Anti-Pot Petitioners Rebut Healthy Pharms ‘Gateway Drug’ Claims

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At least two petitioners opposing plans for a medical marijuana store in Haverhill are rebutting studies submitted by representatives of proposed operator Healthy Pharms. The studies purportedly dispute allegations medical marijuana exacerbates stronger drug use.

A study, conducted by Wayne State University Medical School in 2013, “found that medical marijuana patients consistently reported using marijuana to substitute or wean off prescription narcotic drugs. In the study, all of the interviewed patients reported having reduced their overall drug use, especially the use of opiates, by using medical marijuana,” according to information provided by Lesley Scott “Scottie” Gordon and Valerio Romano, attorneys representing Healthy Pharms.

Speaking on WHAV’s “Open Mike” program, Megan Shea said the studies are being misrepresented. She told fill-in host Marc Lemay she attended meetings of the Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) task force and heard speakers, including former drug addicts, say marijuana is a key component in a trail to other substances.

Shea: “How many people do you think were in that study? Twenty eight.”

Lemay:  “Okay.”

Shea: “They were all registered marijuana users so as a captive audience that of course is gonna  give you their bias based on their…”

Lemay: “We both know statistics can be manipulated”

Shea: “They can be.”

Lemay: “either way.”

Shea: “But it’s a small…it’s a small…”

Lemay: “It’s a very small… it does…I will give you that, it’s a very small number.”

Shea: “So, in their conclusion they said, obviously they are not an unbiased group.”

According to Shea, her own local study found Haverhill is the only city in Essex county with a steady increase in admissions to substance abuse treatment programs over the past four years, which she said was by 34 percent.

John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician, said the dispensary plan and his being in charge of the welfare of more than 8,000 students “keeps me up at night,” as surveys of teens in treatment found “a black market” where more than 50 percent of teens have accessed diverted medical marijuana. He also points out marijuana use by Haverhill youths under 13 is above the state average.

“The state average of kids under the age of 13 smoking marijuana regularly is 7 percent. And in Haverhill it’s 11 percent, almost double. I really wish the state, the DPH, would have been smart enough to say once the voters approved medical marijuana, to say ‘let’s not put the first wave of dispensaries in any town that has a youth rate above the average.’ They didn’t do that, and so here we are,” Maddox said.

At Least One Councilor Wonders Why Petition Not on Tonight’s Agenda

WHAV broke the story about the petition last Thursday. The group went on to collect more than 200 signatures in an effort to convince Haverhill city councilors to resist Healthy Pharms’ Haverhill plans. At least one city councilor said this morning it is not clear why the matter didn’t end up on tonight’s council agenda.

In an email to WHAV Thursday, representatives of Healthy Pharms said medical marijuana is not a gateway drug. The company provided additional studies, including a one by the American Medical Association, which found “states that enacted medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with the states without medical cannabis laws,” they said.

Finally, a 2012 joint study published by the University of Colorado and the Institute for the Study of Labor suggested findings “were not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students.”

3 thoughts on “Anti-Pot Petitioners Rebut Healthy Pharms ‘Gateway Drug’ Claims

  1. Horrible. These people are not representative of the beliefs of our community.

    The citizens of Massachusetts (of which Haverhill is a part of) voted overwhelmingly in favor of medical marijuana. Marijuana has substantial medicinal benefits from helping cancer patents to the depressed all the way to stroke victims. Marijuana has been ruled the cause for exactly ZERO deaths in America in the last decade. Meanwhile, alcohol has been the cause of nearly 19,000. And yet which substance is this group opposed to?

  2. “The group went on to collect more than 200 signatures in an effort to convince Haverhill city councilors to resist Healthy Pharms’ Haverhill plans.” –

    Pay no mind 16,689 Haverhill Residents, or 64%, VOTED for it. We get it it, this group doesn’t like drugs. Guess what? The People have an insatiable appetite for drugs and will get them anyway as they do now!

    • Your statement is most likely true, but we don’t have to go out of our way to import more drug users into Haverhill and cause more problems than we already have.