In the last few months Joe Kennedy III has garnered criticism for his anti-marijuana views despite his growing stardom in the Democratic Party. But it turns out Joe's not the only member of the Kennedy clan who's against cannabis.
Patrick J. Kennedy recently wrote an op-ed for the Providence Journal in Rhode Island advocating against marijuana legalization. Kennedy is the youngest son of former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy previously represented the state of Rhode Island in Congress, but left office in 2011 and began advocacy for a number of substance abuse and mental health causes, including becoming one of the co-founders of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-cannabis legalization group. So it's not really a surprise that Kennedy is speaking out against marijuana right now.
"We are in a five-alarm fire in this country with addiction and mental illness. The suicide rate has never been higher. The drugged car crash rate has doubled. The death rate from overdose is well surpassing the death rate we saw as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis," Kennedy writes in his op-ed. "It would seem that the last thing we should do would be to pour gasoline on the fire by legalizing marijuana."
Some would argue that legalizing marijuana would actually put out some of the fires Kennedy's talking about. Study after study shows that states with legalized marijuana have lower rates of opioid abuse and overdoses. Of course, Kennedy doesn't address those studies in his op-ed.
Kennedy also writes that marijuana has "caused emergency room visits to skyrocket. People don’t adequately understand how edibles work or how much THC they are consuming. One gummy bear turns into a handful, and the next thing you know, someone is hallucinating in the emergency room."
One recent study found that there were more than 4,000 ER visits related to marijuana in the United States from 2005 to 2015. That's about 400 per year. To put that in perspective, it's estimated that there are over 136 million ER visits in the United States each year. Talk about a drop in the bucket.
Luckily Patrick Kennedy isn't being propped up as the next star of the Democratic Party.
(h/t Providence Journal)