QA Children's Council Nov. Guest Speakers '21

Left, Queen Anne’s Children’s Council Chairman Eric Johnson, Jr., is with guest speakers Maggie Thomas of the QA Health Department, and longtime QA Drug Free Coalition member Warren Wright, Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 3, as they spoke to the Council about the recent drug survey that was administered to more the 1,000 people this past summer. They discussed the results of the survey and its possible ramifications.

CENTREVILLE — Longtime member of the Queen Anne’s County Drug Free Coalition and current Chairman, Warren Wright, spoke to members of the QA Children’s Council, Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 3, about the results of the survey just over 1,000 adults in the county completed during the summer of 2021, asking how they felt about the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana? Wright, along with QA Health Department employee Maggie Thomas spoke to the group, Thomas listing drug prevention and intervention services that are available to families and especially children in the county. The monthly meeting is held at the county’s Vincit Building in Centreville, the first Wednesday of each month at the same time.

Wright provided everyone in attendance a copy of the survey results, and reviewed comments made from residents completing the survey. He also spoke on the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana.

Wright, and his wife, Kathy, have both been members of the QA Drug Free Coalition since it formed in the county 21-years ago, both have served as Chair’s. When it started, Kathy was head of the QA Health Department’s Drug & Alcohol Services for the county. Sheriff Gary Hofmann has also been a member of the QA Drug Free Coalition since it was formed, even before he became sheriff.

This was “not considered a scientific study,” noted Wright, “Its purpose is to better understand to what extent the respondents support recreational marijuana and to understand perceptions about marijuana benefits and harm.”

Overwhelmingly, Warren said the response to the potential harm of legalization within Queen Anne’s was that use rates may go up among preteens and teens.

Wright said, “The finance committee of the state legislature has already begun studies as to how legalizing recreational marijuana will bring in additional revenues to the state. They’re using several states that have already legalized it as examples. Maryland, at this time, appears to being studying the way Colorado legalized their’s, which was approve by citizen referendum, rather than the state legislators voting on it by themselves to legalize it.”

When the referendum was voted on In Colorado, two-thirds of the counties in the state, opted out of legalizing it in their individual counties, noted Wright, meaning, it would not be grown or dispersed in those counties, though legal to have in certain amounts throughout the state.

He is hoping that there will be a referendum in Maryland where the people of state can vote on legalizing it, as they voted for legalizing medical marijuana several years ago, and each county can vote, as they did in Colorado, as to whether it will be dispersed in each individual county. If each county decides on its own to have it dispersed, or not, within the county, that gives each county some control over how available it is, regardless of whether its legalized throughout the state. Restrictions on how much is dispersed at one time to each individual is also a possible means of control, if Maryland votes that way.

Currently, there are 19 states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Another 11 states, including Maryland, have legalized medical marijuana.

Wright said, “This is a quality of life issue for each county. Maryland is studying Colorado’s handling of legalized recreational marijuana because, being the first state to legalize it in the nation, Colorado has kept excellent records on how it has effected their state, for good and bad. Colorado has published 8 volumes of information on how it has effected the state thus far.”

Wright added, “What’s very interesting, though it was approved by the voters in the state, 70% of the counties in Colorado opted out of having marijuana sold in their counties. However, in counties that are interested in attracting tourist dollars, they sell tee-shirts with the image of marijuana on it with the words “Rocky Mountain High”. Wright reported that the mayor of Denver, where marijuana is sold, said, “What we’ve gotten from selling it is crime and homelessness.”

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