Pubdate: Thu, 06 Nov 2014
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2014 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


I had read the stories about the license plates. The profiling of 
Colorado drivers. Especially when using Interstate 76, the highway 
that connects Colorado to Interstate 80 in Nebraska. The tidal wave 
of quarter ounces Nebraskans were bringing back from Colorado stores 
and Coloradans were distributing elsewhere, swamping local highway 
patrols and draining their resources. Anecdotal tales of people being 
pulled over and searched just because of the plates.

I'm happy to report that, at least in our case, and we drove more 
than 2,700 miles on a recent trip, with hostile Colorado plates, 
right up Interstate 76 to Nebraska and through cities and towns in 
Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, and we weren't stopped once, 
or harassed by police or state troopers. Our car wasn't searched. We 
weren't asked about it when finding lodging. Except for friends and 
relatives, nobody on the road was curious about cannabis. I was 
almost disappointed.

We got home on Halloween afternoon. The news stories about cannabis 
edibles and kids had already begun when we left, and the fear 
quotient crescendoed as the holiday approached. (Cecelia Gilboy 
outlined the insanity that ensued in Colorado over edibles in this 
space last week. One story in particular, from 
Prince George's County in Maryland, said that police there, after 
they had seized a small quantity of edibles from Colorado, went 
directly to television news to warn parents that more edibles might 
be out there, and that they might be intended for children.

It was a small, isolated case, and the officers offered no hint of 
evidence nor suspects linking it to a possible child-poisoning ring, 
but this made national news, even on the Great Plains. Nobody asked 
why anyone who had obviously invested an enormous amount of money and 
effort to smuggle expensive edibles across the country would then 
give them to children to make them sick on Halloween.

That's just crazy.

But crazy never stops television news reporters from rounding up a 
few mothers to tell us now they have another thing to worry about. 
Though no child has ever, or will ever die from cannabis 
intoxication, the word "poison" is always the common term for this 
non-existent "crime."

The absurdity almost rivals the old Harry Anslinger days when the 
official government line on marijuana was that it made people rape, 
kill and pillage the countryside.

Things got so crazy here that the Colorado Department of Public 
Health and Environment recommended, briefly, removing all edibles 
from dispensary shelves because they "are naturally attractive to 
children." How much more absurd can that be?

And it misses a couple of basic points.

You might think that television reporters don't have Internet access. 
If they did, they could check the myth-debunking website, 
which couldn't find one case of kids being randomly distributed 
poisoned candies or razor blades on Halloween in American history.

So of course, there were no reports anywhere of cannabis edibles 
being found in their goodie bags or children going to hospitals. But 
when it comes to fear tactics, that's never the point. The perception 
has been planted that people who use cannabis are more devious than 
those who don't - and might endanger your children. Mission accomplished.

Sunday night I attended a Mike Dunafon-sponsored event in Denver as 
part of a huge panel of cannabis businesspeople, politicians, 
lobbyists, event organizers, activists and parents. Everyone there 
was in favor of legalization, so there was no actual debate or 
disagreements, just a reaffirmation of everything that's happened in 
the last year.

The guest panelist was Tom Tancredo, who brought up one point that 
didn't get immediate applause. He said that just because cannabis is 
legal in Colorado doesn't mean that it will always remain so, and he 
suggested that people in the cannabis community be extremely vigilant 
about the negative side of the cannabis debate.

With stories of profiling license plates and Halloween "poisonings" 
dominating the news for days at a time, it's not a bad thing to think about.

Almost a year after retail dispensaries opened, the industry appears 
to be working as well as can be expected. The state, on 20 occasions, 
tried to catch businesses selling to the underage and failed in all 
cases. The state and counties and cities who allow retail are richer 
than they were at this time last year.

Businesses working within the system to create a safe marketplace for 
what many consider an outlaw product are invested in making it work, 
and so far that's happening. When everyone sees that cannabis 
businesses are no different than any other, perceptions will change.

National television is still the way most people get their news. 
Sanjay Gupta's two CNN specials had more positive impact on medical 
cannabis and Colorado than anything else media-wise this year. The 
sad part is that no major medical TV figure has followed his lead and 
called the government out on its outright lies about cannabis.

On the advertising front, the Marijuana Policy Project, especially 
its website, which offers easy access to 
information about legal, personal limits and responsibility, is 
leading the way in informing the public about cannabis in an honest, 
straightforward fashion. Look for more ads from MPP and, hopefully, 
others, on the positive side of the legalization issue. We have a lot 
to be thankful for, and a lot to be proud of in the first year of our 
state's "reckless" experiment. We have to continue to make sure that 
everybody knows about it.

You can hear Leland discuss his most recent column and Colorado 
cannabis issues each Thursday morning on KGNU. http:// 
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