Pubdate: Thu, 04 Aug 2016
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Copyright: 2016 West Hawaii Today
Author: Ruth Bernstone
Note: Ruth Bernstone is a resident of Waikoloa


I'm writing in response to Mr. McClure's letter to the editor on July 
31 regarding Colorado's experience with legalized marijuana.

It must have been a shock for him to return to Denver after almost 30 
years and find that the place had changed.

My husband and I moved from Denver to Waikoloa Village 20 years ago 
but have been visiting almost every year since to see family and friends.

Yes, Denver has changed over the years, but it happened long before 
the legalization of marijuana three years ago. The population of the 
Denver Metro area increased by 50 percent between 1980 and 2000. At 
the risk of stereotyping, traffic really started to get bad in the 
1980s when the city received an influx of Californians who brought 
their driving habits of honking as soon as the light turns green and 
running red lights regularly with them. And more people means more 
cars and more traffic on the roads.

But Denver, and the surrounding metro area, is known for its good 
quality of life - sunny, dry climate, off the road bike trails all 
over the metro area, good public and private schools, good jobs, lots 
of parks, campgrounds, skiing, hiking within a short distance - an 
outdoor lifestyle, but also good libraries, art museum, performing 
arts center (all supported with tax dollars for over 20 years), 
restaurants and shopping. Its new, growing light rail system should 
be the envy of every metro area in America. It's a place that 
attracts businesses to locate there and it is a tech hub. Housing is 
booming there because the economy is good and growing and the low tax 
rate that results from marijuana income doesn't hurt in attracting 
individuals and businesses, and subsidizing nonprofits. Other cities, 
such as Charlotte, North Carolina, where I visited this spring, and 
where marijuana is not legal, are also experiencing a shortage of 
affordable homes due to spiking prices from a good economy.

I did notice on my visit to Colorado in June a sad increase in young 
homeless men hanging around the downtown park areas.

The homeless are more visible in Denver in the warmer weather, but 
none of them approached me for a handout.

Let's not blame the legal sale of marijuana for all the worrisome 
things in this world.

Hawaii is changing too, not always for the better. We love living on 
the Big Island, but let's take a lesson from cities like Denver and 
work to improve the things that make life worth living - a good 
education that can lead to a good job, a clean ocean and parks to 
play in, basic affordable housing, a healthy lifestyle and available 
health care for when we do get sick, along with a helping hand when we need it.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom