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Legalized Marijuana

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This is a subject that draws divisive comments from critics and proponents alike. This topic is not intended to take either side but instead to point out some of the down sides of legalizing marijuana. When marijuana was legalized in our state of Colorado it was pointed out to us voters how much revenue it would generate but little was said of the possible problems it could cause. Our Governor called it “the great social experiment” and it has lived up to his statement both good and bad. This blog is directed toward the unforeseen hazards that legalization of marijuana creates. In Colorado we have already seen the enormous revenue it brings in and the down side is just surfacing. While the debate continues over whether it should be legal or not this article is not written to take either side but simply to report on what this writer has observed subsequent to legalization.

We live near the small town of Ft. Garland, Colorado, with a population of roughly 433 persons. Since marijuana has become legal in Colorado we have had two marijuana stores open for business and a third one seeking rezoning to be able to both grow and sell from one of our historic buildings. That will be three stores for about 433 residents not including rural customers. There is a community school on the main highway going through the area and there is a marijuana store situated on both sides of the school within legal set back distances. The third store plans to open up next to a historical fort that attracts tourists and visitors from all over our state and around the world.

We have noticed more vagrants in the area and talking to a resident of the town recently I was told that he is now regularly shooing vagrants out of his yard. I have heard on the Denver news channels that the increase in homeless and vagrants in that area is also significantly on the increase which is straining their ability to provide social services to those in need. This influx of people which seem drawn to legal marijuana puts a serious drain on not only social services but emergency services as well.

The path to legalization started with legalization of ‘medical’ marijuana and then to full legalization. This writer understands that medically it does have benefits for some diseases or illnesses. When it went to full legalization it seems that keeping up with regulating it is an ongoing struggle for our state. The marijuana industry is growing so fast that regulators seem to struggle to keep up. In one aspect or another it is in our news every day. Today the news channel was reporting that recreational marijuana is being sold with mold that causes respiratory issues and it needs to be more carefully tested like medical marijuana is tested. With all the shops opening that is going to present a regulatory challenge and it seems that regulation is falling further and further behind.

One area that is particularly challenging is consumable marijuana products which look remarkably like normal candy, cookies etc. The new industry and state agencies have been struggling for months on how it can be marketed so people can tell the difference between the two. The industry doesn’t want the increased burden of special labels and the state wants to stop children and adults from consuming more THC (hash oil) than is allowable and ending up in the emergency room. It is being put into multiple food products with no definitive label warnings or identification to tell consumers of the potential risks involved or how much THC they are eating. Extracting THC from marijuana has also resulted in several residential house fires by do it yourself people. The consumables have been showing up in our schools also.

Marijuana is not allowed to be smoked in a public place and is easy to detect due to the unique smell. I’m not sure how they can enforce using consumable marijuana in public places because it mimics normal food products and is in most cases indistinguishable except for the THC. Also the only way to be sure if a person is driving under the influence of marijuana is by taking a blood test. That requires more effort than blowing into a breathalyzer along side the road. The officer must have probable cause in ordering a blood test and no effective road side blood test is currently available. A recent study has determined that a person smoking marijuana within the last week is twice as likely to be involved in an accident as a non user. In large cities within our state the problems or down sides are much different than in a rural area or small town like in our area.

Since it has been legalized in our state two adjoining states where it is still illegal have filed suit against our state. A third state is contemplating joining that suit. In their states it is still illegal and their difficulty in keeping it from coming across their borders has increased their financial burden of enforcing their laws. So while it can be legally purchased here it is creating problems for adjoining states where it is not legal and our neighbors are not happy.

I’m sure some will choose to misread this topic and use it as a platform to either promote national legalization of marijuana or denounce making it legal. That is not the intended purpose of this article but instead to consider not only the large revenue enhancement but also realize there is an equally important down side to making it legal and therefore weigh both options. This writer does not profess to be an expert but I am writing on what I hear, what I read and from what I have seen myself. It seems to me that the Colorado social experiment should be closely studied from all aspects by those states considering legalization. It should be an open discussion that involves both the positive and negative aspects and then and only then a decision should be made. Regulations should be ready to implement when and if it becomes legal and not ‘as you go’ regulations which take months to formulate and enact.

For the record I myself have never used or had the desire to use marijuana but I hold nothing against those who do and believe it is a matter of personal choice. Once it is legalized it is off and running at remarkable speeds and playing catch up at that point is a real race.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their mountain lifestyle check out the McElmurray's Mountain Retreat.


