Our View: Medical marijuana series aims to educate

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Editorial Board, August through December 2010

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  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
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  • Sue Birch, community representative

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Today through Friday, you’ll find a three-part series about medical marijuana in the Steamboat Today. The series, “Growing Pains,” is an examination of the explosion of the industry in the state and Routt County, as well as Colorado lawmakers’ attempt to manage it.

We tackled this issue not only because of its high reader interest but also because Colorado has become a leader nationwide in medical marijuana. Other states are calling up officials here to talk about steps they can take after voters approve the drug for medicinal purposes.

It’s unclear exactly how many medical marijuana cardholders there are in Routt County. The number certainly is growing, however, and the number of users has reached an estimated 113,000 statewide. This issue isn’t going away, and it’s important for all of us to be informed.

Voters approved a very basic amendment in 2000: They legalized medical marijuana for people who have certain medical conditions and a recommendation from a doctor. But the industry really exploded only last year, after President Barack Obama’s administration said it would not use federal resources to prosecute people who were following their state’s medical marijuana laws. That’s when dispensaries started appearing in Routt County.

State lawmakers hustled to get regulations on the books to dictate how the industry would operate. Many dispensary owners welcomed the new rules — in principle, at least —because they sought legitimacy for their businesses. Those regulations helped, but additional steps will be necessary to keep the industry above board.

It’s also important to remember that voters approved marijuana ostensibly to be used for medicinal reasons, and the framework of the law should prevent the blurring of those lines. It’s possible that some of those voters saw medical marijuana as the first step toward total legalization of the drug. Regardless of whether that’s true, the current letter of the law allows use only for medical purposes. As Colorado Attorney General John Suthers told us, “Anybody who doesn’t think there’s abuse going on has to be pretty naïve.”

But as we examine the issue as communities (Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Oak Creek have allowed dispensaries, and Hayden has chosen not to), it behooves us also to look at the big picture. We have made decisions about which drugs are considered acceptable, keeping alcohol and many pharmaceuticals legal while criminalizing marijuana and other substances. What are the societal costs of criminalizing marijuana versus the societal costs of legalizing it? And if we did legalize and regulate it as a nation, would that do anything to end the brutal drug wars and murders happening in Mexico and along our southern border? Would we be more safe or less safe?

Could we legalize marijuana, tax it and improve the state’s fiscal position? Many cities already are seeing a significant impact with sales tax collections from medical marijuana, and those dispensaries — now called centers — and grow operations certainly are providing jobs. In Steamboat, Rocky Mountain Remedies serves 1,000 regular patients a month, is expected to employ 20 full-time workers by this month and is among the 36 largest in the state based on number of patients.

“Growing Pains” addresses the rapid growth and changes specifically in Colorado and provides a snapshot of the larger national response to medical marijuana. We hope it helps the community understand the emerging issue and its importance, and we hope you find the story as interesting as we do.

Comments

Kerrie Cooper 4 years, 2 months ago

The legalization of medical dispensaries is insane and completely symbolic of how totally sick our society has become. It's one thing to be dying of cancer with a prescription from a licensed physician, but it's another to smoke (or eat) marijuana for a variety of excuses in order to use drugs. People have become lazy victims to themselves, doing everything to avoid making healthy choices to deal with their physical problems, becoming one of the living dead.

It's funny how no one mentions the incredible mental side effects from long term marijuana usage, such as depression & psychosis. How do I know? Four of the dearest men in my life (from an uncle to husband to boyfriends) were &/or chronic users, all now dealing with severe depression requiring treatment, or personality disorders (even years AFTER stopping using) that are insane trying to live with. All were healthy teens at one time, until they began smoking on a daily basis & slowly the brain chemistry changed.

As harsh as this is to say, if people are in so much pain they need drugs to live, then you are not living anymore & should consider calling it a day. I have had SO many serious injuries and told at one point I should be paralyzed from my spinal shape, yet somehow I have seemed to mentally overcome all the injuries with healthy alternatives & a strong mind, without one ounce of marijuana & live without taking anything.

Wake up America and stop being SUCH cowards facing life & try making healthy choices to your healthcare...Stop supplying the pharmaceutical companies unnecessarily and stop funding your local drug dealers.

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hereandthere 4 years, 2 months ago

"if people are in so much pain they need drugs to live, ....should consider calling it a day". Wow, tells me pretty much all I want to know about this individual.

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mavis 4 years, 2 months ago

Honestly I had no idea how "sick" our society had become... after reading the new "High Times" of a newspaper we have I am really in shock and quite ready to move. Being a 4th generation local that used to dream of raising my kids in the same environment I grew up in . I am now SO thankful they are toddlers and can't read the local newspaper. The search has begun for my family on finding new jobs in a state that does NOT have multiple page advertisements of how many ways you can consume POT. Really.... I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I do not have middle school or high school kids right now because this town and the new " Stamboat High Times Newspaper" have REALLY put a damper on the "small town" values.

