Here is a list of organizations that can provide more information and/or educational resources.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services
The State of Colorado
- Colorado’s marijuana homepage with information on several topics, including legal use, medical use, and health effects.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website for retail marijuana public health information on education and youth prevention.
- Colorado Department of Education’s website with information on marijuana’s effects on students and schools.
SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
- SAM is a bipartisan, non-profit “alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy.” The link above, is to SAM’s website for factsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other informational resources for the public regarding marijuana.
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
- This site provides resources on how to discuss drugs with kids; how to find treatment for people who are worried their kids may be using drugs; and educational materials for parents, teachers, and kids.
Community Alliances for Drug Free Youth (CADFY)
- CADFY is “a non-profit organization working in collaboration with other agencies and organizations to bring parents, youth, schools, and communities together to reduce substance abuse through the application of successful prevention strategies and programs.” The link above is to CADFY’s website for prevention resources, which includes subcategories for teens, parents, teachers, law enforcement, and faith leaders.
Foundation for a Drug Free World
The Foundation for a Drug Free World “is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free.”
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI), University of Washington
The Psychology of Addictive Behaviors has published a new, contradictory update to a recent journal article that concluded marijuana was harmless. The newer article reports a review of the statistical methods used in the first piece and concludes that, in direct contradiction to the first study’s conclusion, there are 2.5 times as many incidences of psychotic disorders among marijuana users than among non-users.
For more detailed reading, see the full press release at the SAM website.
Photo courtesy of PBS.
One of the common assertions about marijuana is that many of the people in jail or prison for drug related offenses were convicted, and are serving lengthy sentences, for “simple possession” of marijuana. This classification refers to offenses involving small amounts of marijuana (enough to classify as only being intended for the owner’s personal use), generally carried by non-violent, first-time offenders. While it is true that a conviction for simple possession can entail at least jail time, if not prison time, judges most often give first-time offenders more lenient punishments, which can include fines and community service. Many first-time marijuana offenders may not even be arrested, let alone punished.
Additionally, most people who are sent to prison for marijuana possession are also sent for at least one other, more serious or violent, crime. It is misleading to claim that people are serving years (or life) long sentences for simple possession, when most, if not all, of those people are serving those sentences for possession while also serving sentences for much more severe crimes. State and federal sentencing guidelines generally do not encourage incarceration for the possession of personal-use amounts of marijuana, let alone do they encourage (or even allow) sentences of more than a few months for it. Reports on the federal and state prison systems routinely show that of all the people imprisoned for simple possession, almost all of them are serving those short sentences while also serving harsher sentences for harsher crimes, such as drug trafficking, participation in drug trafficking organizations or other organized crime, or other violent crimes.
Listed below are links to several of these reports.
With the recent increase in legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana use, many people have become interested in starting or investing in marijuana businesses. Something to keep in mind, though, is that people who are interested generally need to reside in the states in which the businesses are owned and operated. In Colorado and Oregon, for example, this means that if you would like to start or invest in a marijuana business, you need to have lived there for at least two years before applying for the appropriate business licenses. You may not invest in (let alone start) the business while living in another state or country. In Washington, investors only need to have been residents for three months, but their companies all have to be formed in state as well.
Another major point: no one may buy marijuana in a state where it is legal and take it to another state, even another state where it is legal. This constitutes drug trafficking, a federal offense, which law enforcement officials are on greater alert for due to the increasing number of states that allow legal marijuana use.
These links provide information on individual states’ policies regarding founding or investing in marijuana businesses.
January 21, 2016
This January, the Houston HIDTA Executive Board invited NMI National Coordinator Ed Shemelya to discuss the effects of legalized marijuana that have been observed in Colorado. Texas law enforcement and public safety officials anticipate a battle over legalizing marijuana during the state’s upcoming 2017 legislative session, and the Houston HIDTA and its partners have made the proactive decision to start preparations early. Mr. Shemelya’s presentation focused on the increased use of marijuana, especially among teenagers and college-aged adults. Increased use has a number of side effects, which are harmful for individuals, but which can also pose a threat to broader public health, safety, and productivity, and people should accordingly be aware of these before deciding whether or not legalized marijuana is good for their communities.
Ed Shemelya addressing the Houston HIDTA Executive Board. (Thanks to Houston HIDTA Deputy Director Bryan Smith for the photo.)
December 8, 2015
In December, law enforcement personnel, including Appalachia HITDA Director Frank Rapier, gathered alongside policy makers, HIDTA personnel, and industry experts in Lexington, Kentucky to discuss issues surrounding anti-narcotics legislation. The meeting’s participants came from Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia. The discussion was facilitated by Neely Carlton, a former Mississippi state senator. Ms. Carlton led the group in working through issues relating to the process of creating legislation, such as how to identify potential allies, and how to publicly state a group’s position in order to garner support among legislators.
The meeting took a different approach than many past narcotics officers’ conferences, examining opportunities for law enforcement to affect change through policy, rather than through direct enforcement initiatives. Discussions and training on these issues are critical, since topics like the best time to contact a legislator about creating a new law or the most effective ways to ask for support are not often thought of as necessary knowledge for those working in law enforcement. The meeting’s participants discussed their place within the legislative process, and where their ability to influence that process may lie. So far, the meeting’s organizers are receiving very positive feedback and hope to expand this approach for future conferences.