Guest Post: A Thriving Solution – Cannabusinesses and Harm Reduction is accepting qualified medical marijuana patients and caregivers to join our network. We value every registered member and we hope to serve you in Arizona. This article brought to you by 420 community friends

by Matthew S. Kuehlhorn, Thrive

I am one of just over 200 certified prevention specialists in the state of Colorado. I may be the only one, though more will come, who feels there are benefits to legalizing marijuana. Legal marijuana can absolutely benefit the prevention of marijuana abuse by youth.

Matthew S. Kuehlhorn presents to a group of parents

Matthew S. Kuehlhorn presents to a group of parents

First off, drug prevention is not really about any particular drug or group of drugs. There are no drug problems, there are life problems. And as the drug prevention field continues to evolve into this perspective, more life problems will be addressed and smart regulations will allow businesses to thrive.

What I have seen, and marijuana businesspeople can attest to, is that the regulatory framework for cannabusinesses sets the bar among any industry in existence. A simple example of this is the fact that I can take my children into a liquor store and there is no way this would happen in a dispensary. We know that does not even scratch the tip of the iceberg’s surface with regards to what minutiae you track daily.

Keep running your compliances tight and marijuana access to youth will be reduced. I have seen it happen already in Gunnison County. As a former director of this county’s substance abuse prevention project, we ask students annually how accessible they find marijuana to be. In 2013, they reported that it was more difficult to access than they did one year prior. The students completed a survey before January of 2014. In 2014, four recreational and medicinal marijuana dispensaries were opened in Crested Butte. I think for many youth, access is only getting harder.

We all know that once cannabis leaves a dispensary’s property, we don’t know how it will be handled. We also know from asking our students in Gunnison County that many teenagers who do access marijuana (and alcohol for that matter) access it primarily through social networks – friends, older students, and parents.

Thrive staff presents to high school youth

Thrive staff presents to high school youth

How do we regulate that? We can’t.

However, we can help to influence what happens. Let me explain.

Research shows that “vice” businesses cannot “prevent” the use of their substance. It simply is a blaring contradiction and it proves to not work. Studies completed on tobacco industries who tried to play a “good” line to save money showed the ads did nothing to prevent use. They did show that public perception of the company itself softened. People thought more favorably of a company that showed interest in bettering society.

I think the tobacco industry’s marketing was wrong. Their perspective of “prevention” was missing a critical aspect. They had to sit down with communities in order to find strategies that worked and they chose not to.

Thrive staff meets with Congressman Scott Tipton (R - CO)

Thrive staff meets with Congressman Scott Tipton (R – CO)

The cannabis industry being so new and so unbureaucratic, you can still choose to sit down with your communities. And I suggest it is crucial to do so for you to thrive.

I sit at multiple tables. I can sit at a Cannabis Business Alliance meeting and with SMART Colorado moms and see the common interest between them. Everyone wants to thrive. We want thriving kids who are engaged with life and expressing their values, and we want an economy that supports great lifestyles while fixing some of the wrongs in the world. Nothing is wrong with that.

And we all have different values that guide our thinking on how we should get there. We can pick up sensational information, propaganda (on both sides), and more to back up our positions. Yet we share many of the same interests, and we know propaganda does little good in the long run.

I am pushing on the prevention field to address life problems and to not even look at “drug” problems. I am pushing on all of us to sit together and share our differences. This way we will see our common interests. And when we see people’s interests and understand where they come from, we can find solutions that ensure all of us thrive.

Matthew S. Kuehlhorn, CPSII, is based in Colorado and recently launched Thrivewhich helps to protect the marijuana industry from an uninformed public. Thrive works closely with the cannabis industry in developing a high standard of social responsibility and customer education, and with communities in reducing risk factors and building protective factors in support of positive youth development.

The post Guest Post: A Thriving Solution – Cannabusinesses and Harm Reduction appeared first on National Cannabis Industry Association.

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