Email letters, December 31, 2013

Residents, visitors must know MJ facts

You may wonder why AAA Colorado is interested in marijuana policy and legislation. It’s none of AAA Colorado’s business if someone wants to smoke marijuana, or drink alcohol, or take prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Those are personal choices.

It becomes AAA Colorado’s concern when these personal choices include getting behind the wheel on Colorado’s roadways while impaired by any of these substances. Impaired driving puts all of us at risk, and costs us more money, as increased crash rates lead to higher medical and auto insurance rates.

Recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Colorado on Jan. 1, 2014 — joining Washington as the first two states to legalize, regulate and tax small amounts of marijuana for non-medicinal — or recreational — use by individuals over age 21.

Marijuana’s known effects include altered consciousness, perceptual distortions, drowsiness, impaired memory and impaired coordination. Each of these effects has potential to impair your ability to drive.

By Colorado law, drivers are assumed to be impaired if their blood test shows a level of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — of 5 or more nanograms per milliliter. There is a great deal of debate on how much marijuana a person needs to inhale or ingest before he or she is impaired.

There are many variables, including THC concentration as well as individual biological differences in the user that impact the drug’s effects from one person to the next. Research has been limited and development of impairment testing equipment is ongoing.

At this time, there is no roadside device that law enforcement can use to measure marijuana impairment. However, one thing is certain. Driving under the influence of marijuana, just like driving under the influence of alcohol, can be dangerous.

The top five things both residents and visitors need to know about recreational marijuana use include:

1. Selling marijuana without a license remains illegal. Purchasing marijuana from someone who does not have license to sell it is also illegal.
2. Giving marijuana to someone under 21 is illegal and a serious crime.
3. Marijuana cannot be smoked or consumed “openly and publicly” on public streets or in parks.
4. Marijuana purchased in Colorado cannot legally be taken out-of-state.
5. Operating a motor vehicle while impaired is illegal.

And the most important message from AAA Colorado: Please do not use drugs and drive or drink and drive. Help keep our roads safe for all users.

TONY DENOVELLIS

President and CEO, AAA Colorado
Denver

Firefighters also merit praise for high-risk service to public

Depending on the source, we hear of anywhere between 105 to 111 police officers who died or who were killed on duty nationwide in 2013. However, of these, 31 were killed by gunfire (of all types) and one died due to accidental shooting. The rest were by other accidents (mostly on-duty vehicle) and other means (one by knife) and some 14 died of heart attacks under stress.

We never seem to hear about firefighter deaths. These insanely brave folks who rush into burning buildings and forest fires lost at least 101 nationwide in 2013 as they tried to proactively save lives and property. Of these, some 39 died of heart attacks due to the severe physical stress of firefighting and rescues. Then, of course, there were incidents of burning to death and on-duty vehicle accidents, etc.

I greatly appreciate both disciplines, but I know who will rush try to save my life and or property while there is time to do so.

JIM SHULTS
Grand Junction

States more profitably, selectively manage lands

An economic study done by Nevada Public Lands Management Task Force concluded that public lands under state control create an average net profit of $6.29 per acre while federally controlled land averages a net loss of $1.86 per acre.

People who agree with land transfer from the feds to the states have had enough of overgrown forests, ripe for fire or damage by pine beetle infestations. They see federal lands that are off-limits to oil and gas exploration, since only 2 percent of federal offshore areas and not even 6 percent of federal onshore lands are leased for oil and natural gas production.

In other words, the federal government is not doing a good job of managing our lands, as a recent letter to the editor suggests, but rather it is costing all of us money, as well as jobs. Some eastern states, such as South Carolina, agree. They are tired of spending billions under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to pay western states to not use their lands, which is actually a pittance of the lands’ actual potential value.

Under sequestration the federal government even wanted to revoke part of this obligation that helps fund our schools and local communities. Furthermore, the waste these agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service, incur is anything but efficient and worthy of our support. As an example, between 2006 and 2008, the Forest Service lost an average of $3.58 billion annually.

Several states considering the transfer of lands, such as Utah under HB148, aren’t considering the transfer of monuments, parks, wilderness or Department of Defense areas but just select lands, which will still remain open to the public via the state. They won’t necessarily be sold to “rich Texans,” unless the state sees the sale as a benefit to them, as a local control issue.

Under state control, land use would be more streamlined without the costly, odious burden of the National Environmental Policy Act with counties having more say in how state land is used.

I think Coloradans understand their state’s needs, their forests, their deserts and their public lands much better than a congressman representing constituents in northeastern seaboard urban areas.

ANNE GODFREY
Fruita

Udall, Bennet have no idea of rigors of military service

Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have broken a sacred trust with veterans by voting to cut their pensions. By their vote they have not honored their word to veterans. This action is unconscionable. Udall talks about how much he appreciates the service and sacrifice of the military, but when it comes time to back that up he throws veterans under the bus.

As an alternative to the pension cut, the senators wouldn’t even consider an amendment to eliminate a tax loophole that allows illegal immigrants to claim tax credits. The IRS Inspector General has recommended eliminating this loophole. I question their priorities and decisions.

The military pension is an earned benefit. The government said if you serve, sacrifice, endure multiple deployments, uproot your family regularly and go into harm’s way on a moment’s notice on its order, you earn a pension. These veterans upheld their end of the bargain. The government did not.

Currently, 19 percent of congressmen and senators have active-duty military experience. The remaining 81 percent, including Udall and Bennet, have no concept of the rigors of military service. They chose not to serve in uniform.

However, those politicians have committed military members to fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Those who survive will have their lives changed forever, some drastically. Some will be unable to work; some will be limited in what they can do. We owe them a substantial debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice. We owe them substantially more than the lip service offered by Udall and the U.S. Senate.

GLENN MCNEES
Grand Junction

Credit Louisiana Purchase and war with Mexico for Colorado’s creation

Here’s a history lesson for the gentleman who complained about the “30-40-50 percent of their (sic) state lands that we are forced to give them [the feds].”

Anyone who paid attention in American history class knows that the federal government acquired land in Colorado east of the Continental Divide government through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the federal government took land west of the Continental Divide from Mexico in the Mexican-American War (1846-48).

Much later in 1876 through an act of Congress that was signed by the president, Colorado was carved out of that land. Colorado did not “give” the government anything. The federal government created Colorado out of land it owned and kept the rest for itself.

If the writer’s education were the norm in the state, I can only imagine how “sensibly” land would be managed by the state.

If the Sentinel’s real intent was to show how poorly educated some people in western Colorado really are, it hit the nail squarely on the head. Give yourself an “A.”

D.D. LEWIS
Clifton



COMMENTS

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Re: America’s public lands, the only NV study of the sort I can find is 20-years old and based on ‘estimates.’  Is there a cite to a more recent report or study that uses actual economic analysis that would withstand peer-review?  I would like to see it.

The actual cite comes from the report’s author previous study.  In other words, its twenty year old data used by the author to cite themselves as an authority.  http://www.slideshare.net/americanlandscouncil/transfer-of-public-lands-presentation-washington-state

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