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Reader: Marijuana's impact on society is more than just dollars

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The recent glowing report of $1 billion in marijuana sales plus more generated for governmental coffers, idealistically portrays the marijuana industry as a harmless piggy bank filled with good green things. Perhaps its writer, Nat Stein, may want to consider the historical reasoning that relegated taxes "toward school construction, health education and law enforcement."

Proponents of Amendment 64 of 2012 intended to answer opposing forces to recreational use with funding for law enforcement and policing its regulations, plus educating the public about dangers of recreational usage. I suggest at least a cursory nod toward empirical data showing increased deaths in automobile accidents, school deficits, user hospitalizations and problematic employment since Colorado legalized marijuana. Perhaps this would prevent Indy articles from appearing just another advertisement for marijuana.

Per the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rocky Mountain Division, Vol. 4, September 2016, high schools have seen up to an 82 percent increase in incidences related to marijuana, and nearly a 45 percent increase in expulsions. Issues from increasing schizophrenia in youth and damage to developing brains are also reported (NDCP). The American Academy of Neurology has advised no cannabis use for children, adolescents and adults until further studies are done (NDCP).

I could not help but reflect on the similarity of Big Tobacco's influence on lawmakers regardless of health ramifications, especially on children. The danger to the public was addressed by tax increases, allowing tobacco to do business as usual. Not until politicians pointed out the uncomfortable love affair with addictive behavior in tobacco and wooing of future addicts that the tide turned. Please consider money generated by any industry hardly equates to societal values unless our children and the most vulnerable are relevant.

— Kathleen Ewing Fowler, Colorado Springs

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