Finally Some Truth in Media

Just swinging by to make sure everyone reads this important, groundbreaking piece in the Colorado Springs newspaper The Gazette.

http://gazette.com/clearingthehaze

Clearing the Haze by The Gazette

Their choice of courage and integrity …. to tell the truth in the face of massive media bias, completely bought and paid for by the Big Marijuana Industry (NORML, The Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Free Policy Alliance) is inspiring and encouraging.

Make sure you check out the entire series: http://gazette.com/clearingthehaze

Also see my quote in this piece which shows the reality of our state’s pitiful prevention efforts:

http://gazette.com/state-prevention-efforts-criticized/article/1548298

“Many of the state’s addiction treatment providers, substance prevention professionals and advocates working in their communities to reduce drug use and abuse also say the CDPHE and the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination have given marijuana industry representatives too much influence. Among them is Jo McGuire, a Colorado Springs-based consultant who specializes in helping employers maintain drug-free workplace policies and serves on the national board of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association.

In August, McGuire attended a CDPHE event headlined “Marijuana Workshop for State and Local Public Health,” during which a lawyer for the marijuana industry and a physician who recommends marijuana spoke. She was particularly surprised by the bud tender who lectured the safe, regular use of highly potent THC concentrates.

“None of what these marijuana- industry representatives said was supported by one shred of responsible science, and it was absolutely stunning to me that our state health officials gave these people such a place of authority and legitimacy,” she said.

“It’s one thing if CDPHE officials want to better understand the industry by meeting with people and taking their own notes, but it is very much another and beyond ridiculous for them to make marijuana industry leaders keynote speakers who get to dominate the floor and drive the agenda.

“It’s like inviting Philip Morris executives to help us learn how to use tobacco and develop our next anti-smoking campaign.”

Thank you to the editorial team who worked tirelessly on this and keep your eyes open for more TRUTH on this important topic.

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Truth Twisting & Over-selling the Marijuana Tax Promise

When I see headlines blaring blatant inaccuracies and flat-out falsehoods about the “success” of marijuana legalization in Colorado … it frustrates me that the watching world buys into the lie.  Too harsh?  Well … judge for yourself.

Here is a gem from two weeks ago that claims Colorado is making “so much money” the state has to give some back:

The content of this piece is utterly replete with false assumptions and made-up “facts”. Yes, there is a slight correction at the end but it comes nowhere near rescuing the writer from a foray into over-glorifying the world of weed.

The very first sentence states that “Colorado voters knew that passing Amendment 64 would raise tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue”. Truth: Colorado voters were promised $120 million dollars in tax revenue ANNUALLY with the first $40 million ear-marked for public school building funds EACH YEAR. Not just one time, but (again) ANNUALLY.

It seems these promises have long been forgotten as history is re-written by marijuana enthusiasts and uninformed media.

BrokeAnother inaccuracy here is that the state of Colorado “under-estimated” the revenue we would receive. Seriously?  Go back to the above: we were promised $120 million and have fallen DRASTICALLY short of that amount. Our projections were lowered repeatedly in 2014 by the state’s economist.  Finally landing in the range of hoping for $30 million in tax revenue …. this does not even begin to cover the costs of regulation, much less fulfill the $40 million for schools, and yes … then there is TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights).

TRUTH: The writers of Amendment 64 knew that the taxation scheme presented was not TABOR-compliant from the beginning and chose to ignore it. Just another loophole for which we now must find a solution. These facts can be easily discovered by reviewing the Governor’s Task force recordings from 2013 which are on file with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). A bit of journalistic integrity would suggest fact-checking these issues.

Oh and … those “millions” going back to the Taxpayers? Yes, I will get approximately $7.50 in credit on my utility bill that will suffice as my “millions.”  Thank you, Big Marijuana. You can’t even buy me a decent dinner.

About the only thing in this article that is close to accurate is the thriving black market. People can grow their own, so why should they pay sales tax? They are also circumventing the tax structure by purchasing marijuana from dispensaries rather than retail stores (among other work-arounds for avoiding the tax). Taxes, which the supporters of marijuana claimed they were “happy to pay!” just a year ago when this was all new and shiny.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/us/colorado-stores-throw-open-their-doors-to-pot-buyers.html?_r=0

Way back in 2014 when pot taxes were happily embraced.