I am sure I am going to get slammed with this comment..... but really...... if this is what Steamboat has turned into...... it is time to get REALLY REALLY REALLY far away

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hereandthere 4 years, 2 months ago

And the two page Central Park Liquor ad did not bother you at all?

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JJ Southard 4 years, 2 months ago

See ya Mavis.... Steamboat is a wonderful place. The articles are educational, even a bright teenager would see the "adult" nature of the articles and even the local law enforcement mentioned that nothing has really changed due to the industry of MMJ being in town. Same ole Steamboat. But if ya gotta go, go.... you will miss it. Would you rather everyone be runnin around on piles of prescriptions pills.... See ya.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 2 months ago

Mavis & lovestoread--

You two should run off together somewhere that has an abundance of sand, like the desert or something. That way, you can live out your days with plenty of places to bury your head and block out the rest of the outside world. I hate to burst you pretty little bubble, but the world is chock-full of things that you're not going to like. There will be things that your child encounter that will frighten you, but there's probably not much that you can do to prevent that from happening. What you can prevent is being uninvolved in the lives of your children. What else can you do besides teaching them right from wrong and staying involved in their lives? You can't shelter your kids from everything but you can preemptively teach them about the things they might encounter and ask them about the things they've already encountered. Quit pointing fingers. And don't fool yourself into believing that you'll be missed around here.

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Cooke 4 years, 2 months ago

Your attitude seems pretty shortsighted Mavis. Kids today in any culture and environment in the US are going to be exposed to things that we as parents would maybe prefer them not to be. Seems it's my job, not the newspaper's, not their school's, and not their peer's, to instill value in my kids.

I, for one, applaud the series for educating the public on the reality of pot in Colorado and 14 other states. I am not a user, but I read the series with great interest and had many involved discussions with peers and colleagues as a result. If, Mavis, you see medical marijuana as a problem, I would recommend that you worry about how you educate your kids on it -- it's not going to go away, and more and more states are going to allow it.

But, on the other hand, if you are going to run away from this great community and deny the opportunities that Steamboat provides for the youth because of a perfectly legal, voter-approved industry, well...we are probably better off without you.

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OnTheBusGus 4 years, 2 months ago

Mavis, It's not just Steamboat, it's most of Colorado (Denver included). Therefore, I recommend you move waaaaay down south to Louisiana, Alabama ,Texas or Georgia. These states have some pretty strict laws against marijuana. Look them up here: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4516 Enjoy!!!

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Kerrie Cooper 4 years, 2 months ago

Dear, mmjPatient22 & the rest that support medical marijuana,

I have never seen a community in the denial it's in, more than Steamboat (& I have lived in many). It prides itself on its family image, yet there is very little in terms of "values" to be found in Steamboat. How many adults &/or teenagers can you name that do not have alcohol problems or engage in drug use, incl: marijuana. It's a joke & it's a scary problem. Just go spend a weekend in the emergency room &/or local jail and be ready for the surprise of your life. Maybe you should all read the article in Newsweek a while back, about the 500 percent increase of ER visits due to the potency of marijuana these days, and the horrible psychotic problems caused by it, not to mention the actual dead patches in the brain caused by the drugs. Funny how that isn't mentioned.

As for my children, my kids are loved & communicated to on every imaginable topic & always have been, & surprise, surprise are one of the few that are truly drug free (& yes I've had them drug tested to be sure) They are awesome productive human beings that are strong mentally & physically & don't need drugs because they're too afraid to face life. They were taught LIFE IS A BI*CH, but that is life & you must face it with honor & integrity & make it the best you can. We have become a country of cowards, violently trying to justify why drugs are better than inner strength & introspection.

As for moving, why should I have to leave the natural beauty & mountains of this part of Colorado because of a lot of very weak human beings? My love & integrity of nature here outweighs the lack of integrity of the people that engage in very unhealthy lifestyle. .

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hereandthere 4 years, 2 months ago

Heck of a way to love and communicate with your kids: "and yes I've had them drug tested to be sure".I hope your kids do grow up with honor and integrity, and not as narrow minded and mean spirited as you seem to be. I'm still amazed by your comment that those that need medication to deal with chronic pain should consider calling it a day. Wonder what you teach your kids about the use of alcohol, which, by the way, is also a drug.A drug that has caused far more damage to individuals and society. Funny how that isn't mentioned.

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dave reynolds 4 years, 2 months ago

mmj you have some valid points but I'm here to tell you..if a 23 to 30year old gets a card for cronic pain then this tells me people are abusing the system just like alcohol..i know of five medical card holders who BLANTLY brag about being able to buy weed legally and they have there friends put in orders with them..this is why I think this whole thing is a joke and is a way for for recreational users to obtain weed legally..whats the answer I don't know..maybe you can use your savi to come up with a way to regiment some control cause if this continues then it is going to ruin it for those of you who really need it..case in point the musician i've been using for 30 or 40 years..ya right medicly I seriously doubt that...you get my point.I am divided it has created more jobs more sales taxes and more state taxes..catch 22

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Cooke 4 years, 2 months ago

Amen Paddle.

