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Ryan Fisher: Let’s not get distracted

The vote on Referendum 2C is about one thing and one thing only: Do we want regulated access to medical marijuana, or do we want an unregulated patchwork system of grows in our neighborhoods?

However, in an attempt to divert our attention from the matter at hand, issues pertinent only to medical marijuana itself have been raised to support a ban on licensed medical marijuana centers. These issues are tangential to this vote, but as many of the claims that have been made are quite spurious, I am impelled to provide the facts of the matter with citations included:

■ DUID arrests — 13 in 2008 (pre-dispensaries); 16 in 2010 (post-dispensaries)

Source: Steamboat Springs Police Department

■ Cannabis usage is not linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.

Source: http://www.medpagetoday.com/hematologyoncology/lungcancer/3393

■ In fact, marijuana's active ingredient may shrink those cancerous tumors.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

■ Despite the fact that the American Medical Association and the DEA's former administrative law judge, Francis Young, have recognized the medicinal potential for marijuana, the director of the Office of National Drug Control policy is required, by law, to oppose its usage as such.

Sources: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/ama-ends-72-year-policy-says-marijuana-has-medical-benefits; http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php; and Title VII of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225

■ The most wide-ranging study of its kind to date shows that those states that have ratified medical marijuana laws have actually seen a decrease in youth marijuana usage.

Source: http://www.ukcia.org/research/impactofstatemmjlaws.pdf

And the list goes on.

It is shameful and dangerous for those who support the ban of medical marijuana centers to skew data and represent anecdotal opinion as fact. What we should all be questioning is the effectiveness of outmoded policies that have not been shown to reduce youth substance abuse. The drug war, as it has been fought for the past half-century, focuses almost solely on curbing the supply side of things. Obviously, this has not worked. What I propose is an incentive-based education program that encourages the right decisions. We need to curb demand. Our youths need to understand that all medicines are drugs and that their abuse can have very serious negative outcomes, including death, as is the case for widely abused prescription narcotics.

It is hard to deny that the country as a whole is moving toward a policy of marijuana acceptance, but I digress. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, Referendum 2C is about whether we want to ensure safe and regulated access to a constitutionally protected medicine or whether we choose to revert to our old black market ways. One voter bloc supporting Referendum 2C is the corner drug dealer. Are they part of the majority? We will all know soon.

Ryan Fisher

Co-owner, Rocky Mountain Remedies, Steamboat Springs