Finally, I really must address this delusional statement that “Colorado is estimated to have saved between $12 million and $40 million by freeing up law enforcement to focus on criminal activity unrelated to marijuana.”  This statement is patently false. Where is the proof?

According to the Denver Police Department, crime is up. And according to the Colorado State Patrol, traffic fatalities involving marijuana have increased by 100%. Law enforcement is losing money on road-side sobriety calls. Hash oil explosions are up significantly as well. For the TRUTH on these REAL marijuana outcomes, check out the comprehensive report by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA).

It saddens me that irresponsible reporting takes front and center stage with gleeful headlines that do not portray the truth of how Colorado is left coping with the difficult realities and complex problems associated with commercialized marijuana.

Truth isn’t particularly popular these days as we seem to prefer tabloid-style sensationalism, but just a bit of research into the facts reveals that legal pot isn’t all that’s been promised and time won’t heal this wound to our public health and safety. In the meantime, keep searching for the REAL stories in spite of the absurd and learn lessons from Colorado’s folly.

Hickenlooper Says Marijuana is “Reckless” but Doesn’t Back it Up on Edibles

Gummy

On Mon., Oct. 20, Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, publicly called for a ban on marijuana edibles in Colorado. In a matter of hours, the department walked back its proposal with a statement crafted by marijuana coordinators working in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

hickenlooper

A CDPHE employee, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of losing employment, reported that Dr. Wolk was pressured to withdraw the proposal –and points to the transmission of an e-mail sent to Dr. Wolk by J. Skyler McKinley, deputy director of marijuana coordination. The message’s subject line is “Statement from CDPHE on edibles?,” and it is time-stamped 3:03 p.m., Oct. 20.

“Here’s what we came up with. Feel free to adjust, edit as you see fit …” McKinley wrote when guiding CDPHE officials on how they should withdraw the department’s call for an edibles ban.

In the ensuing thread, Dr. Wolk sent a message acknowledging he had “no choice at this point” but to go along, the CDPHE employee also reported. Before the e-mail exchange, Dr. Wolk had received a call from Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination, the employee also said.

“You better ask for a copy of this e-mail because messages like this have a way of disappearing very quickly,” the CDPHE employee said.

Indeed, we filed a Colorado Open Records Act request on October 22nd, seeking the e-mail that CDPHE employees have copies of — and the State of Colorado told us this evening it has no such record.

Sure it doesn’t.

Sharing My Experience With Alaska

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I’m spending a week in Alaska sharing the Colorado experience with commercialized legal marijuana. Their ballot measure is very similar to Amendment 64. No limits on by-products, potencies, concentrates, etc.

I am providing insight about why Colorado voters now largely regret their decision to legalize.

Alaska already has legal marijuana and those who choose to use it – do so freely. Why sell out to Big Marijuana?

In fact the Marijuana Policy Project said recently, “We don’t care about Alaskans, we care about winning ground in Alaska for our cause.”

I’m here to say, “I care”. Alaska is a beautiful place and as sad as I am to see more marijuana shops in Denver than Starbucks and McDonalds combined …. I hope Alaskans do not choose to suffer a similar fate.

Colorado Reckless

Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper, stated yesterday that the decision to legalize recreational marijuana by Colorado voters was reckless.  Why did he say this? Because regardless of how you feel about personal adult marijuana use – the ability to regulate marijuana is being found an impossible task in Colorado. There simply is not enough money, not enough man-power, not enough standardized measurement, not enough consistency and not  enough integrity to make this work.

Wait …. did I say “integrity”?  What does that have to do with anything?

We in Colorado have found that the Big Marijuana proponents, sponsored by big dollars …. come in to our states with a strategic plan that fits their own agenda. They write the laws (NOT our policy-makers), they write the regulatory framework, they call the shots and then …. they fight regulation every step of the way.  The very regulation THEY proposed and promised would be followed by their industry because they want to be legitimized.

But in “real life” it doesn’t work that way. If stricter regulation is called for (example: tighter measures to keep it out of the hands of children) the marijuana proponents and their attorneys threaten with fear tactics of keeping the black market alive (it’s thriving anyway), threaten to file lawsuits, make personal attacks on people concerned about public health and safety, misuse and misquote statistics, ignore the science, and use every other diversion tactic imaginable to reject ACTUAL regulation.

It’s no wonder marijuana legalization efforts are being RUSHED through states quickly – providing extremely short time-frames to create governance and oversight, tying the hands of policy-makers from the ability to explore all options and learn best practices. We have no evidence-based model that regulation works and in Colorado we are sadly learning that regulation is a mirage.

Let’s call it what it is … commercialized marijuana. Think “Big Tobacco”.  If we could go back in time 100 years and witness the Tobacco industry touting cigarettes as healthy, as medicinal, as a natural resource good for our bodies … would we sit by and support it?  Would we let them market to our children? It would be reckless to do so.  And reckless in Colorado is what we are.

Time will prove this to be true over and over again. Time we cannot recover and mistakes we cannot unmake.

How “Safe” is SAFE?

The marijuana legalization effort sweeping the nation comes with a big promise that marijuana is SAFE. This statement comes with various taglines, such as: no overdose deaths related to marijuana, safer than alcohol, safer than other drugs, not a gateway drug and not addictive.

Remember the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”?

According to the World Health Organization’s statistics on alcohol-related deaths include alcohol-related diseases, accidents caused by impairment resulting in fatal injuries, road traffic crashes, violence and suicides. Marijuana-related deaths are not calculated in the same method to include like statistics. Efforts to legalize entitled “regulate like alcohol” should mean that we draw parallel comparisons and keep statistical data in the exact same manner.

In Colorado many voters are learning more information about the “safety” of marijuana. Feeling duped, people often ask, “How can I take my vote back?” Unfortunately for them, it is not going to be easy undoing their decision, but maybe others can learn from Colorado’s colossal mistake. Here is just how SAFE marijuana is proving to be in Colorado:

IRRESPONSIBLE LEVELS OF THC WITHOUT RESTRICTION

Unrestricted THC allowances have taken the norm from 2% up to a whopping 90%

European nations consider THC over 15% on par with hard drugs, such as heroin

Colorado is celebrating products with potencies never before seen in marijuana use without limitations or research as to the side-effects

Colorado’s Department of Revenue is engaged in helping refine the process for creating butane hash oil extractions

ADULT EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS

Marijuana is the greatest reason for Emergency Room visits over all other drugs combined

Symptoms for adults range from collapsing, painful cyclic-vomiting, extreme anxiety, elevated heart rate, hyper-ventilating and high blood pressure to fear of dying

Testing of edibles causing violent reactions shows no other laced substances present, only THC

CHILD ENDANGERMENT

Child poisonings have climbed significantly with calls to poison control centers increasing 30%

Children require intensive care with extended hospitalization

Two children have required intubation because they stopped breathing on their own

What other action could cause a child this type of trauma and yet be hailed as “safe”?

OTHER HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH MARIJUANA USE

Myocardial infarction among those with pre-existing coronary artery disease

Lung disease and cancers of the head and neck

Marijuana-impaired traffic fatalities have increased 100% from 2007 – 2012

RISK OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Marijuana use is associated with increased risks for mental illness, psychotic episodes, schizophrenia, neuropsychological decline and suicide

Marijuana users are at a 17% increased risk for depression onset, regardless of age. For heavy users (weekly) the risk is increased to 62%

40% increased risk of psychotic symptoms or disorders in those who have used cannabis

Drug legalization is not a safe or productive response to mental illness and addiction

DEATHS ASSOCIATED WITH MARIJUANA USE

Foreign exchange student Levi Pongi, leapt to his death from a hotel room after suffering paranoia and erratic, hallucinatory behavior following ingestion of a marijuana cookie

48 year old Richard Kirk shot his wife to death after eating marijuana-laced candy

2 year old Levi Walton who tested positive for THC in a DHS investigation just hours before a fatal house fire took his life, as adults in another room smoked marijuana

Were these incidents caused by any other impairing substance we would read headlines screaming that the substance was responsible for their deaths

Why is the marijuana industry not taking proactive, public measures to issue warnings and disclaimers about the dangers associated with childhood exposures?

