Why moms should support Amendment 64
May 13, 2012 Share on:
Mothers and marijuana in Colorado
By Kirtley Ceballos
With the birth of my first child 10 months ago, this is a very special Mother's Day for me. It is a time for me to pause and think about the mother I want to be to my little boy as he continues to grow. I plan to take some quiet time to imagine both the joys and challenges that lie ahead.
Looking down the road, I know, like every other parent, that one of the greatest challenges my husband and I will face is the possibility of teen drug, tobacco and alcohol use. Fortunately, as a parent, I have more than a decade before that really becomes an issue. But as a Colorado citizen, I have the opportunity this year to address the subject on a societal level.
In November, the voters in our state will consider Amendment 64, an initiative that would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. It would allow adults 21 years of age or older to use and possess a limited amount of marijuana. And it would direct the legislature to impose on excise tax on marijuana, with the proceeds going toward public school construction.
Most importantly, from my perspective as a future parent, the initiative would establish a regulated system for the cultivation and sale of marijuana. This means that marijuana would be sold in stores in which employees would be required to check IDs before conducting any transaction.
Taking the sale of marijuana out of the criminal market and putting it in the hands of state-regulated stores would be a dramatic improvement over the existing system. In fact, if your concern is the health and well-being of teens, it can be argued that we currently have the worst possible marijuana policies.
By keeping marijuana illegal, we are ensuring that the only market for marijuana, aside from the controlled sale of medical marijuana in the state, is the criminal market. One that is easily accessible in any Colorado neighborhood. Therefore, when teens inevitably decide to acquire marijuana, they enter a market where dealers have a financial incentive to turn them on to harder drugs.
In addition, marijuana obtained in the criminal market is completely unregulated and untested. A purchaser, especially a young, novice purchaser, has no idea whether there are any impurities or additives. For those concerned about the potency of marijuana, it is also relevant that underground marijuana is not professionally packaged or labeled.
Most of all, there is the simple fact that drug dealers don't card.
Consider the results of a recently released national survey, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, which found that teen marijuana use is on the rise. Our state's attorney general, John Suthers, decried the results of this survey, saying, "I would encourage Colorado policymakers to consider the trajectory we are on as they consider future marijuana laws and policies."
Mr. Suthers is right about one thing. We do need to consider the trajectory we are on. But Mr. Suthers ignored a highly relevant result in the survey in that regard. While teen marijuana use is on the rise, teen cigarette use is falling. In fact, the number of teens admitting to smoking a cigarette in the past month dropped 19 percent between 2010 and 2011. Among teens, there are now more current marijuana users than cigarette users!
What this tells us is that regulating the sale of a product and restricting the ability of teens to purchase that product is an effective means of reducing use. What is working for cigarettes should be done for marijuana.
As a mother, I will do everything I can to make sure that my child is educated about the potential harms of drugs and alcohol. I will also convey my feelings about the importance of steering clear of intoxicating substances at a young age. And I hope to instill in my child the knowledge and confidence to make healthy choices.
But I know that at some point parents lose control. Teens make choices that we hoped they would never make. It's simply part of becoming an adult. When that time comes, whether it is my child or someone else's child, I hope that we do not have policies that drive teens looking for a little marijuana into the dangerous criminal market.
For the sake of our children, it is time to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Kirtley Ceballos is a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist in Aurora.
This guest commentary is available online at http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_20595598/guest-commentary-mothers-a...