On Tuesday, the Canadian Senate approved the Cannabis Actwhich allows adults to use the drug coast to coast. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the historic decision on Twitter.
After the resounding passage in November of Amendment 64the law that made recreational pot legal in Colorado, many counties and cities in the state quickly placed moratoriums on the commercial growing and retail marketing of cannabis.
A town built on oil and gas, mining and agriculture, De Beque has suffered a series of economic blows, first because of the recession ofthen due to onerous clean air regulations handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency EPA that drove up the cost of exploration and extraction of fossil resources and, most recently, as a result of the drop in gas prices that made it unviable for many oil and gas companies to operate in the area.
The hemorrhaging of jobs and oil and gas revenues likely made the temptation of cannabis tax revenues irresistible for a town struggling against extinction. After state legislators quashed plans for a casino along the I corridor, in Aprilresidents of De Beque voted narrowly to welcome retail cannabis into their town.
But the saga of De Beque is more than that of an economically strapped small town glomming onto a means of survival. Breathtaking oversimplification Amendment 64 was approved of by 55 percent of Colorado voters Marijuana globalization Regulating marijuana like alcohol, it appears, is a breathtaking oversimplification of what is required to turn an illegal intoxicant into a viable commodity.
The citizen-led ballot initiative behind Amendment 64 went beyond simple Marijuana globalization and created a new civil right by encoding the possession and use of pot into the Colorado State Constitution.
At that time, medical marijuana, which was recognized by the state inremained largely unregulated, lacking rules governing dosage, purity, growing practices, etc. In the months since the law legalizing recreational pot was implemented, the state of Colorado has awarded more than licenses to medical marijuana growers and nearly to recreational marijuana growers.
Separate licenses are required for medical vs. Despite the demand of state-issued licenses, few regulations governing either medical or recreational pot existed at the time the law was implemented in July Amendment 64 provided some guidelines regarding what amounts of pot could be legally possessed, how many plants could be grown under what circumstances, etc.
Critical matters beyond fees and licensing criteria were overlooked, including agricultural issues such as pesticide use and the impact of outdoor growing facilities on other crops.
With cannabis still illegal under federal law, a dearth of information about what pests attack cannabis and what pesticides can be used safely on the plants has resulted in confusion and, in some cases, dangerous growing practices.
Cannabis growers have been left to improvise since no commercial pesticides are labeled for legal use on cannabis plants.
Some farmers have expressed alarm over the potential of marijuana growing operations in close proximity to established crops. Plans for a medical marijuana facility in Palisade, a tiny farming town whose main crop is peaches, have peach growers worried about the potential spread of pests, molds and fungi from cannabis to their established orchards.
The agricultural implications of the cannabis industry, it seems, were not a consideration at the time it became a legal crop. The wave of enthusiasm following the passage of Amendment 64 has given way to a drip, drip, drip of unintended consequences.
Law-enforcement issues, such as marijuana-intoxicated driving and the illegal movement of vast amounts of cannabis product into other states, are the tip of the iceberg.
Social and law-enforcement issues resulting from the Colorado interstate pot pipeline prompted Nebraska and Oklahoma to file lawsuits against the stateciting the fact that marijuana commerce violates federal law and increases the burdens of law enforcement in other states. But the cost of increased law enforcement, drugged-driving incidents, fatal crashes, loss of productivity and a huge spike in gang-related crime bring into question the cost-benefit of those dollars.
Teen drug-related school expulsions are also on the rise. And the notion that prisons filled with minor drug offenders would be relieved of overcrowding—a selling point of legalizing marijuana—has been blown to smithereens.
Cannabis is an intoxicant, proven to be dangerous to adolescents who use regularly, as well as to adults who are addicted to its calming, high-producing chemical, THC. But building a tax empire on a narcotic substance may be a dangerous proposition for the Centennial State.
The eyes of other states eager to legalize pot should be firmly fixed on the unfolding saga of towns such as Denver, Boulder and De Beque, Colo.
Marjorie Haun is a Colorado resident who blogs on Colorado state policies and good government. This article first appeared on The Daily Signal.Nov 11, · News about marijuana and medical marijuana, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.
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