Letter to the Editor, September 21, 2022
*additional information added and resources listed
On Tuesday, September 6th the Kanabec County Board of Commissioners passed an interim Ordinance of the sale of THC edibles (including THC infused beverages). This means that any establishment in Kanabec County (not including municipalities) will not be allowed to sell these products while the interim ordinance is in place for the next 12 months. During this this time Kanabec County Community Health, the Better Together Community Coalition, and other local coalition partners will be looking at ways in which a permanent ordinance can be written to safeguard our community, especially the youth.
The Better Together Coalition has also reached out by mail to the municipalities within Kanabec County; Braham, City of Ogilvie, City of Mora, City of Quamba, and City of Grasston to request that their city council consider passing a same or similar ordinance.
Kanabec County Community Health has been given access to the most recent Minnesota Student Survey data from 2021. In this survey students in 9th and 11th grade in were asked if they believe, “people risk harming themselves physically or in other ways if using marijuana once or twice per week.” Students in Kanabec County were asked this question as well and approximately 32% of those surveyed report they feel there is no risk of harm and approximately 29% report there is only a slight risk of harm.
The Better Together Coalition promotes community health through positive choices. The goal of this ordinance is to educate our community about the dangers of THC use as related to edibles and beverages infused with THC, especially as related to youth use.
*In many state where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use, counties and cities are given an Opt-In or Opt-Out clause that can be adopted. This framework helps maintain local control of the cannabis issue. The new Minnesota law does not provide for such an option, which makes edibles legal in every city and county throughout the state. The intent of the ordinance is to give Kanabec County time to adopt a permanent ordinance that will apply some common sense measures to provide for the health, safety and welfare of its community. As noted above, the results of the MSS data show that our youth are being conditioned to believe that there is no harm involved in the recreational use of marijuana. Edible cannabis products are available in flavors that appeal to children and young adults – cotton candy, lollipops, gummy bears, brownies, “pot” tarts, bubble gum, etc. Not surprising, given the type of products that are available, in states where edibles and other marijuana products have been legalized there has also been a 200% increase in calls to poison control centers.
We know from decades of studies related to substance use in youth that marijuana is harmful to the developing brain and youth use increase the risk of negative outcomes – mental health issues, reduced academic performance, and increased risk of suicide and psychosis. It is common to hear, “It’s just pot, what’s the big deal?” Consider this, the Woodstock era weed contained 1-3% THC, since then potency has increase to upwards of 30% THC. In products that are considered a THC concentrates (referred to as hash oil, wax, resin or shatter) contain up to 90% THC. This isn’t just pot. Marijuana is an addictive substance.
*Public health serves the community in a variety of capacities, one of those roles includes primary prevention. Far to often as a society we are reactive we want a cure for diabetes, substance use, and other disease, but we fail to look at what can be done on the other side of the pendulum, prevention. A common analogy used in public health involves a river, called, “upstream prevention.” At the base of the river people are being helped to safety, it occurs to the helpers that they should go upstream to see why the people are falling. When they go upstream they see a fence by the river bank that is broken. They mend the fence and less people fall in and the helpers at the bottom of the river do not need to save as many people. Collectively we have the ability to keep our communities safe, remain inclusive, generate revenue (and tax dollars) and at the same time be responsible and responsive to an every changing environment.
Kanabec County Community Health
Better Together Coalition Coordinator
Smart Approaches to Marijuana: Our mission is to educate citizens on the science of marijuana and to promote health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy. We are professionals working in mental health and public health. We are bipartisan. We are medical doctors, lawmakers, treatment providers, preventionists, teachers, law enforcement officers and others who seek a middle road between incarceration and legalization. Our commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.
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