The Ruinous Consequences of Commercialized Marijuana
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
On November 6, 2012, Colorado voters passed Proposition 64 with a 55 percent majority, changing the state constitution to legalize and regulate “recreational” marijuana for residents aged 21 or more. Proposition 64 was actually written by two attorneys favoring both legalization and commercialization of marijuana. Their campaign was largely and lavishly financed by George Soros’s Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which overwhelmed the underfunded organization of volunteers opposing it. It became effective on January 1, 2014, and birthed a nightmare of poorly regulated commercialized high-potency marijuana production and sales. Its political and commercial boosters promised lower crime rates and more efficient use of law enforcement to focus on serious crimes.
It is extremely important to note here that the average potency of the cannabis (marijuana) products being sold in Colorado’s 491 commercial marijuana stores is approximately ten times the average national potency in 1985. The chemical that causes the “high” in marijuana is
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated THC. This averaged only about three percent by weight in 1985, but public advertisements for marijuana products with 30 percent THC are commonplace for Colorado marijuana retailers. More THC gives a higher and quicker feeling of euphoria, and market demand is driving up THC content. This is an unprecedented level uncovered by medical research and thus extraordinarily dangerous
So how is Colorado’s constitutional marijuana experiment working out for the people of Colorado? The cannabis industry must be making tons of money. There are 491 retail marijuana dispensaries but only 292 Starbucks and 208 McDonald’s restaurants in Colorado.
The cannabis industry should bring in about $260 million in tax revenues in 2019, but that is less than one percent of the state’s $28.9 billion annual budget. However, one strong signal of public dissatisfaction and alarm is that 65 percent of local jurisdictions have opted out of the
enthusiasm for pot prosperity by banning both medical and recreational marijuana sales within their boundaries.
Furthermore, reports of the Rocky Mountain HITDA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), a strategic intelligence unit of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency have shed unfavorable light on the impact of Colorado’s legalization and commercialization of marijuana. The latest annual RMHITDA update was published in September 2018.
Based on three-year averages comparing 2009-2012 to 2013-2016, marijuana use in Colorado for residents age-12 and older has risen 45 percent compared to 20 percent in the U.S. For those aged 18 to 25, marijuana use has risen 18 percent versus the national average of six percent. For adults age-26 or more, marijuana use has increased 68 percent compared to the national average of 35 percent. According to RMHITDA, 15.92 percent of Colorado residents age-12 or over use marijuana, 85 percent higher than the national average in 2016. Colorado, however, only ranked third in percentage of marijuana use then. Colorado is now thought to be number one in marijuana use.
The high growth for those age-26 or better may indicate Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws may be attracting migrants seeking a pro-marijuana social environment. This has probably helped change Colorado’s political environment as well. Currently, the Democrats dominate the Colorado General Assembly with a 60 percent majority.
The September 2018 RMHITDA update indicates that violent crimes (murders, rapes, assaults, etc.) have increased by 18.6 percent since the end of 2013, and property crimes increased 8.3 percent during the same period.
Annual traffic deaths have risen from 481 in 2013 to 648 in 2017, a 35 percent overall increase. The details reveal a heavy impact by marijuana users. Traffic deaths involving marijuana use increased from 71 in 2013 to 162 in 2017. Thus over half the increase in traffic deaths in the state from 2013 to 2017 was attributed to marijuana. The percentage of traffic deaths involving marijuana increased from 11.4 percent in 2013 to 21.3 percent in 2017. Sixty-nine percent of marijuana users in Colorado admit they have driven while high on marijuana. Fifty-seven percent admit to having driven within two hours of use. In 2017, 25 percent of the traffic deaths in Colorado were attributed to drivers high on marijuana.
A national study of 2015 data on drivers killed in car crashes published by Melanie Zanona in The Hill in April 2017, indicated that more were on drugs, 43 percent, than were above legal limits on alcohol, 37 percent. Thirty-six percent of the drivers had marijuana in their system.
In Colorado, much of this tragic increase in traffic deaths can be attributed to the higher THC content of marijuana products. Average THC content rose from 16.4 percent in 2014 to 19.6 percent in 2017 and is still rising. About 40 percent of marijuana consumption is now in “edibles.” Besides the candy, cookies, and drinks now frequently 30 percent THC or higher, THC “concentrates,” a very dangerous market innovation indeed, have risen from 57 percent THC in 2014 to 69 percent THC in 2017.
Influenced by DPA propaganda, an irresponsible media, and the resultant changes in social attitudes, 55 percent of marijuana users in Colorado believe it is safe to drive while under possible influence of marijuana.
All this evil is made more dangerous by misleading packaging. The legal limit per serving in Colorado is supposed to be 10 milligrams of THC per serving. You might buy a package of four marijuana gummy bears and think you had only 10 milligrams in the package, or perhaps you would think you had a total of 40 milligrams. But the fine print says that a single gummy bear contains four servings. Not everyone would know that you would be consuming four times the legal limit by eating a single gummy bear. Some pieces of candy or cookies contain 100 to 175 milligrams of THC. Sometimes sugar/marijuana rolled gummy bears are labeled as “medicine.”
An attempt to limit marijuana package contents to 16 milligrams failed in the Colorado Legislature—effectively blocked by cannabis industry lobbyists and their political allies.
This can be disastrous. In April 2014, Richard Kirk went to a nearby Colorado marijuana store and purchased a little Karma Candy treat with 100 milligrams of THC in it—ten legal servings. He ate it all on the way home. By the time he got home to his wife and three children, he was ranting and jumping in an out of windows, apparently in a state of THC induced psychosis. His wife called 911, but while she was still talking to them, he pulled a handgun out of a safe and shot her in the head, killing her.
In March 2014, foreign exchange student Levy Thamba Pongi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo came to Colorado for spring break. He and his friends came to Denver, Colorado, to get high, although Pongi was unfamiliar with marijuana. He ate a chocolate chip cookie with 80 milligrams of THC—eight legal servings. Wisely at first, he only consumed one eighth of the cookie. When it did not have an immediate effect, he ate the rest. He then went into a wild THC induced psychosis and jumped off the balcony, falling to his death. The coroner’s report cited marijuana intoxication as cause of death. One lesson here is that high THC potency marijuana may not seem to have much effect for a couple of hours, thus inducing its victims into eating more to get the big high, which could be a medical disaster. American hospitals are seeing marijuana cases in the emergency room in ever increasing numbers.
Marijuana often takes several years to do its worst damage, but with much higher THC contents, this may change. A study of over 45,000 Swedish compulsory military recruits for the years 1969 to 1970, found a link between marijuana and psychosis even when THC content averaged only about two percent. At age 60, 8.1 percent of 89 percent who had never used marijuana had died. But 13 percent of those who had used it even once before recruitment had died. Of those who had used marijuana more than 50 times, 16.6 percent (twice the ratio of the non-users) had died. An article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in April 2016 by Manrique-Garcia et al. estimated that after eliminating confounding factors, the high marijuana group was 40 percent more likely to die before age 60. A high number of these, about 40 percent, committed suicide.
Far more common than these heart-breaking stories of mental illness, increased crime and violence, traffic deaths, and shorter lives linked to marijuana use, is what health professionals call “Amotivational Syndrome.” Frequent marijuana use is associated with loss of motivation, loss of energy, lack of ambition and purpose, neglect of priorities, apathy, decline in mental sharpness, and changes in personality disposition. This is frequently the formula for failing school grades, dropping out of school, social withdrawal, loss of employment, and family problems of every sort. Summed together, widespread Amotivational Syndrome is a nation-destroying disaster.