Opposition to measure cites high costs of addiction

Having twice rebuffed marijuana ballot issues in the past, Fruita voters this time around may have received a postcard in the mail or a robocall on their home phone urging them not to vote ‘yes’ on the recreational marijuana questions they’ll confront this election.

Those opposition efforts are the work of the only issue committee registered in Fruita about the pot question, Safe and Healthy Mesa County, which is led by Diane Cox.

“The most important issue is increased availability means increased use — especially among the kids,” Cox said recently. “We’ve seen the expulsion rate for marijuana almost triple in District 51 just since Amendment 64 was passed in November (2012).”

While Cox’s premise may be correct, the figure she cites is slightly hyperbolic.

Expulsions for drugs in School District 51 indeed have spiked. Already this year, 34 students from schools across the district have been booted out of school. Expulsions generally occur after a student’s second offense. Drug distribution triggers an automatic expulsion. About 95 percent of those offenses were for marijuana, said Tim Leon, safety officer for District 51.

In comparison, the district handled 24 drug expulsions during the same time last year and 21 drug expulsions for the first semester in the 2011-12 school year.

“It’s very harmful. It’s extremely damaging to young developing brains. The kids will be the hardest hit,” Cox said.

She further cites a recent statement from an organization of Colorado sheriffs, who sided against recreational marijuana sales arguing that when a drug is legalized in a community, “the perception of risk goes down,” Cox said.

“People think, it must be OK. It must be safe,” she said.

Cox also highlights recent evidence that the marijuana being sold today in Colorado is more than 30 percent THC, the active ingredient in pot. Cox said the marijuana in the 1970s, for example, contained some 1 or 2 percent THC.

“It’s a much stronger, much more addictive, much more damaging drug now,” Cox said, adding further that marijuana containing 15 percent THC is classified as a “hard drug” in The Netherlands, one of the most liberal nations in the world when it comes to marijuana.

As far as the argument many make with regard to the tax revenue that would flow from recreational pot sales, Cox isn’t buying it. She said a recent study found that for every dollar generated from alcohol and tobacco sales, taxpayers spent nearly $9 in social and public health costs.

“That’s just the money, not to mention all of the heartache and human suffering that addiction causes,” Cox said.

“It’s not freedom. It’s slavery.”


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