Published: November 28, 2013
Given the recent spate of public activity encouraging support for the expansion of access to marijuana, it is critical that the public understands that there are 10 things the pro-marijuana lobby won't tell you.
1. Pro-marijuana folks are funded by "dark" groups who don't want you to know who they are. They are funded like "Big Tobacco" was, from sources outside Colorado, and they have focused on the state's adolescent population. They create the false impression that marijuana is safe and harmless, like tobacco was marketed. These groups stand to make a lot of money, with or without legalization.
2. Smoking marijuana is toxic. Dozens of harmful chemicals in marijuana like carbon monoxide, tar, benzene and toluene have been identified in inhaled marijuana smoke, in higher concentrations than tobacco smoke.
3. Marijuana is the "gateway" drug leading users to cocaine, meth and heroin. Second-stage drugs are more toxic and habit-forming. Marijuana is the No. 1 admission diagnosis for adolescent illicit substance use in Colorado, and it has been known to lead to the use of more dangerous drugs.
4. This isn't your daddy's marijuana. Forty years ago in the non-inhaling Bill Clinton era, the material was not as concentrated nor as potent as it is today. The average THC psychoactive content in marijuana in the 1980s was 2-3 percent. Now, the average is around 9 percent, a 300 percent increase in potency. There are compounds being made with 80 percent concentration.
5. The pro-marijuana lobby doesn't give a hoot about helping schools. Suggesting that tax revenues will be funneled to the schools sounds good until you understand the real motives. Most people will never use marijuana and don't oppose pro-marijuana legislation because they believe the false benefit. This attitude resulted from item No. 6.
6. The public is not informed. Before the vote on Amendment 64, minimal education was provided to the electorate on the damaging health effects of marijuana. No studies were cited about the cost of longer-term public health, nor was there any information about the cost of tracking, collecting and distributing promised revenues. Voters reached a conclusion without all the facts.
7. Legalization will not drive the underground entities out of business. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports there are more criminal elements operating in Colorado today than before Amendment 64. Setting up under the cover of "legalization," they are exporting marijuana to other states. Thousands of pounds of marijuana (and other drugs) have been seized that were being mailed to addresses outside Colorado. Illegal growing is occurring in our national forests, and marijuana was discovered in the Waldo Canyon burn scar and other areas over the past several years. Illegal activity is on the rise across Colorado.
8. Voters also approved "local control" of legalization. The language in 64 also included a provision giving local governments the ability to prohibit the sale if it was determined not to be in the best interest of the community. This provision is conveniently ignored by the pro-marijuana group because it weakens its argument. Because voters also approved local control, thankfully, up to now, city and county governments have determined that legalization is harmful to the overall well-being.
9. Business is concerned about legalization and the effect on employee productivity and health care costs. Businesses are worried that employees using marijuana will lose focus, fail to recall important facts and, worst of all, become injured on the job.
Companies interested in starting up, expanding or relocating into Colorado are now reluctant to do so because of 64. This is inhibiting the long-term economic health of Colorado.
10. Marijuana smoke is offensive. Enough said.
How do we minimize the damage from Amendment 64?
Start by becoming educated. Share your knowledge with friends, neighbors and co-workers. Contact your elected representatives and urge them to resist the pressure to legalize. Ask your friends to do the same. Support groups like Smart Colorado and others to fight and resist the richly funded pro-marijuana groups. Support your local school officials as they work to protect our youth.
It's not too late. But if responsible citizens don't become active and resist, we will all regret it later.
Donald E. Addy is a resident of Colorado Springs and co-founder of The Citizen Soldier Connection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Fort Carson soldiers and their families.
In April, Real Clear Politics' average of polls showed that 47 percent of Americans opposed Obamacare, while 41 percent supported it - a 6 percentage-point edge for opponents of the president's health care law, which at the time was still months away from implementation.
The latest average of polls, less than two months into the law's rollout, shows 57 percent opposing Obamacare, with 38 percent supporting - an enormous 19-point gap between opponents and supporters.
The two numbers explain why Republicans made little progress when they tried to warn Americans about Obamacare. For years, GOP warnings about Obamacare were about something that had not yet arrived. Many tuned out the Republican alarms.
Now that has changed. Millions of Americans are unhappy with what they have experienced under Obamacare - canceled policies, higher premiums and sky-high deductibles. They are also much more likely to believe predictions of future problems. They've seen what has already happened and now know it can get worse.
So how can it get worse? So far, Obama- care has upended the individual market for health insurance, which covers about 10 million people. The next step, according to the respected health care analyst Robert Laszewski, will likely come in the small-employer market, meaning businesses with anywhere from two to 50 employees. That covers about 45 million people.
"Obamacare is impacting the small-group insurance market in many of the same ways as the individual health insurance market," Laszewski writes. Under Obamacare, the small employers who offer their workers health coverage will be "required to comply with the same essential benefit mandates, age rating changes and pre-existing condition reforms the individual market faces. That means essentially all small group policies cannot continue as they are - they have to be discontinued."
When the individual market began to roil, Obamacare's defenders were quick to point out that it was a relatively small part - about 5 percent - of the total U.S. insurance market. The assurance was that everyone else would either be unaffected by Obamacare or benefit from the new law.
It now looks like that will not be the case. In the small-group market, Laszewski predicts many employers will use a feature in the law that allows them to keep their current plans for about a year. But then: "They will likely increase employee premiums and deductibles to keep the wolf from the door for maybe another year." And after that: They will "hope for a rescue party."
And that is why there is more and more talk about Obamacare's "winners" and "losers." It has become impossible to defend President Barack Obama's promise that his health care scheme would make the system work "better for everybody." It's also impossible to defend his claim that Obamacare would "cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year." And now even Americans who receive health coverage through their jobs are growing worried.
So the unavoidable truth is that Obamacare will hurt millions of Americans; the only question is how many. And that has caused some observers to take new note of the law's basic structure. "The redistribution of wealth has always been a central feature of the law," writes the New York Times' John Harwood. "Throughout the process, [the law's authors] knew that some level of redistributing wealth - creating losers as well as winners - was inescapable."
The problem is, Obama and his Democratic allies neglected to tell the public. And now, when the bad news about Obamacare piles up day after day, none of it sounds like what Obama promised.
It has entirely changed the way people view Obamacare.
In the 31/2-half years from March 23, 2010, the day Obamacare was signed into law, to Oct. 1, 2013, the day its implementation got under way, millions of voters, no matter what doubts they might have had, thought it best to give Obamacare a chance to work. That's why they didn't respond to the GOP's dire warnings.
But now, they've seen what Obamacare can mean in their lives. And they won't be buying any more promises.