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By R. Scott Rappold
WebMD Well being Information
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
Jan. 9, 2014 – Greater than every week after marijuana prohibition got here to an finish in Colorado, the enjoyment has light as residents regulate to the brand new regular of getting essentially the most liberal marijuana legal guidelines within the U.S.
Lengthy traces are gone from the 37 — and counting — pot shops across the state, from Denver and Boulder to ski resort cities.
Jan. 1 was a special story. Hundreds stood in line for hours to be among the many first to legally purchase the drug for leisure functions, below a measure overwhelmingly authorised by voters in 2012.
They joked and shared tales about their hometowns. Those that had pushed all night time to Colorado caught some sleep in line.
“The massive shock for everybody is how joyful folks have been — even after they have been ready 3 hours within the cold climate — how joyful they have been to be a part of this historic occasion,” says Mike Elliott, govt director of the Marijuana Trade Group in Denver.
However this isn’t the statewide smoke-out within the Wild West that some have portrayed. In enormous sections of the state, together with Colorado Springs, nothing modified. Native officers had opted out of permitting pot retailers.
Elliott notes the irony that prospects who got here from out of state had nowhere to smoke. It was unlawful to smoke of their resort rooms due to clean-air legal guidelines. It was unlawful to smoke outdoors in public. It was additionally unlawful for them to carry their “souvenirs” again to their house states.
It is the kind of factor that occurs whenever you legalize a drug that continues to be unlawful on the federal stage and in 48 different states. Washington State additionally authorised leisure marijuana in 2012.
And whereas Colorado voters clearly assist an finish to the pot ban, many harbor considerations concerning the public well being impacts of bringing pot from the again alleys to the shop. Will authorized marijuana create a brand new era of potheads out of at the moment’s younger folks? Will highways change into unsafe as stoned drivers take to the highway?
The burden is on a marijuana business struggling to show its legitimacy and a state authorities attempting to persuade the general public and the federal authorities that weed might be safely regulated.
They usually know the world is watching.
From Medicinal to Leisure
Colorado has lengthy been one of the tolerant states on the subject of hashish. Voters in 2000 authorised marijuana for medical use. Earlier than 2012, penalties for small-scale possession have been much like a visitors quotation.
Banking on the altering attitudes — the presence throughout the state of neighborhood retailers that bought medical marijuana had resulted in little crime and much-needed tax income for cities — pot supporters sponsored a measure to make leisure marijuana authorized, known as Modification 64. It permits anybody 21 or over to own as much as an oz. of pot, and it went into impact in December 2012.
It additionally created a framework for state-licensed shops to promote marijuana and marijuana merchandise, reminiscent of brownies.
Within the 14 months because the vote, a lot of the trouble by state and native officers has been to restrict the potential public well being hazards of authorized pot.
Faculties and Youngsters
Modification 64 was bought to voters as a approach to regulate and tax what had lengthy been a black market. The primary $40 million in state excise tax income will go to high school development and the remaining to pot regulation.
However some fear authorized pot will damage colleges and the youngsters who be taught. Throughout the 2012 election, the Colorado Schooling Affiliation, the state’s lecturers union, was one of many principal opponents to Modification 64.
“The extra entry there may be to marijuana, the extra likelihood there may be that college students will probably be utilizing at increased ranges,” wrote affiliation Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert throughout the marketing campaign. “We wish to minimize off entry and have our college students discover different methods to deal with issues which are going of their lives.”
The Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse launched a report in December that discovered rising marijuana use amongst highschool college students. Sixty p.c of twelfth graders considered marijuana use as not dangerous.
Colorado colleges have begun to separate marijuana from different drugs to higher observe authorized pot’s affect on colleges going ahead. The Denver Publish reported in November that marijuana was the explanation behind 32% of the 720 expulsions in Colorado colleges in 2012-2013, the primary 12 months it was tracked.
Faculties have lengthy taught college students about marijuana. The state has a program known as “Converse Now Colorado” that encourages dad and mom to speak to their youngsters. Christine R. Harms, director of the Colorado College Security Useful resource Middle, believes it is as much as the dad and mom.
“We are going to actually inform dad and mom to think about how very detrimental marijuana is to the adolescent mind and to maintain it away from youngsters,” Harms says.
However Elliott says banning has didn’t maintain pot out of colleges, as a result of drug sellers don’t have any motivation to maintain pot out. He stated the marijuana business does.
“A responsible-use marketing campaign is important to this. Clearly if teen marijuana use goes up, there are going to be lots of people questioning the knowledge of this (legalization) coverage,” he says.
State officers plan to do sting operations at pot shops to discourage gross sales to minors.
Shortly after voters legalized marijuana, state lawmakers adopted a blood-test normal of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, to find out who is just too excessive to drive.
It is unclear whether or not Modification 64 has made highways extra harmful. Colorado State Patrol spokesman Jeff Goodwin says the company has not separated marijuana from different drugs and alcohol in its reporting, although the state patrol will start doing so in 2014.
Marijuana supporters have criticized the strict normal, noting that heavier customers might be much less impaired than others whereas having the identical quantity of THC of their bloodstream.
‘From Seed to Sale’
One other main concern is the security and elements of the marijuana itself. Edibles, oils, and different pot-infused merchandise may include something. The USDA would not regulate a product the feds nonetheless take into account unlawful.
Colorado is transferring ahead with a compulsory testing program of its personal in 2014. Labels will point out a product’s efficiency, the place the marijuana was grown, and an inventory of nonorganic pesticides and herbicides utilized in its manufacturing.
Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait says the company hopes to have a testing program in place inside 6 months. Medical marijuana has not been topic to such testing and labeling necessities.
Additionally, the state lately put in place a monitoring program known as “from seed to sale.” Every leisure pot plant is fitted with a radio frequency identification tag.
“If we do run right into a well being concern, we will observe the marijuana to the plant and the place it was grown,” Postlethwait says.
Scientists and addiction specialists have lengthy debated the addictiveness of pot.
Some specialists say heavy use can result in psychological addiction. Customers develop a tolerance and a craving when not utilizing the drug. Former Surgeon Common Joycelyn Elders summed up the accepted science when she stated on CNN, “Marijuana shouldn’t be addictive, not bodily addictive anyway.”
Pot has lengthy been known as a “gateway drug,” finally main customers to more durable medication. The Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse report on teen drug use doesn’t tackle the “gateway drug” argument, although it does say that use of unlawful medication aside from pot goes down amongst excessive schoolers.
Elliott acknowledges the general public well being considerations. However he says he sees the pot business as “a part of the answer, not the issue.”
“What we’re pushing arduous is the general public schooling, to get pleasure from your authorized buy, however bear in mind, do not give it to youngsters. Do not promote it to anyone else. Do not eat it publicly. Do not take it out of state. Do not drive impaired.”
Colorado is one among two U.S. states the place it is authorized to smoke marijuana for leisure use. Here is how the regulation works:
- Have to be 21 or older
- Should purchase 1 ounce at a time (Colorado residents)
- Restricts non-residents to a quarter-ounce at one time
- Secondary gross sales unlawful
- No public smoking
- No indoor smoking the place cigarettes are banned
- Cities determine whether or not to permit pot retailers
- Can develop as much as six crops if 21 or older
- Can not take out of state
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