A Rising Tide on Marijuana

Article excerpt

Society has embarked on the road to legalizing marijuana, and there's no turning back.

That's the "call it like it is" assessment from Ben Cort, a Colorado resident who left a full-time job in the peer recovery-based enterprise he co-founded in order to mobilize addiction treatment centers and others against Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization measure that Colorado voters came to approve earlier this month.

Cort believes public opinion on marijuana policy is changing toward legalization and regulation. He suggests that for stakeholders in other states who encounter legalization initiatives, it might ultimately prove wise not to oppose them out of hand, but to ensure that proper regulatory structures are in place to control manufacturing and sales. Unfortunately, Cort says diat while this year's Colorado ballot initiative was named the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, die language of the amendment comes up woefully short in establishing proper regulatory mechanisms.

"No one in Colorado even knows what we passed yet," says Cort, who is in long-term recovery and smoked marijuana in his substanceusing days. "There will be an increase in potency, a decrease in the perception of risk [from using marijuana], and an increase in youth use."

While the initiative prohibits marijuana sales and distribution to minors, Cort sees several reasons why more Colorado youths inevitably will start using the drug in the coming years. Access will expand greatly because of several provisions included in (or omitted from) the ballot language, he says. Hc says the measure sets limits on possession (amounts up to one ounce) but imposes no restrictions on how much an individual can grow.

Also, die lack of a residency provision in die amendment language means that outsiders conceivably could purchase and even cultivate marijuana in the state, says Cort.

In addition, he envisions another boom in retail marijuana sales in the state, following what occurred from die advent of a retail market around medical marijuana in Colorado. "Next year we'll start to see die retail side - that's when we're going to realize what we have done," he says.

OtJicr aspects of the approved ballot language diat concern Cort include diat any proceeds going to the state from marijuana industry activity would finance school construction radier tJian marijuana regulation.

About 54% of diose who cast ballots on Amendment 64 this month voted in favor. "They had a phenomenal machine," Cort says of legalization advocates.

Facilities spoke out

Cort, who co-founded Phoenix Multisport, which promotes a peer network in recovery through sports/fitness activities, says he had little trouble convincing addiction treatment centers in die state diat Amendment 64 constituted bad policy. …