Marijuana: Smart Colorado's campaign to slow recreational pot sales launch
Numerous members of the marijuana industry see the City of Denver as putting up obstacles to shops wanting to be open for the January 1 kickoff of recreational pot sales -- a claim officials vigorously deny. But there's one local organization that appears to be doing all it can to prevent the launch from going smoothly: Smart Colorado, which has recently shared an open letter to the mayor and city council highly critical of its actions and a how-to guide to delaying hearings that must take place before stores can be approved.
Given that Smart Colorado's motto is "Protecting Youth from Marijuana," many observers were expecting the organization to weigh in on Denver City Council's decision to decriminalize pot for those under 21 -- a proposal that's up for a final vote on Monday. And the group's most recent post seems to be laying the groundwork for such opposition. Entitled "More Shocking Health Studies," the piece notes that "Smart Colorado is being inundated with studies showing the health impact that marijuana has on our youth," and highlights two of them: "Brain Scan Suggests that 'Pothead' Stereotype Might Be Real," from Health magazine, and the Time magazine item "Pot Smokers, Schizophrenics May Share Similar Brain Changes."
There's no mention thus far of a federal study showing that teen marijuana use hasn't gone up despite changes in state pot laws -- but Mason Tvert, Amendment 64 proponent and Marijuana Policy Project spokesman, certainly wants the information out. Read more about it below.
Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks is championing the decriminalization of marijuana for those under age 21.
Among the other recent items posted by Smart Colorado is an "Open Letter to Denver's Mayor and City Council" from child welfare scholar Kathleen Wells and architect Liz O'Sullivan, both of whom live in Capitol Hill. We've produced their entire missive on the next page of this post, but here's a telling excerpt about information Denver officials are said to be ignoring in their rush to institute A64:
Despite attempts to change its classification, marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance: It has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use, and is unsafe. This classification, along with fact-based scientific evidence of the serious, adverse, and permanent effects of early and persistent marijuana use, was not admitted at this hearing. Testimony from an administrator of group homes for men in recovery within 2 blocks of the facility, an administrator of a preschool within 4 blocks, parents and neighbors concerned with "drug tourism" and its related effects (parking problems, public drug use, unsafe condition of users driving out of neighborhoods) were not persuasive. Information from Denver's Office of Drug Strategy showing that teenagers obtain drugs through social contacts "and the more legal opportunities to purchase the drug in the community results in greater opportunities for youth to obtain those drugs," was also disallowed.Still, the recent Smart Colorado post that offers the most practical advice to those wishing to slow the weed legalization train is probably "Basic Steps to Prepare for Retail Marijuana Store License Hearing."
Step one in the document, also shared here, informs folks how to ask for a 25-day hearing extension -- something capable of preventing given shops from opening on January 1. Also included are strategies about the best arguments against such stores opening, as well as the procedure for filing an objection after a recommendation is made.
Clearly, Smart Colorado wants Denver officials to slow down when it comes to pot, whereas people in the cannabis industry would prefer them to speed up. We'll have a better idea which tactics were most successful come New Year's Day.
Continue to see the open letter to Denver's mayor and city council, the license hearing steps and a Marijuana Policy Project release about a new federal drug study.