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Corrections Officers Entering the Marijuana Game?
Three corrections officers in New Hampshire are making a rather unusual career move. No, they’re not hoping for a promotion or looking for a few extra vacation days. Instead, the group is trying to open a medical marijuana dispensary. And, surprisingly, they aren’t the only ones.
A Strange Career Path?
Scott Dodge, Normand Marquis and Rex Bunnell are all employees of New Hampshire’s State Department of Corrections. Dodge and Marquis are probation officers, while Bunnell is – hold on to your hats – a licensed drug and alcohol abuse counselor.
On the heels of medical marijuana legislation being signed into NH law last year, the trio launched a non-profit called White Birch Medicinals, Inc. They are currently submitting a bid to run an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) that “acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, transports, sells, supplies and dispenses cannabis, and related supplies, and related educational materials.”
A Total Conflict of Interest?
Due to the potential conflict of interest this newfound career path would clearly pose, all three men plan to retire from their current jobs…if the bid is approved.
“It’s important to be regulated so it’s not misused, and so that the people who are actually going to benefit from it will benefit from it.”-Scott Dodge“We think this is a law that could help a lot of people,” said Dodge. “It’s important to be regulated so it’s not misused, and so that the people who are actually going to benefit from it will benefit from it.”
The men said they were “on the fence” when it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but believe their center could help to address many of the issues surrounding drug abuse in the state. For example, New Hampshire declared a state of emergency last summer over a synthetic-like marijuana product known as “Smacked” caused numerous overdoses throughout the state.
“That would lead me to believe that the pain relief that can be gotten from some of the cannabinoids in marijuana are replacing these narcotics that doctors are prescribing,” said Bunnell.
The Effects of Legalized Marijuana
Findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that states with medical marijuana laws had a 25 percent lower rate of opioid overdose death than states without such laws, although no correlation between the two could be found.
Former law enforcement officer Neil Franklin has become the “linchpin” of a campaign to legalize marijuana in Maryland. He took a $40,000 pay cut four years ago to become executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organization of former police officers, judges, prosecutors and corrections officers who now advocate legalizing drugs.
In October 2012, a website called Marijuana Majority was launched as a way to highlight the surprising faces that have pro-legalization views. Among them include current Republican governor of Texas Rick Perry and Fox News staple Bill O’Reilly. Jeff Merkley also plans to become the first U.S. Senator to support legalizing marijuana in his home state of Oregon.
Learn more about treatment options for marijuana abuse and addiction.
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