Washington, D.C. – Today, Gen. Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s comments on marijuana in an interview with The New Yorker.
“CADCA is concerned that only a portion of what the President said during his interview has made headlines, when in fact the President expressed some serious concerns about marijuana legalization. CADCA believes that substance abuse is a public health concern and has wide-reaching negative effects on our young people and society. So we agree with President Obama’s comment that marijuana use is a ‘bad habit’, a ‘bad idea and a waste of time’. We also echo the President’s sentiment that the case for marijuana legalization is ‘overstated’ and will not solve the many social problems our society faces.
“The President also noted that the marijuana legalization experiments in Colorado and Washington might create a ‘slippery slope’ where people begin suggesting that we legalize harder drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. CADCA couldn’t agree more.
“However, as an organization that represents community coalitions working to reduce drug use among our nation’s youth, CADCA is deeply concerned with the President’s comment that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. The two leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. are alcohol and tobacco. Can adding another legal drug and creating another legal drug industry really be in our country’s best interest? We think not.
“As Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has often stated, marijuana use is not harmless. Regular marijuana use can have profound negative effects on the teenage developing brain. It can hamper a young person’s ability to learn and affect their development. Smoking the drug at a young age increases a young person’s chances of becoming addicted to marijuana and other drugs into adulthood.
“The President’s remarks and comments carry significant impact. Therefore, at a time when national studies indicate that the majority of high school seniors don’t view marijuana as harmful and marijuana use is trending upwards among teens, we ask that the President consider the wide body of research showing the harms of marijuana use on young people and use the bully pulpit to positively influence teens.”