Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pot Legalization

On November 6th, 2012, the state of Colorado overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize Cannabis. And I must confess that I was one of the people to vote yes to Amendment 64.

It's not that I really support the use of pot, although I do recognize its medicinal purposes. And Colorado already allowed the medicinal usage of cannabis.

The smell of pot smoke is extremely offensive to me. It chokes me up and I can barely breathe.

I do think that its use causes diminished capacity on temporary and permanent levels. In my time in college, the MRI studies that we performed on people who used pot versus people who didn't showed that people who use pot are less reactive to stimulus, and neuron response time was slower (not all pistons were firing).

I sincerely believe that pot is a gateway drug. I am a witness to the crack, acid, and cocaine that my kid brother did after years of using pot. I have seen my older cousin, so debilitated from alcohol and prescription medication that she can't walk or talk.

There was a lot of soul searching questions before I checked that "yes" vote.

Did you know that the US spends 1 BILLION dollars a year in policing and prosecuting possession of Cannabis? By legalizing marijuana, the state of Colorado has saved over 60 MILLION in one year. And the neighboring states have spent more trying to police the incoming cannabis than any other previous year.

One of the biggest questions I asked myself was "why was alcohol legal?"

While pot does caused diminished capacity, alcohol can go even further and cause dementia, decreased immune systems, damaged livers, extreme heart problems like Cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and stroke, as well as damaging the pancreas.

And yet alcohol is still legal.

One of my young friends went out partying for her 21st birthday. Her goal for the evening was to drink 21 shots by the end of the evening. After several trips to the bathroom to throw up, she hit the 21st shot with a bang. She fell while throwing up one more time and banged her head of the toilet seat.

But some alcohol celebrations and binges don't end so well. Approximately 80,000 people in the US die from alcohol poisoning every year. In fact, alcohol is the third highest cause of death in the whole world racking up 2.5 million deaths a year.

And then there is the big number of a whopping 132 BILLION spent every year to police and prosecute the alcohol related offenses.

All of a sudden pot didn't seem like the plague on the face of the earth that we had feared.

If I were driving down a darkened highway late one night, would I want to share the road with a person who was as drunk as a skunk and pumped up on long buried anger issues that surface after the six beer, or a person happily stoned on weed driving 15 miles under the speed limit and listening to Bob Marley's "Easy Skankin'"?

Optimally, neither one. I don't think that anyone should drive impaired (even emotionally upset impaired).

My second choice would be the pothead and Bob Marley.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of Colorado feels the same way I do.

And the profit to the state so far has been 53 million dollars.

So let's break this down a little bit more: The year before, the state of Colorado spent 60 million dollars prosecuting people with possession of pot. And this last year, we raked in 53 million profit on top of NOT having to deal with the possession issue.

Violent crimes went down instead of up (as predicted). Probably because smoking pot doesn't cause anger issues.

On the other side of the coin, our homeless rate went up. Not so much because people were spending so much money on pot that they had to live on the street, but because people moved here so that they could smoke pot!

I've read several articles recently, where parents have given children THC in their brownies, and all of a sudden, the child went from 30 or 40 seizures a day to three a week.

You have to admit, as much as you disapprove of using pot, the stories of its healing properties warm your heart.

Legalizing it was the right thing to do.

Are there hits and misses in this story?

Well, if you get stopped while "under the influence of pot" there are really not any definitive ways to absolutely prove that you just smoked a doobie, unless they catch you with a lit one. If they find it in your blood, can they prove that you smoked it just this moment, or two days ago?

Our legal system hasn't quite figured out the ramifications of trying to control it.

And then there are the idiots out there that buy a candy bar that has ten servings in it and eats it all in one go. Like all Americans, the concept of moderation just hasn't been something that they can do.

Companies are still doing random drug tests. If a person comes up positive, they can be terminated without consequences for the company.

A law suit was brought against a company who fired a worker who was using the pot medicinally and had a prescription. He lost the lawsuit. If you think about it, valium can be a prescribed medication, but the company could fire you for taking it while on the clock.

Do I still stand by my vote?

I am nodding my head as I typed the question.

There are too many positive things happening with this legalization that tells me it was the right thing to do.



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