First, my thanks to Cynthia Hessin and the really nice team who produce “Colorado State of Mind” for Rocky Mountain PBS, where I appeared last week to debate the pros and cons of Amendment 64 with Betty Aldworth, a political consultant for the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” campaign. (Have you ever noticed these folks never say, “Regulate Marijuana Like Tobacco?” Hmmmmmmm.)
You can watch the debate here.
Some quick points I would like to reiterate:
- No reputable, credible physician would ever say marijuana, an addictive substance, is “safer” than alcohol. You’ll note that Betty didn’t cite her sources for this ludicrous claim. But, see, she’s not interested in citing sources on television. She’s interested in sound bytes. Let’s not forget that marijuana is the No. 1 reason children and adolescents are admitted to substance abuse treatment in the United States. For adults, it is the No. 2 reason, behind alcohol — but let’s get real here: marijuana has also been the drug that has helped to lead millions of adults and children into a devastating, lifelong struggle with addiction that involves other substances, including cocaine and heroin.
- Pushers of Amendment 64 promise plenty with absolutely no guarantees. If this amendment passes, Colorado can look forward to sinking millions of dollars into legal battles at the local, state and federal levels over the use of marijuana. We don’t have better things to spend our money on? Really? The federal government has made it painfully clear that any taxes from marijuana sales collected at the state and local levels are subject to federal seizure. Ms. Aldworth knows this. Did you catch on the video how she said tax revenues would be given to the Best Education Foundation, which would, in turn, presumably be expected to give the money to Colorado schools? Why does the term “money laundering” come to mind?
- I reject the false dichotomy Ms. Aldworth desperately wants Colorado voters — heck, probably the entire nation — to believe we’re stuck with. It is a false choice of two extremes, incarceration and legalization. There is a better way that blends prevention, treatment and criminal justice wisely — as explained here by Kevin Sabet, a former drug-policy advisor to three presidential administrations. It is a way much like the one taken by Sweden, which has one of the lowest rates of drug abuse and addiction in the world. It is a way that offers our communities far more hope for a successful and bright future than ever would come from drug legalization, which is rooted in destruction, deceit and greed.
P.S. I really struck a nerve when I rejected Ms. Aldworth’s explanation of those Center for Disease Control numbers.