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GUEST COLUMN: Looking at the real impact of legal marijuana

By: Vickie Tonkins
February 16, 2018 Updated: February 16, 2018 at 4:25 am
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As I have spoken to constituents about their concerns in County Commissioner District 5, I was thinking their main worry would be roads, particularly I-25. While I-25 is second of their top three concerns, the number one is the illegal marijuana grows in our county.

Marijuana is legal in our state so what is the big deal? The legal aspect of marijuana is not of concern; The illegal aspect of marijuana concerns many citizens of El Paso County.

Below are points that need to be considered:

1. Medical marijuana helps so many people; this should be our first step in legalizing this medicinal plant.

2. The black market will go away once we legalize recreational marijuana. Marijuana will be decriminalized and crime in this area will greatly decrease.

3. The tax money we will get from marijuana sales can go to help improve our schools.we need to do this for the children.

Let us take a moment to look at each of these points:

On Nov. 6, 2012, Colorado approved Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution. Oh, you were not aware that marijuana is now in our Constitution? Most people are not. It may not have been so significant except for Amendment 71, passed by the state leadership in 2016. Some would argue Amendment 71 makes it more difficult to change the Colorado Constitution.

The problem is that we were so quick to put something in place, like Amendment 64, before taking the time to look at what the possible ramifications would be to our way of life.

1. Medical marijuana helps so many people: Really? Where are the stats? Every article I have read on medical marijuana is full of "possibly, in some cases, it is inconclusive, we are still studying marijuana's benefits, etc." Again, why was extensive research not done on this before putting it on the ballot? The medical benefits are small compared to the terrible side effects. According to WebMD, large doses of medical marijuana can make some people have hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. The medical research also suggests that smoking marijuana can make breathing problems, like bronchitis, worse.

2. Once we legalize marijuana, we will no longer have a black market problem and it will decriminalize the use causing crime to decrease: Really? Have you spoken to Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey? Have you communicated with El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder? Have you had a conversation with District Attorney Dan May? I have listened to these men speak about how when marijuana was legalized it caused their jobs to become more difficult. Crime has increased and we have over 500 illegal marijuana grows in El Paso County. They take out one and three more pop up. We have seen an increase in illegal immigrants arrests because the cartels are bringing people in from other countries to grow the pot to sell across state lines.

In addition, there has been an increase in homelessness, in part due to legalized marijuana.

3. "The tax money we get from the marijuana will help our schools . help the children". Really? I have learned, in the political game, that when people go in full mode of "helping" the children, minorities or others paraded as weak, it is political and never about what they are bemoaning. When you hear a politician say this tax or fee is for the less advantaged, run. These people are playing on your sympathies.

You see, most Americans are very giving and want to help the less fortunate but the government is not the answer. Non-profits and charitable organizations do it better, more efficiently and spend less money taking care of the needy. The tax money that we are said to receive from marijuana is not what we were told it would be. Given the fact that marijuana sales are a cash business it makes it difficult, at best, to know what is actually coming into the state. Do we really want to tell our children that the tax money from marijuana is paying for their new school computers?

I hope what you have read here will at least get you to thinking and start asking more questions before you vote yes on the next amendment, tax, fee, or movement to help the children or the less fortunate.

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Vickie Tonkins works for as a Facilitator/Trainer in staff development for corporations. She plans to run for El Paso County Commissioner in District 5.

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