Pubdate: Fri, 28 May 2010
Source: Gazette, The (Colorado Springs, CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Gazette
Author: Andrea Brown


Claudia Varas moved to Colorado Springs from Florida  four years ago
to raise her three kids in a  conservative bubble.

"In Florida, it is a very happy, party state," Varas  said. "I didn't
think it was the right atmosphere for  children."

Little did she know she was arriving at the dawn of the  new age of
the Rocky Mountain high.

She wouldn't have moved here, Varas said, had she known  about
Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana  10 years ago. Usage
was rare until last year when  federal authorities announced they
would not enforce  pot laws in Colorado. Ever since, more than 100 pot
  shops opened around town.

Varas responded to a Gazette request for readers to  tell how they
feel about the medical marijuana  dichotomy: the legal use of an
illegal drug and the  message it sends to kids schooled in DARE to
Just Say  No.

"It is kind of being hypocritical," said Varas' son,  Ludovic
Funfrock, 17. "I think if they want it for  medical reasons, they
should have the government or  designated people grow it.

"They are putting the task of producing it in the wrong

The issue is an emotional one and advocates of medical  marijuana are

But Varas has tried to make her voice heard.

"I wrote to my representatives," she said. "I wrote to  the governor.
I want it out of the neighborhoods."

Nine-year-old Allyson Reeder, 9, a fourth grader, said  the pot shops
"kind of" send a double message about  marijuana. But it doesn't
confuse her.

"I know drugs are wrong," Allyson said. "But marijuana  is kind of an
exception, because it can help people.  Other drugs make it worse."

Other youth interviewed echoed the sympathetic "if it  helps people"
side of marijuana, expressing approval of  the drug for medical use if
it made people feel better  while at the same time distinguishing this
from  recreational use warned against in school.

The seeming contradiction is not lost on recent high  school graduate
Robert Jensin, 18, who hangs out at a  Rockrimmon neighborhood
shopping plaza where a pot shop  recently opened.

"It's definitely a mixed message," Jensin said.

But, he said, it's OK because it's "just marijuana,"  not

"The drug of choice is pot," he said. "People are going  to do it
anyway. Why not make it legal so they don't  have to go to jail?"

Despite the heated debate, many of those interviewed  around town had
no strong opinions.

Some had not given it much thought. Others said it  didn't affect
their daily lives.

A few were ambivalent about its use but had definite  ideas about
controlling access to it.

"I'd rather have it regulated like that than have drug  dealers all
over the place," said Mary Jane Hayes as  she unloaded her two
preschoolers from the minivan  outside a north-side library.

"If it helps people get off drugs that have bad side  effects, I think
it's fine."

Laurilyn Gregerson, a mother of three, also opposes the  distribution
method of medical marijuana.

The issue hits home with her because of a neighborhood  dispensary two
doors from the bead shop frequented by  her 14-year-old daughter.

"She walks the other way around now. It is a concern. I  don't know
necessarily that everybody going in there  has a legitimate medical
concern," Gregerson said.  "This is something that should be at a
pharmacy or a  hospital.

Treat it that way. Combine it with medical stuff so my  kids can get
that really clear message. It's not a  clear message to kids."

So, she tries to clear up the smokescreen.

"We've had dinner time discussions about it."

That is exactly what officials are urging parents,  including Varas,
to do.

Consider what Varas heard in a response to her email to  Gov. Bill

"His response," she said, "was we need to educate our  children." 
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