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I was naïve and wrong, says Colorado’s ‘legalise cannabis’ campaigner


A POLL from YouGov recently claimed that 52 per cent of Brits support the theory of cannabis legalisation, with 32 per cent either leaning against legalisation or entirely opposed to it. But what if the following words had been tacked on to the question: ‘ . . .  given that a founding father of legalisation regrets it being actualised where he lives, calls it shameful, hurting people and now professes deep disappointment and wide-ranging regrets. Would respondents have realised that they needed more information than the YouGov poll gave them?*

There is a wealth of evidence on the predicted harms of drug legalisation but proponents are loyal to their theories and unlikely to be persuaded by my words. Instead, let’s turn to a legalisation hero: Robert Corry, who played a prominent and pivotal role in the movement to legalise marijuana in Colorado. He designed and implemented the dispensary framework and, as a trial attorney, represented clients accused of marijuana-related offences. ‘I wish I could be proud of what we created, but I’m not,’ he now states in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gazette. ‘The campaign focused on the question of what is “safer”, marijuana or alcohol. SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) was the name of the primary advocacy organisation,’ he adds. What research has since shown is that this is an artificial dichotomy: people who smoke cannabis are five times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than people who don’t use cannabis. 

Corry explained: ‘What I have changed my mind on – applying current reality I was too naive to anticipate ten years ago – is the wisdom of a commercialised, for-profit, elitist, government-protected, privileged, monopolistic industry that perpetuates itself and its obscene profits, to the detriment of the public good and the planet Earth.’ The Gazette saw the harms early on while Corry is belatedly recognising Big Pot as Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and Big Alcohol rolled into one.

He says: ‘No true free enterprise exists in this regulated industry, but rather a small oligopoly of crony capitalists who are given privileged government licences. Licences are capped, and new entry is nearly impossible. Extreme regulations are created and supported by the big players, and benefit these big players over smaller competitors. The regulators daily pass through an unrestrained revolving door between government and the industry they supposedly regulate. True competition is lacking. Industry exploits its centrally planned regulatory system to fix inflated prices, and government chips in extreme taxes . . . And the quality of this overpriced commercialised product is awful, and harmful to adults and children alike.

‘On a proportional basis, corporate marijuana is Colorado’s worst environmental polluter. It pumps chemicals and carbon greenhouse gases into our air, uses tons of energy, harms our climate, dirties our drinking water, and ruins our environment. It stinks, literally and figuratively. Most of the foul-smelling warehouses are next door to a poor or minority neighbourhood, whose children grow up smelling the skunky chemical stench.’

Corry concludes bravely and excruciatingly that ‘the inmates are running Colorado’s marijuana asylum’. 

He says: ‘This evil industry’s metastasis was enough to drive any right-thinker a little crazy, compounded by use of the actual product. But there is nothing wrong with a person clearing his mind from chemical pollutants, and then changing his mind when confronted with now-undeniable facts that could not have been fully anticipated when creating a brand-new industry in 2012,’ he states [although we here at TCW are amongst the many to have done so].

What better example of drug legalisation theory crumbling into predicted reality?

*Editor’s note: Would the YouGov’s panel also have been influenced by the knowledge that marijuana has been found to be the number one drug associated with child death in at least one State in the US, where the substance abuse history of their caregivers by ‘maltreatment verification status and cause of death’, has been investigated?

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Deirdre Boyd
Deirdre Boyd
Deirdre Boyd is a leader in the field of recovery from addiction. She heads DB Recovery Resources which supplies a daily news service to the international alcohol/drug-treatment field and organises DB Recovery+ UKESAD summit on addiction recovery.

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