Fmr Rep. Patrick Kennedy fears ‘plague’ of addiction in children, warns against legalizing cannabis

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Former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, a Democrat, is currently lobbying President Joe Biden for a position leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and if his lobbying proves successful, it could mean trouble for the U.S. marijuana lobby.

Though a majority of Republicans and Democrats support efforts to legalize marijuana, according to Pew Research Center data from 2019, the former Democrat lawmaker wants to keep it illegal forever. And the marijuana industry is reportedly opposing Kennedy’s play to become Biden’s next “drug czar,” according to a Bloomberg report.

Speaking on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this Friday, he explained how the government must help protect Americans from their “addictions.”

“We love our addictions in America. I think that it’s a big profitable business, and of course the real profit comes when people do not drink responsibly. I don’t think alcohol makes its money off of people [who] drink responsibly — they make their money off of people like me who drink more than they should,” he began.

(Source: Fox News)

Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, is reportedly a former cocaine and prescription drug addict.

“And we know that they also make money off of kids, and we’ve seen in the past, both big tobacco and and big alcohol, really market to children. You see hard lemonades and and hard liquor that’s now advertised on cable television. And we all remember Joe Camel, and we know the flavored tobacco,” he continued.

“And now we have the Juul and we have all of the kind of vaping that’s going on and it’s not surprising that Altria, which is the owner of Marlboro and all those cigarette brands, invested in Juul recently, which is of course the largest vaping company, at the same time they invested heavily in into the cannabis industry.”

According to a study touted by The New York Times in 2019, the act of vaping, which is popular because it doesn’t involve all the chemicals associated with traditional cigarettes, is “effective at helping smokers quit” smoking traditional cigarettes.

Continuing his remarks, Kennedy contended that legalizing marijuana would provoke a spate of marijuana addiction among young children.

“I’ve got five kids, and I know that they’re all going to be very prime to suffer from addiction. Part of addiction runs in your genes, but the other part is when it happens because young people’s brains aren’t fully formed, and of course kids today are panicked, they’re anxious, they’re depressed,” he said.

“So it’s natural for people to want to self-medicate. In fact, in America now we’re seeing a much higher consumption of alcohol, much higher prescription of benzodiazepines and antidepressants, and the thought is that we almost have a perfect storm for people wanting to consume marijuana.”

Even in states that have legalized so-called medical marijuana, strict rules mandate that only those 21 and older may partake in the drug. A study cited by Reuters in 2019 concluded that “recreational marijuana laws … were associated with an 8% decline in the odds that teens would report trying cannabis in the previous 30 days and a 9% decrease in teens reporting frequent use.”

Kennedy then compared the push to legalize marijuana with the widely panned, deadly promotion and marketing of OxyContin by Purdue Pharma.

“[M]any people [later] scratched their heads said how could we have ever let Purdue Pharma and the other big pharma manufacturers just flood the marketplace, and all I would say to them is, well, if you think that’s awful, why are you about to let it happen all again?” he asked.

Some experts contend that “prescription painkillers” like OxyCotin “do more damage to society” than marijuana, as reported by Healthline in 2018.

Some studies have shown that using marijuana as an alternative medication ultimately leads to fewer deaths from prescription painkillers.

Kennedy concluded his remarks by suggesting marijuana is as addictive as prescription painkillers.

“Some people might say marijuana isn’t as addictive as OxyCotin or isn’t as addictive as alcohol, but it’s all about degrees. The fact of the matter is we know if a young adolescent who’s suffering from stress and anxiety uses marijuana, it’s going to make them feel better. And if they’re anything like me, and if there’s just this percentage of them that are prone to be addicted, then we’re going to see that many more people ultimately suffer the disease of addiction in their lives,” he said.

“And I know it is a plague. I know addiction is a plague. I’ve seen it up close in my family. I’ve suffered in my own life. I’ve seen it with my friends, and I don’t think our country is really up for this trade-off in order to have a commercialized product that’s so addictive and being able to pay the price for that down the road with all the people that are going to suffer from this disease.”

Host Tucker Carlson concluded the discussion by noting the importance of hearing all sides of an issue.

“The social pressure not to say what you’re saying is intense. We have no debate about this in public right now, and that’s why I’m so grateful you came on tonight,” he said.

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Vivek Saxena

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