Home Brick Life Patrick Kennedy, Local Officials Rally In Brick Against Marijuana Legalization

Patrick Kennedy, Local Officials Rally In Brick Against Marijuana Legalization

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Marijuana legalization is being driven by special interests in hopes of opening a multi billion-dollar market and could lead to more widespread drug use and higher rates of addiction as the drug is more potent than ever before, Brick residents were told Wednesday night at a seminar which featured former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and local law enforcement officials.

The seminar held at Brick Township High School, titled “Let’s Be Blunt: A Conversation About Marijuana,” brought into question the movement to legalize the substance and represented a slight pivot from the more prominent discussions on heroin addiction in Ocean County.

Brick Township High School Principal Dennis Filippone kicked off the discussion with one of the scenarios that disturbs him most as a school official: the reaction of some parents after he has to call home to tell them about their child’s positive drug test.


“One of the most disturbing responses that I get is, ‘thank God it’s only marijuana,'” he said.

In an era where the Jersey Shore’s heroin epidemic makes more headlines, the subject of marijuana use has fallen to the wayside, in many respects.

“Nobody really addresses it anymore,” said Donna DeStefano, the regional coalition project director for Prevention First, an anti-drug organization. “Nobody’s talking about it.”

Those who are talking about it, other officials said at the presentation, are often arguing that the drug should be legalized, which they say brings a host of related issues that could have a harmful effect on young people. Today’s marijuana is far different than what many people experienced growing up during the days of sex, drugs and rock and roll in the 1960s and the anti-war era of the 1970s.

“Average potency now is about 20 percent,” said Christopher Gramiccioni, acting Monmouth County Prosecutor, compared to 1 to 3 percent potency during the 1970s.

“Growers are getting better at what they’re doing, and it’s getting more potent,” said Gramiccioni. “At the end of the day, that euphoric feeling that people get when they use marijuana, it causes people to seek out another substance that will give them a greater fix or a greater high when [marijuana] just isn’t cutting it.”

So-called “earwax marijuana,” he said, has potency levels of about 90 percent. That blend of the drug is now commonly used in vaporizers most often associated with e-cigarettes.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato also addressed the Brick audience, speaking about the risks of legalizing marijuana, and the myriad questions of how its legality will affect society. How will workers in sensitive occupations such as school bus drivers, pilots, physicians or police officers – who deal in potentially life and death situations – be handled if getting high is a legal right.

“Are we going to legalize something without any kind of standard?” Coronato asked.

But it was former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) who came out most strongly against marijuana legalization, chronicling years of his own battles with addiction and putting forth a case that it is the prospect of billions of dollars in potential profits that is behind the immense lobbying push to legalize pot.

“If we’ve seen anything from what tobacco did to our country, where they marketed themselves as health products originally, and then said, ‘oh no, we’re not targeting kids,’ then … we had a big settlement because we found out they were lying to the American public for 50 years,” he said, “The worry is that if you legalize marijuana, you’re giving the ability to corporations to market marijuana. Who will their market be? People like me, people who have a disorder.”

“They’re in the addiction business,” said Kennedy, of businesses ranging from the heirs of reggae singer Bob Marley, who this week introduced the nation’s first name-brand marijuana, to rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 2 Chainz, who are selling their own brands of vaporizers.

“I’m looking back at the anxiety I had as a teenager, and I’d want anything that could relieve that anxiety,” said Kennedy, predicting that just like tobacco companies which targeted young people with figures such as Joe Camel, marijuana sellers would look toward teens as their prime market.

“What the drug is, is less important than why you’re using it and what you’re using it for,” said Kennedy, who told the audience at the BTHS auditorium that he has been sober for three years and seven months. “Those of us who are in recovery know how tough it is to have even a couple of days strung together. The biggest victory for me is that I’ve been able to put some time together. One day at a time is so true.”

Dr. Kevin Sabet, an assistant professor of psychiatry, and director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, also spoke, reiterating the argument that marijuana legalization comes down to one main factor: money.