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carolm
2/17/2015 3:03:30 PM

Excellent article....and much food for thought by those who wish to think!!


brucem
2/17/2015 6:01:05 AM

Thank you for your comments Mr. Jones. The very first sentence in the topic was that this subject draws decisive comments from both pro and con. Your rebuttal proves that point and stifles rational and additional dialog on the issue. As I pointed out the articles purpose was to stimulate thinking for both the pro and con of the issue. Contrary to your lengthy rebuttal I did not take sides but simply pointed out there was a down side to the issue that should be equally considered. Beyond that I don't see where any further reply is warranted or necessary as the article speaks for itself as does your response to it. Thank you for your criticism, opinion and position on the issue which is clearly articulated. All comments are welcome and not all readers will always agree. Other readers will now be able to read both the topic and your rebuttal and decide for themselves.


fredjones
2/16/2015 8:59:57 PM

Mr. McElmurray: After reading your statement “Legalized Marijuana” in Mother Earth News I feel I must respond to your nonsensical opinions with fact and confirmation. You have stated that you are not taking sides if fact you stated that several times. I assume in order to convince those who are reading this that you are not. However, taking sides is what you have done since you have only presented one side of this topic. Your argument is poorly conceived with unfactual data that lacks any backup documentation to substantiate you claims. I have taken the time to break down your statement and provided documentation refuting your ingenuous platitudes, which I provided in the above comments. Since my formatting was scrambled by the comment generator I have taken the time to rewrite it. “There are two stores in your small community of Ft Garland.” There are seven establishments that sell alcohol are in Costilla County. The Census of 2010 listed Costilla County having a population of 3524. Fort Garland is just one of 4 small towns in Costilla County. The County Commissioners of Costilla County were in favor recreational business. Costilla Counts on Marijuana Money (www.chieftain.com/special/marijuana/3274466-120/county-marijuana-commissioners-rates) Each City, Town and County was given the opportunity to vote yes or no for recreational marijuana by October 1, 2013. “The third store plans to open up next to a historical fort that attracts tourists and visitors from all over our state and around the world.” County commissioners were scheduled to vote January 20th on the proposal, which would have placed the growing and retail marijuana business next to the Fort Garland Museum. But Mr. Lobito’s (county attorney) decision, which found the shop to be in the wrong planning zone, staved off the debate for now. “A wise call” Pueblo Chieftain(http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/3267657-120/county-lobato-proposed-shop) “There is a community school on the main highway going through the area and there is a marijuana store situated on both sides of the school within legal setback distances.” You state yourself within legal setback distances. What does the proximity of this school have to do with anything? This is a product that can be sold legally in Costilla County. “We have noticed more vagrants in the area and talking to a resident of the town recently I was told that he is now regularly shooing vagrants out of his yard.” Who are we? Is this we experts on vagrants? You don’t even live in Fort Garland but up in the mountains. What are the credentials of this resident? What makes him an expert on vagrants and the cause of? “I have heard on the Denver news channels that the increase in homeless and vagrants in that area is also significantly on the increase which is straining their ability to provide social services to those in need. This influx of people which seem drawn to legal marijuana puts a serious drain on not only social services but emergency services as well.” Denver is 210 miles from Fort Garland. How is the increase in homeless and vagrants tied to marijuana stores in Fort Garland? No doubt the increase of this unfortunate persons are a strained on social services. Maybe you should invite some of them to your cabin to get to know their stories instead of being so quick to judge. What