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Pot in the Check-Out Aisle?

For Immediate Release
September 2, 2014

Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Says Marketing Marijuana-Infused Drink is Edge of Dangerous Cliff

Philadelphia—A pot-infused drink is the newest way to get high for residents of Washington, where recreational marijuana use was legalized this summer.

The fizzy drink, called “Legal,” is infused with 10 milligrams of liquid marijuana and comes in three flavors: cherry, lemon and pomegranate. Washington-based Mirth Provisions, the creator of the drink, charges about $10 retail and has plans to begin selling a pot-laced iced coffee drink as well. The soda-like product is marketed to those curious about pot but leery of smoking a joint. In fact, one marketing tagline reads, “so ridiculously relaxing that you may find yourself becoming one with your furniture.”

Karl Benzio, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), an addiction and mental health counseling helpline, says marketing marijuana through fruity, colorful drinks is a dangerous experiment that has addictive implications.

“In the late 1800s, cocaine was the wonder drug that was supposed to be medicinally helpful in many medical remedies,” Benzio said, “but soon after its infusion into the marketplace, cocaine addiction ran rampant, leading President Theodore Roosevelt to hire the first Drug Czar and declare cocaine use an emergent epidemic.

“We are headed down the same path to the same destination with the legalization of marijuana and the readily available products laced with pot,” he added. “Many who are proponents of the legalization of marijuana and cannabis products will say that alcohol is more addicting and might even be more toxic to our bodies. I would agree that alcohol shouldn’t be legal either. But two wrongs don’t make a right. We made a mistake with alcohol, making it so accessible that it’s now an addiction problem for many. Cannabis legalization should not be the subject of a similar mistake but should be viewed strictly on its own demerits.”

For now, the fizzy pot-infused drinks will be sold only in Washington’s certified cannabis dispensaries. Recreational marijuana use became legal in Washington in July, second to Colorado, which made pot sales legal in January. Voters will consider the same issue in Alaska and Oregon this fall.

The risks of the cannabis chemical, as well as the terrible message given to teens that cannabis products are safe and helpful, will undoubtedly become a nightmare of future calamities on individuals, marriages, families, communities and societies,” Benzio said. “The minimal amount of money made today on the sale of pot products will pale in comparison to the huge costs at all levels of our society.

“This new drink is indeed dangerous, as no one knows how much tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principal psychoactive element in cannabis, it contains,” he said. “We also don’t know the potency of the cannabis in the drink. We are on a slippery slope and so close to the edge of going over the cliff. The line is quickly being re-drawn to allow more access and less oversight with no science showing a significant benefit from cannabis, let alone outweighing the significant data about its dangers and addictive potential.”

Benzio added that those who are concerned about a friend or loved one and their struggles with drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances should reach out for help through a trusted mental health resource or hospital. And the most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring lasting healing and transformation.
Lighthouse Network offers a free, 24-hour helpline, 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242) for those who are struggling and for their family and friends. Lighthouse Network also provides online resources for those concerned about a friend or a loved one. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/im-family-a-friend.

Benzio shares insights on various mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. The purpose of the “Life Change” program is to bring scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles and enjoy fulfilled lives. For more information on “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.

Lighthouse Networkworks to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

Lighthouse Network’s web site, www.lighthousenetwork.org,provides information to those struggling to find help for their addiction problems, as well as to family members searching for help for a loved one. Topics addressed include alcohol abuse, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues.

Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction and their families, such as Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.

For more information on Lighthouse Network, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org or call the Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

To schedule interviews with Dr. Karl Benzio at Lighthouse Network, contact Deborah Hamilton at dhamilton@hamiltonstrategies.com, 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096.

Lighthouse Network is a Christian-based, non-profit organization that offers an addiction and mental health counseling helpline providing treatment options and resources to equip people and organizations with the skills necessary to shine God’s glory to the world, stand strong on a solid foundation in the storms of their own lives, and provide guidance and safety to others experiencing stormy times, thus impacting their lives, their families and the world.

Karl Benzio, M.D. is the founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network. With a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, Benzio went on to medical school and then specialized in psychiatry. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students counseling and conflict resolution skills in Uganda and Kenya; leading a behavioral health team into post-Hussein Iraq to equip health care specialists with treatment and assessment skills and successfully testifying for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives opposing legislation for Plan B contraception administration and for President George Bush’s Council on Bioethics regarding Right of Conscience. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council. His specialties include Adolescents, Addictions, Decision-Making, Infusing Spirituality into Practical Treatment Modalities and the Ramifications of Decision-Making on Social Policy.


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