Colorado Drug Culture Harms Students

Back to November 2015 Ed Reporter

Colorado Drug Culture Harms Students

In September, Denver police cited seven pot shops for selling to those under age 21. The Denver Post called the citations “a blow to recreational marijuana in Colorado.” Colorado’s director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division says, “This represents a downward trend in compliance that is concerning.”

Cannabis StoreA report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) indicates legalization of marijuana in Colorado has had many ill effects on students. Colorado citizens voted to legalize marijuana in the state in 2012.

According to a recent Atlantic magazine article:

In Colorado, the public-education benefit of legalization served as a major selling point for the proposal during election season. Pro-legalization advocates even aired ads with slogans like, ‘Jobs for our people. Money for our schools. Who could ask for more?’ and ‘Strict Regulation. Fund Education.’” (5-4-15)

But recreational marijuana use has become the greatest challenge to education in Colorado, where children as young as 6th grade reportedly show up stoned at school. Research shows that “using education to justify the legalization of formerly condemned activities often serves as a selling point in name only.”

The RMHIDTA report states that by the year following legalization, 11% of Colorado’s 12-17 year-olds were considered pot users — compared to 7% nationwide. There has also been a 40% increase in drug-related school suspensions and expulsions, most of which are “marijuana violations.” Marijuana-related traffic fatalities doubled since 2009, to 94 in 2014. “In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 38% increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations in only one year.”

The RMHIDTA study was completed by “two intelligence analysts, relying on information from more than 30 entities, including federal, state, and local agencies, as well as health care facilities.” It is titled, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact” and was created in affiliation with the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. It calls the time period between 2013 to the present the “recreational marijuana era.”

Parents say not only is it harmful that marijuana is legal in the state but marketing campaigns promoting marijuana attract children to the drug. Anyone in any state can access Colorado pot shop websites that are professionally designed to make use of marijuana look attractive.

Businesses sell bagged marijuana as well as marijuana pills, candy, cookies, gum, and beverages. Many complain that the packaging is designed to be attractive to children.

One store advertises: “Our courteous and professional staff specializes in assisting first timers and experts alike” and boasts that “visitors from every state and over 50 countries agree” that their store is the “best.”

Smart Colorado is a volunteer group that “engages and informs Coloradans on the risks that marijuana poses to youth.” The group says, “The latest report should be read by Colorado policymakers, law enforcement, public health professionals, and educators at all levels so we have a unified effort to help young people understand the dangers of marijuana use.” It should also be read by citizens and legislators in other states that are considering legalization of marijuana.

Reuters reports that a new nationwide study shows that between 2001 and 2013, the number of adults using and abusing marijuana doubled. (10-22-15) (Denver Post, 9-30-15) (CBS, 9-20-15) (SmartColorado.org)