influx of people are drawn to legal marijuana? How are they putting a drain on social and emergency services? What facts do you have to substantiate this? When you don’t backup your statement with facts this is called opinion or misrepresentation. “State is struggling with legalization.” Colorado Not Suffering Buyer's Remorse Over Legal Marijuana, Poll Finds(Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/09/colorado-marijuana-legalization_n_5792418.html) In Colorado, Legal Pot Fails to Meet Predictions of Supporters, Critics, Dire Consequences Don’t Prove Entirely True(Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-colorado-pot-legalization-fails-to-match-predictions-of-backers-critics-1420830972) “Regulators are struggling to keep up” Colorado creates food safety system to regulate marijuana industry(http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/colorado-creates-food-safety-system-regulate-marijuana-industry-edibles) Colorado regulators to roll out marijuana-tracking system(http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23903972/colorado-regulators-roll-out-marijuana-tracking-system-by) “It is being put into multiple food products with no definitive label warnings or identification to tell consumers of the potential risks involved or how much THC they are eating.” Colorado's marijuana edible manufacturers face tougher rules(http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26254614/colorado-marijuana-edibles-manufacturers-face-tougher-rules) Colorado moves to curb dangers of edible pot products(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-moves-to-curb-dangers-of-edible-pot-products/) “Extracting THC from marijuana has also resulted in several residential house fires by do it yourself people.”Where? In Ft. Garland? Why? When they can buy it easier and cheaper at one of the stores. The consumables have been showing up in our schools also.” In the Ft. Garland Schools? What Proof do you have? “A recent study has determined that a person smoking marijuana within the last week is twice as likely to be involved in an accident as a non user.” What is the Name of your Study? The Nation Highway Transportation Safety Association Federal Data Shows Driving Stoned is Safer Than Driving Drunk(http://www.hngn.com/articles/69611/20150215/federal-data-shows-driving-stoned-is-safer-than-driving-drunk.htm) Reason Magazine(http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/09/landmark-study-finds-marijuana-is-not-li) Washington Post: “Stoned drivers are a lot safer than drunk ones, new federal data show” “Our neighbors are not happy in other states” What does that have to do with Colorado? Why don’t you move there? Crime is Down in Colorado following post legalization http://www.inquisitr.com “Is Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use Beneficial To The Society? Colorado Crime Rate Statistics Surely Suggest So” “Regulations were not in place” Once the law was passed regulations were put in place before any stores were open or product was sold Many regulations were adapted and changed from the medical marijuana industry which served as a template. Recreational Marijuana is the most regulated industry in Colorado. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/07/colorado%20marijuana%20legalization%20succeeding/cepmmjcov2.pdf http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_27319539/colorado-sets-standard-marijuana-regulation https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/marijuanaenforcement http://www.fastcompany.com/3038663/how-we-push-small-businesses-out-of-the-legal-marijuana-market The author has based his argument on what he has heard. From Whom? Police? Government Officials? What he has read but has provided no supporting documentation in the form of Web Articles, Newspaper Articles, Papers or Journals we don’t know What he has seen himself Please provide your firsthand accounts of actual witnessing of these issues You have provided no examples in your article Please, do not write on a subject you apparently know nothing about and do not care enough about to research. You are entitled to your opinion but when you do please make sure all your readers know that is nothing but! When you are allowed to use a national platform like Mother Earth News to disseminate information in this manner you give credence to misstatements and falsehoods. February 16, 2015 Fred Jones Pueblo, Colorado


