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EDITOR'S DESK: Benefits of legal pot turned out to be just a pipe dream

       By Kenyon Jordan

       Back in some prehistoric era when I was in my early 20s, the idea of legal marijuana seemed very cool. The ancient fuddy-duddies had no idea what a good time was, and they were just standing in the way.
       Now that I myself have become an ancient fuddy-duddy, I find it strange yet perfectly natural that I no longer think the way I did.
       Strange, because obviously I'm still me and, despite inadvertent (ahem!) inhales of foreign substances in long-ago days, I believe I'm as open to new ideas as I was then.
       But the reason I find it perfectly natural to have changed my views is that I also think I had some growing up to do. I needed to gain a keener understanding of the

larger world - to realize that “us vs. them” was just an invention of convenience, that the good times were mainly enhanced laziness and that the sly pot-smoker motto, “Function while stoned,” might be a triumph of sorts, but only in the most limited of ways.
       So it was that when Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012 with Amendment 64, I feared the worst, especially for young people. Some thought legality wouldn't matter because “the kids will get it anyway.” They didn't consider that the stuff is much more powerful than 40-some years ago, that legality would make it even more available and that the unavoidable message from the State of Colorado was, hey, it's OK for people to turn their brains to mush!
       I know medical marijuana is a separate deal, but it's a problem too, with a known group of (wink-wink) “compassionate doctors” who will give out red cards for little more than a hangnail. We heard a lot of excuses for getting high in the old days, but modern terms like “therapeutic wellness” would have induced derisive (albeit cough-filled) laughter back then. Seriously, if health is the actual goal, then why don't the MMJ proponents come up with a pill - one without the mind-altering side effects?
       At least the Colorado Springs City Council had the good sense to take advantage of the Amendment 64 language allowing local governments to reject recreational marijuana. El Paso County has done the same.
       Unfortunately, the cannabis clubs that have popped up around the Springs represent a loophole in that law. Don Knight, the District 1 councilmember who is not afraid to take on tough issues, is leading an effort to ban them. While this may seem draconian, bear in mind, as Knight points out, the club business model won't work unless transactions of pot are involved, getting around the law by calling it a “reimbursement” for some favor, rather than a sale. Hence, the loophole.
       Even sticking the clubs out in industrial zones (a proposed option that could be called “out of sight, out of mind”) isn't really an answer. As Knight points out, what if one of them moves next to a major industry that's come here to improve our “economic vitality”?
       The council vote on the cannabis club ban is March 8. Councilman Knight would appreciate some support at the 1 p.m. meeting or ahead of time at allcouncil@springsgov.com.
       Regardless of how that goes, I would urge everyone to be alert to pot-related issues in our community. Grow facilities (currently allowed in residential areas) are another huge problem, with potential fire dangers and other health risks. At its best, Amendment 64 was meant to decriminalize the use of an arguably minor vice. But that doesn't mean life has to be diminished for the rest of us… ex-pot smokers included.

(Posted 2/28/16; Opinion: Editor's Desk)

       Kenyon Jordan is the editor of the Westside Pioneer.

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