Politicians take sides when it comes to marijuana legalization. A Koch model believes that marijuana legalization offers new ways to make money (good for the economy), while a Soros model wants to undo the “war on drugs,” which the US abandoned long ago. Read Part I. Follow us by email to get our blog articles.
The first two states to legalize, Colorado and Washington, may illustrate the differences. Colorado has always been a libertarian free-for-all of legalization. (However, Colorado has been forced to put warning labels on products over 10% THC, resulting in the largest downturn ever seen.
Washington State, on the other hand, used an ACLU lawyer to write its ballot and Soros bankrolls the ACLU. The ACLU cares deeply that minorities are incarcerated at higher rates than white Americans.
In states where recreational marijuana is legal, adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported a 25% higher increase than in states without legalized cannabis. The spike in marijuana usage that came with legalization is most dramatic among young people, and advertising probably drives the increase.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and the recent vaping crisis, parents are uniting in Parent Movement 2.0 via the “I’m in” pledge, an instrument designed to create an online community intent on reducing the use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs among kids. These drugs can hurt and kill. “Because it attacks the lungs, COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape tobacco and/or marijuana,” warns Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
New Administration Can’t Abandon Parity in Midst of Addiction Crisis
On Tuesday, January 24, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy announced the Kennedy Forum’s initiative, a Mental Health and Addiction Guide for the 115th Congress. He unveiled the online parity registry and presented the information to a congressional audience at the Russell Senate Office Building. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Ed Markey and some members of Congress spoke, as well as Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. David Satcher, Surgeon General between 1998 and 2002, also addressed the large crowd.
Mental Health and Addiction treatment often go hand in hand. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) spoke, too. Two mothers who experienced denial of coverage for children with mental health/addiction problems recounted their stories. A large number of mental health care advocates were also in the audience.
Although the Trump Administration promises to replace the Affordable Health Act, we cannot give up on treating mental health. In fact, mental health and addiction treatment need to be front and center of any health care legislation. All of us have seen photos of parents passed out in cars from accidental overdoses, toddlers in tow. The more 52,000 drug overdose death in 2015 are a national tragedy. We will continue to lose too many young people this way, if we don’t treat the addictive disorders. The number of drug deaths far outstrip any other accidental cause of death, including guns and vehicle crashes.
History of Parity Legislation
A member of Congress between 1994 and 2008, Representative Kennedy sponsored legislation requiring mental health parity, and worked diligently for its passage. Since President George W. Bush signed the legislation back in 2008, insurance companies must give equal health care to mental and addictive disorders.
However, violations continue. “We are literally living in denial when we refuse to acknowledge that this law is being blatantly disregarded on a daily basis, leaving millions of Americans unable to access needed mental health and addiction treatment and services,” Kennedy explained. That is why the Parity Registry, sponsored by the Kennedy Forum is important. By logging onto parityregistry.org, those with an insurance issue may network with others, get advice and take action.
There are rumblings that the new administration will try to get rid of mental health parity. Drug abuse deaths and overdoses account for far more deaths than any other accidental cause, more than 52,000 in 2016. It would be the absolute worst time in recent history to get rid of mental health and addiction treatment. Those who are ages 25-34 are dying at a rate five times the death rate for those ages in 1999!
Mental Health and Physical Health: It’s All Connected Anyways
New studies are relating childhood mental health to trauma, often because of addicted parents. Studies suggest that treating mental health issues at the onset of problems will prevent later addiction and mental health issues. Early traumas are also related to heart disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases. So treating the mental health issues at the source is important to avoiding all kinds of health care costs later.
The US has experienced crushing health care costs from the diabetes epidemic. However the rate appears to be going down slightly because Americans are listening to warnings. We now know the epidemic is partially caused by the over-consumption of sugar, processed food and fast food. Let’s do the same for mental health care and addiction avoiding many of the variables that feed into mental illness and addiction.
Just as avoiding sugar may guard against diabetes, avoiding marijuana may guard against mental illness, psychosis and suicide attempts. Avoiding marijuana while young also helps prevent the gateway effect into other drugs. Drug overdose deaths have doubled since 2004. The rate of increase in drug-related deaths has been increasing dramatically since 2012. Legalized marijuana began about this time, also.
The Kennedy initiative pushes for the incorporation of mental health assessments and addiction education into early childhood education. Parents Opposed to Pot also supports early anti-drug and addiction education. We encourage parents not to use marijuana and other drugs to protect their children’s mental health. We believe the high use of marijuana by teens today is feeding more drug addiction in the future.
Patrick Kennedy says it’s time for the political science to catch up with the neuroscience of addiction. Last November he participated in a forum on the use and misuse of addictive substances. The Kennedy Forum, Kennedy founded One Mind for Research, a global leader in open science collaboration in brain research. Patrick is the son of the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.