Pubdate: Thu, 24 Sep 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Column: Weed Between the Lines
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


Last week Larry Wilmore did a skit on The Nightly Show that showed 
how Fox News can take a falsehood (in the sketch, it's a poll that 
shows 58 percent of Americans believe that cop killings are on the 
rise, when statistics actually show they are falling), give it a 
title (the "war on police"), repeat the meme over and over, have a 
couple of talking heads connect it to something else (the Black Lives 
Matter movement), and finally show Ted Cruz and Scott Walker blaming 
the rise in violence against cops on President Barack Obama.

It's a brilliant sketch - Wilmore calls the process magic - made even 
more so for me as, at the same time, I watched a similar 
sleight-of-hand play out upon the release of a Rocky Mountain High 
Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) report on the effects of 
marijuana use in Colorado since legalization.

HIDTA assists law-enforcement agencies in major drug-trafficking 
regions. Its biggest concern is methamphetamine, but since it is 
funded by our taxes, another goal, it would appear, is to keep us 
believing that the battle against marijuana is both necessary and 
worth the money.

Its authors claim no bias, but the report has nothing positive to say 
about legalization, even though most of the major points (driving 
under the influence, hospital visits, underage use, crime, drug 
treatment) have little or nothing to do with whether cannabis is legal or not.

"This report will cite datasets with terms such as 
'marijuana-related' or 'tested positive for marijuana,'" the authors 
state. "That does not necessarily imply that marijuana was the cause 
of the incident."

And then they spend 169 pages doing just that. I don't have the space 
or patience to get into the obfuscations (ace reporter Jacob Sullum 
ferrets out much of the nonsense in a Reason magazine piece.) But one 
example, the fable about a "stoned" driver who hit two police 
vehicles in January 2014, blared out at me. Police promoted this one 
heavily in the press since it happened 10 days after recreational 
sales began. Several months later, at trial, the driver pled guilty 
to drunk driving, since he was four times over the legal limit. The 
report says, "it was later discovered the driver also tested for a 
high alcohol content."

So the false premise - that legalization has created a public health 
disaster - is established. A couple days later a post on the webpage 
of Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of a youth substance 
abuse-treatment clinic at CU-Denver and virulent prohibitionist, 
trumpeted: "Legal marijuana's impact on CO troubling" above a story 
by Thurstone's wife, Christine Tatum, a reporter turned doomsayer who 
had penned an equally slanted, discredited, scare-the parents 
editorial series for the Colorado Springs Gazette a few months ago.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the national organization that 
opposes legalization, chimed in with "Marijuana Commercialization 
Failing in Colorado." Smart Colorado, a local branch of SAM, began 
its story: "New research raises troubling questions about marijuana 
commercialization in Colorado and its effects on young people."

The really sad part is that neither Tatum, SAM nor Smart Colorado 
actually read or tried to make any sense of the obtuse report. 
Rather, as always, they listed the most tawdry headlines they could 
find without further explanation.

All I needed to prove the Larry Wilmore theory was a presidential 
candidate, and last week's debate provided it.

While she didn't mention the federal report, Carly Fiorina, the 
supposed "winner," said, "I think the legalization of marijuana is a 
very bad idea. I think it's misleading to young people in particular 
when we tell them smoking pot is like drinking a beer. It is not."

I'm guessing there are between 25 and 50 million cannabis users who 
might dispute that. And her comment about alcohol makes this little 
tidbit from Politico's debate coverage all the more fascinating.

"Fiorina knows she is riding high. She skipped the post-debate spin 
room on Wednesday night - she'd made all the points she wanted to 
make on stage. Instead, she and top advisors decamped to their hotel, 
where they popped a late-night bottle of champagne in a third-floor 
room to celebrate."

You just can't make this stuff up. The only thing left is to blame 
kids' marijuana use on Obama. I'm sure they'll get around to that soon enough.

You can hear Leland discuss his most recent column and Colorado 
cannabis issues each Thursday morning on KGNU.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom