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EDITORIAL: Weed sellers show no concern for Colorado babies

By: The Gazette editorial board
May 16, 2018 Updated: May 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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Marijuana plants that were growing at White Diamond Botanicals onTuesday, March 14, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette

A law promoting more pot consumption awaits Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature. Meanwhile, a study by Colorado physicians finds marijuana dispensaries urging women to use the drug while pregnant.

If Colorado has not hit bottom with the reckless commercialization of a recreational drug, we dread to contemplate what is next.

A study by doctors at Denver Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine posed researchers as pregnant women. The women called 400 Colorado pot dispensaries. Each claimed she was eight months pregnant and suffering morning sickness nausea.

As reported by The Gazette on Mother's Day, a whopping 83 percent of "medical" dispensaries advised the women to go ahead and use the drug. Half of the 83 percent were in metropolitan Colorado Springs. Among recreational retail stores throughout the state, 60 percent recommended the women consume pot.

Here's what science has to say about their advice:

"Children exposed in utero to cannabis present permanent neurobehavioral and cognitive impairments," explains an article in The EMBO Journal, the peer-reviewed publication of the European Molecular Biology Organization. "Psychoactive constituents from Cannabis, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), bind to cannabinoid receptors in the fetal brain."

The medical publication Healthline, after surveying peer-reviewed research, concludes: "Modern breeding and cultivation techniques have dramatically boosted the (marijuana) plant's levels of the psychoactive chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC crosses the placenta very easily, so when a pregnant mother uses the drug, so does her child."

Pot packaging in Colorado tells women to avoid cannabis while pregnant. That's why the findings surprised Dr. Torri Metz, lead author of the Colorado study. Hmmm. Maybe commercial pot's profit motives supersede concern for the welfare of any customer's unborn child.

"Babies exposed to marijuana in utero are of increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care units," Metz said. "There are also concerns about possible long-term effects on the developing brain, impacting cognitive function and decreasing academic ability later in childhood."

Pot consumption by a pregnant woman openly violates Amendment 64. Voters passed the amendment to allow regulated cultivation and sales of recreational pot, and the law prohibits consumption "in a manner that endangers others." By endangering unborn babies, users endanger "others."

The survey alarms at least one official in the pot industry.

"We're taking it very seriously," said Kristy Kelly, spokeswoman for Colorado's Marijuana Industry Group. "This is a learning moment for us."

A class-action lawsuit might teach a more lasting lesson.

Law enforcers, teachers, drug counselors and parents frequently tell of the heavy toll the pot free-for-all takes on teenagers. Among parents to speak out is Hickenlooper's former wife, award-winning author and journalist Helen Thorpe. A self-proclaimed adoring supporter of the governor, Thorpe challenges him to get serious about pot.

"He needs to amend his thinking on legal pot and its implications," she wrote in an April tweet. "It IS affecting kids negatively."

The heart-wrenching findings of this latest study tell us the youngest, most vulnerable of children are not safe from Big Marijuana's insatiable appetite for money.

In its greed, Big Marijuana funds politicians. That may explain why the House and Senate recently gave the industry House Bill 1258. The bill opens more opportunity for sales, allowing consumption of marijuana on premises of stores. Expect retailers to serve expectant mothers willing to spend.

The bill conflicts with the intent of voters. In the same phrase prohibiting consumption "that endangers others," Amendment 64 - and therefore the state constitution - expressly prohibits "consumption that is conducted openly and publicly." Consuming in places of public accommodation means using the drug "openly and publicly."

Colorado has failed miserably to prove the merits of commercializing pot. Even the promise of breaking the black market doesn't hold up. Thousands of illegal grow operations in homes, warehouses and national forests enjoy the camouflage of legalization - essentially hiding in plain view.

Colorado's reckless pot trade endangers children, even from the moment of conception. Gov. Hickenlooper, don't make this predicament worse. Veto House Bill 1258. It violates our own state constitution. Slow the insidious devastation peddled by big-commercial pot - a business that tells pregnant women they should use drugs.

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