Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content EDITORIAL: New York Times highlights Colorado's legal pot problem

The Gazette editorial Published: June 8, 2014

Colorado is a cautionary tale. Here's the latest big headline:

"After Five Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High"

This wasn't from a conservative publication preaching the merits of a clean living. It was a prominent headline in the June 1 edition of the New York Times.

It detailed the horrific story of the Denver woman who watched her husband consume too much pot-laced candy from a ganja store before hallucinating, scaring the couple's children and killing her with a gun. A heart-wrenching photo showed children around the mom's coffin as men loaded it into a hearse.

The Times told of the college student who ate too much pot and fell from a Denver hotel balcony to his death. It told of children winding up in emergency rooms after sneaking into adult supplies of candy and other fun-looking snacks infused with THC. It told of neighboring states overwhelmed by drivers coming to Colorado for pot and returning stoned behind the wheel.

"I think, by any measure, the experience of Colorado has not been a good one unless you're in the marijuana business," said Kevin A. Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, as quoted in the Times. "We've seen lives damaged. We've seen deaths directly attributed to marijuana legalization. We've seen marijuana slipping through Colorado's borders. We've seen marijuana getting into the hands of kids."

The story highlighted great unknowns, such as the drug's long-term cerebral effect on teenagers and other young people who have easier-than-ever access to the drug.

In another New York Times article, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd detailed her recent nightmare in Colorado after eating part of a caramel-chocolate candy bar. She ate a few bites of candy and felt nothing. So she ate more. Then more. When the drug finally kicked in, it went like this:

"I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn't move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid . "

At one point, Dowd was certain she had died. Her frightening ordeal mirrors the famous experience of Edward Sanchez, a former cop for Dearborn, Mich., who stole pot seized in a drug bust and made infused brownies to share with his wife. The couple's hallucinations were so intense Sanchez called 911, creating audio that went viral.

"We made brownies and I think we're dead. I really do," Sanchez told the dispatcher, begging her to send rescue.

Colorado's bad trip into the unexplored territory of full-scale legalization has other states viewing us as convenient guinea pigs.

"Early evidence coming out of Colorado provides a cautionary tale to Oregon, where marijuana interests are eager to put legalization on the ballot," states an editorial in Oregon's Daily Astorian, published by at least one other paper. It concludes: "?'What could go wrong?' is a useful question in planning any new project. There should be no hurry for Oregon to rush to legalization. Let Colorado and Washington work out the mistakes and problems that come with such sweeping change."

Voters enacted this experiment. They should consider ending it before Colorado becomes a permanent symbol of bad judgment.

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