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Downfalls, unintended consequences of marijuana legalization discussed

‘We are definitely in danger’

Rob Stevenson with Drug Free Idaho speaks to meeting attendees on facts regarding marijuana legalization in Idaho’s neighboring states.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Rob Stevenson with Drug Free Idaho speaks to meeting attendees on facts regarding marijuana legalization in Idaho’s neighboring states.



photo

(L-R) Rob Stevenson listens while Monty Stiles speaks about his experiences as a state drug prosecutor. Both men are with the organization Drug Free Idaho, Inc.

Statistics: marijuana

*Since marijuana legalization in Colorado in 2013, Colorado yearly traffic deaths have risen from 55 to 123. (Source: Colorado Department of Transportation)

*Annual tax revenue in Colorado increased statewide by just 0.8 percent since legalization. (Source: Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting)

*As of June 2017, there were 491 retail marijuana dispensaries in Colorado as compared to 392 Starbucks and 208 McDonalds. (Source: Colorado Department of Revenue)

*Property crime in Colorado from 2013-2016 increased 8.3 percent. Violent crime increased by 18.6 percent. (Source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation)

*In a small lab study, 35 percent of dispensary marijuana in California tested positive for pesticides at unacceptable levels from fruit and vegetables. (Source: Jeffrey Raber, PhD)

*Despite marijuana legalization in California, the California Forest Service estimated approaching 400 illegal grow sites in 2017. Carbofuran, a toxic pesticide banned in the U.S., is turning up in 60 to 70 percent of these sites. (Source: CBS San Francisco)

*St. Mary Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo., told CBS that during one month, nearly half of the babies born there had marijuana in their systems. (Source: Vice’s Broadly channel)

*One in six Washington State drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana. (Source: AAA NewsRoom)

— The consideration of marijuana legalization is a multi-faceted topic, as evidenced by the documentary “Chronic State.”

About 30 people attended a “lunch and learn” session at Kamiah’s Hearthstone Bakery Friday, Nov. 16, which was sponsored by the Upriver Youth Leadership Council. Guest speakers and presenters of the documentary were Rob Stevenson and Monty Stiles with Drug Free Idaho, Inc.

As a federal drug prosecutor for the state of Idaho for 30 years, Stiles said he has “seen it all.”

“I walked away from that job because I wanted to do something to help,” he said. “I saw all the consequences of poor choices.”

The documentary, produced in Boise by KeepIdaho.org in cooperation with Drug Free Idaho, showcases the behind-the scenes pitfalls of marijuana legalization in California and Colorado.

“In reality, how much of a danger are we here in Idaho in?” asked meeting attendee Robleigh Williams.

“We are definitely in danger,” Stiles said. “When Idaho is targeted – and it will be – lobbyists from the marijuana industry will pour millions of dollars into their efforts.”

He explained legislation has been brought to the Idaho sessions, but Governor Butch Otter vetoed it. He said other legalization bills have passed the House but died in Senate.

He said when one asks people what they want from a good community, answers include good schools, quality health care, caring parents and kids and good jobs.

“Ever hear the terms people use for when they are high on marijuana? Baked, stoned, ripped, wrecked. Those words do not coincide with what we want for good communities. They coincide with a drug culture,” he said.

“What can we realistically do?” asked attendee Ruth Mohr. What are some suggestions for us here in the Clearwater Valley?”

“One, educate people. Share the video and show them the other side to the myths of ‘tax money falling from the sky,’” Stevenson said. “Two, tell your legislators how you feel. You are the voters so you have the power to influence them.”

Stevenson said the Seattle Hemp Fest 2017, which was highlighted in the documentary, “did not have one bit of information on medical marijuana – so don’t let anyone tell you legalization is for health purposes.”

One area of the movie that hit a nerve with attendees was the information on how legalization impacted natural resources and the environment in both Humboldt County, Calif., and the Pueblo, Colo., areas.

Thousands of clear-cut areas were shown where home-growers had staked out territory for their marijuana farms. In addition, makeshift irrigation and farming areas were shown where not only pipes were jerry-rigged together and drew water from area water sources. Systems caused erosion as well as allowed a multitude of pesticides to seep into streams. In addition, when growers left an area, these plots were exited leaving debris, excrement, clothing and hazardous materials.

“Aside from this, just how is it that people getting stoned is good for our country?” Stevenson questioned. “How do you control a population? Give the drugs to everyone else and be the only clear-minded one yourself, I guess.”

Both men agreed the legalization of marijuana will come down to greed, money and control, as it has in the other states, and countries, who have decided to legalize the drug.

“And make no mistake, it is a drug,” Stevenson said. “This isn’t your grandfather’s weed.” The documentary explains the high levels of THC in today’s marijuana: nearly 20 fold of what was around in the 1960s or ’70s. THC is also called tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in cannabis that is psychoactive and gives the feeling of being high.

On the other hand, CBD is a cannabinoid, one of hundreds of chemical compounds found on both marijuana plants and hemp plants, which some research says has shown potential for having benefits ranging from pain relief to epilepsy treatment. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get a person high.

The medicine Epidiolex is derived from CBD and has been used to help those with certain types of seizures dues to epilepsy. It is FDA approved.

“If there are medical reasons to use marijuana as a medicine, then it needs to go through all the FDA processes that everything else goes through,” Stevenson said.

To view the documentary go to http://www.drugfreeidaho.org/; it can be found directly on the homepage.



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