A list and summaries of each story published in this remarkable series follows.
Clearing the Haze. Day 1: Regulation
Two important assumptions were made about successful legalization of marijuana in Colorado: regulation would 1) provide a safer way to solve the state’s drug problems and 2) make money for the state via taxes. Day One examines whether these assumptions played out.
Analyzing Colorado’s grand experiment looks into whether advocates’ promises—unclogged prisons, funds for education, new revenue for the general fund, and an end to drug cartels—held up.
No tax windfall from medical, retail sales Advocates’ and the state’s estimates of projected tax revenue from marijuana sales have not lived up to the hype. http://gazette.com/no-tax-windfall-from-medical-retail-sales/article/1548295
Regulation still ineffective – Advocates promised that regulating marijuana like alcohol would reduce adolescent access, reduce exposure to more dangerous drugs, and take sales out of the hands of criminals. Has it? http://gazette.com/regulation-still-ineffective/article/1548296
Addressing driver impairment difficult – The science of testing for marijuana impairment has not caught up with that of alcohol impairment. Experts say this leads to underreporting. https://gazette.com/news/addressing-driver-impairment-difficult-the-impact-of-pot-on-traffic/article_2dad9479-66fc-5f8f-b012-799c747910d2.html
State prevention efforts criticized – Nearly four decades of prevention science have established a cardinal rule: prevention messaging should come from prevention specialists, not drug industries. So why did the state bypass its behavioral health agency, whose employees are prevention specialists, to involve the marijuana industry in developing its statewide prevention campaigns? http://gazette.com/state-prevention-efforts-criticized/article/1548298
Clearing the Haze. Day 2: Marijuana and Crime
Amendment 64 proponents asserted that legalizing recreational sales of marijuana would stifle the black market. Did it? Day Two takes a look.
Black market is thriving in Colorado More than 40 states have seized highly potent THC pot, concentrates, and infused foods and drinks that were produced in Colorado. http://gazette.com/black-market-is-thriving-in-colorado/article/1548305
Legalization didn’t unclog prisons – Data show few people are behind bars for marijuana-related offenses. Legalization will do little to reduce incarceration numbers. http://gazette.com/legalization-didnt-unclog-prisons/article/1548308
Tough task for law enforcement Marijuana legalization has forced Colorado police officers to violate federal law. A group of sheriffs is suing the state asking for relief. Local officers weigh pot confiscated from users, and if it’s an allowable amount, they have to give it back. http://gazette.com/tough-task-for-law-enforcement/article/1548304
Potency creating problems – Legalization allows users one ounce of pot. But Colorado pot shops sell highly concentrated hash oils and wax with THC levels of 80 to 90 percent. The Gazette calculated that one ounce of concentrated THC, infused into foods, is the equivalent of 2,800 serving sizes of marijuana edibles! http://gazette.com/potency-creating-problems/article/1548302
Authorities alarmed over increase in hash oil explosions The number of Colorado hash oil explosions nearly tripled, from 12 to 32, in the first year of legal pot. People going to burn centers as a result went from one in 2011 to 10 in the first four months of 2014. http://gazette.com/authorities-alarmed-over-increase-in-hash-oil-explosions/article/1548303
Clearing the Haze. Day 3: Youthful Addiction
Teen: Colorado voters were duped into legalizing recreational marijuana
Increasing rates of pot use concern parents, because children are more vulnerable to brain damage and addiction, and employers who must protect employees and the public from accidents caused by workers high on pot.
Teen: Colorado voters were duped into legalizing recreational marijuana “Weed is a psychoactive, mind-altering substance. It is addictive. And I don’t care what anyone says, it’s being marketed to kids,” says Kaleb, age 19. He should know. He’s just coming out of the haze from daily pot use throughout his adolescence and is completing treatment for marijuana addiction. Grown-ups would be wise to listen to what he has to say. http://gazette.com/teen-colorado-voters-were-duped/article/1548420
Concerns over adolescents’ use Much of the latest brain development science conducted around the world shares this bottom line: adolescent substance use is harmful and a bigger deal than researchers previously thought. https://gazette.com/news/concerns-over-adolescents-use/article_10c13002-4f6c-5970-bb11-9013bac23031.html
Parents, schools say more youths using pot Parents are drug-testing their kids. School officials report there were 5,377 drug violations, most of them for marijuana, in the 2013-2014 school year. http://gazette.com/parents-schools-say-more-youths-using-pot/article/1548423
Babies, children at risk High concentrations of THC in mothers’ breast milk worry pediatricians as do marijuana overdoses in toddlers and young children showing up at hospital emergency departments. A lot of marijuana-infused “edibles” look like kids’ candy, such as gummy bears and lollipops. Innocent children too young to read labels eat them and overdose. THC concentrations are so high the children sometimes stop breathing and must be treated in intensive care. http://gazette.com/babies-children-at-risk/article/1548426
Drug use a problem for employers So many pre-employment drug tests are positive for THC that one Colorado construction company is recruiting potential employees from out of state. http://gazette.com/drug-use-a-problem-for-employers/article/1548427
Clearing the Haze. Day 4: Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana may derail legitimate efforts to conduct research on parts of the marijuana plant that could produce new, clinically proven medicines.
Medical marijuana industry still growing in Colorado – Colorado has more medical marijuana dispensaries than recreational pot shops. Registered patients grew 4 percent in 2014, from 111,030 to 115,467 by year’s end. http://gazette.com/medical-marijuana-industry-still-growing/article/1548439
No approved ‘medicine’ in marijuana – No Colorado medical marijuana product has been approved as safe or effective by the Food and Drug Administration. Patients have no guarantee that the ‘medicine’ they take is safe, effective, or free of contaminants. http://gazette.com/no-approved-medicine-in-marijuana/article/1548429
Cost may be biggest hurdle to red card Gazette staffers decided to see how hard it is to obtain a medical marijuana card in Colorado. http://gazette.com/cost-may-be-biggest-hurdle-to-red-card/article/1548441