Impacts of marijuana in Colorado explained to Chamber

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Jo McGuire, Senior Project Manager of TSS, The Safety Specialist, spoke on the societal impacts of legalized marijuana.

McGuire lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and spoke on how marijuana has impacted the state.  There are 1,004 commercial marijuana businesses in Denver alone.   Among the concerns are over marketing marijuana to kids and the need for regulations in advertising of marijuana.

Marijuana is much more potent than the Woodstock days.  They used to have low THC content of 1-3 percent.  Today the content is up to 90 percent.   Colorado officials also hear complaints about billboards promoting marijuana during schools.

She spoke on a study in the 1980s on pilots in New Zealand.  24 hours after smoking one joint, the pilots had difficulty in aligning with and landing on the runway.  The pilots were not aware of any impairment, one pilot landed off the runway entirely.

“We are seeing impacts on driver safety.  Fatalities, where operators tested positive for marijuana, increased from 39 to 162 since 2006.”

Education of all ages needs to be an emphasis, she added.

Another study found 1 in 5 Colorado drivers use marijuana and drive.  Over 60-percent of DUI arrests there involve marijuana.
There is no scientific impairment test for the use of marijuana.

14-percent of Colorado adults use marijuana.  16-percent of residents ages 12 and older used marijuana in the past month.  Colorado marijuana use was 85-percent above the national average.

Alaska ranked third in marijuana use with a rate of 14.4 percent.

Vape pens have also increased.  Nine percent of 8th graders have vaped in the past 30 days in the US.  Almost 60-percent of new marijuana users each year are under 18.  She said law enforcement officers urge action on vaping.
“We have got to figure out vaping in schools because you can’t smell it.”

Drug violations have gone up in schools with 337 expulsions and 1,143 students referred to law enforcement.  There were 4,236 suspensions in Colorado schools.  There has also been a five percent increase in high school drop outs in the past five years.

Suicides among those ages 10-19 have seen an increase in those that had consumed marijuana. 16.3 percent of suicides had marijuana in their system.  “We are lacking sorely in our education in schools.  We must develop a plan.”

Marijuana grow houses are another problem.  Large amounts of marijuana are trafficked and not taxed.  Legally, an adult can have up to six marijuana plants.  These grow houses often have hundreds of plants with thousands of dollars in marijuana.

The number of hospital visits due to marijuana exceeded 10,000 in Colorado in 2015.  Deaths related to opioids, prescription pills, and heroin have been going up in the state.  Colorado Children’s Hospital said 16 children under nine years old were hospitalized for complications from marijuana ingestion in 2015.  There has also been an increase in fires and explosions due to marijuana growing.

The state also reported increases in property and violent crimes since the legalization of marijuana.

Studies show cannabis use early in pregnancy results in reduced fetal growth.

Enrollment in substance use treatment in Colorado has also risen from 38,825 to 42,256 per year.  The numbers leveled out when treatment centers reached capacity.  Many are now being taken out of state for drug treatment.

In a survey of 600 employees, 48-percent of them reported they had worked while under the influence of marijuana.

In other actions at the business roundtable luncheon sponsored by the Alaska and the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce;

The McDowell Group will unveil details on an Independent Visitor Survey at the Chamber Luncheon on March 21.  


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