“This is about people, frankly, who look like me, wearings suits with the Yale M.B.A.s, figuring out how to break into the billion dollar industry which is pot,” he said.

  • Beach N8iv

    Prohibition is being driven by special interests in hopes of KEEPING a multi billion-dollar enforcement market. Fines, cheap prison labor, ruined lives, MASSIVE law enforcement budgets making politicians rich and for what? This War On Pot™ has been going on since the mid 1930s and has done NOTHING. Pot isn’t going away, IN FACT the harder you fight it the more likely young people are going to want it, but you already know that.

  • j.jones

    Its simple just dont do it ..walk away..No one bends your arm will power ..Grow up..

  • Andy Pat

    So-All the speakers are against legalization. This was clearly an Anti MJ rally. Complete with misinformation, recycled propaganda, and a high profile individual speaking from personal experience. Does Kennedy think alcohol and tobacco should be illegal substances also? They are clearly the greater health hazard. This was nothing more than a fell good rally for the anti crowd. BTW-I am not in total favor of all out commercialized legal weed. But I am completely against most of the policies that have made criminals out of people unnecessarily.

    • If I lived in the school district I would insist on an investigation. Was any taxpayer money used to fund this event or to pay this charlatan’s expenses? The principal of the school should also be called into question as he appears to be abusing his position.

  • Andy Pat

    To be fair and balanced the school system should allow a seminar for the Pro side of the legalization issue. I mean what are we teaching our kids if we only provide a platform for one side of a public policy issue?? And how can voting age adults make an informed decision?? Gramiccioni says MJ users will eventually seek out another substance. This is not based in medical or scientific fact. For a person to use a position of authority to perpetuate propaganda is inexcusable. When you get caught lying you lose credibility.

  • kickyourace

    There is no logical reason that Cannabis should be classified in the legal definitions as Heroin and Cocaine as a class 1 Felony. All that does is ruin peoples lives for what is a helpful medical herb. There is nothing worse than fear mongering on the part of law enforcement. While the author points out that this will be a huge business (and it is already and has never been stopped), there is also another huge business. Putting people in prison for a harmless herb. In addition, a legal case working it way to the appeals court clearly shows that police stop black and latino people 4 times as often as they do white people and in finding white people carrying in NJ, also allow them a pass at 4 times the ratio. Fair? Of course not. I’m tired of putting someone in jail at a cost of $80,000 a year per person for Cannabis anything.

  • kickyourace

    Not a word on Bill Maher and Willie Nelson but you went right to the black cannabis users. That’s the real problem. You’re making it a race issue. “They’re in the addiction business,” said Kennedy, of businesses ranging from the heirs of reggae singer Bob Marley, who this week introduced the nation’s first name-brand marijuana, to rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 2 Chainz, who are selling their own brands of vaporizers.

  • kickyourace

    One more thing. The Alcohol and ciggie industry will take a major hit to their profits if Cannabis is legalized in the states. Who would think that Kennedy is a paid shell from these industries to talk Cannabis down and yet, he’s been a pay for play politician for almost a decade. Just follow the real money and you’ll see what a shill Kennedy is. http://reason.com/archives/2013/02/13/patrick-kennedy-supported-medical-mariju

  • kickyourace

    Also: Yet while in office, Kennedy received over a hundred campaign contributions from the alcohol industry, including Anheuser-Busch, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, the National Beer Wholesalers Association of America, and many other alcohol distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. and how about Gambling. Does he worry about kids and gambling? Probably not since he has taken a million from the gaming companies. Heroin kills. We get reports weekly in Ocean County. Alcohol kills. Anyone leaving a bar is at risk and it’s a roulette wheel if you get pulled over or not. Pot? No fighting, used for health reasons as a natural herb. Kennedy, get off your high horse your pay for play politician. “They give me money so they can have my ear”. We know.

