Colorado Editorial Roundup
The Associated Press
May. 16, 2018
The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, May 16, on a study involving marijuana dispensaries giving medical advice:
A law promoting more pot consumption has been sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature. Meanwhile, a study by Colorado physicians finds marijuana dispensaries urging women to use the drug while pregnant.
If Colorado has not hit bottom with the reckless commercialization of a recreational drug, we dread to contemplate what is next.
A study by doctors at Denver Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine posed researchers as pregnant women. The women called 400 Colorado pot dispensaries. Each claimed she was eight months pregnant and suffering morning sickness nausea.
As reported by The Gazette on Mother's Day, a whopping 83 percent of "medical" dispensaries advised the women to go ahead and use the drug. Half of the 83 percent were in metropolitan Colorado Springs. Among recreational retail stores throughout the state, 60 percent recommended the women consume pot.
Here's what science has to say about their advice:
"Children exposed in utero to cannabis present permanent neurobehavioral and cognitive impairments," explains an article in The EMBO Journal, the peer-reviewed publication of the European Molecular Biology Organization. "Psychoactive constituents from cannabis, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), bind to cannabinoid receptors in the fetal brain."
The medical publication Healthline, after surveying peer-reviewed research, concludes: "Modern breeding and cultivation techniques have dramatically boosted the (marijuana) plant's levels of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC crosses the placenta very easily, so when a pregnant mother uses the drug, so does her child."
Pot packaging in Colorado tells women to avoid cannabis while pregnant. That's why the findings surprised Dr. Torri Metz, lead author of the Colorado study. Hmmm. Maybe commercial pot's profit motives supersede concern for the welfare of any customer's unborn child.
"Babies exposed to marijuana in utero are of increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care units," Metz said. "There are also concerns about possible long-term effects on the developing brain, impacting cognitive function and decreasing academic ability later in childhood."
Pot consumption by a pregnant woman openly violates Amendment 64. Voters passed the amendment to allow regulated cultivation and sales of recreational pot, and the law prohibits consumption "in a manner that endangers others." By endangering unborn babies, users endanger "others."
The survey alarms at least one official in the pot industry.
"We're taking it very seriously," said Kristy Kelly, spokeswoman for Colorado's Marijuana Industry Group. "This is a learning moment for us."
A class-action lawsuit might teach a more lasting lesson.
Law enforcers, teachers, drug counselors and parents frequently tell of the heavy toll the pot free-for-all takes on teenagers. Among parents to speak out is Hickenlooper's former wife, award-winning author and journalist Helen Thorpe. A self-proclaimed adoring supporter of the governor, Thorpe challenges him to get serious about pot.
"He needs to amend his thinking on legal pot and its implications," she wrote in an April tweet. "It IS affecting kids negatively."
The heart-wrenching findings of this latest study tell us the youngest, most vulnerable of children are not safe from Big Marijuana's insatiable appetite for money.
In its greed, Big Marijuana funds politicians. That may explain why the House and Senate recently gave the industry House Bill 1258. The bill opens more opportunity for sales, allowing consumption of marijuana on premises of stores. Expect retailers to serve expectant mothers willing to spend.
The bill conflicts with the intent of voters. In the same phrase prohibiting consumption "that endangers others," Amendment 64 - and therefore the state constitution - expressly prohibits "consumption that is conducted openly and publicly." Consuming in places of public accommodation means using the drug "openly and publicly."
Colorado has failed miserably to prove the merits of commercializing pot. Even the promise of breaking the black market doesn't hold up. Thousands of illegal grow operations in homes, warehouses and national forests enjoy the camouflage of legalization - essentially hiding in plain view.
Colorado's reckless pot trade endangers children, even from the moment of conception. Gov. Hickenlooper, don't make this predicament worse. Veto House Bill 1258. It violates our own state constitution. Slow the insidious devastation peddled by big-commercial pot - a business that tells pregnant women they should use drugs.
