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Physicians’ groups caution Legislature about marijuana

A group of doctors representing six statewide physicians’ organizations came together Thursday, Jan. 28, with a single voice to caution the Vermont General Assembly and public to be fully aware of the potential risks of marijuana, and the possible implications of making it legal.

As part of a press conference held Thursday at the State House, the doctors released a joint statement signed by the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Academy of Family Physicians, the Vermont Psychiatric Association, the Vermont Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics-Vt. Chapter, and the American College of Physicians-Vt. Chapter.

Speakers highlighted many of marijuana’s known harmful health and social effects, including: significant alterations in brain growth and structural integrity, particularly among young users; a doubling of the risk of motor vehicle accidents; reduced academic success; and increased future mental health problems, including a 40-percent increase in the rate of psychosis, a worsening of PTSD symptoms, and development of later anxiety disorders (citations available in the link above).

Additionally, speakers discussed how legalization sends a powerful message to our youth that society regards it as “safe,” argued that Vermont’s current mental health and substance abuse treatment infrastructure is already insufficient to address existing needs, and recommended that Vermont wait until more data can be compiled from states that have legalized marijuana.

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