The Fate of the Drug Free Communities Program

President Trump released his budget proposal this week and, to the delight of those in the prevention, treatment and recovery field, the Drug Free Communities program was not eliminated as had been previously considered.  The ONDCP budget was saved because of the advocacy of so many of you.  However, our work cannot be done.

In a recent webinar, the federal budget was explained and we must understand that, although one program was saved, there is still much work to do.  The latest Presidential budget includes:

  • Cuts to drug prevention programs across all agencies by 11%
  • 47% cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years
  • $400 million cut to SAMHSA

Additional cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  These cuts are not all cuts to drug programs, but overall cuts to each agency.

 With many in the state depending upon federal block grants from SAMHSA and with so many individuals relying on Medicaid for treatment opportunities, there is still much work to be done.  As your Congressional representatives come back to their districts for summer break, try to get a meeting to talk about the importance of drug prevention and share the work that you do.

In this time where overdose deaths are killing more people than guns, traffic crashes and even AIDS/HIV did at its peak, we must have a comprehensive, well-funded approach to deliver results.  We need to advocate for the strongest strategies to overcome this deadly epidemic and we can start to turn this around and lessen the impact of drug abuse on all of our communities.

Tony Coder
Drug Free Action Alliance

Slew of New Research Mounts on Failures of Marijuana Legalization: Pot Shops Linked to More Youth Use, More Crime, No Reductions in Drinking

Over the past several years, states that have legalized marijuana have suffered from a wide array of unintended consequences. States with legal marijuana continue to see a thriving black market, increases in youth drug use, a rise in fatal drugged driving crashes, and more.

As special interest groups march forward in their push to put profits ahead of health, the evidence regarding the harm caused by legalization continues to mount. Just this week, three new key pieces of information have emerged that should give politicians and regulators pause as they consider how to move forward. 

First, a key study published in the Journal of Primary Prevention examined the association between medical marijuana patients and licensed growers in Oregon.  According to the study, increases in youth marijuana use are associated with the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state:

“Results of multi-level analyses indicated significant positive associations between rates of marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population and the prevalence of past 30-day marijuana use, controlling for youth demographic characteristics. The marijuana patient and grower rates were also inversely associated with parental disapproval of marijuana use, which decreased from 2006 to 2015 and acted as a mediator. These findings suggest that a greater number of registered marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population in Oregon counties was associated with a higher prevalence of marijuana use among youth from 2006 to 2015, and that this relationship was partially attributable to perceived norms favorable towards marijuana use.”

Second, in a sign that does not bode well for the marijuana industry, an NIH-funded study out of Denver found that legal pot shops are linked to higher rates of property crime in surrounding areas. The study found that the density of marijuana businesses was positively related to property crime in nearby areas, as well as marijuana-specific crime. According to the lead author of the study Bridget Freisthler:

“Over time, as marijuana grows in popularity, densities of marijuana outlets may increase, resulting in higher crime…There are definitely negative public health consequences [of legalization], including increased crime.”

Third, a new analysis out of Canada notes that marijuana legalization will have a negligible effect – if any – on alcohol consumption, despite promises made by advocates of marijuana legalization that users will switch.  According to the Globe and Mail, analysts project a less than 1 percent change in alcohol sales.  As we’ve warned for years, the story includes an admission by an industry analyst that the profitability of this addictive industry relies on hooking users early:

“Analyst Vivien Azer of U.S.-based research firm Cowen and Company is anticipating the alcohol industry could be under substantial pressure over the next decade if young people continue to take a pass on drinking.

In a report released last month, Azer said just under 82 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds in Ontario consumed alcohol in 2015, down 5.5 percentage points since 2008, while marijuana use has been steady at around 34 to 36 per cent.

‘Our focus on these younger consumers reflects our belief that the experimenter of today is the leading consumer of tomorrow,’ said the report by Azer who also covers Canopy Growth.”

