Busting the Pot Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, the states of Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. Then they made billions of tax dollars and we all munched on chips and lived happily ever after. Yeah, right.

M Jon Adler 34

Once upon a time, the states of Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. Then they made billions of tax dollars and we all munched on chips and lived happily ever after. Yeah, right.

In spite of the fairy tale spin espoused by the dope supporters, legalization of marijuana is wreaking havoc. This point is clearly illustrated in the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's (HIDTA) annual report "on the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado."

Contrary to the pot-heads' assertion that weed only brings joy, the HIDTA report documents the harmful impact marijuana has had since its legalization in Colorado. Two areas of grave concern are marijuana-related traffic deaths and youth marijuana use. According to the report, "Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 62% from 71 to 115 persons after recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013." The report also documented a 48% increase in pot-related vehicular fatalities during the post-legalized recreational period of 2013 to 2015.

A recent POLICE Magazine article titled, "Hound Labs: Sniffing Out Marijuana," covered a new device that may empower law enforcement to catch pot-heads driving under the influence. The Hound was created by Dr. Mike Lynn, also an Alameda County (CA) Sheriff's Office reserve deputy. Dr. Lynn recognized the challenges facing law enforcement in substantiating the level of marijuana impairment, and created the Hound to capture the current amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a driver's breath. Colorado state legislators should use their pot-tax windfall to ensure every officer in Colorado is equipped with a Hound.

While Colorado legislators merrily count the millions in marijuana tax revenue, they seem oblivious or disinterested in the dire impact the legalization of pot is having on youth. According to the HIDTA report, "the latest 2013/2014 results show Colorado youth ranked #1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from #4 in 2011/2012, and #14 in 2005/2006." After the state legalized the recreational use of pot, youth marijuana use increased 20% in the 2013/2014 period as compared to the two prior years. The rest of the country's youth-use decreased by 4%.

In addition to the severe impact Colorado's pot-fest has had on vehicular fatalities and youth usage, the HIDTA report also documented a significant increase in "hospitalizations related to marijuana." In 2011, pre-legalization of pot, there were 6,305 marijuana-related hospitalizations. This climbed to 8,272 in 2013 (post legalization), and a staggering 11,439 in 2014.

So let's take a quick review of Colorado's post-legalization scorecard: pot-related vehicular fatalities have increased, youth consumption has increased, and hospitalization has increased. Seems to be an inverse relationship between these increases and the state's mind-numbing plummet in judgment and abandonment of its priorities.

The Northwest HIDTA annual report yielded similar disheartening results emanating from the legalization of marijuana in Washington. According to the report's executive summary, "Major crime categories including impaired driving, diversion, and THC extraction lab explosions are an increasing concern for the state." Regarding youth pot use, the report stated that in the first half of 2015, "80% of the quantitation cases submitted to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing involved minors." The report also identified a significant increase in marijuana-related offenses as compared to primary narcotics offenses. These pot-related offenses also included an increase in the number of handguns used. So at the end of Washington state's post-legalization rainbow is a bag of weed and tax dollars.

One has to wonder how any state could fixate on regulating and restricting the amount of sugar in your soft drink while encouraging your pot consumption.

Sadly, there is little expectation that Colorado or Washington will embrace the findings of the HIDTA reports. Denial and tax dollars seem to be of more interest to each state.

In Colorado and Washington, it has been clearly documented that public safety has been compromised with the legalization of marijuana in these two states. And as the pot-heads continue to lace their doobies with lethal synthetics for a stronger high, they will grow weary of paying all these taxes to their states. Both Colorado and Washington may soon be heading for their own versions of the Boston Tea Party, only it won't be tea in the bags being tossed overboard. This pot fairy tale is destined for a tragic ending, and law enforcement will be left cleaning up its ashes. 

Jon Adler is the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation.

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