There are some downsides to legalizing marijuana such as regulating it, researching it and enforcing laws around it will be a lot of work. Marijuana opponents that also want to list that legal marijuana could get into the hands of children, or that some people have adverse effects when they use it or that inhaling smoke or vapor into the lungs is not healthy is missing the fact that all of that is already true while marijuana is illegal. It is also true that illegal marijuana results in a giant and violent black market, massive amounts of arrests and the costs of incarcerating marijuana law breakers is astronomical. Doesn’t everyone really know this already?
In the Trump era, being governor of a western state where marijuana is legal means protecting the local cannabis industry against threats from the federal Justice Department. But in Brauchler’s estimation, marijuana’s greatest threat is itself. And it might be, if Brauchler were the least bit honest. Instead, he’s running with a war on facts that’s even more dangerous.
Brauchler opposed Amendment 64 in 2012, and since then, as Colorado records more than $1.3 billion a year in commercial cannabis sales, he’s remained unswayed, mostly because he believes marijuana legalization has been a menace to society. “Whatever benefits there may be from the legalization of marijuana, eradicating violent crime associated with it is not one of them,” he said in a recent statement.
See here: Since Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, cultivators and dispensaries have been the target of “significant violent crime,” Brauchler claims in a recent post over at Westword. In that time, Brauchler’s area, home to 45 percent more people than the city of Denver, has seen no fewer than 11 murders “motivated by marijuana,” including an as-yet unsolved shooting death of a dispensary security guard.
“Those eleven homicides do not include the many more robbery, burglary, and attempted-murder cases in our community also motivated by marijuana,” says Brauchler. Across the state, he claims, criminal-justice colleagues across the state are “overwhelmed with trying to enforce the crimes involving marijuana.”
Eleven murders! Sounds bad. And it is. It’s bad math, bad public policy, and a bad, bad display of the great lengths to which legalization opponents must go, stretching truths and twisting facts into unrecognizable braids of dishonesty in order to make their case.
For Coloradans, “there have been increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room costs,” according to an anti-legalization petition being circulated by the Centennial Institute, a think-tank at the Trump-loving Colorado Christian University. “The effects in Colorado have been devastating, and we do not wish these negative consequences of legalization upon the nation.”
What’s afoot? “Know that in Colorado there have been increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room costs. States that have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana have the highest youth use rates in the country,” according to the petition. A similar message was recently printed in USA Today, which ran with a headline declaring that Colorado has been “devastated” by legalization. Poor, poor Colorado!
This is a near-perfect rote repetition of the Bible for the prohibition set, a certain report produced by the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. HIDTAs are initiatives overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is prohibited by act of Congress from supporting legalization. In most circles, this is known as an institutional bias. And the HIDTA report has alternately been blasted as “fake,” “dishonest,” or at the best, inconclusive in showing whether or not statistically significant but numerically very small increases — from a hundred to several hundred, for example — in emergency-room visits are caused by marijuana legalization.
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