“You always seem to hear people say that marijuana is a safe drug because no one has ever died from using it. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true. My 31-year-old son Andy died by suicide one year ago this month in Peoria, AZ, leaving a note that ended with these words: ‘My soul is already dead. Marijuana Killed my soul + ruined my brain.'”

To read more about this story, please visit our testimonial page HERE



Marijuana Legalization Will Cost Taxpayers

Links to an increase in schizophrenia alone could wipe out any revenues from legalized pot, new study says 

The white paper, co-authored by Christine Miller, Ph.D., a pharmacologist specializing in neuroscience, takes to task the major report used to support the legalization movement for failing to account for documented and well-researched links between marijuana use and mental health disorders, and the costs of treating them.
Responding to comments from the authors of the RAND Report, we have made changes to the introduction and a heading in our white paper, Marijuana in Vermont and the Increased Economic Burden of Schizophrenia. We also took the opportunity to clarify two confusing points reported by one of our readers, which led to slight changes in the final note and in the descriptive text and footnote for Table A. Our review of the literature, calculations, and conclusions have not changed.

To learn more, click to read the:

Press Release

Executive Summary

Marijuana Use and the Cost of Increased Schizophrenia

Latest Research Linking Marijuana and Opiates

Dr. Bertha Madras, PhD, Harvard Univeristy

View the video presentation: Dr. Bertha Madras

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…

We care about HEALTH

Increased use increases rates of addiction and dependence. In 2013, over half of youth aged 12-17 in treatment programs cite marijuana as the primary substance used.

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…

We care about the ECONOMY

For every $1 in alcohol and tobacco tax revenues, society loses $10 in social costs, such as accidents, crime, regulation hassles, lost productivity and health damage.

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…

We care about YOUTH

Marijuana contributes to psychosis and schizophrenia, and to dependence for 1 in 6 kids who use it even once, and it reduces IQ among those who start smoking before age 18. More teens in Vermont enter treatment with a primary diagnosis for marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…

We care about EDUCATION

Marijuana use is consistently associated with reduced grades and a reduced chance of graduating from school.

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…

We care about HIGHWAY SAFETY

Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims.

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We oppose marijuana legalization because…


Business owners in Vermont that require pre-employment drug tests will likely find a smaller pool of potential workers if marijuana is widely available.

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As a 25 year veteran in the substance abuse field I think it’s time we stopped comparing. Marijuana is a fat soluble drug- different than many others as it stays in the system longer, alters perception, vision, reaction times, changes brain chemistry and impacts our ability to be present as a parent, student, educator, friend. None of the research, nor any of the information from Colorado indicates this is the right thing to do. We need to invest in Vermont and this drug will impact all aspects.  Debby Haskins

Director of SAM-VT

When Americans discovered that ingested lead lowered IQs and caused mental disabilities, they took a very SMART action: they banned its use in paints and gasoline and spent millions cleaning it off their walls and out of the soil.
We now know that people who start using marijuana in their early teens and continue to use into adulthood lose as much as 10 points off their IQ scores by the time they reach their late 30s. The average IQ loss for heavy users is 8 points and for moderate users 6 points.
We now know that forty-eight different studies have found that marijuana use is consistently associated with reduced grades and a reduced chance of graduating from school – and that a reduction of one point in your IQ will cause – on average – a reduction of $18,000 in annual income, with an associated and resultant loss of tax revenue for the state.
We now know that marijuana can bring on schizophrenia and worsen the symptoms in people who already suffer from mental illnesses like major depressive disorder, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders, and several personality disorders (anti-social, obsessive-compulsive, paranoia, and schizophrenia). Hospitalizations are longer and more frequent; disease progression is accelerated, loss of functionality occurs more quickly and onset is earlier.

Isn’t it time we got SMART about marijuana?

“I think the public health burden for the state of Vermont is going to increase, and the tax revenues eventually will be far less than the cost to the state.” 