Every week, more evidence comes out pointing to the serious health and safety harms that come with legalizing marijuana. Local pot shops are spurring more crime, marijuana industry special interests are openly targeting adolescents, and youth marijuana use is rising in areas with medical marijuana businesses as more kids perceive pot as safe. It’s time for our elected officials to stop and ask if we’re moving in the right direction on marijuana. We can be ‘smart on crime’ by reforming our nation’s criminal justice system without commercializing a drug we know to be harmful.

  For more information, please visit

Popcorn and Cigarettes? Smoking in Movies

Parents can minimize the harm from kids watching smoking onscreen.

Maybe they should call it fourth-hand smoking. While Hollywood has reduced smoking in films aimed at younger audiences, parents can’t be certain kids won’t be exposed to onscreen cigarette or cigar puffing, even with PG-rated or animated movies. Experts share the facts here about onscreen tobacco use and how to keep your kids from emulating characters who smoke.

While youth smoking rates keep dropping, a substantial number of teens still smoke, says Dr. David Hill, chairman for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media. “We know that if people don’t initiate tobacco use while they’re children or teenagers, they almost never do so in adulthood,” says Hill, who practices at KidzCare Pediatrics in Wilmington, North Carolina. “Essentially, if they don’t catch you by age 19, they’re probably not going to get you.”

That’s why smoking in movies for kids, who are impressionable, really matters. “We also know that the normalization of tobacco use in movies does have a strong impact on a child’s risk of future tobacco use,” Hill says. “We know that there’s a dose-dependent effect between exposure to tobacco use in movies and television shows and a child’s subsequent risk of tobacco use.”

Click here to read more.

Safe and Healthy Schools Summit Supporting Youth Through Evidence-Based Practices

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Ohio Department of Education and PreventionFIRST! will be hosting the:   Safe and Healthy Schools Summit Supporting Youth Through Evidence-Based Practices

Tuesday, June 6th  8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.  Quest Conference Center (8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus, OH). Keynote: Dr. Holly Raffle of the Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs with a leadership panel from OhioMHAS and ODE

Cost: $35 includes continental breakfast and lunch

Click here for more information and to register

  • Workshop topics include: •  School Safety
  •  PAX-Good Behavior Game
  •  Collective Impact Framework
  •  Early Childhood Social & Emotional Development
  •  Mental health services and advocacy for parents & children
  •  Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) model
  •  School-based mental health services
  •  School-based substance abuse prevention programs

Bill Gates sponsored study finds smoking responsible for one in 10 deaths globally

Smoking is the root cause of one in 10 deaths worldwide – and half occur within just four countries, according to a new study.

Tobacco-related deaths accounted for 11.5 percent of all deaths in 2015, despite on-going campaign efforts to convey the negative effects of smoking on public health.

The U.S., China, India and Russia emerged as the worst offenders in the new report published by medical journal The Lancet and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These four nations accounted for 52.2 percent of all smoking-related deaths.

“Despite more than 50 years of anti-tobacco efforts, smoking remains a leading global risk factor,” the report noted.

Click here to read more.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Reacts to Marijuana Lobbying Group’s Admission to Soliciting Donations from Tobacco Industry

Challenges Top Marijuana Lobbyist to Answer Four Questions

Contact: Anisha Gianchandani
+1 (703) 828-8182

[Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2017] – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national organization committed to promoting evidence-based marijuana laws at the Federal, state, and local levels, released the following statement in reaction to the admission by Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, that the special interest group is actively soliciting financial contributions from the tobacco industry in exchange for shaping their marijuana legalization initiatives. MPP is the lead lobbying group responsible for funding and organizing every state-based marijuana commercialization campaign in the U.S.

“Rob Kampia’s shameless solicitation for contributions from the tobacco industry is quid pro quo special interest politics at its worst,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of SAM. “Marijuana laws in our country should be informed by science and evidence, not the financial interests of the tobacco industry or a growing for-profit marijuana industry.  When the head of the lobbying group responsible for every single marijuana legalization initiative in America asks tobacco companies, ‘what do you want?’ it should send chills down the spine of every public health and safety official in America. This is an outrage and we challenge the Marijuana Policy Project to immediately disclose any and all ties to the tobacco industry so that communities in Michigan and across the country considering changes to marijuana laws can see through the haze of what’s really driving pro-marijuana legalization campaigns in America.”

