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Legalization: Part 4 – The Big Debate

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DENVER, Colorado (WGGB) — It’s a hot-topic debate: should marijuana for recreational use be legalized? Through Amendment 64, the majority of Colorado voters said “yes.”

Now, the push is on for a similar 2016 ballot initiative here in Massachusetts.

Mason Tvert lead the eight year battle in Colorado with the Marijuana Policy Project. His organization is now efforting the same success in Massachusetts.

“Once voters understand that, you know, marijuana is not the horrible, dangerous thing that they’ve always been taught. It’s actually less harmful than alcohol, they then start to wonder if it might be a better approach to regulate it and have it sold by legitimate tax paying businesses instead of cartels in the underground market,” Tvert said.

Rachel O’Bryan says recognized businesses or not, the current marijuana landscape is dangerous to the community. She’s part of Smart Colorado, a volunteer group advocating for marijuana health and wellness, especially with kids.

“The industry will say this is a harmless product, no worse than alcohol. The studies that they cite test marijuana in very low potency levels-five, seven percent,” she said. “We don’t sell anything less than 20% in the state. We sell concentrates that approach 90% pure THC. There are no studies on the products we’ve sold and are selling in our state.”

O’Bryan adds that there’s no real guarantee for how much tax revenue marijuana sales will create long term, when it’s new allure wears off.

“We don’t know what the money is going to be and the state is cautious about dedicating funds to the children’s education until the money is there but that is the reverse order,” O’Bryan said. “Our stores are open, you know, but our education is not there yet. We should have had the education a year ago.”

O’Bryan points out that the tobacco industry was banned from flavoring products so they don’t appeal to kids, but marijuana is infused into everything from brownies to candy, attracting kids’ curiosity. Smart Colorado cites studies alleging that persistent marijuana use can lead to a person’s overall diminished IQ. While opponents are raising red flags around marijuana reform, proponents are still pushing for extended uses like legal public consumption in Colorado.  Being one of the first to carve out the retail marijuana path, Denver says they still have a lot to learn on where to go now.

“Marijuana has always been a heated topic both politically and culturally so people have very strong feelings about it,” Executive Director For Marijuana Policy for the City and County of Denver Ashley Kilroy said. “What we’ve tried to do in the city as we implement our regulations is make sure we are balancing all those needs and wants and listening to everybody and understanding their concerns and putting in place regulations that address some of those issues.”

State law does allow for individual communities to decide if they adopt Amendment 64 or not. While denver allowed it, 85 cities and towns declined to adopt the law as of January 1st and several others passed moratoriums to delay implementation.

Friday ABC40 sits down with local leaders who are already working to get recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot, as well as local police who have their concerns. Plus, leaders on both sides of the effort in Colorado provide advice to leaders here in Massachusetts.

Legalization Part 1: Law of the Land
Legalization Part 2: The Marijuana Store
Legalization Part 3: The Local Impact
Legalization Part 5: The Mass. Effect

WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.

  • Publicdole

    I think they should consider a Pot session in each school at lunch time. They will then have an open mind for the afternoon instruction.

  • alpinequeen


    Modern drug policies must acknowledge that drug addiction is a chronic
    disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Public health
    and public safety initiatives are complementary and equally vital to
    achieving reductions in drug use and its consequences. The drug policy
    challenge facing the world today is not a choice between an
    enforcement-only “war on drugs” on the one hand and the extreme notion
    of drug legalization on the other. Rather, the challenge lies in
    combining cost-effective, evidence-based approaches that protect public
    health and safety.

  • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

    In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

    In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the evils of marijuana use.

    Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

    People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

    Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

    Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

    Although, that doesn’t mean a damned thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

    To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, glorifies, and advertises alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

    There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long, hard day, than having a drink or two of alcohol.

    So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

    We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

    Has a marijuana user ever tried to force you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either.

    Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  • Philip

    Would anyone know when the new casino in Springfield will be opening?

  • HumphreyPloughjogger

    We must replace the state’s prohibition of marijuana with a law that regulates the cultivation of and commerce in marijuana by person over the age of 21 to the same laws that apply to other retail and agricultural businesses. The proposed law requires adults take steps to prevent access to growing plants and marijuana by minors, punishes distribution among and to minors and retains, for those under age, the civil offense of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. It would make no changes to existing driving while impaired law.

    Check out Bay State Repeal on FB!