YES, MARIJUANA IS ADDICTIVE

The frequency of cannabis use is significantly associated with other illicit drug use and dependence

Addiction comes with associated risks and other diseases

1 in 6 adolescents and 1 in 10 adult users develop dependency to the point of requiring treatment

One of the most concerning items about marijuana-related illness, injury and death is that incidents pertaining to this substance are typically not tracked well. Due to the Schedule 1 nature of marijuana (listed as such because of potential for poisoning, addiction and lack of medical use) it has not historically been the subject of statistical data-gathering by hospitals or law enforcement and is not routinely included in criteria that would be managed in related outcome reports. Therefore, the actual numbers of deaths specifically related to marijuana are not known. That does not mean the statement can be made “no deaths related to marijuana.” It simply means, we do not yet know, as the outcomes have not been calculated.

New data gathering requirements will have no comparison numbers for decades. Futuristically, we will have data that causes our great-grandchildren to scratch their heads and wonder what we were thinking when we unleashed legal marijuana upon society and they will marvel at how we not only re-defined safe … but also: TRUTH.

Altered Reality

Staying calm but not quiet.

Staying calm but not quiet.

Colorado is my home state.  I have raised my 3 children here. Our family has lived, worked, played and experienced 24 years of our crazy, amazing life in the shadow of Pikes Peak, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

And now, here we are … nearly 18 months since recreational marijuana was legalized by Colorado voters and we find ourselves in an entirely new paradigm.

It’s interesting to have the eyes of the world on Colorado and to hear how the pundits, politicians and paparazzi constantly spin the state of affairs. The majority of whom have no idea what they are talking about.

When Amendment 64 was put on the Colorado ballot – the majority of people thought it could never happen here and most paid absolutely no attention to it – thinking it was ridiculous and tuning out the chatter. The perception was that some radically-minded folks took advantage of a loop-hole in Colorado law, allowing proposed amendments to our state constitution by collecting a certain amount of voter signatures for ballot initiatives … but realistically it didn’t have a prayer of passing.

Then the messaging happened: “40 million dollars for public schools”, “millions in tax revenue”, “regulate like alcohol”, “less harmful than alcohol”, “it’s safe!”, etc. Many politically concerned people, from party leaders to office-holders of all types, scoffed at the very notion this would convince voters, while the average citizen went, “Hey, I don’t use it but if we can regulate and tax it, why not?”  Sounds good on the surface, but idealism isn’t always that simple.

Marijuana is NOT. THAT. SIMPLE.

I started learning about the Amendment 64 initiative in June of 2012, 5 months before election day.

As a mom, I attended the Blue Book hearings and asked legislators to consider how this would impact our youth. As a professional, I spoke to employers about the impact to our work places. As a speaker, I debated the weaknesses of the legislation. As a citizen, I contacted representatives. 

What I did most of all, was educate myself. I called toxicology labs, physicians, treatment providers, employment attorneys and prevention specialists. I joined with other moms to learn the facts. I asked for the best science, the most in-depth medical studies, the latest technology and above all … the TRUTH.

And then I made a decision to speak that truth, regardless of who may – or may not – be listening. But that doesn’t mean I am always heard.

Here is a piece of my truth: marijuana impacts my life on a daily basis. It is now an integral part of my career, it is a major focus for me and a topic I am well and widely versed upon.

But there are not enough hours in the day or venues available for me to tell enough people what some of us REALLY know about marijuana  and to effectively get the truth out there.

So what better way than to start blogging and sharing what life is really like in this live-action adventure of legalized recreational marijuana? I will talk about how we got here, what’s going on behind-the-scenes, my own personal experiences and quite frankly, anything else I find helpful to whomever may trip across my pages.

And just for starters – please know that we are not all stoned in Colorado – although we are living in an altered reality!