Kampia’s admission was published last week in the Marijuana Business Daily in a story entitled, “MPP Chief Ready to Barter For Marijuana Campaign Donations.” According to the Daily:

The executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, Kampia called Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday after reading an MJBizDaily story about negotiations in Michigan over a likely ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

He solicited tobacco business interests in Michigan in search of campaign donations to run what will likely be a multimillion-dollar, 19-month endeavor, but he said he was largely unsuccessful.

“It’s the kind of thing where I actually go out and I try to court well-funded constituencies and philanthropists, and say, ‘What do you want, what do you hate, what’s going to turn you off so I can’t actually ask you for money later,’and sometimes you get so far as to say … ‘Is there something that we put something in here that would cause you to immediately escalate your commitment?'” Kampia explained…

In response to Kampia’s latest comments, SAM also challenged MPP to answer four questions regarding MPP’s ties to the tobacco industry:

1. How much total money has MPP taken from the tobacco industry since the organization was established in 1995?

2. Which state-based marijuana ballot initiatives led by MPP have been influenced by input from the tobacco industry?

3. What specific changes to marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives has the tobacco industry proposed in exchange for financial contributions to MPP?

4. Has MPP disclosed its ties to the tobacco industry with Members of Congress it is currently lobbying in support of Federal legislation that would incentivize the commercialization of marijuana in the United States?

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

News media requesting a one-one-one interview with SAM President Kevin Sabet can contact

### About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Youth Marijuana Use Hasn’t Gone Up in States Like Colorado

According to official statistics, Colorado shows increase in teen use since before legalization; 18-25 year old rate and overall 12 and older rate also up  

Contact: Anisha Gianchandani
+1 (703) 828-8182

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Despite claims to the contrary by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and other officials, the nation’s only representative sample of people in U.S households released special Colorado state data finding increases in marijuana use.

Colorado past-month marijuana use among 12-to-17 year-olds saw a significant increase, from 9.82% to 12.56%, according to the most recent year-by-year comparison looking at pre-legalization data. 

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health data also found that Colorado teens and adults use marijuana at a higher rate than the rest of the country. Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and implemented legal marijuana stores in 2014. At the same time, the sales of alcohol shows a slight increase.

Second, a deeper dig of the HKCS results reveals distressing news. Youth use has actually risen statewide since legalization according the survey, at about the same rate tobacco use has fallen in that same timeframe. Moreover, this increase since 2013 halted a four-year trend of declining marijuana use-the turning point occurred exactly when the state legalized pot. Nonetheless, most press coverage has glossed over this point. Additionally, swings in youth use per the HKCS are quite large in some counties where pot shops are prevalent. For instance, the Summit/Eagle/Vail area reported a 90% increase in use among high school seniors in the last two years, and NW Steamboat/Craig showed a 58% increase in the same timeframe. Not only does this suggest serious problems in those areas, such wild swings in short periods of time also call into question the robustness of the data set.

Meanwhile, the toll of legalized marijuana continues to climb in Colorado and Washington. For example, the AAA Foundation reported that the percentage of fatal crashes in the state of Washington linked to drivers who had recently used marijuana more than doubled the year marijuana retail sales were authorized. Similarly, cases of marijuana poisonings are up 108% in Colorado after legalization, and up 206% among children ages 0 to 8 years old. (More data on these trends is available in SAM’s recent report on legalization in both states.)

For more information about marijuana use and its effects, see

###About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in 31 states. 