~Dr. Bertha Madras,  Harvard Medical School neuroscientist.

” I have a lot of thoughts about marijuana.  I certainly think it should be decriminalized.  But i’ve always said that if it is legalized, it will be advertised —there’s just no way to stop this (at least not with the current Supreme Court).   And then we’ll see a huge increase in use and abuse and resulting problems.”

~Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D.

“It’s the daily and the near daily users that account for about 80% of all your marijuana expenditures, so the for-profit companies can be expected to focus on creating and maintaining these heavy users. Dependence is good the bottom line of these companies…. With our commercial free speech doctrine, it makes it very hard to restrict advertising and marketing.”

~Beau Kilmer, RAND Corporation


Gina Carbone, founding member of Smart Colorado, became involved with  Colorado’s marijuana policy  when she was selected to serve on a working group for Governor Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 Task Force as an advocate for youth, public health, and safety.  She has advocated for and was involved in several key legislative initiatives related to marijuana policy during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions.  Here is what she had to say on marijuana legalization in Colorado: “We were told it was going to be tightly regulated.  It would not be in the hands of our kids, we would get rid of the black market and, unfortunately, those things aren’t true. That has not come to fruition in Colorado.”  According to Carbone, marijuana in Colorado is now commercialized, accessible, and confusing to kids.”

The newest U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral (VADM) Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., said the following in February 2015 about medical marijuana:
“Marijuana should be subjected to the same, rigorous clinical trials and scientific scrutiny that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) applies to all new medications.”




The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact

Latest Results for Colorado Youth and Adult Marijuana Use

January, 2016

This report on marijuana use in Colorado is an update of the publication The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Volume 3. Results- Jan 2016 Release



December 16, 2015
12:01 a.m.
Contact: Jeffrey Zinsmeister
[WASHINGTON, DC] – The nation’s annual school survey of drug use, Monitoring the Future (MTF), shows marijuana use among adolescents, including heavy marijuana use, remaining stubbornly high and significantly higher than in 2008 — despite reductions across the board among the other three substances kids use most.
“Why is marijuana use not dropping like the use of other substances? The answer is likely the dramatic rise in marijuana commercialization and industrialization,” said Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor who serves now as President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “It may also be why daily marijuana use is at near-record levels. And this doesn’t even include teens not going to school.”
Moreover, this year’s survey may underestimate minors’ marijuana use. Of most concern is its exclusive focus on use of “marijuana/hashish.” The term is not well-defined given the explosion of popular edible marijuana products, which at the end of 2014 comprised approximately 45% of the legalized Colorado marijuana market. and are also common in states that allow “medical marijuana” sales. That narrow focus may also exclude highly concentrated products such as butane hash oil (BTO), waxes, and resins (“shatter”), which have also gained in popularity. It therefore remains unclear whether survey respondents identified use of all of the above products as “marijuana/hashish” use.
The survey also excludes high school dropouts, who are more likely to use marijuana than their peers.
“This year’s survey shows how, in an era of falling overall drug, cigarette, and alcohol use — an achievement made possible by years of effort and millions of dollars of public funding — marijuana use among kids remains strong,” remarked Dr. Sabet.
“We should look no further than the powerful marijuana industry that is promoting marijuana use and selling products like marijuana sodas and gummi bears,” Sabet added. “It has counteracted the hard work and advances made by drug prevention advocates, all in favor of financial gain.”
“Furthermore, the survey may not adequately address use of modern, mass-manufactured edible marijuana products, which are extremely popular. It also excludes dropouts, who use at a higher rate. So the study’s indication that two students in every average classroom of high school seniors is using “marijuana/hashish” daily may underrepresent the impact the marijuana industry is really having on America’s youth.”
According to statements from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American Psychiatric Association, marijuana use, especially among youth, should be avoided, and legalization efforts opposed.
“Medical research is very clear that marijuana is both addictive and harmful,” noted Dr. Stu Gitlow, immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “One in six adolescents that use marijuana develop an addiction, and use is associated with lower IQ, lower grades, and higher dropout rates in that same population. It is therefore of significant concern that this year’s study may actually underreport marijuana use and downplay its impact.”
Meanwhile, the toll of legalized marijuana continues to climb in Colorado and Washington. For example, a 2015 report indicated that the percentage of DUIs linked to marijuana use in Washington state has almost doubled since legalization, from 18.6% in 2012 to 33% in early 2015. That same report indicated that a full 85% of drivers involved in fatal accidents in Washington tested positive for recent marijuana use. Similarly, marijuana poisonings in Colorado rose 147% from legalization in 2012 to 2014, and was up 52% in Washington during that same timeframe.
“Additionally, a powerful marijuana industry lobby has emerged that sued Colorado to stop restrictions on advertising to protect children, and is now pushing back against municipal regulations in Oregon to keep pot stores away from schools and day care facilities,” commented Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “Like other addictive industries, marijuana needs to create and maintain heavy users to maximize revenues. It is taking a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook, and expect to see more of the same as big companies put their bottom line before public health.”
For more information about marijuana use and its effects, see




