Many of us have suffered a personal loss due to substance abuse. We know families devastated by the impaired judgement of substance abusers. By alcohol, by marijuana, by cocaine, by heroin, by opioids. Marijuana use in particular is associated with increased traffic accidents, a doubling of rates of domestic violence, and an increased risk of developing mental health issues.

Our youth are especially susceptible. Because marijuana products can be obtained at comparatively low cost, they draw in users who want to experiment, to conform to peer pressure, to spike stimulation, to escape stress.

Given increased awareness of the high risks of cocaine and heroin addiction, marijuana use is perceived as a low-risk alternative. Few studies corrected that benign perception; indeed, anecdotal testimony of older adults encouraged it, adults who had consumed marijuana of 2-3 percent THC potency.

But present cultivation commonly increases THC potency to 30-40 percent, with 80–90 percent potency possible. Synthetic additives such as fentanyl can sharpen the spike; edible products, invitingly packaged, can concentrate the impact. And now vaping products, more convenient and difficult to detect than smoking, provide another means to consume nicotine, marijuana, and other stimulants. A low-risk alternative no more.

As alerted by the leadership of the Barnstable School Committee, commercial marijuana producers, whether corporate or black market, will target children and adolescents to develop demand and “loyalty” with enticing edibles such as brownies, gummies, and lollipops and with pods designed for vaping.

Because marijuana is essentially a commodity, “loyalty” is conditioned by addiction. For a target market in which 20 percent of users consume 80 percent of the product, brand addiction is key. The differentiating factor is product potency. And marijuana addiction offers a high-risk gateway to other addictive stimulants.

I urge Bourne residents to limit the availability and normative acceptance of marijuana use by Bourne youth, to keep Bourne’s ban on recreational marijuana sales. I further urge Bourne citizens to reject the proposed marijuana zoning bylaw that, if approved, would expose Bourne’s ban on recreational marijuana sales to judicial reversal.

Vote no on Article 14. Vote no on Article 10.

Douglas K. Oesterheld

County Road

Monument Beach

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