Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) suggested Saturday that the growing marijuana industry would target children if the drug gained greater legal acceptance.
"It's already in eighteen states," he warned on MSNBC. "It is going even further, and before we know it, we're going to wake up one day and have another tobacco industry. It is going to be called the marijuana industry. We already know what big tobacco did to our kids. Joe Camel targeted kids. We know what the alcohol and liquor industry has done. They target children. They also market to people who are alcoholics, frankly, and they flood the market and make it accessible. I don't think we need a new legalized drug in our country."
Kennedy, a former Oxycontin addict, launched Project SAM following Colorado and Washington state's decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The organization seeks to convince liberals that marijuana legalization is the wrong path to take. Instead, Project SAM advocates for harm reduction policies, such as requiring drug convicts to undergo addiction treatment rather than incarcerating them.
"I've spent a lot of time researching addiction and the neuroscience behind it," Kennedy added. "Nine out of ten addicts start when they're kids, as I did. That changes your brain chemistry, because as your brain is developing, it isn't fully developed until 20s. So this notion that we're going to give the green light of permissibility for people to think, 'Oh, it is harmless, go ahead and experiment.' No. We know kids have access to this anyway, but we shouldn't be adding fuel to the fire."
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