Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jul 2013
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2013 Summit Daily News
Author: Dennis Moore


It's surprising and alarming that only 5 weeks after you print an 
opinion letter that stated you are overly focused on marijuana use, 
yesterday you have a full banner headline "State releases rules on 
recreational pot." Under that is a photo of attendees at the Dillon 
amphitheater at a recent concert with the headline "COMFORTABLY 
NUMB." This not-so-clever journalistic artifice is a disservice to 
our county and likely not consistent with your own journalistic 
values. The previous letter you published from Bainbridge stated he 
was concerned about your front-page attention to marijuana use in a 
letter he entitled "Pot shots": he believes that front page attention 
to this issue is not in our county's best interest.

Since that letter had no impact on your policies, allow me to provide 
additional food for thought.

I am a medical school faculty with 30 years of experience in 
substance abuse research.

I also created a specialized substance abuse treatment facility, 
where we treated a number of individuals whose primary drug of choice 
was marijuana.

Whether marijuana is "safer" than alcohol is not the real issue here. 
Polydrug use is the issue. Many marijuana users also drink alcohol at 
the same time. Drug potentiation, or the compounding of effects of 
drugs used together, impairs one's thinking and actions much more 
than just "one plus one." I have volunteered at the Dillon concerts, 
and I've seen firsthand the state some people are in at the end of an 
evening of drinking beer. In a county that has as much interest in 
microbreweries as Seattleites have in espresso, there may well be 
serious problems for us as marijuana use becomes more mainstream. 
Consider that our county already has a substantial per capita DUI 
rate, and the increase in concurrent alcohol and marijuana use will 
expand this problem, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Your newspaper reports on every tree hugging, puppy loving, and 
outdoor activity going on in the county.

The focus on the positive is good, and it sets your publication apart 
from many media outlets in a very good way. But your trivialized and 
sustained attention to marijuana use as a form of recreation borders 
on sensationalism and is probably not in keeping with your own values 
of "do no harm." Educate your staff and to quote your own article, 
"act responsibly." This social experiment with marijuana legalization 
has a long way to go.

Dennis Moore

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom