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Caroline and Patrick KennedyRecovering addict Patrick Kennedy has become a leading opponent to the current campaign to legalize marijuana in states across the country. Kennedy has made numerous personal and television appearances in June, explaining his change in opinion.

“I cannot be silent, and I don’t imagine anyone else could be silent if they knew the facts as I know the facts – and all I’m trying to do is get those facts to the broader public,” said Kennedy, former Rhode Island congressman and member of the famous Kennedy dynasty.

In 2006 Kennedy crashed his car when he fell asleep at the wheel, a direct result of his addiction to alcohol and OxyContin. He admits to smoking marijuana, but claims he quickly switched to alcohol and other drugs. He was forced to resign from congress due to his addiction.

At one point Kennedy also supported medicinal marijuana as a valid remedy. He changed his mind when he began working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Following recent research and the success of legalization measures in two states in the 2012 election, Kennedy formed Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) in January of this year and serves as chairman for the organization.

Kennedy’s focus is on the damaging effects marijuana can have on young people. He points to new studies that prove marijuana use permanently reduces IQ, can induce psychosis, and creates “devastating health consequences” amongst young users. He points to data showing marijuana use is more common in teens than tobacco use and that legalization will only increase these numbers.

“This isn’t your Woodstock weed. This is genetically modified marijuana that is more closer to hashish,” Kennedy argues, “And its impact on brain development, especially if teenagers are using it, is profound and permanent.”

He also worries about marijuana companies marketing to young people the same way tobacco companies did with campaigns like Joe Camel. Former President Jimmy Carter has endorsed Kennedy and expressed his own fears about the future marketing of legalized marijuana to children.

Kennedy has called on the US Attorney General to enforce federal drug laws, which would keep Washington and Colorado from allowing the sale of marijuana, in spite of the ballot initiatives passed by voters in those states to legalize the drug.

See Kennedy’s response to recent questions in this video:

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