Aurora Sentinel, May 15, on Colorado lawmakers compromising on protecting the Colorado Civil Rights Commission:
Despite some applause in the closing moments of the 2018 legislative session last week, when both the House and Senate passed compromise reform of the state's Civil Rights Commission, there was little to cheer about.
Lawmakers were making some noise after wrangling for months over the fate of the commission.
Opportunistic GOP critics of the state's statutory defense against bigotry and discrimination pounced on an opportunity to hobble or destroy the committee early on in the legislative session, as the commission came up for its regular re-authorization.
A bevy of state Republicans, but not all, have had their sights set on the commission ever since it weighed in on the infamous gay wedding cake scandal in 2012. The international embarrassment erupted when Lakewood wedding cake-baker Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for two gay men, saying his Christian religious beliefs compelled him to snub the request.
The Colorado commission rightly drew the parallel between Phillip's bigotry and the not-so-long-ago days of segregation and institutionalized, legalized bigotry in the South.
Not here. Not in Colorado. The commission made clear Philip's bigotry toward gays was illegal and unsavory, directing him to take tolerance classes and change his policies. Colorado's highest court upheld the commission's ruling, and now the matter is before the same U.S. Supreme Court that ruled in favor of the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Despite that, both Phillips and legislative Republicans have continued to offer cliche responses, saying this gay-wedding cake scandal had nothing to do with discounting the rights of homosexuals, but only upholding the right of religious freedom.
It's the same argument dismissed time and again by federal courts in cases involving religious claims against bi-racial marriage, minority exclusions from lodging, schools and even clubs.
Religion is not a legal nor moral defense for bigotry.
Powerful state Republicans have pushed back hard against that legal and moral mantra. This year, they sought to hold the commission hostage with a funding scheme. When that didn't work, they pushed to radically change the structure of the commission, allowing partisan state lawmakers to make appointments to the panel in hopes of solidifying votes that would uphold bigotry.
Just hours before the end of the legislative session, an agreement was struck between Democrats and Republicans that would install additional business representatives on the commission.
That's not such a bad thing. The commission members would still all be appointed by the governor, not legislators on a mission to exert control over the commission, rather than assemble a committee to apply a sense of justice.
The mistake lawmakers made was in bending to the will of Senate Republican leaders and requiring that no more than three members of the commission come from the same political party.
It's dispiriting to think that elected officials would see advantage in the dispute over civil rights couched in party affiliation.
Clearly, Republicans think "their side" would be more inclined to rule against gays and other minorities, giving them at least some hope that their wrongheaded religion argument would find traction on the commission.
Democrats clearly hold out hope that a Democratic governor would find Republican commissioners sympathetic to the plight of abused minorities.
Bigotry and discrimination are not partisan issues. They should not be the basis for preserving or precluding civil rights.
Colorado Gov. John Hicknelooper has indicated he'll sign this measure, hailing it as a compromise.
If Colorado is now in the business of compromising civil rights for the sake of political gain or partisan satisfaction, we're in grave trouble. The rights of minorities in an environment where elected officials are anxious to usurp them need stronger protection, not weaker. Hickenlooper should veto this bill.
The Durango Herald, May 14, on improvements to Durango Whitewater Park:
One year ago this week, we published an editorial that questioned the wisdom of the city's work on the Durango Whitewater Park. That project produced a revised and challenging entrance to the park's featured run of rapids on the Animas River. The change was made all the more dramatic — and for some more traumatic — by the early onset of high water during last year's runoff, and by a separate project needed to direct more water to the water treatment plant's intake just upstream of the park.
In May 2018, we are happy to see that some additional riverscaping, and a full year to watch how the water behaves in that stretch at a variety of water levels, has resulted in the run that was envisioned when plans for an enhanced water park were announced in 2014. The river at Santa Rita is still rowdy, still challenging and provides a great venue for whitewater competitions. And it will provide plenty of thrills for local boaters and our out-of-town visitors. In fact, it closely resembles the run of last year, but with some needed polish. Now, it's much more likely to let boaters finish the run with the "sunny side up."
