Colorado’s Legal Pot: Disaster Or Anecdotes Proving Nothing?


Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization rages, reports the New York Times. Law enforcement officers, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents cite problems as cautionary lessons for other states that may loosen marijuana laws. A Denver man, after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy, began raving about the end of the world and shot his wife to death. Some hospitals are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana. Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming out of Colorado through their towns.

“I think, by any measure, the experience of Colorado has not been a good one unless you're in the marijuana business,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization. “We've seen lives damaged. We've seen deaths directly attributed to marijuana legalization. We've seen marijuana slipping through Colorado's borders. We've seen marijuana getting into the hands of kids.” There are little hard data. Because of the lag in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal marijuana's effect, if any, on teen drug use, school expulsions or the number of fatal car crashes. Violent crimes in Denver, where most pot retailers are, are down so far this year. Proponents of legalization say critics are cherry-picking anecdotes to tarnish a young industry that is flourishing under intense scrutiny.

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