I support moving Castle Rock and Douglas County forward with implementing safe and voter-approved marijuana operations. I believe this is an important issue that impacts the quality of lives of many residents. I believe state and federal authorities need to solve many of their issues (summarized below) and Castle Rock needs to be part of those conversations.
I am an IT professional with two young kids that go to school here in Douglas County. The marijuana situation in Castle Rock and Douglas County is an ongoing discussion that needs to better address the needs of all our residents.
We have a sizable portion that do not want marijuana in any way shape or form and want to maintain the status quo. We have residents who view marijuana as an additional source of funding to improve and enhance the quality of services in our town. But most importantly we have a population with legitimate medical needs.
If the only issues were revenue vs social stigma then it would balance out over time. But with a population that has an immediate need, it would be irresponsible of a civic leader to not be willing to engage in the conversation to work towards a solution that can best address the needs and concerns.
I don’t know what the nest step will look like. I know that I would rather make a conscious choice about what that future looks like than just ignore the issue and hope it goes away.
Marijuana as a medical treatment option is very valuable and should be available to any who need it. I unconditionally support medical marijuana usage, and I do feel that Douglas County needs to be more accountable to its citizens on this most basic level for the difficulties it has imposed on those who can benefit from this the most. Yes, driving up the interstate is an option for many, but that is not an option for all, as the discussion on public transportation has revealed.
Marijuana as a recreational drug is not materially different than tobacco and alcohol, but current social stigmas are limiting our ability to educate our kids and even our neighbors on its impacts. At the Mayor Candidate Forum on October 18, my answers were not strong and clear.
So, I’m going to break it down by the major areas as I understand them.
Medical Needs: marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment for a variety of issues. Research in the US has been limited, due to federal laws, but other countries and smaller local studies have shown success in treating a wide variety of conditions.
An advantage to Recreational over Medical designation means that users can stay off lists and registries that could be misused by authorities or data brokers. From a Personal Health Information (PHI) perspective, this also prevents employers and other agencies from trying to determine your private medical conditions which could impact your employment and insurance eligibility.
Employment: Many of us in Colorado do or have worked for organizations that have locations in many states. Although Marijuana is becoming legal in more and more, there are not currently any protections or prohibitions from employer drug testing nor are there protections for Colorado employees based on test results.
New Revenue: To offset the Grocery Tax Exemption, the sales tax revenue from Marijuana could help bridge that gap. Additional excise taxes that were Town or County specific would need to be approved by voters.
From a school perspective, the first $40 million gathered by excise tax each year is required to go to Capital improvements in schools. There are 1825 schools in Colorado, there are 80 schools in Douglas County. Rough math means that this would add approximately $22,000 annually to each school in Douglas County to be used on Capital Improvements or $1.75 million increase to the district.
Public Safety: States that have legalized marijuana have not seen an increase in traffic deaths. Collisions and accidents have potentially seen minor increases. Impaired Driving citations are increasing and this is a material public safety hazard we need to address. Federal laws prevent most in the marijuana industry from utilizing banks, making it a cash-based industry. This presents targets of opportunity that we must address beforehand, and not retroactively. Castle Rock is already targeted by metro criminal elements because of our high-income community and the easy targets of opportunities we present.
In the end, one of the biggest challenges on Public Safety is the science for tracking active components of marijuana functions fundamentally different than the methods of detection for alcohol. Likewise, the elements that are detected via testing can show up longer than the period of intoxication, and can, therefore, be present as a matter of science, but not a contributing factor in a scenario because it’s biological residue up to a month old.
Medicare recipients can utilize marijuana or
Finally, my family friendly comment was confusing. What I was trying to communicate was that many adults are unaware of the complexities around the issue (see whole blog post above) and have a tendency to present marijuana in all its forms as “bad”. And this mindset is the challenge we face in Douglas County. I am not sure that the position of Mayor of the Town of Castle Rock is the best advocate to push this forward but like transportation and growth, it is something that we need to work towards fixing and not just letting the larger county settle the issue for us.