With the November elections quickly approaching, CU is deliberating Amendment 64 and the issue of legalizing marijuana in Colorado.
The Marijuana Symposium, an event hosted by CUSG, was held Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the UMC Glenn Miller Ballroom to talk about the health effects of marijuana and the possible outcomes if Amendment 64 is passed.
According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, Amendment 64 permits “a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana.” The amendment also provides that an excise tax would be issued on wholesale sales of marijuana and the first $40 million of annual revenue from this tax would be allocated towards public schools.
Speakers on the symposium panel who made an argument against the proposition included Ben Cort and Don Quick. They contend that there is a correlation between drugs, crime, and dropout rates and that legalizing marijuana will only exacerbate these negative statistics.
Quick said that passing the amendment would not get rid of the illegal dealings of marijuana.
“Where there’s money to be made, you’re gonna have a black market, you’re not gonna get rid of it,” Quick said.
Cort said that legalization could make it easier for immature teenagers to gain access to the drug and that even after 90 years of prohibition, marijuana is more popular than ever in modern youth culture.
“The fear that I have as a father is that if you take this and allow everybody over 21 access, then we have just created a completely captive black market for everybody under 21,” said Cort.
Meanwhile Christian Sederberg and Art Way of the symposium panel argued in favor of passing Amendment 64.
“It’s not a pro-marijuana initiative, it’s an anti-prohibition initiative,” said Way.
While both sides agreed that passing the amendment would not get rid of black markets, Way and Sederberg argued that it would diminish the violence that stems from underground markets. They said that they are also in favor of the taxes and regulations that can be placed on marijuana if it is legalized.
David Fackler, a 19-year-old sophomore business major, said that the Marijuana Symposium discussion did not sway his support of Amendment 64.
“I’m definitely for [legalization],” Fackler said. “I think the only two valid arguments the opposing side had were that you shouldn’t drive when you’re high and that [smoking marijuana] damages kids’ psychological development. So I’m still in support of [legalization], but I think there should be money from the taxation sent to fix those problems.”
Martin Miramontes, a 20-year-old sophomore political science major, said that other issues that directly impact CU should be debated.
“Students have other things to worry about on campus rather than a state-wide legislation dictating the legalization of marijuana,” Miramontes said. “We have other issues that directly impact students.”
Don Misch, vice chancellor of health and wellness and the director of Wardenburg, provided insight on the health effects of marijuana. While the common thought is that marijuana is a relatively harmless drug, Misch explained that it has the potential to impair brain development.
“The concern is that heavy marijuana use in puberty and mid-adolescence can affect brain structure and function,” Misch said.
Misch said that marijuana can hinder memory and learning. He explained that THC is stored in body fat long after you stop smoking, so the memory impairment can last after one stops feeling the effects.
“So the notion that you can smoke all you want up until Friday, stop over the weekend, and be ready for the test on Monday is just not true,” Misch said.
For heavy marijuana users, quitting can be just as difficult as quitting cigarettes, Misch said. Marijuana gives users psychological withdrawal, which can be worse than physical symptoms.
“When most people think of withdrawal they think of heroin withdrawal, those horrible symptoms,” Misch said.
Misch ended his presentation with a warning about the use of illicit drugs.
“Medicine is not good or bad, it is both,” Misch said. “Drugs can do great things, pharmaceuticals can do great things when used in the right person, in the right dose, at the right time with the right pills. But virtually every medicine I can prescribe can also kill people and have adverse effects, and marijuana is the same.”
A follow-up debate to the Marijuana Symposium will be held Oct. 24 at the Wolf Law Building.
The reason there is a “correlation between drugs, crime, and dropout rates” is that right now, marijuana is legally considered a drug, possession of which is a crime, for which students get kicked out of school for. So, what is the logical progression for reducing the dropout rate? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t cracking down on marijuana.