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Reefer Madness: House Bill (HB) 110

Reefer Madness is an American film from 1936, which was intended to warn teenagers about drug pushers and the harmful effects of marijuana use. The film was panned as melodramatic; yet some of the events in the movie do not seem so farfetched. They include a hit-and-run accident, manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations, and descent into madness due to marijuana addiction. Many of these incidents have increased in states where marijuana has been legalized.

Members of the Delaware General Assembly are proposing legalization of marijuana through HB 110 (aka The Stoner State Bill) According to the Bill’s summary, “[t]he Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. It allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under [one] ounce of marijuana for personal use. It does not permit people to grow their own marijuana.” All sponsors of HB 110 are democrats, with one exception Sen. Colin Bonini. The primary sponsor is Rep. Helene Keeley (D. 3rd); additional sponsors are Sen. Margaret Henry (D. 2nd), Sen. Bryan Townsend (D. 11th), Rep. Paul Baumbach (D. 23rd), and Rep. John Kowalko (D. 25th). The co-sponsors of the bill are Sen. Colin Bonini (R. 16th), Sen. David Sokola (D. 8th), Rep. Debra Heffernan (D. 6th), Rep. Quinton Johnson (D. 8th)], Rep. Sean Lynn (D. 31st), Rep. Edward Osienski (D. 24th), Rep. Charles Paradee (D. 29th), Rep. Bryon Short (D. 7th), and Rep. John Viola (D. 26th). There are many real concerns about marijuana legalization and Delaware representatives should take heed.

In November 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and the results of legalization provide a cautionary tale. Proponents argued that legalization would allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes. This has not happened. According to the American Thinker, “marijuana is a major cause of homicides in Colorado.” In addition, the state “has seen a massive increase in crime since it legalized pot….This rate of increase is five times the population growth…” These facts are confirmed by Arapahoe County District Attorney, George Brauchler who said that “10 of the last 15 murders in his jurisdiction were connected to marijuana.” Russian Television (RT) reported that in Colorado, “[p]ot seizures increased 397 percent; the average number of pounds increased 35.5 percent, and the number of parcels intercepted by the United States Mail increased by 1,280 percent.” In addition, a FBI Report found that decriminalization of drugs actually emboldened criminals and resulted in increased violent attacks against law enforcement.

Marijuana use causes traffic fatalities. In Colorado, “[f]rom 2006 to 2014 overall, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 154 percent, from 37 fatalities with drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2006 to 94 fatalities in 2014,” reported by The AAA Foundation published a report, finding that, in Washington State, traffic fatalities involving marijuana doubled between the years 2013-2014. The statistics in Utah reveal much of the same that “the number of fatal car wrecks, in which drivers tested positive for marijuana, has more than doubled in the last three years.”

Children and teenagers in Colorado are more exposed to marijuana than they were before it was legalized. According to a report from RT, “the number of children aged zero to five who have been exposed to marijuana has increased 268 percent…[which is]: triple the national average.” More teenagers, aged 12 to 17, were using marijuana since its legalization, amounting to “10.47 percent of Colorado’s youth,…which is 39 percent higher than the national average.” Not surprisingly, found that schools reported, “drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 40 percent from school years 2008/2009 to 2013/2014, according to a September 2015 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Traffic Area (RMHIDTA), a collaboration of federal, state and local drug enforcement agencies.

RT also reported that, “[m]arijuana-related emergency room visits grew 57 percent in two years from 8,198 in 2011 to 12,888 in 2013; this included a 29 percent increase in emergency room visits for teens.” The RMHIDTA Report quoted from an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by physicians from the Department of Emergency

Medicine at the University of Colorado. That article discussed the health implications of legalizing recreational marijuana: They wrote that, “[i]ncreased availability led to increased health care utilization related to marijuana exposure. Exacerbation of chronic health conditions was expected. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) is associated with psychosis, anxiety, and depression symptoms, making exacerbation of underlying psychiatric disorders inevitable.”

In addition, marijuana use diminishes cognitive ability and regular use has long-term adverse consequences to the user. This is especially true for young users or babies, who are exposed to it in utero. In a CBS News report on the problems of marijuana legalization in Colorado, Dr. Steven Simerville of Pueblo's St. Mary Corwin Medical Center stated, “that heavy teenage use may be linked to long-term damage in an area of the brain that helps control cognitive functions like attention, memory, and decision-making.” He is also concerned about the 27 babies born at his hospital in the first nine months of 2016, who tested positive for THC. Babies in the womb are getting seven times more of the marijuana than their mothers, who are smoking it. Dr. Jon LaPook added that, “[r]esearch suggests babies exposed to marijuana in utero may develop verbal, memory, and behavioral problems during early childhood.”

Dr. Marilyn Huestus of the National Institute in Drug Abuse said that there is a “huge difference between alcohol and marijuana.” She explained that “when you take alcohol it has its effects and then it leaves the body. When you take cannabis, it gets into the tissues of your body and is stored.” “The brain is a very fatty tissue. And we know that it’s still in the brain when you can no longer measure it in the blood,” she said.

Legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado is a failed policy. The results reveal: an increase in crime from distribution of pot to murder, an increase in car fatalities, an increase in use among youngsters, an increase in school suspensions and expulsions, an increase in diminished cognitive ability in unborn children, teenagers and adults. So, why then would any clear thinking person want to legalize marijuana?

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