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Terrapin Care Station Government Affairs Director Nico Pento recently penned an op-ed defending his industry in reply to my commentary about negative trends in youth marijuana use in Colorado ("IN RESPONSE | Marijuana industry acts responsibly," Aug. 17). Upon close scrutiny, there are two key problems with his defense. 

Pento states that research finding links between marijuana use and severe mental illness is “supported by the pharma and drug rehab industries to serve their own agendas.” This could not be further from the truth, unless he thinks the National Academy of the Sciences is funded by these industries. Furthermore, he implies my organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), is funded by these same industries. This is patently false, as shown in a recent independent investigation on Fusion TV

Ironically, it is the marijuana industry that gladly receives billions of dollars from Big TobaccoBig Alcohol, and Big Pharma

Readers of my original piece will notice Pento fails to address any of the increases in youth dabbing, impaired driving, and beyond — and instead claims the increase in youth 15 and under using the drug is not statistically significant since 2014. This is misleading. The increase is statistically significant at over 15% since 2017, and the rate of use has slowly increased since an initial decrease in 2014.

I started a couple of companies myself and I get where Pinto is coming from: In order to drive more profits, you need positive PR for your product. Unfortunately for Terrapin, their product is an addictive drug that is getting in the hands of kids. Regulations must become much more stringent, and these data must be considered with the concern they are due.  

Luke Dean Niforatos

Executive vice president

Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Denver

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