To the editor:
I have some concerns about the recent editorial “Preparing for cannabis,” which made some dangerous statements about a correlation between a reduction in opioid deaths and marijuana legalization in Colorado.
The chart used in the editorial to demonstrate the correlation between a decrease in opioid overdose deaths and the legalization of marijuana included no source, did not seem to provide statistically significant data, and, most importantly, showed no true causation between the legalization of recreational marijuana and a reduction in deaths from opioid use.
In fact, we’ve seen numbers in Washington state, which has seen an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths since the legalization of marijuana, which concluded that marijuana legalization in some states has resulted in an increase in opiate use.
The truth is that there has not been nearly enough research on the subject to draw an accurate conclusion. The opioid crisis has ravaged many states in our nation, which has led to important conversations about how to effectively fight addiction.
The decrease in opioid deaths in Colorado can much more likely be linked to an increase in support for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, which was highlighted in this article in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
In New Hampshire, for example, we saw a decrease in overdose deaths for the first time in recent years in 2017. This decrease can be linked to the hard work of those on the front lines, increased statewide funding for law enforcement, prevention, treatment, and recovery, and the establishment and growth of effective programs like the Carroll County House of Corrections Trust program, increased treatment and recovery support resources in the county, and an increase in treatment capacity due to expanded Medicaid.
It certainly cannot be linked to marijuana use.
For New Hampshire to legalize recreational marijuana now, without enough research on this subject, would be irresponsible. Legalization, in its reality, recklessly endangers our youth and will negatively impact the quality of life in our community.
We should continue to fight New Hampshire’s addiction epidemic using a combination of law enforcement, and evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs. Marijuana legalization is certainly not an effective strategy. This is not the right time for New Hampshire to legalize a harmful substance.
Jennifer Selfridge, MS, CPS