Good morning all! It's a snowy Saturday here in Denver, but we'll try to make the best of it with some intelligent discussion. Today's topic? Medical Marijuana dispensaries and crime.
There's been a lot of talk within the community about the locations of dispensaries, and whether their presence helps to draw a criminal element to the areas they are located in. It's been asserted by opponents of these dispensaries that they are "havens" for burglary and other potentially violent crimes. With all due respect to those opinions, I must point out that the data doesn't support such assertions.
A guest commentary article within the Denver post published on December 19, 2009 (just after one robbery on a Denver dispensary) contained the following stat: "According to the Colorado Bureau Investigation, Colorado saw 3,186 robberies and 26,597 burglaries reported to law enforcement agencies in 2008. If recent crime trends hold steady, we can easily conclude that dispensary-related crimes will amount to much less than one percent [there were 12 dispensary robberies and 13 grower burglaries in Denver] last year of all robberies and burglaries reported this year."
We must consider that Colorado averaged a bank robbery nearly every other day in 2009 statistically, a dramatically higher number than dispensary robberies, before we label these viable, safe businesses as crime havens. We must also consider that traditional pharmacies were also robbed at a much higher rate than dispensaries.
And yet we see city councils buying into the hysteria provoked by both opponents of medical marijuana, and of citizens who have simply not been given access to good information. I wonder if pharmacies, selling addictive substances such as Valium [incidentally anti-anxiety medications such as Valium and Xanax as well as ADD drugs like Ritalin are the most widly abused substances in the country, particularly among teenagers and twenty-somethings now] will ever be required to provide extensive security plans in order to get the license to distribute their product?
75 years of marijuana prohibition has left much of our populace confused, misinformed, and manipulated, to a point where their ability to digest real, solid information on marijuana has degraded into a deafening unwillingness to listen and comprehend. If you point out that there has never been a recorded death from overdose OR cancer related to marijuana, they say that there hasn't been enough testing to confirm this.
But there has been extensive testing, even under President Nixon back in the 70's there was ample evidence found as to the harmlessness of marijuana. That report was simply thrown in the trash when it didn't meet up with the president's preconceived notions on pot. Test after test since that time has reaffirmed the benefits of marijuana and debunked the myths of harmfulness, all to no avail.
Andy yet most of us feel comfortable quoting the tests on what methamphetamine does to the body [and it is toxic], but yet some of us believe that this same testing has not been done on marijuana or that conclusive results have just not been found, in spite of it's existence tens of thousands of years before chemical drugs.
The truth is that much more testing has been done on pot than any other psychoactive substance beyond alcohol [again, liquor stores in Colorado were robbed at a much higher rate last year than dispensaries], but as we often see in the war on drugs, information that contradicts the DEA policy is either swept under the table or blatantly disregarded.
We must remember that the funding these officers receive to prohibit marijuana is essentially departmental income, and that in many cases these officers continue to follow outdated policies because it is the best way to protect their income.
Recent incidents such as the DEA raid on a Highland's Ranch medical grower in which the agent involved, Jeffrey Sweeten, stated “Four-hundred-thousand dollars a year goes beyond ‘I’m just a caregiver for sick people,'" simply prove that the DEA will do virtually anything it can to protect it's drug war income.
It was up to the courts to interpret Colorado's constitution--Law enforcement's job is simply to enforce that interpretation. Whatever happened to states rights?
It is not Agent Sweeten's job to decide how much income is too much [this is America, whatever happened to the free market?], nor is it his job to interpret Colorado's Constitution by stating his belief that the constitution doesn't allow for the sale or Medical Marijuana [actually, it makes a reverse reference to it by saying that the sale of marijuana for ANY OTHER use beyond medicine is illegal explicitly implying that sale will take place].
I wonder how much of an uproar we'd hear if law enforcement started regulating how much income is too much for pharmaceutical companies [who make BILLIONS each year], or for their representatives, who on average make nearly $100,000 a year and more in selling medicine, often with vicious side effects, to doctors and hospitals.
God [whichever version you subscribe to] help us the day that we decide to let law enforcement, who are hired privately do the job of our democratically elected judicial members. This may be seen as a direct violation of the separation of powers set up by our forefathers, who were afraid of EXACTLY this type of thing.
So are marijuana dispensaries really a problem for our communities at all, or are they viable businesses paying taxes to struggling city tax bases while working within the legal limits of the law? I believe the evidence is clear, though each is entitled to their own opinion, so I'd love to hear from you on your beliefs.
Marijuana dispensaries provide a safe, legal network for people using marijuana as a medicine, and in the process they beat back the black market and it's potential for violence / crime, keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage potential users, and giving the government it's due in tax revenue for sales that ten years ago were 100% black market and tax free. All while providing sick and dying people a viable option to the understandably dangerous black market [alcohol prohibition spawned the mafia, after all].
Deficit-strapped Colorado can no longer afford prohibition of the sale of this medicine. Dispensaries are necessary to this process- if too many pop up, the free market will decide who stays and who goes. Trying to regulate this market in a way that is not universally applied to other markets such as pharmaceuticals is beneath the dignity of our free society. I wish all the best to each and every one of you each and every day, and I hope this information is helpful to you in deciding where you stand on this issue--ShortySmalz.
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