By Sheriff Ted Mink
There are reasons the governor, attorney general, state representatives and senators, CU regents and more than 100 other elected leaders in Colorado are opposed to Constitutional Amendment 64. There are reasons why education, medical, youth, law enforcement, treatment, chambers of commerce and business organizations are opposing Amendment 64.
Amendment 64 does much more than legalize marijuana for personal use: It permits retail stores, grow operations, and factories for marijuana-laced candy and brownies, as well as individuals growing their own marijuana.
There are thousands of studies from some of the major, most prestigious universities and medical schools that confirm marijuana use is harmful physically and psychologically, plus significant societal consequences. This is particularly true with the most vulnerable: youths. Marijuana is addictive, and more than 800,000 youths meet the criteria for marijuana addiction. A recent study revealed that marijuana use permanently impairs brain development in teenagers to the point of lowering their IQ by 8 points as adults.
Every experiment with legalization resulted in a significant increase in use. Drug policy experts estimate a doubling or tripling in both adult and youth use. In Alaska, when adult personal use was legal, the rate of Alaskan teenage marijuana use was double the national average.
Marijuana use affects coordination, perception, reaction time and judgment, which impairs driving a vehicle. Those impaired by marijuana are twice as likely to be involved in auto crashes. In Colorado, approximately 10 percent of traffic fatalities are related to impaired drivers.
Sale, cultivation and use would remain illegal under federal law, which pre-empts state law. That means that the state of Colorado would be sanctioning, and even licensing, people to violate federal law.
If Amendment 64 passes, it would generate some revenue: The independent Legislative Council estimates only between $5 million and $22 million. However, using alcohol and tobacco as models, it is estimated the revenue would cover only about 15 percent of the cost for increased medical treatment, vehicle crashes/fatalities, high school dropouts, productivity, etc. Not a good investment.
Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana (112 to 168 joints) is only a citation with a $100 fine and no jail. Only 1 percent of Colorado’s state prison population is there for any kind of marijuana offense. The impact on the criminal justice system would be negligible. There would be costs to regulate the industry and investigate marijuana diversion from home growers to retail stores, cultivation centers and factories.
There is no “war” on drugs but rather drug policy that includes treatment, education and law enforcement. This drug policy has been relatively successful, with a 50 percent reduction in drug use from the late ‘70s to today, as well as decreased use of cocaine and methamphetamine. In Colorado, the number of methamphetamine labs went from 400 a year to under 10.
If Amendment 64 passes, Colorado would have the most liberal drug laws in the developed world and become the source state. There is no restriction on out-of-state buyers and users, how much a licensed center could grow or sell, or potency of the marijuana. An individual could grow marijuana even if banned by that jurisdiction. The impact on schools and the workplace would be significant. This would be in the Colorado Constitution, which severely limits any legislative action. Amendment 64 does not pass the common-sense and logic test.
Colorado is known for many wonderful things. We definitely don’t want to be known as the “pot capital” of the USA. I hope when you mark your ballot, it will be “no” on 64. It’s wrong for Colorado.