As a pediatrician and adolescent medicine provider in Kennebec County for 18 years, I believe that now is not the time to cut funds for our local prevention system, the Healthy Maine Partnerships. It is on the front line in preventing youth substance use in our community.

I have seen opiate addiction rising in the past 10 years. I have cared for newborns addicted to opiates and children whose lives are traumatized by parental substance abuse, incarceration and suicide.

With recent movement toward legalization of marijuana, I am now concerned about a “marijuana tsunami.” A popular pro-marijuana Twitter handle sends an average of 11 tweets per day promoting recreational marijuana use. This handle has about 1 million followers, most likely to be children and young adults. I fear that without a counterattack to the tweets, our young people will be victims of yet another substance.

The adverse effects of marijuana have been well documented: impaired short-term memory, decreased attention span, decreased problem-solving, as well as alterations in motor control, judgment and reaction time. Research has shown that the younger the adolescent begins using marijuana, the more likely it is that a drug dependence or addiction will develop in adulthood. Marijuana use during adolescence is associated with reductions in the odds of high school completion.

I urge our legislators to not cut funding for Healthy Maine Partnerships. Healthy Communities of the Capital, our local HMP, is home to our federal drug-free community coalition, the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, and collaborates with many partners to keep our youth safe and substance-free. Without a counterattack to social media, substance use will become normative behavior. Maine cannot afford to lose its youths to substance abuse, as we need their economic prowess and brainpower for Maine to succeed in the future.

Carol Mansfield


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