Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jun 2014
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2014 The Buffalo News
Author: Jack Healy, New York Times
Page: A8


DENVER - Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow
recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still

Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency
room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting
a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states
flirting with loosening marijuana laws.

There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana
infused candy, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled
a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities
say. Some hospital officials say they are treating growing numbers of
children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana.
Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming
out of Colorado.

"I think, by any measure, the experience of Colorado has not been a
good one unless you're in the marijuana business," said Kevin A.
Sabet, executive director of Smart approaches to marijuana, which
opposes legalization.

"We've seen lives damaged. We've seen deaths directly attributed to
marijuana legalization. We've seen marijuana slipping through
Colorado's borders. We've seen marijuana getting into the hands of

Despite such anecdotes, there is scant hard data. Because of the lag
in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal
marijuana's effect  if any  on teenage drug use, school expulsions or
the number of fatal car crashes.

It was only in January, for example, that the Colorado State Patrol
began tracking the number of people pulled over for driving while
stoned. Since then, marijuana-impaired drivers have made up about 1.5
percent of all citations for driving under the influence of drugs or

Proponents of legalization argue that the critics are cherry-picking
anecdotes to tarnish a young industry that has been flourishing under
intense scrutiny.

The vast majority of the state's medical and recreational marijuana
stores are living up to stringent state rules, they say. The stores
have sold marijuana to hundreds of thousands of customers without incident.

The industry has generated $12.6 million in taxes and fees so far,
though the revenues have not matched some early projections.

marijuana supporters note that violent crimes in Denver  where the
bulk of Colorado's pot retailers are  are down so far this year.

"Every major institution said this would be horrible and lead to
violence and blood in the streets," said Brian Vicente, one of the
authors of amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado.

"None of that's happened. The sky did not fall."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt