Pubdate: Fri, 16 Sep 2016
Source: Morning Star, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Morning Star
Author: Jennifer Smith


While the stories of individual benefit continue to surface, there's
some disturbing statistics that are stemming out of the legalization
of marijuana.

I can personally sympathize and understand the rationale that many
people have for legalization. I have friends and family who use the
drug for pain, anxiety and other disorders. I watched my
cancer-riddled mother struggle through chemotherapy with no relief
from prescribed drugs, but instead found nausea suppression and
regained her appetite thanks to marijuana. Following the numerous
stories of survival online and through the grapevine, she experimented
with various forms and strains in her own battle. Unfortunately, at
the time, it was not legal, therefore she was left to her own devices.
Whereas maybe, just maybe, if prohibition had been scrapped ahead of
her diagnosis then further research could have been done to help her
and others.

Unfortunately, the drug could not save her, but she did find relief
and for that we are all grateful.

I also have a friend who is over the moon about the fact that she can
now legally buy her drug of choice, even if she does have to pay taxes
on it. For her, it's a safety measure after she recently was tested
after smoking marijuana and fentanyl was discovered in her system. A
scary thought considering the recent rash of fentanyl deaths.

Despite all the benefits that legalization brings, like anything, it's
not all positive.

The impacts are being closely watched in Colorado by the Rocky
Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), which
recently came out with its latest report.

Some of the findings in this report are frightening. Therefore please
note that I share this information not as a way to spread fear, but
instead to serve as knowledge for youth, parents, educators and anyone

Marijuana traffic related deaths increased 48 per cent between
2013-2015 since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to
the three-year average prior to legalization. The report also notes
that all traffic deaths increased 11 per cent during the time frame.

For youth, past month marijuana use increased 20 per cent in 2013/2014
compared to the two years prior. Meanwhile nationally youth past month
marijuana use declined four per cent. For college age the increase is
17 per cent in Colorado while nationally it increased two per cent. In
adults the increase is 63 per cent in Colorado while nationally it
increased 21 per cent.

Hospitalizations related to marijuana jumped from 6,305 in 2011 to
11,439 in 2014.

Meanwhile the Colorado annual tax revenue from the sale of
recreational and medical marijuana was $115 million (about .5 per cent
of the statewide budget).

But crime and safety are causing concerns about loss of valuable
convention business.

As of January 2016, there were 424 retail marijuana stores in
Colorado, compared to 322 Starbucks and 202 McDonald's. There could be
more but 68 per cent of local jurisdictions have banned pot shops.

Like alcohol, it's all up to the consumer to use responsibly so let's
not be another statistic and let's show the world that this can be
done safely and without abuse.
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