In the heat of the political season, it is no wonder that an evidence based approach to sensible government cannabis policy has taken a backseat in some political contests. Team Complia wants to take a break this week from our weekly, nitty-gritty, compliance blog, and discuss some of the misinformation out there this election season regarding our dear industry–legal cannabis.
Former Governor of Colorado Bill Owens and former Mayor of Denver Wellington Webb have grossly misrepresented the effects of cannabis to stem the success of legalization into Arizona and to spread misinformation and fear into other states. Team Complia takes issue with statements that Colorado made a “mistake” and we want to address some of them here:
In the ad titled “Mistake” former Mayor Webb claims that legalizing marijuana has resulted in an increased use of marijuana amongst teenagers. Former Governor Owens even claims that Colorado now leads the nation in teen use. Former Governor Owens also states that traffic deaths have gone up 62%. While Mayor Webb states there is a hospital in Colorado where 50% of newborns that were tested for THC had positive results. If those statements don’t encourage you to ask where they got this information, the next statement might. Former Mayor Webb states that “We were promised money for education. Instead, that money’s gone to marijuana regulation and the pot industry. Denver schools got nothing.”
In the interest of looking at the facts, the state of Colorado had the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Department of Public Safety review data that has been collected over the past 10 years and present it during the interim committee in August 2016. CDPHE showed data collected across the U.S. and compared that data to the data collected for Colorado. Their findings are that Colorado teens’ use of marijuana is down and that rates of usage among teens in Colorado is consistent with national usage rates.
The Department of Public Safety provided numbers of fatalities with drivers that tested positive for THC. Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 43.63% increase in fatalities. However, there was also a disclaimer that states, “Presence of THC does not necessarily indicate impairment because it may be for metabolites that stay in the system long after use.” 2015 data was not presented because it was not available yet. Other unknowns include how often drivers are tested for THC and what the collection and classification methods are. This is a new issue and new policies are being put in place. Until we have time to collect data under the new policies, the data could give false indications of reality.
Team Complia suggests our readers review the news article from CBS Denver’s website about the hospital testing newborns for THC. The story does not provide any data regarding how many babies are born or how many babies are tested. Until all newborns are tested for THC in the state of Colorado and there is data available, it is irresponsible to try and paint a picture that mothers in Colorado are putting their newborns at risk by consuming marijuana. Studies are being conducted on the risks of using marijuana during pregnancy. Until we have more data the decision to use marijuana while pregnant needs to remain between a woman and her doctor.
Per Colorado state law, the first $40 million of retail marijuana excise tax revenue that is annually collected must be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund, the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund. The BEST fund is used to alleviate health and safety concerns by building new schools and renovating existing school structures. There has been a widespread misunderstanding that the excise tax collected was going to help students in the classroom. In reality, creating a safe environment for students does help them in the classroom.
It is always important to stay vigilant against fear-based, anti-cannabis misinformation, and we wish you a happy and swift end to this election season! With nine states voting on either medical or adult-use cannabis reform, there is much to be excited about!
Yours in Compliance,
- Public Health & Marijuana Data Presentation – Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Marijuana Data: Summary and Needs – Department of Public Safety
- Bill A