Growing Marijuana use in Colorado Creating Mixed Opinions By Catherine Mahrholz

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The legalization in Colorado of marijuana for medical and recreational use has generated mixed reviews.

Marijuana use is still prohibited by federal law, but there is definitely a shift in federal policy regarding the enforcement of these laws.

In a recent report released by the RMHIDTA (Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,) the incidence of impaired drivers has seen a small but significant rise.

It should be noted, however, that of drivers cited for DUID (Driving under the influence of Drugs), the majority of them also tested positive for alcohol and other drugs.

This is an extensive report that raises multiple concerns about marijuana use and prevailing trends from the limited legalization of cannabis for adults. But some critics of the report argue that the goals of the people involved in conducting the study may have used certain statistics to achieve a desired anti-cannabis outcome.

To access the website and read the three reports issued by RMHIDTA visit www.rmhidta.org.

Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger has indicated that the impacts associated with the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has not yet created a significant impact.

Ensminger noted that perhaps more densely populated areas like Woodland Park may experience more of an impact than the rest of Teller County, which is largely rural.

Ensminger did, however, express concerns about the potency of the current strains of recreational marijuana. In his opinion, the implementation of Amendment 64 (the pro-recreational marijuana law approved by the voters in Colorado) has been a failed experiment. Nevertheless, the sheriff has maintained that his agency has fully complied with the new law, and wants to assure that marijuana is not consumed or used in public places.

These sentiments are largely shared by other law enforcement agencies in the area, including the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

There are legitimate concerns among many law enforcement experts and local leaders that the stronger, more potent varieties of recreational marijuana pose a threat to public safety. They also believe that the possible impacts from the more potent cannabis varieties should be examined closer.

The Failure of Prohibition Tactics.
Prohibition, however, hasn’t proven to be an effective means of steering people away from drug or alcohol abuse, according to pro-cannabis advocates.

During the early 1900s, alcohol use was prohibited throughout the United States. A substantial increase in crime associated with the production and sale of alcohol wreaked havoc across America.

Historically, just about every culture finds a way to ferment or ingest substances to get high.

Marijuana was derived from the hemp plant. Back in the 1960s, marijuana was much less potent than what is in use today. Regardless, many problems were reported. The marijuana used today has been hybridized and developed to be so potent, that it is a vastly different plant than the marijuana of the latter half of the previous century.

Alcohol abuse though, is still the drug of choice for many people with addiction or drug dependency issues, according to most health reports. That’s because alcohol is more socially acceptable, and it is readily available. Many traffic accidents and domestic abuse incidents have all been definitively tied to the abuse of alcohol.

Although not many comprehensive studies have been completed, the recreational use of marijuana seems to be less problematic than the use of alcohol and other more potent and often addictive prescription drugs and illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Also, anecdotal evidence and even some studies indicate that the use of medical marijuana has proved to be quite effective in treating a wide variety of ailments from seizure disorders and chronic pain to cancer related nausea and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

The medicinal value of marijuana and its forbear, the hemp plant, will benefit from further impartial study, according to leading health experts.

Until recently in the United States, the medicinal use of herbs and plants has largely been overlooked or considered an alternative or unconventional method of addressing healthcare needs.

As with all mind altering substances, including alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs and even caffeine, responsible and ethical behavior is what is called for by all users and producers.

And the culture of a particular country plays a very significant role in what is appropriate in terms of legislation and control of drugs.

In Portugal, all drug use was decriminalized a number of years ago. Studies there have shown a decrease in drug abuse, teen pregnancy and a host of other problems often associated with drug abuse.

As a result, some health experts have questioned whether addiction and dependency on all substances should be considered a mental health issue and addressed accordingly. Also questions have been raised as to why so many people feel the need to consume such substances to excess.

A saying that is often overlooked and rarely mentioned in connection with drug abuse is one that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s: “Get high on life.” Many young people cited this phrase as a response to the overuse and abuse of drugs that occurred during that time.