Culture

Hooray for Marijuana Legalization in Colorado!

I live in Boulder County, Colorado, the genesis of the marijuana legalization movement in my state. The students at the University of Colorado in Boulder hold an annual illegal celebration called 420. Every year on April 20 students cover the campus lawns and smoke marijuana.  There are other rallies, but this is one of the most famous.

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Our home has a lovely view over the Boulder valley, and last spring when I pointed out a low-lying fog bank in the early morning my youngest son joked: “I think that’s the pot haze from Boulder, Mom.”

cloudy foothills

Colorado, a state previously known for fresh air, active lifestyles and beautiful mountains, is now the Pothead state. Thanks, marijuana activists.

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On the other hand, we can now get to the important part of pot legalization: Getting users into rehab and getting them clean. This attitude does not endear me to libertarian types and marijuana users, who consider pot a harmless drug. Here’s a sample of headlines from marijuana activists in their joy at achieving recreational pot legalization in Colorado:

“It’s a plant, it’s harmless, and now anyone over 21 can buy it if they want to. Beautiful.” (A quote from pot shop owner Amy Reynolds.)

Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization  (A joke column from the Daily Currant).

Here Are All The People Who Have Died From A Marijuana Overdose (The article shows a .gif of playing pandas, because no one has died from a marijuana overdose.  Hilarious!)

The lie of marijuana as a harmless drug must be fought strongly, ferociously, and with every tool at our disposal. Join me if you drive a car on the highway, if you ever get on an aircraft, or if you have children. Marijuana is an addicting drug that stupefies the brain, stays in the human system for days, and puts anyone around an addict at risk.

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On March 30, 1983, a Gates Learjet 25 was approaching its destination at Newark Airport,USA.
The aircraft bounced on landing, banked to the right then struck the ground in a right-wing low
identified with the aircraft. Toxicological examination of the pilots revealed that both had used
or been exposed to marijuana. Impairment of both pilots due to drugs was listed as a
contributing factor in the cause of this accident, with the pilot being found to have smoked
marijuana in the 24 hours prior to the crash.

— From “Cannabis and its Effects on Pilot Performance and Flight Safety: A Review” by David G. Newman, advisor to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

After this crash, a study was done on airline pilot marijuana use by the ATSB. The study is meticulous and horrifying and timeless. You can read it here, and I recommend it highly. If you’ve been around habitual pot smokers, you already know what the drug does. A user is dull, unfocused, and frequently loses the thread of conversation. A user may be clean-cut and wearing a suit and tie, but he just isn’t completely there.

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Newman’s study examined airline pilots in a simulator after smoking a single cannibis cigarette. From the study:

Marijuana caused alterations in concentration, and in some cases complete loss of orientation. Attending behaviour also changed in some pilots, with them paying attention to only one variable to the absolute exclusion of all others. Temporal distortion, a known consequence of acute marijuana exposure,was also noted,with some pilots no longer being able to tell how long they had been flying for. This occurred despite the presence of a stopwatch and written instructions for the flight sequence.

Anyone up for a nice airplane ride with a pilot on this “harmless” drug? Me neither. I’d rather fly with Otto the Autopilot from Airplane.

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Marijuana advocates declare that pot smoking causes drivers to be slow and cautious instead of fast and reckless, like drunk drivers. This pot-impaired driver just drove slowly and cautiously into the back of a police cruiser in Denver. No one was hurt in this crash.  Others aren’t so lucky.

stoned driver hits patrol car

Fortunately for all of us, employers can still fire Colorado pot users for legal use. You can smoke it, but you can’t drive a forklift or a train or get behind the controls of an aircraft. But how long will that last, if we don’t fight the pot-is-harmless lie? Union activists are already working to reinstate a pilot fired for being on pot: “Pot-puffing pilot admits regular weed use: Wants job back.

Legalization of marijuana should allow us to put the users of this drug in rehab, where they belong. I’m pleased that we won’t throw marijuana addicts in jail, which does no one any good. But unless our culture understands the terrible effects of this drug, our addicts won’t be getting clean. They’ll be driving your kids to school on the bus, or fumbling through the takeoff checklist on your next aircraft flight, or running into you on our highways. It’s time to get users into rehab and off the streets. And past time to fight back against the lie that marijuana is harmless.

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Photos courtesy of CBS, and Shutterstock:  ArindambanerjeeEric FahrnerKamenetskiy Konstantin.