Pot Opponents Predict 'Hogwild' Colorado Trainwreck

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy points to flavored alcohol, liquor ads in warning about marijuana.

An employee waters pot plants inside a grow house, later to be harvested, packaged and sold at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which is to open as a recreational retail outlet at the start of 2014, in Denver.
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Several doctors on the SAM conference call gave ballpark figures for rates of marijuana addiction, a condition scoffed at by some marijuana users as a fictitious condition.

[DATA: Police Made One Marijuana Arrest Every 42 Seconds in 2012]

"One out of six kids who experiments with marijuana will progress to addiction or dependence," said Paula Riggs, addiction treatment director at the University of Colorado at Denver. One in 11 adults will, she said.

Another doctor, Eden Evins, director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, put the figure at around 10-17 percent.

Doctors on the call all mentioned mental health issues that may arise from an increase in marijuana use. Many mentioned risks for people with a predisposition to mental disorders, including schizophrenia.

[READ: D.C. Councilman Pushes Pot Legalization, Predicts Congress Would Allow It]

Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and chair of the American Medical Association committee that recently revised the AMA's policy position on marijuana, said more people are likely to report sleep issues. mood disorders and anxiety after stores open.

"Increased use of marijuana is going to lead to an increased but inaccurate prevalence of psychiatric disease," he said, leading to unnecessary medication. "The bulk of doctors out there won't know their patient is using marijuana," he said.

[WATCH: McCain Says 'Maybe We Should Legalize' Marijuana]

A poll released Oct. 22 by Gallup found 58 percent of American adults believe marijuana should be legal. Legislators in many states have proposed bills to legalize and tax the drug, and MPP is planning to support more voter-driven referendums.

SAM leaders said they would like to ultimately repeal legalization in Colorado, but said they do not have a time frame in mind. In the meantime they plan to increase awareness of related public health issues and encourage local governments to block store openings.

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  • Correction (01/01/14): This article has been modified to correct a quote attributed to Dr. Paula Riggs.