Pubdate: Sat, 07 Jun 2014
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2014 The Arizona Republic


Arizona should note the troubling signs before we even consider 
replicating a Rocky Mountain high.

No one was fooled by medical marijuana. When we legalized it in 
Arizona in 2010, we knew full well we were part of the national pivot 
away from the war on drugs - from its carnage, its bulging prisons, 
its bottomless expense.

Americans are relaxing our drug laws and our Amsterdam has risen in 
the Rocky Mountains, inviting locals and long lines of drug tourists 
to light up legally for no better reason than sheer enjoyment.

Denver, capital city of the first state to legalize recreational pot, 
is an important experiment in the limits of cultural tolerance.

Five months into that experiment, there are troubling signs.

Hospitals are reporting an increase in young people and adults 
overdosing on edible pot. A Denver man who consumed marijuana-laced 
candy lost his wits and shot his wife to death. In March, a 
19-yearold African exchange student ate a marijuana cookie and 
fatally threw himself over a balcony.

Sheriffs in neighboring states complain of more drivers crossing into 
their rural towns exhibiting the drug-induced state of Colorado.

"I think, by any measure, the experience of Colorado has not been a 
good one unless you're in the marijuana business," Kevin A. Sabet, 
executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told the New 
York Times. "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 kids."

Times columnist Maureen Dowd went to Colorado to experience 
first-hand the end of prohibition. She ate a pot-infused candy bar 
and was incapacitated.

"I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain," she wrote. "I 
barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a 
hallucinatory state for the next eight hours."

The Times reported in April that even Democratic governors whose 
party base supports legal pot are reluctant to replicate a Rocky 
Mountain high.

"I think we ought to kind of watch and see how things go in 
Colorado," California Gov. Jerry Brown said.

There are gentle stirrings for full legalization in Arizona. Earlier 
this year, Ruben Gallego, Democratic state House assistant minority 
leader, proposed that the Legislature legalize marijuana. And in the 
way that Democrat proposals tend to go plop in our conservative state 
Capitol, so went Gallego's.

There is not enough data five months into the Colorado experiment to 
make sound judgments. But there is ample evidence to know that 
legalization does not solve the drug problem.

Enforcement and legalization, like justice and mercy, are fraught 
with complications. One day Arizonans will face that choice and pick 
their poison.

We will weigh the devastation of the drug war against the tides of 
sick people who would abuse their freedom to toke recklessly and 
guilt-free. Our bad options will mirror those of an earlier 
generation of Americans who had to decide whether to legalize or outlaw booze.

History is arching toward decision day in Arizona. But until then - 
and we say this of sober mind - the governor of California makes good 
sense. Let's watch and see how things go in Colorado. 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom