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Gazette Premium Content GUEST COLUMN: Regulate pot like alcohol for a vibrant, prosperous Manitou

Mark Slaugh Published: February 23, 2014

Al Capone's simple words in the 1930s couldn't be more ironic and relevant today, when we consider another adult substance: marijuana. After our failed Prohibition experiment, which corrupted entire cities, murdered hundreds and imprisoned thousands more, we learned better - we allowed state and local governments to regulate spirits, wine and beer.

Today, Colorado produces over 23 million barrels of beer annually and has some of the best breweries in the world - happily generating millions for public coffers since the repeal of Prohibition 80 years ago. With this understanding, Manitou's City Council recently decided to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Just like alcohol:

- Adults can produce and use marijuana at home within certain limits.

- People cannot sell marijuana without first obtaining a state and local license.

- Vendors must check for valid ID before sale.

- Licensed businesses are strictly regulated by the government.

- Marijuana is taxed to offset social costs.

- Marijuana is for 21+ adults only.

- It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

Wise and astute enough to learn from history, Manitou knows the writing is on the wall. With 68 percent voting for Amendment 64, Manitou voters know that regulation and taxation are critical to managing public resources, minimizing harm and preventing the misuse of marijuana by minors.

But astute? Sure. Marijuana is, after all, safer than alcohol when comparing potency duration, addiction rates and long-term effects.

Marijuana users are generally peaceful, while alcohol contributes to 40 percent of violent crimes, according to the Department of Justice.

Marijuana is also nonlethal (at zero recorded deaths in over 5,000 years of human consumption), while alcohol overdoses happen every day.

The Manitou Springs City Council knows what is best for its citizens. In a 6-1 vote, council members opted to control and tax cannabis rather than bury their heads in the sand. Rather than marginalize the issue, they did what voters expected them to do and acted responsibly: regulating marijuana like alcohol.

The fallout of this wise, astute decision? Not the sky, Dorothy, but, rather, a more vibrant, healthy and prosperous Manitou Springs.

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Mark Slaugh is the Southern Colorado Regional Coordinator for Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Hoey's response:

The argument regarding our experience with alcohol is a false argument. To make it and for it to remain true, one must accept any substances or activities currently prohibited.

Legalizing cocaine and prostitution would bring money into the city coffers, as well, and, apparently, make Manitou more "vibrant, healthy and prosperous."

Marijuana must be judged on its own merits. Nobody is saying it makes you "more healthy." Brain, heart, lung and mental health all are at risk. The very concept of being "stoned" hardly reflects a more "vibrant city." The implication that we can keep this from people under 21 is ridiculous. They will be hurt the most.

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