Meanwhile, we're bumbling ahead
By now, most have seen the news from Denver and Boulder regarding the DEA raiding several medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations because of suspected ties to the Colombian cartel. The Denver Post also reported that nearly 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver have been allowed to operate, even though they have yet to go through state/city approval or licensing process.
Colorado citizens were promised that medical marijuana dispensaries would be tightly regulated and that by legalizing marijuana it would eliminate the black market, preventing drug cartels and criminals from coming to Colorado. Seems to me all we have done so far is invite them in. The State of Colorado and the City of Denver have, by all appearances, been unable to regulate medical marijuana. And no one (except the cartel?) has any way of knowing where the marijuana is actually going because the legally required "seed to sale" tracking system has yet to be put into place.
Meanwhile, we're bumbling ahead, adding a new commercialized industry (retail marijuana shops) to the woefully inadequate medical marijuana system. More than 100 retail pot shops are targeted to open Jan. 1 in Denver alone. At the same time, the marijuana industry and its army of lobbyists have begun reneging on what was promised by the passage of Amendment 64.
In addition, revenues received from the sale of medical marijuana have fallen frighteningly short of what was predicted/promised. In Manitou Springs, for example, the finance director has collected less than $500 (total) in nearly three years. There has yet to be the necessary economic modeling to assure us that the state (or any city or county) can adequately generate, collect and receive enough revenues to cover even the basic regulatory costs of implementing a new industry on top of an uncertain and inadequate one, even with the passage of the recent tax issues.
No responsible and prudent elected official or municipality should move forward with the commercialized aspects of retail marijuana shops until citizens can be assured that marijuana can be tightly regulated, kept out of the hands of our kids, and that we aren't opening ourselves up to additional organized crime and unsavory activity, all of which will end up costing our cities, counties and the state far more than the pittance we may possibly receive in tax revenues.
Kari Kilroy, Manitou Springs
Lamborn picking winners and losers
Republicans in Congress often criticize President Barack Obama for picking winners and losers. Now Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is picking winners and losers. An article in the Dec. 4 Gazette reported Rep. Lamborn is pushing a plan to reduce future cost of living adjustments to Social Security participants in favor of increasing defense spending.
The "chained" consumer price index that Rep. Lamborn favors would harm retirees by reducing the money they have to spend on food, housing and health care. For typical seniors who retire at age 65, their Social Security benefits would be $1,000 less by the time they are 85, based on a benefit of just $16,000 a year.
That would constitute an enormous loss of income for most retirees and become a further drain on the federal, state and local budgets as seniors becomes increasingly more reliant on public assistance.
In The Gazette's business section, also on Dec. 4, it was noted that in 2012 in El Paso County, an estimated average of 24 percent of households receive Social Security. The average Social Security income was $15,914.
How would Rep. Lamborn like to try to live on this annual income? He should not support making Social Security recipients the losers in the battle over the federal budget.
Ed Beltram, Woodland Park
Preserving our wild places
As a hunter, angler, father of four, small-business owner and 25-year veteran of the Air Force, I appreciate the wild places that I am so blessed to be able to enjoy in this great nation, especially in Colorado's wild public lands and waters.
Whether I'm packing out an elk with my rescued "wild" burros, chasing trout on the Arkansas River, or just out for a day hike with my family, it is places such as Brown's Canyon that sportsmen like me seek out to experience the solitude, challenge and overwhelming reward that I yearn for. That's why I was excited about the work that was being done to protect the beautiful Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River.
Sen. Mark Udall will introduce legislation to preserve the natural beauty of Browns Canyon for future generations. I want to thank Sen. Udall for his efforts to maintain this magnificent area of sweeping views, abundant fisheries and diverse wildlife habitats.
I would also like to thank the countless folks who have steadily fought to make the dream of designating Browns Canyon as a national monument a reality.
From an economic standpoint, this legislation will be a boon to local businesses and whitewater rafting outfitters. Udall's legislation will ensure this section of river will remain wild and offer thrill seekers an unforgettable experience in the backcountry while aiding the local community.
It is comforting to know there are organizations like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and elected officials such as Sen. Udall who make it a priority to champion the cause of preserving our wild places.
Thanks to them my children will be able to experience the Colorado backcountry as I have and as so many before me.
Eric Lynn , Colorado Springs