CO put its cart before its horse with this thing, and now there is serious abuse in the system. If the Medical MJ community wants to get some credibility, it needs to build credibility into the system -- they should police their own, lobby for stricter controls, encourage enforcement, etc.

That being said, how easy do you think it would be for me to go out today and get a prescription for Vicodin? Probably as easy as it would for me to get a medical mj card - maybe easier. Picking on people who abuse the medical mj system without acknowledging the abuse in the prescription drug world is ridiculous. BOTH systems need to be overhauled.

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housepoor 4 years, 2 months ago

it seems to me that the ease of getting a perscription makes it legal for all practical purposes, just legalize it and tax and regulate it like booze anyone who wants can already get it and for the most part smoke it in there own home worry free

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freerider 4 years, 2 months ago

lovestoread....this isn't about you ...your arrogant and naive ...I guess your just a perfect example of a human sheep ..baaa baaa baaa that thinks you have the only valid opinion on the planet .. you actually believe your own B.S. you sound like one of those propaganda ads from the fifties " reefer madness" anybody with an I.Q. over 50 knows it's B.S you say anyone in pain should call it a day ..wow !!! I hope you get cancer real soon so you get a dose of what some people go through ....your a perfect example of a cold hearted hateful human being that has no business running your pie hole at anybody... I lost my mom to cancer and the only thing that made her final days better was marijuana ...you are a pathetic hateful arrogant creep to the max

and mavis I'll help you pack

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flotilla 4 years, 2 months ago

Hello~ Lovestoread, could you please link to the Newsweek article you refer to? I searched but could not find it! You said: Maybe you should all read the article in Newsweek a while back, about the 500 percent increase of ER visits due to the potency of marijuana these days, and the horrible psychotic problems caused by it, not to mention the actual dead patches in the brain caused by the drugs. Funny how that isn't mentioned.

So figured I should read it. Please link! Thanks!

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 2 months ago

flotilla- That's one thing I've picked up on from engaging a couple of the staunch prohibitionists on this site; there are a number of them that find it very easy to "fib" on some facts/data if it weighs in favor of their side of the argument. I wonder if Lovestoread and aichempty ever compare notes?

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bandmama 4 years, 2 months ago

free, flotilla & mmj- they dont have to compare notes. It is a sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? free- I am sorry about your mom. After working a decade plus in the health field and seeing first hand what a drug, any drug that brings comfort to some can do. I know I have no business saying nay to anything. Anyone who does is just cold and inhumane. Now go ahead, someone verbally abuse me for advocating something proven to give relief to really sick people. I'll take a hit for the team. (ehhh ehhh..she said 'hit")

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overit 4 years, 2 months ago

I love sitting here reading everybody's reactions to dope. I'm not sure how many of you went to college but pot is all over the place. Has anyone actually seen anybody really stoned? They get permafried and kinda just roam around not really noticing whats going on? Frankly they look like idiots and they smell funky and dont think. Like seriously from that standpoint alone why would anybody want a buch of stoners loose in the community legally acting like jackwagons. Thats so dumb to me. Yes alcohol is also considered a drug and I think its effects are just as negative as marijuanica. And people do get in trouble for consuming mass amounts of booze. So if they do legalize dope will there be a limit to how stoned a person can get? Weed inhibits neurofunctions and that is bad for the brain. Long term use does in fact alter brain chemistry and studies have shown over prolonged periods of use to kill parts of the brain. That is science not moral opinion. Its gross to smell gross to see and there are other ways at helping with the pain. People use weed as a crutch becuase they feel it makes their problems go away. It does until you realize in your alternate stoned reality you forgot to feed your kids or pay your bills or whatever. So help it relieve your pain but then once your half retarded how can you tell what is pain and what isnt?

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 2 months ago

Overit(maybe that's the direction you need to be gettin'...)-

If you're into learning and/or teaching yourself things, you're in for one heck of a read. Neither you or I have a clear understanding of every word on the following page, but the long and short of it is easy enough to comprehend, if you try. Personally, I'm a big fan of the truth. Not to fond of bull$#!+. Maybe this will help straighten-out some of yours.

Enjoy!

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hereandthere 4 years, 2 months ago

Science and moral opinion? LOL! When do you bigots get "overit". Why no attack on the excessive alcohol consumption. I would much rather be exposed to thoses under the influence of pot then be around drunks. And are you kidding us, supposedly you are concerned for parts of their brain? LOL! You want to throw pot smokers in jail and ruin their life, but we are to believe that you care about their health. Great american values you have.

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