Dear Fiona Ma,
I am the Director of the Wellness & Prevention Coalition, a Drug-Free Communities Coalition. We receive federal funding to help our community prevent substance use among our youth. Our coalition was shocked to see that you have Weedmaps as a sponsor of an upcoming fundraising event for your campaign for State Treasurer. Families in our community are battling marijuana addiction, and you seemingly support the normalizing of the marijuana business, a business that has used false claims about the medical benefits of a smoked carcinogen that alters brain development. The emergence of the marijuana industry seems to be very closely paralleling that of the tobacco industry, which in the early days showed doctors making imaginary claims about the healing power of tobacco.
The tobacco industry became one of the biggest lobbying groups in our nation, giving generously to political candidates. As fewer adults smoked, the industry aggressively marketed to teenagers, knowing the likelihood of attracting young users would guarantee lifetime customers. Take a look at some of the Colorado marijuana advertising and you might notice it is not particularly appealing to adults. Placing a Weedmaps logo on your event flyer shows that you do not see the danger of marijuana use by our youth. Research shows that as youth perception of harm decreases, youth use increases. This is exactly the trend we are seeing across the nation as the marijuana lobby claims weed is not so bad.
The argument is being made that the state has a lot to gain by taxing sales of marijuana; however, like other vice taxes—gambling, tobacco and alcohol—the costs to safety, public health and tax enforcement never equal the amount that we collect in tax revenue. Social costs far outweigh any revenue increases. And most of the states that have passed marijuana legislation are frantically trying to catch up with rules and regulations to protect the public.
Our coalition requests you do not ask for nor take support from any marijuana-related business owners or businesses. It appears as a clear conflict of interest to the well-being of our youth.