INDIANAPOLIS — A call against the legalization of medical marijuana couldn’t have been better received than it was by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
The call, coming from an opponent of Colorado’s marijuana legalization, opened a two-day symposium hosted by Hill’s office this week to discuss prescription drug abuse.
“What’s happened with marijuana use in Colorado? It’s a big thing with our kids. ... We’re now ranked number one in the nation for marijuana use (among minors). That’s 55 percent higher than the national average,” said Thomas Gorman of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.
“So when you talk about relocating to Colorado and you’ve got young kids, is this the kind of environment you want your kids to be in?” Gorman asked.
A previous HIDTA study showed that since marijuana was legalized for personal recreational use by those 21 and older in Colorado in 2012, there was a 20 percent increase in pot use on average by youths during 2013 and 2014.
“We’re like twins,” Hill said following Gorman’s speech. “Not only did Tom give a very entertaining discussion but he is speaking from facts and data with regard to marijuana. And one of the things that gets lost in this opioid scare is the significance of how dangerous marijuana is in the entire equation.”
Hill, a Republican, said he opposes the legalization of marijuana in part because minors would use it.
“If you legalize marijuana, the very first thing that’s going to happen is more young people will smoke pot. That’s absolutely really something that we really can’t afford to have,” Hill said.
The anti-marijuana message also crept into a speech by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“I have literally been the only thing standing between New Jersey and medical marijuana legalization. And how the election goes ... there may be nothing standing between it,” said Christie, who chairs the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
His commission has been “inundated,” he said, with calls to legalize marijuana.
But Christie cited a 2017 study of 43,000 Americans by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that found marijuana users are more likely to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription-use disorders.
“We’re the most medicated country in the world. Do we really need to legalize another drug?” Christie asked.
After Christie’s speech, Hill said, “Governor Christie pointed it out, as well. It is folly to think that legalizing marijuana will somehow help us in the opioid crisis. ... I think it is a message that we have to make sure we get right.”
Private possession of marijuana for those at least 21 years of age and private cultivation of up to six plants are not crimes in Colorado, which is among 29 states that have laws legalizing marijuana in some form.