fredjones
2/16/2015 8:36:40 PM

Mr. McElmurray: After reading your statement “Legalized Marijuana” in Mother Earth News I feel I must respond to your nonsensical opinions with fact and confirmation. You have stated that you are not taking sides if fact you stated that several times. I assume in order to convince those who are reading this that you are not. However, taking sides is what you have done since you have only presented one side of this topic. Your argument is poorly conceived with unfactual data that lacks any backup documentation to substantiate you claims. I have taken the time to break down your statement and provided documentation refuting your ingenuous platitudes. But before I do I want to 1. “There are two stores in your small community of Ft Garland.” a. How many establishments that sell alcohol in Costilla County? i. Liquor Stores Yellow Pages list Four ii. Taverns that sell alcohol? Yellow Pages list One iii. Restaurants that sell alcohol? Yellow Pages list Two 2. “That will be three stores for about 433 residents not including rural customers.” a. The Census of 2010 listed Costilla County having a population of 3524. Fort Garland is just one of 4 small towns in Costilla County. b. The County Commissioners of Costilla County were in favor recreational business c. Costilla Counts on Marijuana Money(www.chieftain.com/special/marijuana/3274466-120/county-marijuana-commissioners-rates) d. Each City, Town and County was given the opportunity to vote yes or no for recreational marijuana by October 1, 2013 3. “The third store plans to open up next to a historical fort that attracts tourists and visitors from all over our state and around the world.” a. County commissioners were scheduled to vote January 20th on the proposal, which would have placed the growing and retail marijuana business next to the Fort Garland Museum. But Mr. Lobito’s (county attorney) decision, which found the shop to be in the wrong planning zone, staved off the debate for now. “A wise call” Pueblo Chieftain(http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/3267657-120/county-lobato-proposed-shop) 4. “There is a community school on the main highway going through the area and there is a marijuana store situated on both sides of the school within legal setback distances.” a. You state yourself within legal setback distances b. What does the proximity of this school have to do with anything? c. This is a product that can be sold legally in Costilla County. 5. “We have noticed more vagrants in the area and talking to a resident of the town recently I was told that he is now regularly shooing vagrants out of his yard.” a. Who are we? Is this we experts on vagrants? b. You don’t even live in Fort Garland but up in the mountains. c. What are the credentials of this resident? d. What makes him an expert on vagrants and the cause of? 6. “I have heard on the Denver news channels that the increase in homeless and vagrants in that area is also significantly on the increase which is straining their ability to provide social services to those in need. This influx of people which seem drawn to legal marijuana puts a serious drain on not only social services but emergency services as well.” a. Denver is 210 miles from Fort Garland b. How is the increase in homeless and vagrants tied to marijuana stores in Fort Garland? c. No doubt the increase of this unfortunate persons are a strained on social services d. Maybe you should invite some of them to cabin get to know their stories instead of being so quick to judge. e. What influx of people are drawn to legal marijuana? f. How are they putting a drain on social and emergency services? g. What facts do you have to substantiate this? When you don’t backup your statement with facts this is called opinion or misrepresentation. 7. “State is struggling with legalization.” a. Colorado Not Suffering Buyer's Remorse Over Legal Marijuana, Poll Finds(Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/09/colorado-marijuana-legalization_n_5792418.html) b. In Colorado, Legal Pot Fails to Meet Predictions of Supporters, Critics, Dire Consequences Don’t Prove Entirely True(Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-colorado-pot-legalization-fails-to-match-predictions-of-backers-critics-1420830972) 8. “Regulators are struggling to keep up” a. Colorado creates food safety system to regulate marijuana industry(http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/colorado-creates-food-safety-system-regulate-marijuana-industry-edibles) b. Colorado regulators to roll out marijuana-tracking system(http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23903972/colorado-regulators-roll-out-marijuana-tracking-system-by) 9. “It is being put into multiple food products with no definitive label warnings or identification to tell consumers of the potential risks involved or how much THC they are eating.” a. Colorado's marijuana edible manufacturers face tougher rules(http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26254614/colorado-marijuana-edibles-manufacturers-face-tougher-rules) b. Colorado moves to curb dangers of edible pot products(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-moves-to-curb-dangers-of-edible-pot-products/) 10. “Extracting THC from marijuana has also resulted in several residential house fires by do it yourself people.” a. Where? In Ft. Garland? b. Why? When they can buy it easier and cheaper at one of the stores. 11. The consumables have been showing up in our schools also.” a. In the Ft. Garland Schools? b. What Proof do you have? 12. “A recent study has determined that a person smoking marijuana within the last week is twice as likely to be involved in an accident as a non user.” a. Name your study b. The Nation Highway Transportation Safety Association Federal Data Shows Driving Stoned is Safer Than Driving Drunk(http://www.hngn.com/articles/69611/20150215/federal-data-shows-driving-stoned-is-safer-than-driving-drunk.htm) c. Reason Magazine(http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/09/landmark-study-finds-marijuana-is-not-li) d. Washington Post: “Stoned drivers are a lot safer than drunk ones, new federal data show” 13. Our neighbors are not happy in other states a. What does that have to do with Colorado? b. Why don’t you move there? c. Crime is Down in Colorado following post legalization d. http://www.inquisitr.com “Is Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use Beneficial To The Society? Colorado Crime Rate Statistics Surely Suggest So” 14. Regulations were not in place a. Once the law was passed regulations were put in place before any stores were open or product was sold b. Many regulations were adapted and changed from the medical marijuana industry which served as a template. c. Recreational Marijuana is the most regulated industry in Colorado. d. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/07/colorado%20marijuana%20legalization%20succeeding/cepmmjcov2.pdf e. http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_27319539/colorado-sets-standard-marijuana-regulation f. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/marijuanaenforcement g. http://www.fastcompany.com/3038663/how-we-push-small-businesses-out-of-the-legal-marijuana-market 15. The author has based his argument on what he has heard a. From Whom? b. Police? c. Government Officials? 16. What he has read but has provided no supporting documentation in the form of a. Web Articles b. Newspaper Articles c. Papers d. Journals 17. What he has seen himself a. Please provide your firsthand accounts of actual witnessing of these issues b. You have provided no examples in your article Please, do not write on a subject you apparently know nothing about and do not care enough about to research. You are entitled to your opinion but when you do please make sure all your readers know that is nothing but! When you are allowed to use a national platform like Mother Earth News to disseminate information in this manner you give credence to misstatements and falsehoods. February 16, 2015 Fred Jones Pueblo, Colorado