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Reuter: Is It Worth It?

December 21, 2018

Recreational marijuana use has wide-ranging effects on our society. Marijuana is a mood-altering, mind-altering drug used to create a sense of euphoria. Users experience memory impairment, anxiety, fear, or panic, and some may experience mental illness, increased heart rate, and sleep issues.

The euphoria can temporarily impair the user’s behavior and sense of responsibility. Marijuana use can lead to the use of hard drugs like cocaine. Recreational marijuana use is linked to lower grades, school failure, and a poorer quality of life. Regular marijuana use can result in addiction in teenagers and adults. Brain function decreases, especially in teenagers, who use recreational marijuana. Smoking marijuana does irritate the lungs and can result in an increase in breathing problems.

Today’s marijuana THC potency has increased from 4 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2014. Police officers will tell you the THC level currently is even higher than 12 percent.

Law enforcement has complained about the sale of recreational marijuana to the sate Capitol because of the increased crime rate. A Denver Post article stated that crime rates dropped or remained static in many of the nation’s 30 largest cities in 2016, but in Colorado the crime rate per 100,000 people spiked by 3.4 percent, fueled by a rise in auto thefts, rape, murder and robbery.

Colorado’s crime-rate increase in 2016 was more than 11 times the 0.3 percent average increase reported in the 30 largest cities in the nation, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. A seasoned police officer, who talked to me about his experience with marijuana users, told me he wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for drugs, because drug use normally precedes crime.

Colorado’s homeless rate jumped 13 percent from 2015 to 2016. The national average decreased by 3 percent. Colorado adolescents now lead the country in marijuana use. Alcohol use also has increased in Colorado. The black market thrives in Colorado, and in some remote Colorado mountainous areas, it is destroying the environment.

A cost study by Illinois projected a loss of $104 million annually if recreational marijuana was legalized. A cost study by Centennial Institute shows Colorado loses about $4.50 for every dollar it makes on the marijuana industry. These cost studies include the increased cost of health care, government oversight of the industry, driving accidents, more high school dropouts and people missing work. We also know increased crime costs the taxpayer money. Realistically, only the people who run the marijuana industry make money.

Let’s not be fooled. The alcohol has destroyed many lives and families. Marijuana is doing the same thing. Colorado now has marijuana rehab facilities. Destructive lifestyles cost money to taxpayers and bring harm to society. Some state the majority of Americans are for the legalization of marijuana.

Does that mean most Americans want more destruction for society? I hope not.

Daniel Reuter is a resident of Broomfield

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