Tag Archives: Patrick Kennedy

Kennedy Forum Report Speaks Against Marijuana in Mental Health Report

Super Bowl Ad Makes the Message Clear and Relevant

The Kennedy Forum report on mental health and addiction was released to  the 115th Congress three weeks ago. In the report Patrick Kennedy clearly indicates that marijuana legalization is detrimental to public health. Parents Opposed to Pot maintains that by preventing the initiation of drug use, the United States could cut its mental health care needs by 30 percent.  Marijuana promotion is contributing to our current crisis.  The Kennedy Forum published the following in its report to the 115th Congress:

“In the absence of such a campaign, social media and other channels are inundated with dangerous and incorrect information about drugs of initiation, including alcohol and marijuana. A fact-based campaign reiterating the emerging science, and reinforcing other efforts in schools and communities, is imperative.”

“This is especially needed in the current environment which is legitimizing misuse of certain substances, particularly alcohol and marijuana. It is impossible to grapple with substance use and mental health disorders without tackling drugs of initiation, like alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Congress should resist efforts to legalize and further legitimize marijuana. Our nation cannot afford to make the same mistakes with marijuana that we made with legal opioids or tobacco in the past. Congress should put a stop to efforts to legitimize marijuana businesses (for example, by strictly regulating the capacity at which banks can have financial dealings with marijuana businesses), lest we inadvertently support and encourage another entity whose profit motivates conflict with the public health interest of preventing substance misuse and addiction.

“We also need increased accountability from the transnational corporations that generate over $200 billion in revenue each year from the sale of beer, wine and liquor in the United States. Alcohol marketing is ubiquitous in our society, seen everywhere from Super Bowl television commercials to 10-second vertical video ads on Snapchat Live stories………..”

Stop Marketing Addiction to Children

Patrick Kennedy’s observations were also true about marijuana during the recent Super Bowl featuring a T-Mobile commercial with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog joking about marijuana.  Millions of children watched the program and saw this attempt to normalize and promote cannabis use.  Yet a Columbia University case study presents the fact that using marijuana only once or twice can precipitate mental illness.

Those who have lost loved ones to addiction and psychotic disorders are deeply offended by T-Mobile, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog.   Such joking disguises the real dangers of using pot.  In Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker cites three studies indicating that bipolar disorder can be triggered by marijuana use.  Many psychiatrists even need re-training in addictive and psychotic disorders due to the popularity and increased potency of today’s marijuana.

Download the entire PDF here: Navigating The New Frontier of Mental Health and Addiction a guide for the 115th Congress

Patrick Kennedy Pushes Mental Health and Addiction Parity

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.

Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan was also a speaker at the event at the Russell Senate Office Building on January 24. He is shown here with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, right.

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 Kennedy Forum is also advocating for better care and improved behavioral health outcomes.   


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.

Marijuana Legalization Debunked!

Marijuana Debunked is a recently-published book by an addictions psychiatrist, Dr. Ed Gogek. The pro-legalization community pretends that the only policy choices are legalization and jail.  However, if the legalization advocates told us that truth, they would lose their talking points.  Gogek exposes the flaws of their arguments.

Here’s a sample of some quotes from the book, each one an important issue for parents who are faced with the challenge of educating our children about drugs.

Debunking Marijuana Myth #1: Pot is not Safer than Alcohol Continue reading Marijuana Legalization Debunked!

SAM Joins Forces with NAADAC

Kevin Sabet,Smart Approaches to Marijuana Hold Key to Solving Addiction Crisis

Most of the young people who overdose from drugs began their illicit drug usage with marijuana, according to government statistics which have quoted it at 71%.  Parents Opposed to Pot receives anecdotal evidence suggesting this pattern over and over.  Some teens develop marijuana addiction, but marijuana is also a gateway drug for many other people who become addicted to cocaine, heroin, opiates and other drugs.

Facing our nation’s growth in drug addiction, NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, and SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, announced a new strategic partnership on August 25.   SAM, an alliance of organizations and individuals Continue reading SAM Joins Forces with NAADAC