Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jan 2016
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Column: Weed Between the Lines
Copyright: 2016 Boulder Weekly
Author: Sarah Haas


No matter how you feel about the legalization of marijuana in 
Colorado, medically or recreationally, the legal change in status 
effectively enhanced the freedoms of adults in Colorado. It allowed 
individuals a choice where before they had none, at least within a 
lawful context.

The conversation about whether or not that freedom should be extended 
nationally is largely an abstract and subjective consideration of 
right and wrong. But the question for states like Colorado is how 
that freedom is best managed amid all the practical considerations.

Discussions of these policy changes usually cite the health risks 
that users would face, the influence legal weed would have on youths 
or the revenues and costs the state might gain or incur. And, now 
that Colorado and other states have actual experience with 
legalization, there is a lot of new data available to better 
understand these effects.

Lately, policy makers and stakeholders from other states have been 
visiting Colorado to learn about that data as an output of the 
state's regulatory framework, studying the culture it is molding as 
they consider how they might implement legalization back home. While 
the state is still in the thick of moral and ethical questions 
itself, there is something Colorado can learn from other states still 
nascent in the process, too.

In that spirit, I talked with Brian Laslow (a pen name), a security 
consultant with more than 25 years of experience and widely regarded 
as an expert in his field. Laslow recently wrote his first novel, The 
Marijuana Project.

Heavily based in his experience advising a New Jersey medical 
marijuana production facility as the state's industry went above 
ground in 2010, the book is a suspense novel, one that would keep 
most fiction readers turning the pages, but it is also a thoughtful 
and open exploration of the ethical ramifications of legalization.

The opportunity to work with New Jersey's emerging industry caused 
Laslow to question, for the first time in his career, whether or not 
he believed in a client's mission. And, if he questioned his client, 
Laslow wondered, would he be able to do his job?

The duty and predominant ethic of a security professional is to keep 
assets safe - people, property and society at large - and so the 
security consultant emerges as a sort of embodiment for society's concerns.

Popularly, safety is claimed as a reason for or against regulatory 
decisions in legalized marijuana industries. Whether it's labeling, 
zoning or marketing, it is all intended to keep marijuana out of the 
wrong hands. But knowing what to keep safe is only one side of the 
equation, as Laslow learned first hand how difficult is is to 
determine the threats.

"Am I fighting against just some punks who want to jump the fence?" 
Laslow says. "Am I fighting against some real armed force that wants 
to steal a million dollars worth of anything? Am I fighting against a 
protest group - on either end - protesting that we aren't giving it 
to enough people or saying that they want to burn it to the ground?"

To gain insight, Laslow frequently consults with Colorado security 
companies, but finds it difficult to get straight answers about how 
legalization affects law enforcement, crime and dangerous ingestion 
because, according to Laslow, different ends of the spectrum cite 
different data and interpretations.

Ultimately, the lack of conclusive information leads Laslow to think 
it's to soon to expand legal marijuana. How can a decision be made 
about something that society knows so little about?

In Colorado, though, the decision is already made. As the state 
learns more about marijuana - its effects on health, society and 
culture - it is able to refine its understanding of the threats and 
build a framework that safely accommodates the range of moral positions.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom