The world knows Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as the leader of history’s boldest state-sanctioned “experiment” with commercialized pot.
A potential 2020 presidential candidate, Hickenlooper describes his state’s growing marijuana industry as an “experiment.”
“We’re conducting one of the great, you know, social experiments in recent history,” Hickenlooper told National Public Radio in January.
“This is a big experiment. Let’s treat it like one,” he told The Denver Post in June.
This means Colorado purportedly risks the public welfare to serve a cause: the righteous pursuit of information society needs.
If Hickenlooper and other supporters of legal pot knew Big Marijuana posed no harm, they would not need an “experiment.” Instead, they would speak of established outcomes when defending Big Marijuana.
Governments conduct true experiments for one reason: to learn what is not known.
Given a disturbing increase in the rate of Colorado traffic fatalities, violent crime, suicide and marijuana-related problems in schools, one should hope the experiment returns data that confirms our best hopes or highlights areas in which we should improve the system.
“The governor has called this a grand experiment from the beginning,” said Andrew Freedman, Hickenlooper’s first director of marijuana coordination, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times in 2016. “He looks at data points as he goes along, and I think he’s pleasantly surprised that there were not as many challenges as he thought.”
Consider those words a load of state propaganda.
Hickenlooper holds a master’s degree in geology and worked in the field. A man of science, he knows the difference between meaningful data and meager statistical claptrap.
Colorado has no marijuana “experiment,” just empty talk of one. If the state’s alarming dearth of credible data points puts the governor at ease, he is fooling himself and others.
Colorado legalized “medical” marijuana 18 years ago. It became the first state to legalize recreational pot five years ago. That is a lot of years to compile robust information involving pot’s role in a broad spectrum of social concerns.
By now, the state should have detailed reports with charts and graphs bearing good news, bad news, or ample helpings of each. An honest “experiment” generates information, without regard for desired findings.
State laws require state agencies to compile and distribute thorough and objective data about legalized pot, but the government does not comply.
“The Gazette has been trying all year to report on the impact of marijuana on Colorado five years after it was legalized. Time and again, our reporters have been frustrated by an infuriating lack of reliable data measuring that impact, despite state laws that require it,” explained Gazette Editor Vince Bzdek in an article titled “When it comes to data on pot’s impact, the state is driving with its eyes closed.”
When state agencies honor open records requests for marijuana data, they sometimes deliver documents so heavily redacted they have little meaning.
Bzdek interviewed award-winning data guru Burt Hubbard, who detailed state government’s failure to compile reliable data regarding pot-related highway fatalities, a visible crisis of black market pot production, and marijuana involvement in Colorado’s growing violent crime rate.
We also need the state to learn about potential marijuana links to the state’s troubling suicide rate, truancy, school dropout trends, emergency room visits, school testing results, rising homelessness and more.
A new state report by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice concedes the state suffers a shortage of reliable data from which to determine marijuana’s role in the growing highway fatality rate.
The first line of the executive summary states “Very little is known about drug-involved driving when alcohol is not involved.”
A series of explanations within the report explains how the state’s poor compilation of data makes the findings essentially worthless.
Other so-called studies are every bit as flawed, if not more so. The Denver Post found the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey skips over major school districts in Jefferson, Douglas, El Paso and Weld counties, “some of the largest in the state.” The response rate from the other public schools was just 46 percent.
The oft-cited Monitoring the Future Study surveyed only four Colorado schools, three of them middle schools.
“We, as a state, really don’t know where the hell we’re going,” Hubbard said.
Colorado has little data that should help Hickenlooper sleep at night. We mostly have the politics of mass deception. See no evil, hear no evil. Collect pot taxes and applaud an “experiment” no one conducted.
The Gazette editorial board