On Monday, February 10, the Milford Prevention Council, as members of the Connecticut Association of Prevention Practitioners (CAPP), participated in the kick-off of CTSAM at the state capitol where CAPP teamed up with the national organization SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) to form the Connecticut chapter. Chairman Ray Vitali, Program Director, Wendy Gibbons, and Project Coordinator, Pam Staneski joined the group in support of their efforts to educate and raise awareness on the science of today’s marijuana, to prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana” a new version of a “Big Tobacco” industry, and to promote research on marijuana to obtain FDA-approved, pharmacy-dispensed, cannabis-based medications that are non-smoked.
This affiliation with SAM is in response to the passage of Connecticut Public Act 12-55 (medical marijuana) in 2012. Ray Vitali, Chairman of the Milford Prevention Council attended the event and says, “While Connecticut has one of the most restrictive laws in the country, once there is more marijuana out in our communities legally, our kids will have increased access to it, and we should be concerned! Our job is to educate our community on the science that demonstrates the cognitive damage to the developing adolescent brain that is caused by marijuana use.” [Currently rates among 12-17 year olds are among the highest levels nationally in states that have “medical” marijuana programs. (SAMSHA NSDUH Report)] He continues, “We are a community that cares about our youth and I believe that it is important that our state does not move to legalize marijuana and undermine our youth and their vulnerability.”
SAM was co-founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Dr. Kevin Sabet, past Senior Advisor for Policy to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and has four main goals:
- To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana
- To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
- To prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana”—and 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children. Those are the very likely results of legalization.
- To promote research on marijuana in order to obtain FDA-approved, pharmacy-dispensed, cannabis-based medications.
Wendy Gibbons expressed her concerns about medical marijuana and its impact on the work of the Milford Prevention Council, “you talk to our youth today and with everything that's going on with it being legalized in Colorado and comments being made that it's just not that bad for you, the youth are taking it one step further and they're saying it's just an herb… it's OK… it's just medicine and it's not bad for you…it's good for you. And therein lies our concern—that these attitudes put our youth at risk during a period of critical brain development in their life.”