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STATEMENT: Center Claims It Reckless And Anti-Family to Legalize Marijuana This Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2017

Center Claims it Reckless and Anti-Family to Legalize Marijuana This Year
Supports Study Commission as More Prudent Approach

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity claims it would be reckless to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state this year, as sufficient analysis has not been independently conducted. While public discussion has focused on revenues, underground markets vs regulated markets, incarceration rates, and forms of strict regulation, the Center believes that the potential impact on families and on society have been a glaring omission in the statewide debate.

“How would any family benefit from increased use or abuse of any substance,” asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “We must put the interests of minors, families, and overall society above all other considerations.”

Conflicting data from studies of Colorado, Washington and other states that have previously legalized recreational cannabis use have created an unclear picture of the short-term and long-term effects.

“The research shows that there are major potential risks to individuals and to society, but we cannot yet accurately quantify the actual scope of these concerns. This is why we need more time to study the issue. We should not recklessly move forward until we know with more certainty where we are headed,” said Michael Cerullo, who was today named as an Adjunct Scholar to the Center on the issue of substance abuse.

Cerullo is founder of What’s the Rush RI and is one of the state’s leading activists against marijuana legalization until a more thorough examination of the data from other states can be made. He is a private practice psychotherapist. Cerullo has evaluated and treated hundreds of adolescent and emerging adults involved with DCYF, the Family Court and justice system and with residential rehab programs.

“As Patrick Kennedy recently warned, increased use of marijuana could indeed lead to increased opioid and other substance abuse. Already with a statewide illicit drug use problem, there is simply too big a risk for families for Rhode Island to act at this time” added Cerullo.

The Center also points to the unresolved question of enforcement of federal marijuana prohibitions, and whether or not Rhode Island would be putting itself in legal jeopardy by rushing to legalize the drug. The Trump administration signaled in late February that it is considering stricter enforcement of existing federal marijuana laws when it comes to states acting independently on the matter. The Obama administration openly took the position that it would not enforce related federal law. “This federal legal question is yet another issue that must be cleared up before Rhode Island moves forward,” concluded Stenhouse.

As a more prudent approach, and in order to better understand these and other issues, the Center and Mr. Cerullo support the concept of a legislative study commission to properly vet data from other states and to evaluate the potential impacts of legalization across the board. The Center recommends a two-year commission study and reporting period so as to allow for even more research to be compiled. This approach is in keeping with the prestigious Rand Corporation’s view that it will not be until 2020 that we will fully see what changes take place in use, revenue, black market activity, big marijuana industry behavior and in downstream treatment, public health and safety trends.

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