Influential Vermont Marijuana Study Criticized

Doctors, social workers and academics are criticizing a Vermont health department marijuana study completed earlier this year which helped persuade the state’s House of Representatives to reject a recreational cannabis bill in May.

Critics of the 84-page report charged it was narrowly focused on the negative aspects of marijuana, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Had lawmakers approved the recreational MJ bill, Vermont would have become the first state in the nation to approve legalization through its legislature.

The Vermont Department of Health was tasked with assessing the public health risks of marijuana legalization in the state, and released its findings and policy recommendations in mid-January. Department officials warned much more needed to be known about marijuana, the newspaper said.

The study recommended that regulators establish a system for testing whether drivers may be driving while under the influence of marijuana, and a legal limit for THC levels in drivers.

But those and other studies were unreliable, outdated, or placed out of context, doctors from the University of Vermont Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Medical School pointed out.

For example, studies released after the Vermont report showed that it was impossible to accurately measure THC levels in people. The report also failed to take into account studies that showed marijuana legalization helped reduce opiate addiction, critics noted.