What is going on in Colorado?
A. In late 2012 the voters of Colorado voted 55 to 45% to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. In August 2013 the United States’ federal government declared it would not interfere with the Colorado law. In January 2014 the first stores opened to the public to sell marijuana to adults (21 and older). Citizens of Colorado may buy up to 28 grams per store visit. All other may buy up to 7 grams. The tax on these sales is about 25%.
Colorado became the first state since 1937 to legally sell and tax marijuana sales. In 2017 – three years later – there are over 500 stores selling marijuana for social, adult use. Only a few, minor problems have been generated by this change. Most importantly, 17 y/o consume no more, no less since legalization. There are no reports that Colorado is on fire or facing social chaos.
NOTE: Marijuana is NOT harmless. Medical experts in the UK (per a Lancet report) declare marijuana to be the 8th most dangerous drug in the world. It should be given the same rules and regulations as beer….which Colorado is doing.
Latest Question: If we legalize for adults, drug dealers will target those less than 21, thus making it worse for our kids, right?
A. No. We did not see in 1933 those selling alcohol illegally switch to marketing only those under 21. Moreover, why would a teen drive to the city to buy a drug off the sidewalk, when an older brother or sister will go to the state-regulated store to buy for their sibling?
2. How would legalizing marijuana make it a safer world for my 15 year old teenager?
A. The police will have millions of extra hours to arrest the pedophiles in social media, the deadly DUI driver, terrorists blowing up Christmas parties – when they stop wasting time on God’s green plant.
B. Legalize/regulate would eliminate the street dealers who always are ready to sell your teen, no ID needed. For 35 years even the federal government admits that it is easier for kids to buy pot than beer.
BC. No teen will have the job option to sell marijuana. Many ‘good’ kids sell it for profit, excitement or to be popular. This causes some to be arrested, shot and killed.
3. If you legalize/regulate won’t millions of people start using the illegal drugs, causing more social chaos?
A. No, however there is no research; not in the USA, not in any country. However, COP has spoken to 8 doctors all board certified in addiction psychiatry. All agree that there will be very few who will experiment with hard drugs. Some may switch from wine and whiskey to marijuana to relax. However, that will reduce drug abuse. Any possible increase in new, hard-drug use will be offset by fewer trying illegal drugs for the first time, when the glamor, rebellion and excitement of breaking the law are gone.
B. Use common sense. Who is going to wake up and decide to take heroin, meth, etc? just because it is legal. The best medical info is that there are extremely few people who want to try heroin and the same person is so sensible and smart to wait for it to be legal. It is almost impossible to have such a personality.
C. In 1914 when you could buy marijuana, heroin & cocaine from the pharmacy, about 1-2 % of Americans were abusing hard drugs. Nearly 100 years later it is still about 1-2 %
D. 2008 a Zogby polled showed less than one percent (new users) would try hard drugs if they were obtainable at a state-regulated store.
4. Won’t there always be drug dealers, a black market?
A. NO. Our experience with alcohol prohibition = 99% of smugglers and moonshine stills were out of business in 1937. When the illegal drugs are sold at a state-regulated store, the price for them should be set at a price that the black market cannot match and yet high enough to deter youth from using more.
5. What is the experience in countries that have legalized drugs?
A. First ask yourself this question. In what country is prohibition working?
B. Alaska has had legal marijuana possession for adults (up to 2 ounces) since 1991. No reports have said Alaska has suffered as a result.
Colorado and Washington have had legal marijuana for adults since December of 2012. Again no reports of hell and ruin.
C. 28 states and the District of Columbia in the USA – These states have legalized medicinal use of marijuana. (at the state level) The fear was that it would send the wrong message. Use never spiked. After 21 years of medical use in California, marijuana use by teens is roughly the same. The sky did not fall in.
D. Holland – After 40 years of near legal marijuana sales their youth 15-29 smoke about half as much American youth. Analysis is that legalization made marijuana boring.
E. Switzerland…Swiss Heroin Maintenance Program since 1994 (government provided heroin) …60% reduction in felony crime, 70% reduction in new cases of HIV, hepatitis B and no one has died of an overdose. This program is so successful that Germany adopted it nationwide in 2009. In 2006 the Swiss health ministry reported that new users of heroin have been reduced. COP’s Howard Wooldridge has been to a clinic in Switzerland in 2001, 08 and 2016. Speaking French and German, Howard spoke to police officers who love the program because of the reduction in crime.
PS. YES. The Swiss Needle Park idea was a failure and it was abandoned in 1994 after 3 years.
6. Will COP’s ideas stop our children from getting these drugs?
A. No. However, when law enforcement is allowed to focus only on underage sales and possession, we will be more effective. Teens will still be able to access these drugs via older siblings, etc. like they currently do with cigarettes and beer. HOWEVER, teens will not come personally in contact with a drug dealer who may offer a free sample of heroin, etc. Remember, there is no solution to drugs, only approaches.
7. How would the drugs be sold or distributed?
A. As a starting point for discussion, we could give marijuana the same regulations and restrictions as beer, minus advertising. Colorado & seven (7) other states are doing this now. We would sell marijuana at a good profit but not enough to cause a black market. Drugs like cocaine and heroin might be handled using a prescription drug model. The destruction of the illicit market and no teens employed in the drug trade would be the number one objective in a post-prohibition world.
