CONTACT Denver Office of Drug Strategy on A64 - Dr. Christian Thurstone

The Denver Office of Drug Strategy submitted a report to inform the Denver City Council’s deliberations concerning implementation of Amendment 64, which Colorado voters approved in 2012 to legalize recreational marijuana.

The report, authored by Vanessa M. Fenley, is titled, “Regulating Substances with a Public Health Approach: Lessons Learned from Alcohol Regulation.” Among passages from the report worthy of highlighting:

“Although (Amendment 64’s) campaign was titled, ‘The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,” and some alcohol regulations may be appropriately applied to marijuana, it is not enough to simply duplicate alcohol’s current regulatory structure for marijuana. A primary concern with an approach that tries to perfectly parallel alcohol policy is that alcohol is neither well-regulated or well-taxed in Colorado. For instance, the beer tax in the state is fourth lowest in the nation and has not been increased since 1976. A general lack of attention among policymakers and the community as well as active lobbying by industry players against the most effective regulations according to public health practices has resulted in correspondingly high rates of underage drinking. Nationwide, around 26 percent of individuals age 12-20 have used alcohol in the past month; in Colorado, almost 33 percent of our underage youth have consumed alcohol in the past month. In addition, almost one quarter of Denver youth started drinking at age 12 or younger. The negative outcomes associated with loose and outdated alcohol regulation should serve as a charge to local and state policymakers to develop marijuana regulations that will effectively deter youth from using marijuana.”

The report also focuses on matters concerning taxation, accessibility, density of marijuana-related outlets, marketing and advertising and marijuana-related treatment admissions.

Read the full report here.
Mayor Michael Hancock’s stance on the implementation of Amendment 64.

Reasons why a state-run regulatory framework for marijuana should be thoroughly researched and carefully considered.

About Chris Thurstone

Dr. Christian Thurstone is one of only a few dozen physicians in the United States who are board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry. He is Director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction and serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. You can read more about him here.

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