Then again, when have they ever been right?
After legalizing the green genie in 2012, Colorado has been under one of the most targeted microscopes to ever hit an industry in recent memory. The entire state has been, and currently still is, embedded in one of the biggest social experiments of the 21st century — and because of it, education in marijuana for minors is at the forefront of the spectrum. Normalizing it is imperative to moving forward, but the government still wants to drag its feet by using unprovable numbers as the holy word.
Most recently, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), released findings to what its calling the “most comprehensive federal government drug use survey" — claiming Colorado now leads the country in "past-month marijuana use" by minors. From it, the overreaching argument the company is using in its anti-pot agenda is that our children are paying the costs of recreational use.
“Move over, Rhode Island," snides Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former White House drug advisor. "Now that Colorado has legalized and widely commercialized marijuana, their children use marijuana regularly more than children in any other state.
“In Colorado especially, Big Marijuana has been allowed to run wild, and it appears that kids are paying the price more than in any other state in the country.”
Somebody, please think of the children!
As is the case with most of these agenda-driven stats, however, this is all pretty much bullshit.
Per the latest statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, underage substance abuse in most forms is down since 2005. There may be an uptick in our state as of late based on SAM's results, but overall, kids just don't get as fucked up as they used to.
Unless of course it's prescription pills given to people by doctors, then yeah, kids get way fucked up on those, but that's none of our business …
Remember though, these types of anti-cannabis statements are based around surveys. That is, question and answer forms that people don’t really give a shit about. Are we really going to trust that a teenager is going to be fully honest in giving the appropriate answer, or are they going to fudge around a little because of fear of retribution? Sure, a monitor may say, “You won’t get in trouble for being truthful,” but like hell a wayward student is going to trust authority. Does anyone really trust anyone anymore?
So if you’re in a state that has harsh penalties against marijuana, like say, New Jersey (which came in unsurprisingly low in “past month marijuana use”), is there certainty that people are going to be open about their usage, or are they going to hide it like we felt we had to in this state a decade ago? Maybe it isn’t that more teens are using in Colorado, but that they’re more open and honest about it because of continuing education and a wider acceptance of it. Surveys will never be able to quantify honesty — likely a big contributor in responses from a minor. Nobody gives a damn in Colorado if you smoke weed or not, why hide it?
Next, the press release tries to compound states legalizing weed with the prevalence of marijuana-related DUIs. Saying that somehow because its legal, everyone’s opting to get “Johnny Cash eating a cake in the bushes” high and operate a motor vehicle. In fact, statewide fatalities are down since 2002, but yes, the percentage of operators testing positive for marijuana are up. We guess this is where we say, "no shit, Sherlock."
Correlation doesn’t prove causation, however.
In the movie "The Number 23" — the one where Jim Carrey is shockingly great — he saw "23" everywhere because inside of himself he found some sort of significant offering about the number, and it altered his perception of the world to fit that particular narrative. It’s called “attentional bias,” and it’s when perception of the outside world is significantly changed because of internal thoughts. If you think Colorado is full of Subarus because of a dumb list you read on a local alt-weekly, chances are you’re going to notice all of the Subarus on the street, completely missing the 15 or so minivans that just passed you without so much as a glance.
Why that matters is because it’s likely there are more marijuana-related DUIs in Colorado (and Washington and other legalized states) because law enforcement is not only ordered to look more closely for them, but because it’s in everyone’s mind that there must be more on the road due to legislation. Not only that, the nation really hasn’t had any way to conduct sobriety tests against weed up until recently, even then, stats were based off of blood tests in already inebriated drivers. That and, sure, it's legal, more people are going to do it.
But the sky isn't falling here in Colorado.
Back to thinking about the children: Per SAM’s theory, teens should be using alcohol at an alarming rate as well — because what we’ve seen in this state as far as the craft spirits/beer industry is concerned is something to be admired. We’re consistently teetering around the #1 to #4 state as far as craft beer production, and still host one of the largest breweries in the world nestled amongst our mountains. So if alcohol production is up, teens must be drinking more, yes?
Nope, in fact we’re seeing historically record lows of alcohol consumption in minors. Per that same CDPHE report, and even survey results on SAM’s own site, Colorado is still under the average of most other states. Again, if they're being truthful when answering questions from prying and untrustworthy adults.
Look, we’re not advocating for the use of marijuana in any younger demographic, that’d be stupid of us and completely against what real doctors are finding as far as the concerns are around use in developmental years. But we aren’t so naive as to expect teens to not go against what society has told them is normal behavior (“Do as I say not as I do”) and not engage in things to rebel around.
If the newly released statistics are an accurate portrayal of what’s happening in the country, then all the better, because if teens in this state are being honest about their marijuana use, it may open them up to greater education around the topic and look for not only safe and legal ways to buy it, but to also be upfront about it if it ever becomes a problem. Normalizing cannabis provides for more effective ways to regulate it, and ensure that not only are we, as adults, getting the highest quality product out there, but also the safest.
How is any of this a bad thing again?