The debate is heating up ahead of the Jan. 1 deadline to make legal weed available in Colorado. Various pot-o-phobes at the national level are continuing the fight against legalization, and locals are fighting would-be marijuana entrepreneurs’ efforts to open legal businesses.
Problem is, the debate’s already over — at least in Colorado. Marijuana was legalized via an amendment to the Colorado constitution that was approved by a significant majority of voters. The bell cannot be unrung.
Legal pot for adults is here to stay. But that doesn’t stop some from continuing to bang on the marijuana-is-a-dangerous-drug drum.
Kevin Sabet published just such a diatribe this week on CNN.com’s opinion page. Sabet is the director of an anti-marijuana group called Project S.A.M. (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), and has served in both the Bush and Obama administrations as part of the Office for National Drug Control Policy.
Sabet is a well-documented pot hater and his recent piece on CNN.com, “Legailzed pot would mean more addiction,” is no exception. As stated in the headline, the entire article is based upon the lie that it’s possible to become addicted to marijuana.
In the column, he tries to weave marijuana and heroin together due to a common trait — that potency has risen and prices have fallen for both — and argues against legalization. Because, you know, pot and heroin are basically the same thing.
Although facts appear to elude Sabet, let’s look at a few. No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose and marijuana is not addictive. Research has shown that while some people can become “psychologically addicted,” meaning they think they need to smoke pot to get by, there is absolutely no evidence of humans becoming physically addicted to the plant.
The most important fact and the one Sabet completely ignores, is that cannabis is actually an all-natural medicine. Far from hurting the supposed “addicts” that Sabet fears will overtake America, marijuana actually helps tens of thousands of people every day, and probably more.
So instead of participating in an honest debate about the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, Sabet does what religious extremists always do — he shrouds the facts in myth and propaganda by tying marijuana to one of the most deadly street narcotics known to man. He tries to confuse and manipulate those around the country who are not as knowledgeable about marijuana as the average Coloradan.
A similar tactic is being used here in the valley to dissuade and even deny entrepreneurs their right to create businesses around our newly-legal herb. Some residents of Holland Hills, and even the mayor of Basalt, were appalled when a grow operation decided to set up shop across Highway 82 from the rural, middle-class neighborhood. Luckily, those voices were a tiny minority from this community.
According to the Aspen Times, Bronwyn Anglin told the Basalt Town Council that “… nobody’s been killed over roses, as far as I know …,” suggesting that people might be killed over a legal grow operation in her general vicinity. In a recent letter, Anglin also said that the Pitkin County commissioners were wrong to approve the grow operation “… with so many Colorado counties and caucuses within our own county banning such enterprises …”
Anglin misses the point of legalization entirely. Legalizing weed and bringing it out into the open market has done more to eliminate crime surrounding it than law enforcement ever did or could. Criminals are only interested in black market drugs. You don’t see them pushing cigarettes or coffee, do you? (Incidentally, both of those products are physically addictive.)
So the idea that some gang of thugs is going to shoot up Holland Hills to steal a product they can go and buy at a store for a nominal fee is almost as absurd as her suggestion that Pitkin County should follow the lead of Colorado’s lesser, more conservative counties.
The same article reported another speaker at the Basalt meeting who was concerned about children because the grow operation was too close to schools, and therefore, in her mind, juveniles would have easy access.
Let’s get real: Kids smoke pot whenever they want to and they have for more than 60 years. Legalizing marijuana is not going to make it more accessible to kids because it’s already as accessible as it could possibly be. Just like cigarettes, alcohol and porn, they all are available to them if they want it. So is weed.
Going to school near, or living down the street, from a grow operation is not going to somehow make it magically more accessible to teens than it has been. But opponents know that argument strikes a chord with parents, so they use it ad nauseam to try and garner support for their positions.
If kids smoke weed or cigarettes, drink alcohol, have unprotected sex, or do any of the other things they shouldn’t do, but we all know they do, that just means their parents aren’t doing their jobs. It’s not society’s responsibility to control what kids do. Maybe if these concerned parents spent less time trying to tell other adults what they can and can’t do, and more time talking to (and disciplining) their kids, they wouldn’t have so much to worry about.
Marijuana is a legal crop that helps countless Coloradans manage serious health conditions, and it’s about to become legal for the masses to enjoy recreationally.
Pitkin County commissioners Rachel Richards, Steve Childs and Rob Ittner did the right thing when they approved the grow operation near Holland Hills. (Yes, I said it: I agree with Rob Ittner on at least one issue.) The three commissioners did the only thing they could because there was no rational reason to deny the application.
I, for one, am proud that my state and more importantly, Pitkin County, is leading the way on medicinal and recreational marijuana. I’m thrilled that we’ll make money not only via tax revenue from pot sales, but also through increased tourism as thrill-seekers from across the globe come to Aspen to experience both the mountains and the first legal weed in America.
Puff puff pass.
Doug Allen thinks this will be the best New Year’s Eve ever. Reach him at Doug.Allen75@yahoo.com , or follow him on Twitter @Doug__Allen (two underscores).