Cannabis-infused ice cream – coming to a neighborhood near you!

July 28
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THIS WEEK IN WEED is a regular column advertising cannabis info and products in the Boston Globe. With the legalization of recreational Marijuana in RI, we could be seeing headlines like this:

Cannabis ice cream arrives in RI:
“Am I the kind of person who just eats ice cream or am I the kind of person who eats weed-infused ice cream? Some (literally) cool new edibles are finally about to hit the Massachusetts market.”

Despite all the warnings of the consequences, Rhode Island has become the 19th state to have a legal recreational market for marijuana. The average person might not think much of it. What’s so bad about getting high? Well, there are many reasons, and with permission from the Massachusetts Addiction Prevention Alliance (MAPA), I can list them.

Right from the start you should know that marijuana today is not the marijuana of the 1970s. Marijuana today contains more THC – up to 90 percent concentration – making it a great deal more harmful. THC (the psychoactive part of marijuana) is fast becoming an increasingly harmful product that is more likely to cause addiction and negative health consequences in adolescents and young adults ages 15-19.

This high potency marijuana often comes in the form of candies, cookies, sodas, and now ice cream. These hashish concentrates are more likely to be associated with the addiction and negative health consequences seen in young people in recent years.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. What does Colorado’s experience tell us?

  • Where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it. Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the #1 state in the nation for teen marijuana use. Teen use jumped 20% in Colorado in the two years after legalization, even as that rate has declined nationally.
  • Colorado saw a 29 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits the year marijuana was legalized. High-potency edible products have been associated with negative consequences for adults who may fail to pay attention to serving sizes, leading to overdoses of marijuana.
  • Colorado has seen an increase in traffic deaths caused by operators testing positive for marijuana. In 2014, when retail marijuana stores began operating, there was a 32 percent increase in traffic deaths caused by operators who tested positive for the presence of marijuana. And 25-40 percent of OUIs in Colorado involved marijuana alone.
  • Increase in accidental marijuana use by young children. According to data from the National Poison Data System, accidental exposure to marijuana among children under 6 years old has been on the rise. Marijuana-infused products such as gummy bears, candy bars and “cannabis cola” are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children, placing them at significant risk of accidental use.

What can you do? Parents in the town of Warren are asking their Town Council to ban smoking or vaping marijuana in public. Other RI towns should consider doing the same. More than 30 pot shops are scheduled to open in RI, and one may be in your neighborhood. Your town can “opt out” from pot shops. Our sister organization, Massachusetts Family Institute, has helped many towns to do this, and it can be done here in Rhode Island as well.

If you would like a presentation of this important information to your church or parent group, email me: daucoin@rhodeislandfamily.org

For Faith and Family in RI,

Dave Aucoin
Chairman, Board of Directors – Rhode Island