8. Won’t legalized marijuana result in more stoned drivers on the road?
A. Doubtful. The majority of drivers do not drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug. It will always be illegal to drive intoxicated on any drug. However, legalizing/regulating would not all of a sudden make marijuana users irresponsible, same as most drinkers don’t drive drunk. The number of people killed currently by drivers under the influence of marijuana is so small, the federal government does not even keep stats on it. Indeed, if and when people switch to marijuana from alcohol and drive, the number of accidents would go down.
9. Will there be less crime or more, if we legalize all drugs?
A. Much less. Inside a treatment program the Swiss reduced the felony crime rate by 60% by having state clinics distribute heroin. Even better, the police could once again focus on the drunk driver, the child molester, terrorists; not Willie Nelson not Charlie Sheen. In the USA a solid 80% of felony crime is caused by the prohibition of drugs, not their use. America will be a much safer place when drug prohibition is in the history books.
10. Is it not immoral to take mind-altering drugs?
COPs is not qualified to speak on matters of morality. We suggest you contact your religious adviser and ask him/her what drugs and food are moral for you to take. Since most of this audience is Christian, I will give you Proverbs 31:6 “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Thus, God condones the use of mind-altering, addictive drugs in certain situations. COPs urges all of you to be as drug-free as possible. However, the Jewish and Christian religions condone and encourage the use of the second deadliest drug on the planet = alcohol.
11. What would you propose in the short term/do now?
A. I would propose that all 911 calls for an alcohol or drug overdose be ARREST FREE. Use a combination of the Baby Moses law and the Good Samaritan Act. Inside of drug prohibition we could thousands of lives each year. 27 states now have this life-saving law. COP would repeal federal marijuana prohibition immediately and work towards all the rest as soon as ‘the dust settles.’
B. Adopt the Portugal Approach and decrim all drugs in personal amounts.
C. Treatment for addicts on the first day they ask for it.
12. Won’t legalize/regulate send the wrong message that the drugs are now safe and okay to use?
A. NO. Legalize/regulate will normalize our approach to all drugs. All drugs from aspirin and Tylenol to marijuana and amphetamines have risks and dangers. Today’s message is confusing. Keep in mind that the two deadliest drugs in America, tobacco and alcohol become legal at 18 and 21. No parent tells their children to begin using them, when they come of age where it is legal for them to do so. The glamor and rebellion factors of a drug being a forbidden fruit will be eliminated with the repeal of prohibition.
13. What can I do?
A. Become informed. Vote. Become a member of Citizens Opposing Prohibition. Add your voice to the many millions who say: Enough Already!
Drug Prohibition/War on Drugs has been the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery and Jim Crow.
2017 Cheerful News from Colorado re: Cannabis Legalization/Regulation/Taxation
Cannabis became legal in December 2012. Stores opened on January 1, 2014. In 2017 there are 500 plus stores and companies employing some 22,000 tax-paying workers.
In order of importance:
Teen use unchanged in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015: Source: Center for Disease Control – Youth Risky Behavior Survey and a SAMSHA (Fed Agency) report in 2015
Fatal Car Accidents involving DUI marijuana drivers remains relatively unchanged thru 2015: a major increase was predicted by Prohibitionists.
Total Arrests for DUI in 2015 dropped 1.3%..5200 arrested for DUI alcohol and 354 for DUI marijuana
Drivers testing positive for THC were overrepresented in the crash-involved (case) population. However, when demographic factors (age and gender) and alcohol use were controlled, the study did not find an increase in population-based crash risk associated with THC use. from National Hwy Traffic Safety Admin….translation = use of MJ does not increase risk of car accident overall.
Crime rates are unaffected by legalization per Colorado-based law enforcement
8% of stores tested sold cannabis to underage buyers in a state-run, sting operation during the summer of 2015. This is about the same rate as stores selling alcohol to underage buyers.
60 million saved in law enforcement costs (court time, police overtime, probation, etc) each year
Unemployment dropped to 3.5% in 2016 vs. 6.9% in May 2013: About 22,000 MJ related jobs have been created. Tourism is way up – “thriving” per the Governor.
Combined tax revenue thru 2016 was circa 300 million. Up from ZERO in 2013.
4.5 million sq. feet (500,000 sq. meters) of warehouse space in Denver is now growing marijuana.
Unhappy News from Colorado
Number of homeless has increased (moving in from other states and reflects a national trend)
States bordering Colorado are not happy, due to their evidence and courtrooms being over-filled with cases involving CO MJ.
Mexican Cartels are not happy. Premium CO cannabis is being exported to Mexico and has penetrated their upper-end market, taking away market share from the Cartels inferior quality marijuana. The wholesale price of MX MJ has dropped by half since 2013. Source: Mexican rep to the United Nations
In Colorado the illicit retail market, though shrinking, is still robust. 30% of all MJ purchased (130 tons total) in 2015 was NOT bought at a state-regulated store – per state agency. The percentage purchased in state-regulated stores continues to climb slowly as prices drop.
Howard J. Wooldridge
Co-Founder of LEAP -Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Assistance from Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation (CRCR) in preparing this document is appreciated
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a report on marijuana related health concerns. Several key findings are encouraging:
“For adults and adolescents, past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”
• “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.”
• “Daily or near-daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than daily or near-daily alcohol or tobacco use. Among adolescents, past month marijuana use is lower than past month alcohol use.”
• “Marijuana exposure calls to the poison center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0-8 years.”
• “The overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana-related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not available yet).”
• The estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is “not statistically different” from the national average.