Pubdate: Thu, 16 Oct 2014
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Tribune Co.
Author: Brad King
Note: Brad King is state attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit of 
Marion, Citrus, Lake, Sumter and Hernando counties. He chairs the 
Judicial Administration Commission and also has been twice elected 
president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
Page: A15


George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are 
condemned to repeat it."

The question for Florida voters is whether Floridians want to be 
condemned to the historic effects that legalized marijuana has had on 
the health, education and safety of citizens in Colorado.

No one has yet fairly informed Florida voters of the documented 
results of the "Colorado Calamity." Do we really want this history 
repeated in the Sunshine State? The good news is that it's not too 
late for Floridians to wake up. A look at the results of legalized 
marijuana in Colorado gives clear reasons why legalized marijuana 
under Amendment 2 is bad for Florida.

Make no mistake, Amendment 2 is all about legalizing marijuana in 
Florida. Its biggest backers have made that clear.

Denver, Colorado's elected prosecutor, Mitchell Morrissey, who has 
firsthand knowledge of the criminal effects of legalized marijuana, 
has given us a summary of the problems that the good citizens of 
Colorado now face with legalized marijuana. In his Sept. 15 letter to 
Florida's state attorneys, he tells Floridians what they will face if 
marijuana is legalized. These recent findings from the Rocky Mountain 
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area give us a snapshot of what is 
happening, and it is concerning. As follows:

"We now have nearly 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, 
and 212 retail stores. Most are in Denver (215 medical marijuana 
dispensaries and 77 retail stores). There are also hundreds of 
cultivation facilities and dozens of infused marijuana product businesses.

Since 2007, there have been 15 violent deaths related to just medical 
marijuana in Colorado. In each of these deaths, the victim was a 
medical marijuana caregiver, or was killed in the presence of a 
caregiver... Dispensaries and stores are lucrative targets for 
burglaries and robberies. The large sums of cash at these sites have 
led to execution-style murders and shootouts in residential 
neighborhoods. There have also been more than 300 burglaries and 7 
armed robberies in Denver in the last two years. I do not expect the 
figures this year to improve.

 From 2011 to 2013, there was a 57 percent increase in emergency room 
visits related to marijuana, and ER doctors noted they treated more 
small children for accidental overdoses of marijuana. Children are 
also being exposed when mothers use pot during pregnancy or 
breastfeeding, as an increasing number of women now report they are 
trying marijuana for morning sickness or other uses while pregnant. 
There has also been an increase in calls to our local poison control 
center involving marijuana and children.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports marijuana use among high 
school seniors is increasing and may soon become more common than 
cigarette smoking. This may be connected to the increase we are 
seeing in the number of adults who encourage marijuana use among 
young people and adults who are actually using marijuana with a 
minor. There was a 26 percent increase in monthly marijuana use in 
Colorado among young people, ages 12-17, in the three years after 
medical marijuana was commercialized (2009) compared to the three 
years prior to commercialization. There was a 32 percent increase in 
drug-related suspensions and expulsions in Colorado for academic 
school years 2008/2009 to 2012/2013. A June 2014 Rocky Mountain HIDTA 
survey of 100 Colorado school resource officers revealed 89 percent 
have seen an increase in student marijuana-related incidents since 
retail marijuana was legalized. And, it appears there is a greater 
likelihood of young people trying marijuana. A study found that 10 
percent of high school students who would otherwise be at low risk 
for habitual pot smoking now say that they would use marijuana if it 
were legal. It is not my intent in this letter to discuss the health 
impacts of marijuana on young adults, such as lowered IQ and memory 
impairment, but there is clearly cause for concern.

We have seen a sharp increase in dangerous hash oil explosions. In 
the first six months of 2014 there have been 26 confirmed explosions 
and 27 reported injuries. The number of confirmed explosions directly 
related to the illegal processing and extraction of hash oil in just 
six months is more than double the total reported in all of last year.

And we have seen an impact on our roads. One in nine drivers in fatal 
crashes now test positive for marijuana. While the overall number of 
car crash fatalities were down in Colorado between 2007 and 2012 
(down by 14%), fatalities involving drivers who test positive for 
marijuana are up 100%.

The Colorado State Patrol DUID program (Driving Under the Influence 
of Drugs), initiated in 2014, show in the first six months of 2014 
that 77% of the 454 DUIDs involved marijuana and 42% of the 454 DUIDs 
involved marijuana only. I do not expect this to improve as another 
study from 2013 shows marijuana causes more car accidents than any 
other illicit drug. The advent of medical marijuana and retail 
marijuana has not, unfortunately, eliminated the illegal cultivation, 
possession and sale of marijuana. There remains a robust black market 
that carries all the risk of illegal drug dealing and continues to 
require significant public safety resources.

You can prevent the "Colorado Calamity" in Florida. Protect our 
children and the future of Florida by voting "no" on Amendment 2.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom