Back in the 1980s there was a War on Drugs. It was real. Cannabis, a.k.a. marijuana, pot, however it is known by the professionals or on the street, was considered to be extremely dangerous due to the unknown chemistry involved in Delta-9-Tetrahyrdrocannabinol. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, a great effort at drug rehabilitation of adolescents was underway at many levels, ranging from the psychiatrist, to the 28-day hospital / rehab programs to the long-term rehabilitation centers to boot camps. Drugs were considered a grave threat to the future of America – our children – and parents and most responsible people agreed that this was something that must be fought, cut out of our society and eliminated.
How things have changed. Now, pot is legal in a number of US states and most notably, the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), which does explain a lot, doesn’t it? The legalization of cannabis came with a very powerful and subtle effort, made over many years and funded by the likes of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and associated groups. Their efforts have radically changed the narrative surrounding cannabis to something that most of us who fought long and hard to recover from this stuff would find a shock:
- “Nobody ever died from pot”
- “Pot doesn’t hurt anybody”
- “Obama said pot is just like cigarettes”
- “Where the hell is my roach, man?”
This is what we all want our kids to become like, right?
It is amazing to witness how virulent and hair-trigger the people supporting cannabis legalization are – they are a very active group, and they have succeeded in even getting political conservatives over to their side, which is something truly amazing when viewed through an historical lens.
But there is a truth about this stuff, and while Cheech and Chong made many people laugh at their antics while stoned (probably pretty real), a sober look at the very same frames in the movie were always accompanied by “there is no way I ever want to be in such a horrific state of living. And my kids – they better never get within a million miles of this stuff!”
In Pueblo, Colorado, though, the legalization of marijuana has brought the city to a low that looks like it belongs in a Cheech and Chong movie as an example of what not to do.
The Epoch Times reports the following (we take selected excerpts but the full article can be read through the link above:
It’s a common story across America: A city loses its main employer, usually a manufacturing company with well-paying, blue-collar jobs (that often go to China). The city’s economy crumbles, and those who can move out, do.
Decades later, and looking peeling-paint tired, the city hasn’t managed to recover, but drugs have found a permanent home.
In Pueblo, Colorado, the manufacturer was a steel plant beleaguered by a market crash in the 1980s and worker strikes in the 1990s. And one drug was given a red-carpet welcome.
For years, Pueblo has been looking for industries to revive its economy, and when recreational marijuana was legalized for retail sale in Colorado in 2014, many saw it as the answer. More people would be employed and the tax money would go to schools and infrastructure.
The county commissioner at the time, Sal Pace, went all-in on the industry, promoting Pueblo as the “Napa Valley of cannabis.” Pueblo is situated 100 miles south of Denver, with a population of around 160,000 people.
Marijuana grow operations and dispensaries sprung up quickly and now employ around 2,000 people, Pace told Colorado Politics in September. According to employment website Indeed.com, the majority of dispensary jobs in Colorado pay $12 to $15 per hour.
Looks rosy enough, right – jobs that pay well for a couple thousand people. Of course, Pueblo has 160,000, and this is not a very significant increase in employment. In fact, it likely masks a decrease in employment, as people who are high on the job often lose their jobs. But that is not all. Let’s continue.
View From the ER
Two emergency room doctors in Pueblo see a different side of the equation and say the deleterious effects of cannabis legalization far outstrip any benefits.
Dr. Karen Randall, who trained in pediatrics and emergency medicine, spent years as an ER doctor in Detroit, but Pueblo turned out to be a whole other level.
“It’s like a horror movie,” she told The Epoch Times. Every shift in the ER brings in a patient with cannabinoid hyperemesis. In layman’s terms, that means someone is screaming and vomiting uncontrollably. The sound is wretched and apocalyptic. It’s caused by chronic cannabis use, usually high-potency products, and it stops when the person stops using cannabis.
Then there’s the psychosis.
“I was in Detroit for 18 years and the cannabis psychosis here is worse than anything I saw in Detroit,” Randall said. “They’re very violent. The combination of this high potency THC and meth just creates this incredibly violent person.”
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive ingredient in today’s marijuana products, is now being extracted to reach a potency of more than 80 percent. In the 1990s, the average potency of a joint was around 4 percent THC.
In the 1990s was when I served as a paracounselor to many adolescent drug users who could not stop without radical help. The pot they smoked was 4% THC content. Some of these kids were exceptionally violent and dangerous. Imagine how much worse it is with 80% pure rates of this chemical.
Dr. Brad Roberts said he’s seeing more and more patients with psychosis who have no previous psychiatric history and are testing positive only for THC.
“There’s no PCP. There’s no amphetamines. There’s no alcohol. The only thing that comes up positive is cannabinoids. And they’ll admit that they did dabs right before it happened,” he said. “The ones I see that are true psychosis are teenagers—so 17, 18, 19.”
“Oh, come on! Pot never hurt ANYBODY!!!”
Really? These reports would seem to be at sharp variance with that bit of propaganda.
Dabs are a method of taking concentrated THC, usually through a vaping device or a glass rig. The concentrate is most commonly made by using butane to extract THC from the cannabis plant, and then it’s further processed to strip the butane out. Other forms of butane hash oil include waxes, shatters, and budders—which are similar, but have different textures.
Recently, a teenager “yelling incoherently” was brought into the ER with three police officers, five EMS personnel, and three security staff holding him down, Roberts said. The young man had been running along the middle of the street waving a metal rod at cars.
“I gave him 10 milligrams of intravenous Versed—after he had had 5 mg of Haldol, 50 mg of Benadryl, and 2 mg of Ativan [all sedatives]. And it hadn’t put him down. And he had been tased twice by the police,” Roberts said.
The teen later told Roberts he had been smoking concentrated cannabis waxes. Only cannabis showed up on his drug screen.
Roberts and Randall are trying to sound the warning bell on the negative effects marijuana legalization has had on their community and provide information that politicians might not be considering when faced with the legalization decision.
And, any recovering drug-user would have told you exactly what is discovered below:
Since legalization in Colorado, Randall and Roberts have seen an increase in all drug use, not just marijuana. Methamphetamine use is up 143 percent, opiates are up by 10 percent, and cannabis is up by 57 percent, according to data from the ER drug screens over the past seven years.
“If you pump a community full of drugs, you’re going to have to expect everything that’s associated with them. You’re going to have to expect the crime, addiction,” Randall said.
But this was supposed to be a boon to the economy of Pueblo, and of course, all of Colorado. However, something went wrong:
“If you listen to what the industry says, we should be rolling in money because we’ve got about 50 dispensaries and we have over 100 legal grows. … And so if you think about just that number, this community should be thriving, we should be rolling in dough.
“And we’re not. We’re the canary in the coal mine. Our kids are failing, our kids are using drugs more. I can’t find health care for them. I can’t find rehab, I can’t find places to put the kids in foster care.”
The Healthy Kids Colorado survey for 2019 showed that 20.6 percent of high school children in Colorado had used marijuana in the previous 30 days.
“While smoking marijuana remained the most frequent method of use in 2019, smoking decreased as dabbing significantly increased as the second most common method of marijuana consumption among high school students,” the survey report stated. Vaping has also become more common.
The survey report concluded, “These are concerning trends since marijuana products associated with these methods of consumption often contain high concentrations of THC.”
Recently, two children younger than 14 ended up in the ER with Randall after each had ingested half of a candy bar that contained 500 mg of THC. Randall said the kids obtained the product from a buyer via Snapchat.
“We’re losing this generation,” she said. “What I see … is the kids either smoke themselves, or they become the parents’ caretaker, they take care of their parents who are smoking—using drugs and drinking. And I don’t know which is sadder—you have an 8 year old that’s giving you the medical history of the parent, or the kid’s using.”
And of course the recovered addicts would also easily recognize the denial of people presently smoking this stuff (part of the effect of THC is that it is a hallucinogen and provokes delusional thinking. All drugs do, but we are talking about the only drug “that never hurt anybody.”…
Many patients don’t believe it when the doctors tell them it’s their marijuana that’s causing their hyperemesis or psychosis.
“They always say, ‘It’s not the cannabis. Pot is good for you,’” Randall said, “because it’s been portrayed as super benign—it’s healthy for you, it’s natural.”
Roberts said the last patient he told threw his papers on the floor and stormed out of the room.
Ever seen this? I have. As a matter of fact, consider how liberals act when you tell them the truth. Notice how it is the same way? Perhaps it is because they are smoking this stuff, too.
Both have received threats, including death threats, for speaking out about the dangers of cannabis. They blame the strengthening cannabis industry lobby.
“They don’t want me to talk about the dangers of cannabis because they want everyone in the world to think it’s wonderful and thriving,” Randall said.
This next section from the Epoch Times piece directly addresses the notion of marijuana sales generating great tax revenue. This is a partial truth: it certainly does generate revenue.
But one of the mysterious problems in Colorado over the years since legalization is the disappearance of millions of tax dollars collected by the state. In a fit of utter insanity, the revenue from pot sales was to be directed at the state’s school systems, something I find outrageously absurd and hypocritical. The Epoch Times tells us some more:
The cannabis industry, by ensuring the city receives some tax revenue, has placed itself in a position in which it’s hard to roll things back, Roberts said.
Gradisar said the city’s eight cannabis retail stores generate about $100,000 a month in taxes for the city.
“So economically, it’s been a benefit to the city,” Gradisar told The Epoch Times. “The costs in terms of law enforcement efforts have been negligible. When you compare them [cannabis retail stores] to bars, there’s just no comparison to the number of calls or the incidents that take place in those establishments.”
Gradisar said the increased issues with black market marijuana were a surprise, but law enforcement has been working to snuff it out.
Roberts and other concerned citizens tried and failed in 2016 to opt Pueblo out of retail marijuana.
“How is the city motivated to now cut that out?” he said. “It was a great business plan: ‘Let me give a little bit of my profits to the city, that way the city will never shut me down. And the more I can make the city dependent on me, I’m safe.’”
Both doctors say the extra medical costs alone should be a deterrent.
Dealing with a case of cannabinoid hyperemesis costs around $5,000 in the ER, Randall said. At least $3,500 of that is for a CT scan. Her ER sees on average one patient a day with the affliction, which adds up to about $1.8 million per year…
There is a lot more to this piece, and we really encourage our readers to read the original piece. My effort here is focused on pointing out the grave problems that have been caused by legalization, and they are real and noticeable. Colorado is my state of residence. When I am not working in Russia, my home is there. Over the years since I moved there, I have watched the great clean cities of Denver and Colorado Springs become full of shiftless, uninspired people that live to toke. The homeless population has exploded. The homeless cannot account for why they have no home, but they never make the connection to the fact that they spent their house payments or their rent on wacky weed. The state and most of its internal news agencies work hard to squelch this news, but it is very real as you have read now. We conclude our excerpt lifting with this final piece:
…Roberts, who grew up in Pueblo, has pledged to stay and do what he can to improve the city. He believes the way to turn things around is through education “to the point that people won’t use.”
He likens the issue to Big Tobacco, in that it took decades for people to understand that tobacco use was causing serious health issues and to make changes. “Same with opiates. Everybody was put on opiates, and if we didn’t give somebody opiates for their pain, we were bad doctors. And that’s how it was for years and years and years—until it got bad enough. And then when it gets bad enough, there starts to be change,” Roberts said.
“I think cannabis will do the same thing; it will eventually get bad enough. I don’t know where that bad enough is, but it’ll get bad enough that the pendulum will swing back.”
Meanwhile, he said, it’ll be “a bleak outlook” for many. “With cannabis, once you’ve damaged your brain and you develop schizophrenia, I probably can’t fix that. So there’s a certain number of people who are going to have mental health disorders,” he said.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.