|Can you think of anything that might calm this man down?|
$17,300,000,000 is what Colorado's tourism industry generated in 2016. There is no doubt that our state does well with its skiing, hiking, hunting and fishing industries. But were you aware that since Colorado legalized the use of both medical and recreational marijuana, our state has increased its tourism significantly? Agree with it or not, people are curious to see what the buzz (pun intended) is all about in Colorado.
In 2016, the legal sales of marijuana in the state added $266,000,000 to our coffers. That has done a great deal to improve Colorado's budgetary woes, especially in the area of capital improvement in schools and helping the homeless. Theses facts can be found in a great NPR interview from last year aimed at making people aware of how these tax dollars are spent. http://www.npr.org/2016/10/01/496226348/where-does-colorados-marijuana-money-go. It is not going to completely heal our fiscal difficulties, especially since the prices for marijuana will begin to drop as more states fall into line with pot-friendly legislation, but there is no doubt it has helped a great deal.
In an October article in the Washington Post, the newspaper attempts to understand the impact on the states of Washington and Colorado after having legalized marijuana usage and possession amounts. That article can be viewed here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/13/heres-how-legal-pot-changed-colorado-and-washington/?utm_term=.13b36d02e432. In a brief summary, both states have not had any significant negative fallout from the decisions. Crime is slightly down. Drug arrests are very much in a downward spiral. Usage among teenagers has not gone up and might actually be going down. Traffic accident rates involving pot have not gone up. There is even some evidence to suggest that medical marijuana may dramatically help abate the crisis in this nation as it struggles with the worst opioid crisis in its history. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/could-pot-help-solve-us-opioid-epidemic.
But President Trump sees things differently. His appointment of former Senator Jeff Session as Attorney General marks a return to the policies that rank marijuana as a dangerous drug on a par with heroin. It is expected that the AG will make moves to criminalize those who recreationally use marijuana by throwing them in jail as common criminals. This is going to become a gigantic crisis here in our state as a significant number of Coloradoans benefit from the legalized sale and usage of the substance. Many people grow their own marijuana and it has led to a reduction of alcohol consumption, which is both hazardous and expensive. Many are finding pain relief that is safe and effective requiring less uses of dangerous and often addictive prescription drugs. Some people are finding that marijuana not only helps them solve sleeping problems without the dangerous side effects of drugs like Ambien. And, there does not seem to be the debilitating impact of what drinkers painfully refer to as "hangovers."
So why are the new AG and President Trump so worried about the twenty-eight states that have relaxed laws on marijuana? Perhaps you need look no further than the high paid lobbyists of the alcohol industry. Perhaps you need look no further than the high paid lobbyists working for private prisons that need customers in the form of inmates. You may even want to examine the lobbyists for Big Pharma who see the medical benefits of marijuana cutting into their profits. If you think that my belief is that our new president and his appointed officials are doing this for nefarious purposes, you would be correct.
This states' rights argument comes up from time to time. When it is convenient for the conservatives, they say leave it to the states to decide. When it serves their corporate sponsors, the conservatives want the federal government to step in and do the dirty work for them. President Trump, Colorado has decided as a state to loosen federal regulations on marijuana and we are doing just fine. If you criminalize us for what we have done here in Colorado, you may be in for a big surprise.
Personally, I don't use alcohol or marijuana for recreational purposes. I do have relatives who have abused alcohol and prescription drugs, resulting in death. I do have relatives who have had pain issues and have become addicted to painkillers. I have a number of family members who battle insomnia and then have had horrifying side effects with drugs like Ambien.
I live in arguably one of the most conservative counties in our state. As a liberal Democrat I am in a minority of epic proportions. Many of my friends, neighbors, and acquaintances in this county are conservative Republicans. They may not publicly talk about the fact that they not only use marijuana, but they grow marijuana for their own consumption. In my opinion, they are not going to be happy about this decision. This may be more of a problem than anyone might imagine when the government comes for their weed. These are the same people who said that they would not remain silent if someone came for their guns (which nobody ever did). It will be interesting to see what happens in this case.
Suffice it to say, if Sessions turns its forces loose on the people of Colorado for marijuana usage, there will be resistance from both side of the political aisle and the other states will be watching. This is just one more attempt to divide the people of this nation and replace our cherished Democracy with authoritarian rule of law. Resist.