The rotting of Colorado by pot

Think pot is benign? It’s not what Colorado has learned
By Gordon Clark, The Province, 29 Jun 2015
The nonsense and outright lies that the cannabis quacks profess in using the red herring of “medical” marijuana as a wedge issue toward their ultimate goal of fully legal weed can be divided into two groups of assertions.

In one are their various claims that marijuana is an all-natural wonder drug that can treat and cure a long list of ailments. Scientists and doctors tell us that’s crap. With very few exceptions, studies show that marijuana is useless to treat disease and in most cases where it works, there are other better treatments.

The second group of arguments the pot lobby used to justify giving them freer access to marijuana is to claim that liberal cannabis laws do not harm society — in fact, they claim, it makes the world a better place.

Don’t try telling that to Thomas Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a U.S. federal drug-enforcement program that co-ordinates local, state and federal police in enforcing drug laws.

In a presentation to a recent conference on drug and alcohol abuse in Idaho attended by Doug Rogers, a substance-abuse prevention counsellor with the Vernon School District, Gorman listed a long list of social woes that have exploded in Colorado since that state first allowed medical marijuana in 2000, saw its use grow exponentially in 2009 after a court ruling and then legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

As a result, Gorman said, Colorado now has 866 medical-marijuana centres and recreational pot shops compared with 405 Starbucks outlets. Denver alone has 198 medicalmarijuana centres compared with 117 real pharmacies.

Here are some other fun facts from Colorado for the next time someone tells you that massively expanding access to marijuana has no negative consequences on society:

The percentage of fatal motorvehicle accidents in Colorado where the driver tested positive for marijuana rose to 16.5 per cent in 2012 from 6.9 per cent in 2006, according to the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Homeless shelters experienced a 25- to 500-per-cent increase in clients after pot was legalized, Gorman said. As well, the number of crimes in Denver climbed by 12.3 per cent from 2012 to 2014 after pot became legal.

Despite rules that limit pot sales to those 21 and older, kids in Colorado have also been adversely affected. In Colorado, 11.2 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds reported having used pot in the past month in 2013, compared with 8.3 per cent in 2006-08 and also compared with the 2013 national average of 7.2 per cent.

And don’t think that easier access to pot in Colorado didn’t hurt kids.

Gorman noted that, according to the Colorado Department of Education, the state experienced a 34-per-cent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions from school from the years before pot laws were liberalized compared with after. The percentage of drug-related school suspensions, which was a constant three per cent of all suspensions after pot commercialization was allowed in 2009, has grown every year since, hitting 6.4 per cent in the 2013-14 school year.

The same was true for school expulsions involving drugs. Before 2009, the percentage of expulsions involving drugs was about 25 per cent, but it climbed immediately after pot laws were relaxed and hit 42 per cent of all school expulsions in 2013-14.

So much for the claim that we can keep pot out of the hands of teenagers by making it legal.

Gorman’s agency listed other consequences in another report in August about mile-high Colorado:

From 2011 through 2013, there was a 57-per-cent increase in potrelated emergency-room visits.

Marijuana-related exposures for children five years old and less on average increased 268 per cent from 2006-09 to 2010-13.

The number of pets poisoned from ingesting marijuana increased fourfold from 2008 to 2014.

As I’ve said many times, I don’t care if adults want to smoke dope and I don’t want people going to jail for simple possession. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking pot is benign or the fabulous lifestyle choice some people claim.

It’s telling that having experienced the most liberal state pot laws in the U.S., that the majority of counties and cities in Colorado have banned recreational marijuana businesses. They may know something it will take us a couple of years to learn.
Gordon Clark is the editorial pages editor and a columnist.