To see how boaters handle the revised run at the river's highest water levels will have to wait, however, as winter's scant snowpack will not deliver the flows we witnessed last year. While a drought year is not good news to anyone in the Four Corners, this may be one instance where it is almost palatable. For guides and other whitewater addicts, this should be the summer to learn this stretch of the river well. That will help in coming years when the runoff from heavy snows make the rapids more formidable.
So far this season, the verdict on the improvements from kayakers, private boaters and commercial rafters has been thumbs up. We would like to extend that gesture to the city, and to Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz, for a job — or series of jobs — well done.
(Fort Collins) Coloradoan, May 10, on the latest racial incident at Colorado State University offering a teaching moment:
Life's messiness recently delivered a parcel of teaching moments to Colorado State University when a campus tour for prospective students and their parents turned into international news.
The storm surrounding the unfortunate experience of two Native American brothers from New Mexico who were singled out and scrutinized while on campus simply because they looked different has subsided a bit since April 30.
We hope lessons learned from the incident — such as the reality and toxicity of bias and the importance of transparency when addressing wrongs — last longer than the average social media uproar.
You know the story: Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, 17, drove from Española, New Mexico, to Fort Collins for a scheduled campus tour. They arrived late.
They joined a tour in progress and were not particularly forthcoming when asked questions by members of the group. Their appearance and behavior alarmed a woman on the tour: She called CSU police to report her concern, even as she said, "It's probably nothing. I'm probably being completely paranoid with just everything that's happened ..."
Officers responded, connecting with the tour group as it came down a busy staircase in the recreation center. The brothers were pulled aside and questioned by officers, who determined within a few minutes the teens were on campus legitimately and sent them on their way.
By then, the tour group was long gone, its student guide unaware that something had happened to the brothers. The teens could not locate the group, so they eventually left campus for the return drive to New Mexico.
Soon thereafter, their mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, posted on social media her understandable anger and frustration over what she perceived to be a case of blatant racial profiling. And the story took off.
CSU responded quickly and effectively to the outrage thrown its way by issuing statements and releasing audio of the woman's 911 call and body-cam video of the officers' encounter with the brothers.
CSU did the right thing by allowing direct information access to anyone who cared to see and hear what happened. People could determine on their own whether the incident was as disturbing as they were led to believe.
Apologetic university officials say they want to do right by the brothers and at least reimburse their travel expenses and offer them VIP treatment on another tour. As of this writing, the Gray family was not responding to CSU.
The story may or may not be over. Lorraine Gray has told media outlets another visit to CSU would be highly unlikely and she wants advice from the American Civil Liberties Union.
This simple, isolated incident touches on a lot of complex issues, including race, bias, effective communication and perceptions about safety. But mostly, it's just sad.
It's sad that the New Mexico teens wound up feeling unwelcome at CSU.
It's sad that a woman on a campus tour called police because seeing black-clad teens whose behavior did not match her expectations made her feel so uncomfortable.
It's sad that her reaction made sense, at a certain level, in the wake of school shootings and other violent atrocities. She was being vigilant, as we've all been told to be. This is the age of "see something, say something," after all.
It's sad that this incident was amplified by several racist and anti-Semitic acts on the CSU campus this school year. Just weeks ago, the community rallied against hatred through the CSUnite event.
We live in a time when overreaction and hypervigilance are the norms. It's time to step away from the edges of emotion and the accompanying "us vs. them" mentality.
Let's calm down, take deep breaths, and recognize the humanity in each other even in uncomfortable situations.
CSU is already planning changes to how admissions tours are conducted so group members are easily identified. Police will receive training on how to engage with visitors during tours and similar events.
Those steps could help prevent a repeat of this sort of incident. However, until we change how we view and treat those who are different from ourselves, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and distrust will just go on.