Mason Tvert: Colorado attorney general John Suthers using scare tactics about teen pot stats
Update below: A National Institute on Drug Abuse study showing pot use up among all grades surveyed, with eighth grade taking the largest leap, prompted strong words from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, an opponent of MMJ dispensaries who blames their prevalence for much of the rise in the state. Less alarmed is pot legalization advocate Mason Tvert, who believes "our attorney general has more pressing things to worry about than scaring people about marijuana."
In the press release from the AG's office, on view in its entirety below, Suthers says, "These increases in youth drug use are being fueled by the increasing accessibility and acceptability of marijuana use. Marijuana use can have grave detrimental effects on the developing minds and behavior of teens. This report highlights one of the side effects of the increasing social acceptance of medical marijuana and the ramifications of its widespread use."
Suthers adds: "Increased marijuana use among youth has serious ramifications for the education of our children and numerous other important issues that could compromise Colorado's future. Although the legislature has chosen to legitimize dispensaries beyond what the voters approved in 2000, I would encourage policymakers to continue to consider and, if necessary, revisit this issue as more and more data reveals the effects of marijuana proliferation and use."
To Tvert, these comments represent a dereliction of duty on Suthers's part.
"His job is not to be injecting himself into the media to discuss a subject that he has no involvement in," says Tvert, who issued a press release of his own about the NIDA study also available below. "He's supposed to be enforcing laws on behalf of the state and representing the state's interests when it comes to legal issues. So I have to wonder why our attorney general is spending so much time worrying about something that's not in the scope of his position. But more importantly, I think this is just another example of a bigoted, anti-marijuana elected official trying to scare people and instill fears surrounding marijuana.
"Obviously, the attorney general has not discussed the proliferation and abuse of prescription drugs in the State of Colorado," he continues. "This is one of a handful of states where prescription drug deaths outnumber traffic accidents as the number one cause of accidental death. Literally, the abuse of prescription drugs has killed more people in this state than anything else when it comes to accidents -- and marijuana has never killed a single human being in the history of the world. Yet our attorney general has done nothing to address the abuse of prescription drugs, but he's spent countless hours making sure people with cancer and AIDS and other conditions have to jump through hoops in order to get their relatively benign medication."
Is Tvert celebrating the rising rate of marijuana use among young people? Not quite -- but neither is he mourning it in quite the same way Suthers does.
"No one wants teenagers to use alcohol or marijuana," he maintains. "We all want young people to remain quote-unquote drug free, However, this study shows what we already know to be true, which is that young people are going to use these substances. There's no stopping it -- and the fact that more of them are starting to use a less harmful substance than alcohol is good news. You could even call it a silver lining -- which makes it even more unfortunate that this type of research is being used for political gain and as a scare tactic."
Update, 12:38 p.m.: Colorado Attorney General's Office spokesman Mike Saccone takes issue with one of marijuana advocate Mason Tvert's assertions published above. "To say that we've not discussed the abuse of prescription drugs in the State of Colorado is a gross misstatement," he says. He points to a September prescription-drug take-back staged in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, during which "we collected nearly five tons of prescription controlled substances." Thanks to this success, Saccone says additional take-backs are in the planning stage.
Page down to read AG office information about the September event, following its message -- and one from SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), Tvert's organization -- about the NIDA study.