    • This is a man who’s family fortune is based on illegal alcohol sales during prohibition. There is a tradition in the Kennedy family to crash your car while intoxicated and Patrick has proudly carried on that tradition. On May 4, 2006, Kennedy crashed his automobile into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at 2:45 a.m. A United States Capitol Police official said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his car, but Kennedy claimed that he was merely disoriented from prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan. Anonymous sources are alleged to have seen Kennedy drinking at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar prior to the accident. He has been addicted to prescription medications and is believed to have helped his cousin William Kennedy Smith cover up the rape of Patricia Bowman.

      If there is one person that you should never ever believe than this guy is it.

  • JW P

    These people are all so out of touch. Heroin is deadly drug that ruins lives. Marijuana is a plant that makes you hungry. The only thing this drug war has managed to do is put completely harmless people into the criminal justice system and lockup on the taxpayer’s dime. You want to solve the drug problem in Ocean County? Legalize it all and offer rehab to anyone for free- it’s cheaper than the current approach by far.

  • Impasto

    Where the F is Brick?

  • joeyrockx

    A room full of morons. Grab the popcorn folks!

    • dirtsurfr

      Those Morons are the pricks with guns!!

  • I would rather have my kid occasionally using cannabis than occasionally using alcohol, that’s for sure! It is too bad that this school district felt it was okay to waste taxpayers’ resources on giving this Kennedy guy a podium from which to spout his Reefer Madness Reloaded propaganda. The guy has a lot of nerve talking about special interests pushing for legalization when he represents special interests too, and his special interests are addicted to the Prohibition Economy and would rather toss people into jail or mandatory rehab than recognize their inherent right to use an alternative to alcohol that is safer and less costly to society.

  • #@#.com

    Lawyers Love drug laws. First thing that happens when someone gets arrested with a joint is they call a lawyer. Kennedys are lawyers. Kennedys are also scum. Drunks, druggies, rapists, wife beaters, cheaters, liars, child molesters, rum runners, and tax evaders, and killers. They also get money from every bottle of scotch sold in this country. They are Deep in the alcohol business.

  • Andy Pat

    Another big “If” in this debate is whether legalized MJ would be used more as a complement to alcohol OR as a substitute? IF it is used as a substitute we may see a huge drop in health care costs, lost work hours, and reduced highway accidents and deaths. MJ impacts your health and motor coordination less and produces almost no hangover. And BTW I hear sex is better too with MJ compared to alcohol.

  • PLEASE come to Virginia so I can cure your #ReeferMadness!

    • The history of the Kennedy family and their ties to Alcohol. Conflict of Interest, much?

      Alcohol v. Cannabis re:

      Industrial uses/Economic Products, Toxicity, Mortality Rate, etc.

  • soldier

    called robotic cars and buses derp if your a stoner you can now just relax in the car or bus while the computer does the work. its called the future just make it a public service and lose the charge. theyre developing roads with internal charging systems so that busses run directly off ground current unless emergency battery is needed.

  • Greg Null

    these men are really ignorant of the facts they know nothing of our bodies own endoaannabinoid system, and that we have chemicals in our bodies almost identical to the chemicals in cannabis, in fact our endocannabinoid Anandimide, is almost identical to THC, and it is found in Mothers milk, and the phylocannabinoids in the plant cause a healing to occour in our bodies, and that cannabis is so good for us that it is being used to cure cancer cases by the thousands, it is putting Diabetes into complete remission, and stopping Alzheimer’s disease in it’s tracks, and the list of disease’s that it cures or helps goes on, and on, this plant is so cloesly linked to man that heavy , heavy pot smokers add a minimum of to years to their lives, this plant is only good for us

  • dirtsurfr

    He could have just cut to the chase and stood up and said…..
    Gentlemen we’re screwed, the masses have seen the truth about marijuana and
    we will be forced to deal with real addicts and Oh God, the Cartel!!
    The public is pushing body cameras and they want us to take tests for drugs and Steroids.
    They say they want us to be held accountable for our actions…..
    We need a petition saying we want the Federal Government to quit turning our LEOs into the Military and the people of the United States into criminals so they can have forced slavery.