Marijuana Legalization in Colorado Will Inform State’s Future Decisions

MarijuanaGovernor Jerry Brown’s interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” brought attention to the debate in California of whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Gov. Brown stated that he does not think that encouraging people to get stoned would contribute to the foundation of a great state, or nation. Arguing that the world is a competitive place, Governor Brown is weary of marijuana and how it might impede upon the level of awareness necessary to be successful, which he believes potheads are generally lacking. As a precaution Governor Brown wants to give states like Colorado and Washington, who have already passed legislation legalizing marijuana, a chance to inform other states of the impact that legalization will have over time.

Governor Brown’s statement is not lacking in proper judgement, as it follows a word of caution delivered by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper last week at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. Governor Hickenlooper urged that states do not overlook the unintended consequences that come as a result of legalizing something that is not good for people.

This warning comes as new surveys indicate some of the consequences involved with the legalization of marijuana. The most pressing concern being that the numbers of marijuana usage among the youth are increasing. While campaigns promoting the legalization of marijuana often focus on the economic and financial benefits, as well as the benefits that decriminalization will have for youth and minority groups, the negative aspects tend to be trivialized. Especially the negative effects that legalization bears on young and impressionable minds. The evidence of the impact that marijuana has on the youth in Colorado may influence other states in their decision to legalize the drug.

An article published by Sheila Polk in January titled, Legalized Marijuana: Colorado Kids Are Paying the Price, points out that the potency of marijuana has dramatically increased since the 1990’s, from previous concentrations of 3 percent THC to the current concentration of 15 percent. Polk argues that those differences alone should change how people think about the drug.

The perception of the drug’s safety is greatly informed by old conceptions of marijuana that existed before strains of the drug were modified to produce higher levels of potency, and the effects of smoking or consuming it were less dramatic. These new manipulated strains, however, alter the effect of the drug on the brain, which may negatively impact young and developing minds. Polk’s article explains that the use of marijuana has effects on the brain which impair clarity of thought, intelligence, judgement, and the ability to reason. Legalizing the drug not only makes it more accessible but takes away from the perceived risks associated with its use at ages when the brain is still developing, sending the message that its unrestricted use is ok. Similar to alcohol, teens think because it’s legal that it’s not dangerous.

With marijuana usage among Colorado youth on the rise, Governor Hickenlooper’s top priority is to limit the negative impact that legalization is having on children. The National Institutes of Health reports that 16 percent of 16-year-olds who experiment with marijuana become addicted to it. To combat this issue, Governor Hickenlooper expects to spend $45 million on youth prevention, $40 million on substance abuse treatment, and $5.8 million on a media campaign that highlights the risks associated with marijuana use. With additional spending allotted for public health, the projected amount to be spent on precautionary measures will cost Colorado more than $100 million.

So while Governor Jerry Brown’s reluctance to entirely embrace marijuana’s legalization might dampen hopes of California becoming the next state to legalize it, he is not without good reason as consequences of it’s legalization are becoming more apparent. In time, the impact that legalizing marijuana has in Colorado will help other states make a more informed decision about which course to take in the future.

By Natalia Sanchez


LA Times

Christian Science Monitor


6 Responses to "Marijuana Legalization in Colorado Will Inform State’s Future Decisions"

  1. Preston Smith IV   March 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I’m doing a paper for school over the legalization of marijuana and this was EXTREMELY helpful thank you so much.

  2. Caitlin   March 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    “Arguing that the world is a competitive place, Governor Brown is weary of marijuana and how it might impede upon the level of awareness necessary to be successful, which he believes potheads are generally lacking.”

    I smoke weed every day, but I have enough awareness to know that “wary,” not “weary,” is the appropriate word in this context.

  3. ME ME   March 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This stupid person should be voted out os office.

  4. charliepeters   March 2, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Dr. Stan’s California water supply opinion

  5. Kurtis Engle   March 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Unlike, for example, alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is actually good for many. If you ain’t one, too bad, so sad. Or, maybe you are one of the lucky. As for the negative effects, they are no worse than alcohol, except of course for jail.

    When you look at it without the deception, it is clear the marijuana is not causing the jail. The hysteria about marijuana is causing the jail. Taking a step back, it becomes plain the problem isn’t the drugs. It’s the jail. And the link is the hysteria.

    I think the hysteria is fake. Based on my experience, I don’t believe We the People are anywhere near as hysterical about drugs as folks just like Harry J. Anslinger like to tell us we are.

  6. Shepherd Yerusalem   March 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    The ONLY thing dangerous about marijuana are the cops who shoot people for having it:

    Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals’ reports.

    TOBACCO – 340,000 to 450,000

    ALCOHOL  (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) – 150,000+

    ASPIRIN  (Including deliberate overdose) – 180 to 1,000+

    CAFFEINE  (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) – 1,000 to 10,000
    “LEGAL” DRUG OVERDOSE  (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol – e.g. Valium/alcohol – 14,000 to 27,000
    ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE – (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs – 3,800 to 5,200
    MARIJUANA – 0 

    (**Marijuana users also have the same or LOWER incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general NON-marijuana using population as a whole.** Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

    Accordingly a 1993 study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation came to the same conclusion as the above concerning marijuana and driving safety:

    “Marijuana, administered in a dose of 100 µg THC per kg of whole body weight…did not significantly change mean driving performance as measured…” – U.S Department of Transportation: Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance DOT HS 808 078

    The fact is people who use marijuana reflexes are not affected in a negative way and they become more conscious of safety, sometimes refusing to even drive.

    Marijuana is a plant with a safety record second to none.

    Anyone who would like to dispute these FACTS, point to a credible death that involves marijuana and nothing but marijuana, or hold your tongue.


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