Tight regulation of marijuana needed in Massachusetts to protect youth

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There’s reason for both enthusiasm and caution when it comes to the state law that will legalize marijuana for those for those age 21 and older that was approved Nov. 8, 2016 by Massachusetts voters, according to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tobacco expert.

While it’s good that there should be fewer drug-related arrests because of the law— along with the racial disparities that sometimes accompany those arrests —Massachusetts needs strict marijuana regulations to protect youth, Vaughan Rees, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control and lecturer on social and behavioral sciences at Harvard Chan School, said in a Nov. 14, 2016 Boston Magazine article on the law’s public health implications.

“I’m delighted that we’re going to see an end to young people being criminalized and facing jail sentences or prison sentences, and having a criminal record which will impact them, perhaps for life,” Rees said.

However, he noted that without tight regulation, the marijuana industry, like the tobacco industry, could “target the youth of Massachusetts with their products to get them hooked, so they will become good customers and use their products, potentially to the detriment of their own health.”