Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 04-10-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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10 OPINION APRIL 10-16, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION Recently, Gov. Gina Raimondo rolled out her plan to legalize recreational marijuana. She dragged State Police Supt. Col. James M. Manni, who should have known better, into the fray by his testimony in support of such recklessness. The only thing worse than the colonel's injury to the reputation of impartiality of his troopers was the governor's strong- arming him as a partner in the sullying of the force's rep- utation for being beyond poli- tics in the pursuit of money for the state budget. Recreational marijuana should be banned, not pro- moted. Notwithstanding my own leanings toward libertari- anism, I know a public health problem when I see one. Certainly, marijuana may be applicable in a few narrow conditions for pain relief (so be it), but widespread use for non-medical conditions will lead to unintended con- sequences. After an exhaus- tive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that "cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk." The proponents of recre- ational marijuana use reading this column are probably apoplectic. They may cite a single paper comparing overdose deaths state-by-state before 2010 which concluded that marijuana use makes it a potential substitute for opi- ates. In fact, the opposite is true. A January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjust- ing for other potential risks. Raimondo wants "to go to war" on opiate addiction, yet her very proposal to secure money for state coffers cre- ates fertile ground for opioid abuse. In 2006 about 3 million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number rose to 8 million. Cannabis users today also consume a drug that is far more potent as measured by THC-delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis respon- sible for its psychoactive effect. In the "hippie days" of the 1960s, Americans smoked marijuana which contained less than 2 percent of THC. Today, marijuana contains 20-25 percent THC. As noted by Author Alex Berenson (Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence) "extracts are now nearly pure THC – think of the difference between near-beer to grain alcohol to understand the difference." While the gov- ernor's proposal limits THC to 5 percent, competitors will try to siphon off users by making a stronger drug. Berenson's book also cites statistics that the first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon) combined had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults the year before legalization. Taking into account the differ- ences in population growth, they had an increase in those crimes of 37 percent in 2017, far greater than the national average. Rhode Island's countenance of medical marijuana wasn't followed by too much of any education about its risks. Unlike cigarette warnings there is nary a peep about THC harm. Not all smokers get cancer but society has warned about cigarette use for those who do contract the disease. Based on past prac- tice, Rhode Island may very well be mute since it wants the money from sales. I don't expect this column to change any minds. I just want to make sure folks know the truth about the science on marijuana. No Pollyanna, please. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Pot dangers being ignored My hat is off to Erica Sanzi, a Cumberland mom, former educator, and ex-member of the town's School Committee, whose blog, "Good School Hunting," found a national audience last week. Sanzi is upset that current state law, in her words, "allows for teach- ers and other school employ- ees to have sex with students once (students) have turned 16." It's that simple, in her view, and she and others hope to stop that. State teachers' unions, though, think they're being singled out, and don't want the bill – HB 5817 – to pass. I won't get deeply into this because, well, do I really have to? Of course the bill should pass! On Sunday, the conser- vative news aggregator Drudge Report linked to her blog, and readership rocketed. While it might give another black eye to Rhode Island, frankly, it's deserved. Legislators should protect teenagers above any adults who might prey on them. It's "all about the kids," right? Or isn't it? In better news: • It's nice to see young women from local schools working hard to find a way for their classmates to attend prom, even if they are short on money. It's worth noting. In North Providence, seniors Olivia Kooloian and Breanah Gobin have finished their "gently used prom dress" drive, and now teacher Allison Ambrose gets to school early – and stays late – to help girls – confidentially – with their choices. In Lincoln, junior Jade Ruiz is doing the same, and dresses from the public may still be dropped off at Lincoln High School's main office until April 26. Formal and semi-formal attire is needed. If your daughters are off to college, you might empty their closets to help other students who could use a hand. And thanks to these young women for simply being so nice. • In case you missed it, if your child has a driving learn- er's permit, you don't have to go to Providence for his or her road test anymore. With the opening of the new DMV office in East Woonsocket, at 2000 Diamond Hill Road, you can now take a road test there, by appointment. That's a blessing. • In Woonsocket, on Main Street, in a long-empty bank building, a woman named Beth Mancini is rehabbing the offices there and grow- ing her business, Bella Mente Counseling. While this seems small by itself, her growing business is exactly the injec- tion of energy and new life that brings more foot traffic to a challenged downtown area long past its heyday. We wish her well. Kudos, too, to Garrett Mancieri, a city Realtor who works hard to find suitable ten- ants and new owners for Main Street's aging, but in some cases beautiful, buildings. • Finally, there were about 250 people out and about across Cumberland and north Lincoln for last Saturday's Yellow Bag Day. While I organize teams across Cumberland, I have to thank Lincoln Town Councilman Ken Pichette for his work in Manville, where a record 100+ turned out to help. He gets a big boost from Navigant Credit Union helpers, too. In Cumberland, we also had a record turnout, and town roadways were cleaned pretty much top to bottom. A special thanks goes to Troop 1 Diamond Hill Boy Scouts who, along with a team from Mayor Jeff Mutter's office and friends, cleaned for the first time the nastiest areas of Mendon Road, from Angell Road to Broad Street. It was a huge accomplishment, and long overdue. The biggest headache? Liquor bottle "nips" of Fireball Whisky. Kids (I assume ...) are drinking those like crazy. My brother suggests a $2 deposit on each. Extreme? Yes. But if you were out there picking them up by the dozen, you might be inclined to agree. Finally, this: C'mon people! If you have a Dunkin' coffee cup or McDonald's bag or soda cup ... whatever ... please keep it in your car until you get home, and then dispose of it. Is that so difficult? Don't be a slob and throw things out your car window! The rest of us will appreciate your consid- eration next spring. Thank you to all the volun- teers! Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspaper And now, some good news From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XXI, Number 37 April 10, 2019 @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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