Way too much Pot

10-27-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It looks like we have hit “Peak Pot Production”. Good. Since nine US states and the entire country of Canada legalized cannabis for ‘recreational use’ there has been a huge increase in growers of the product. So much so that there is a glut of the product causing Growers to dump their product at well below market prices. As the legalization wave swept across the US and Canada many of the largest Pot Producers experienced a huge boom in their stock prices. But since the spring their stocks have suffered a 50%+ decline. Simply put supply has outstripped demand. This also means that the projected tax revenue that states and Canada were anticipating have fallen short of projections.

As with any new fad, the initial “high” soon settles down to a more realistic market. In this case there is not a bottomless demand for cannabis. The market is much smaller than the pro-legalization backers claimed. According to Forbes, “In just a year after Canada’s historic pot legalization, pot producers built up a massive surplus of pot. In fact, only 4% of pot produced in Canada in July has been sold!” This is similar to what we saw a few years ago in Tempe, when a company applied for a license to open up another Medical Marijuana Dispensary. A survey of the current Dispensaries revealed they were operating at 80% of their inventory. So, there was obviously no need for another location in Tempe.

Even still the two biggest producers in the US, Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth both plan to up their production to 500,000 kilos each next year. That would be about 4 billion joints. Hence the reason for dumping so much of the product into wholesale. Forbes suggest staying away from investing in the Cannabis Market for financial reasons. I suggest not investing for moral reasons.

All this is mixed news. Very wealthy investors invested a lot of money in Cannabis Growers and Dispensaries and a lot of money in pushing for the legalization of recreational use cannabis. I am sure they don't want to show a loss on their investments so be prepared for another push to legalize recreational use cannabis in AZ and elsewhere. So many people see it as way to make money, both investors and politicians who want to increase tax revenues. What they fail to see is the harm that all this causes. For too many people legal means safe and cannabis is not safe, at least not for all.

I have previously recommended the book Clearing the Haze by Dr. Christian Thurstone and Christine Tatum (in which I am featured). The book is a guide designed to help parents determine whether their child may have a substance problem and, if so, how to begin to address it. This book includes the voices and insight of experts in substance abuse counseling, young people in recovery, and parents who have lived the nightmare of adolescent addiction.

One group that cannabis is particularly dangerous and harmful to is teens. Cannabis use is often the key that unlocks mental psychosis and early onset schizophrenia in teens. I have seen it and it is frightening as it is debilitating of young people’s futures.

Another book I recommend is Tell Your Children by Alex Berenson. Mr. Berenson is a NY Times reporter who has done in depth research on the links between cannabis use, mental illness and violence. Despite all the myths about pot being “harmless” his research conclusively demonstrates otherwise. He traces how over a hundred years ago the people of India knew the dangers of cannabis and long before them the people of Mexico banned it for its psychotic and violent effects. The book is well worth your time.

Just like in the past, when the Tobacco companies did their best to get young people hooked on cigarettes, the Cannabis companies have much the same incentive if they are going to continue to move their product and make a return on investment. I know there are laws against that but they are not enforced and any teen will find a way around it especially when the product is so readily available. In fact, almost every young person who comes into our FullCircle Program started with marijuana, not alcohol, not even a cigarette. With the current supply of cannabis with high levels of THC and the use of a vape pen we are seeing young people with serious physical health issues as well. In fact, it is not the vape pens with nicotine that are causing health problems but rather the vape pens with THC. That little detail is rarely reported. Probably because of the myth that cannabis/ THC is harmless.

So, I will continue to commit myself, with your help, to helping our young people who struggle with issues of substance abuse, self-harm, compulsive behaviors like eating problems and pornography in way that is consistent with our Catholic understanding of the human person and human dignity.

Our FullCircle Program has continued to grow here in the Valley and in KC and in the last six months our new location in Denver has experienced tremendous growth. Please come and celebrate with us and our young people and their families from AZ, KC and now Denver on Nov. 2 at our annual FullCircle Banquet. Tickets on sale at the Coffee Shop after Mass or at the Parish Office during the week.

Love,

Fr. John B.

PS This year our Banquet falls on All Souls Day/el Dia de Muertos and we will be remembering all those who died as a result of addiction/ alcoholism. So, if you have a loved one who is deceased either directly (overdose etc.) or indirectly (such as by an impaired driver) please let me know and we will add their name to our Wall of Remembrance.

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