. Last year, you showed great leadership and courage to veto similar bills. The dangers associated with legalization of recreational marijuana were ignored by those who voted for the bills. But the dangers are real. Here are a few of them:

As of mid-August of last year, there were already 63 near-deaths and six deaths of children in Delaware. In 2021, there were 70 cases for the entire year, a 35% increase over the previous year.

According to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators, cannabis is associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect, many more than alcohol and other drug use combined.

Is this a factor in Delaware, where we allow medical marijuana use and illegal drug use is known to be widespread? Very likely.

According to a study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism compared to those who tested negative. Also impacting the bottom line is decreased productivity.

The THC in marijuana causes the “high” and leads to addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, traffic deaths and many health and social problems. After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”

But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

Cannabis users today are consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects.

In the 1970s, most marijuana contained less than 2% THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20%-25% THC, due to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques, as well as a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System reported that drugs were present in 43% of the fatally injured drivers with a known test result. Over one-third (36.5%) of the identified drugs were marijuana in some form.

A January 2018 paper in The American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who use were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Gov. Carney, we are fighting a drug death epidemic. We are looking at fatal and near-fatal child abuse cases. What we know about the dangers should convince us that the risk is too high to pursue legalization in Delaware. I admire you for your courage to take a stand when it means so much to the welfare of the people of Delaware.

Sen. Bryant L. Richardson


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