Prevention Ethics

To apply for the Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist (OCPS), you must have 6 clock hours in ethics. To renew your OCPS you must have 3 clock hours of ethics. The following training is approved for clock hours to meet your training requirements.
May 12, 2017 
Ohio’s Code of Ethics for Prevention Professionals 
Location: Boathouse 679 W Spring St, Confluence Park, Columbus, OH 
Scholarships will only be provided for the ADAPAO Conference, Prevention Ethics, and OPEC. For more information on scholarships please visit:
For questions or more information, please contact Christi Valentini-Lackner at
This information is provided by the Ohio Coaching & Mentoring Network as part of the Ohio SPF-PFS project.

Alcoholic Ice Cream and Weed Doctors

Let’s not fool ourselves – the budget bill is not just about the budget bill. Every budget bill will include pieces of legislation that the sponsor does not want to be debated or could not be passed on its own.  It is done through the legislative process that is called an “amendment.”  It does not necessarily have to have anything to do with the budget or state funding. We have two such pieces this year inserted into the budget bill passed by the House that really raised some eyebrows.  One has to do with alcohol and the has to do with the new medical marijuana system.

First, an amendment was put into the Ohio Budget Bill at the last moment that would make alcohol-infused ice cream legal in Ohio.  The bill would allow ice cream to be infused with up to 6% alcohol content per volume. This was originally introduced as House Bill 23 but had not had a hearing this year.  We had been watching this bill, as alcoholic ice cream could pose a problem for youth.  However, this bill was instead slipped into the House version of the budget bill.

Another piece that was slipped into the budget bill changes the information that doctors would be required to give someone before recommending marijuauna to a patient.  Currently, the law states if a person is recommended for marijuana, the doctor is required to share with the patient the benefits and health hazards of using marijuana.  In the current budget bill, that requirement would be stricken, basically allowing a doctor to recommend marijuana to people but not having to share all of the dangers of using marijuana.

We do have a chance to remove both pieces of this language through a couple of different ways.  The bill has moved to the Senate and we must contact our Senators to let them know that we do not agree with these two pieces in the budget bill.  We must let them know about the dangers of marijuana use and the absurdity of alcoholic ice cream and the dangers that it can pose to children.

Please contact your Ohio Senator by going to and finding your Senator.  The best way to convey your feelings is making a call to let them know what their constituents think about these two legislative amendments that compromise public health.  It is time to take action and call today!

Tony Coder, Drug Free Action Alliance

Marijuana Use Rising

In a story published by The Street, an online magazine aimed at investing trends, over the past week there have been no less than three articles about investing in marijuana.  One of the most interesting articles is one that was written about young people (ages 18-25) substituting marijuana for alcohol sales.   According to the article, alcohol sales for this age group fell 2.5% since 2008 while marijuana sales during that same time for the same age group rose 4.6%.  The trend continues into the next age group, ages 26-29, with alcohol sales dropping 2.8% over the past two years.

For many, this might sound like welcome news, but with little known about long-term health consequences of heavy marijuana use and continued marketing of “safety” by marijuana profiteers, this is something that should become a worrisome trend.  There is a popular marketing campaign by the Big Marijuana marketers that proclaims, “Marijuana is safer than alcohol,” and that seems to be taking root with many young people.

However, we know that more and more studies are starting to show a link between marijuana use in young people and earlier onsets of psychosis and schizophrenia.  We also know that is also on the rise in Denver, ground zero for marijuana legalization.  Yet, this article and many like it point only to investing in this drug.

When did this society become so focused on profits over people?  Perhaps it has always been that way.  I look at the tobacco industry that, for many years, would manipulate messages and market to the young.  This industry would use doctors and faux science to show the safety and even supposed health benefits of tobacco. For decades, this industry was allowed to get away with these tactics until individuals speak up and speak out.  Now, we can see from this article that tobacco marketers were actually focusing on age groups as young as 14 years old.  The marijuana industry is growing with the same tactics and the same marketing schemes as the Big Tobacco of yesteryear.

Yet, our elected officials across the country are proclaiming the tax revenue and even the everyday person can be heard saying the same thing.  Will we ever really put the health of people above the profits of a few?  It’s time to stand for the idea that the profits over people is always a losing proposition where everyone eventually pays.

Contributed by Tony Coder, Drug Free Action Alliance