Debate Grows as Quickly as Weed Five Years After Colorado Pot Legalization

Farmworkers inside a drying barn take down newly-harvested marijuana plants at Los Suenos Farms, America's largest legal open air marijuana farm, in Avondale, Colo., on Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Larry Bird pointed to an editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette as he tried to warn his fellow Hesperia, Calif., city council members that expanding the municipality’s cannabis delivery zone would only increase the “ease of accessibility” to marijuana and “open a Pandora’s box.”

“My concern is that it’s going to invade our schools, homes and community,” the Hesperia Daily Press reported Bird said.

A politician in Colorado, Republican Tom Tancredo, who may have blown his bid to become governor in 2014 because he backed legal pot, said he’d gladly take the same stand again.

But Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) vowed this fall that Colorado’s experiment with legalized weed has proven marijuana should never be legal in his state.

In Hesperia, Bird failed. The city council approved an expansion of the city’s marijuana delivery zone.

“The people that are smoking will continue to smoke and those that eat will continue to eat,” said Hesperia Mayor Paul Russ, who is being treated with medicinal marijuana while waiting for a kidney and liver transplant.

Bird argued he didn’t want to take away anyone’s right to use marijuana. He was only worried that Hesperia would suffer the same legal weed woes that the Gazette editorial highlighted on the fifth anniversary of legal weed in Colorado.

Under the headline “The sad anniversary of Big Commercial Pot in Colorado,” the Gazette’s editorial board described the state’s legalization of marijuana as “an embarrassing cautionary tale.”

It includes more than a doubling in the number of fatal accidents involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana.

Along with five years of legal weed, Colorado has also seen its homeless population swell to a level that is among the highest in America. The Gazette editorial board sees a link between people living on the street and the availability of free weed because homeless shelter directors said substance abusers move to Colorado because it’s easier to score a bag of weed.

More kids than ever are getting high inside Colorado’s K-12 schools, the Gazette also reported. Drug violations reported by the state’s public schools increased 45 percent since the legalization of pot, according to a 2016 Rocky Mountain PBS investigation.

“When I grew up, it was horrible if you got caught with pot,” said teacher Matt Murphy. “Now there are little green medical signs everywhere. It seems healthy. We’re at the front lines of this huge shift where kids think it’s OK.”

The PBS investigation also highlighted the case of Marc Bullard, a 23-year-old from Texas who moved to Denver after graduating from Southern Methodist University. He landed in a sea of weed.

“His diary describes an addiction to marijuana dabbing,” Rocky Mountain PBS reported. “He wrote, ‘I found out I was dabbing too much, which I already knew…. Apparently if you overdo it, you can get almost like poison and experience some negative effects.’”