If Pot Legalization Grows, Watch For Marketing To Kids: Patrick Kennedy


“One key dimension has been left out of the discussion” of marijuana legalization, amid talk about increasing tax revenue for states, getting nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, protecting personal liberty, and possible health benefits for those with severe illnesses, writes former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), for NPR. The missing element, he says, is “the marketing machine that will spring up to support these now-legal businesses, and the detrimental effect this will have on our kids.”

He notes that the tobacco industry spent $8.8 billion on marketing in 2011. “Big Tobacco’s approach: Hook them young, and they have a customer for life. Why do we think the legal marijuana industry will behave differently from Big Tobacco?,” Kennedy asks. “When the goal is addiction, all bets are off.” Kennedy adds: “Why is this an issue? There is a mistaken assumption that marijuana is harmless. It is not. Marijuana use is linked with mental illness, depression, anxiety and psychosis. It affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and reaction time.”

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