SAM-VT is a statewide coalition of Vermonters – parents, grandparents, young people, senior citizens and other concerned adults. We represent diverse backgrounds including drug & alcohol prevention, youth services, education, health care, law enforcement, mental health and business leaders. We agree that marijuana legalization poses a threat to Vermont’s health, economy, youth, education, highway safety and work force.

 Statement by Health Commissioner Chen related to marijuana legalization in Vermont.
VT Health Department Tuesday, January 26, 2016 9:10 AM

The Vermont Department of Health finds no compelling public health reason to legalize marijuana.

Whether or not it is legalized, the evidence shows that using marijuana negatively affects physical health, mental health and academic achievement, especially for youth and young adults. Early and regular use of any psychoactive drug increases the risk for lifelong problems due to addiction.

If marijuana is legalized, the market must be strongly regulated to prevent or to lessen the health impacts that could result.

Taking lessons from tobacco and alcohol, if marijuana is legalized the Health Impact Assessment<> recommends first putting in place strong infrastructure to support regulation, and well-funded prevention, countermarketing, enforcement and monitoring.

Harry Chen, MD

Commissioner of Health

Health Impact Assessment from the Vermont Department of Health

Executive Summary:

The Vermont Department of Health and key stakeholders conducted this Health Impact Assessment of the possible effects that could result from regulating and taxing adult marijuana use on the health of Vermonters. Read the full report here.


The purpose of this 2015 report is to document the impact of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use in Colorado.  Colorado has served as an experimental lab for the nation to determine the impact of legalizing marijuana.  This is an important opportunity to gather and examine data and facts on this issue.  Citizens and policymakers should have sufficient data to make an informed decision.

This is the third annual report on the impact of Colorado legalizing marijuana. It is divided into eleven sections with each providing data on the impact of legalization prior to and during the creation of the marijuana industry in Colorado.

Read the full report here.

Read the overview, by Christine Tatum, Legal marijuana’s impact on CO troubling here.

Featured Review: The Other Side of Cannabis

A review from Parents Against Pot on the film The Other Side of Cannabis, a candid documentary film from a mother’s attempt to understand her son’s psychotic break can be found here.

The  power of the film’s message comes from the way filmmaker Jody Belsher intersperses a variety of viewpoints: high school students in treatment, professional counselors, parents of all ages, medical professionals, people in recovery and even life-long addicts.  Also included in the mix is a 34-year old homeless man who started using at age 10, a man who lost his family and woman who feels she lost her life from the twenties to the forties.   Testimonies of young and old and from 4 regions of the country are covered: Boston, Chicago, Boulder, Colorado, and central California.


SAM-VERMONT, Inc. Registered with the State of Vermont.