Marijuana advocates respond to report saying medical pot is being diverted

Yesterday, we shared a new report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area citing more than seventy examples of medical marijuana from Colorado being diverted for illegal purposes, with RMHIDTA director Tom Gorman arguing that passage of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would make the situation infinitely worse. Two pro-pot advocates see things differently.

First up is Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, a locally based trade association, who sent along a statement accompanied by a series of footnotes and links intended to back up his points.

In his remarks, on view below in their entirety, Elliott praises "the efforts of law enforcement to prevent illegal distribution," but he rejects the implication that state regulations are inadequate to prevent medical cannabis from being sold for recreational purposes here and out of state, albeit in the most polite and deferential way.

"Since Colorado regulated the sale of medical marijuana in 2010, Colorado has seen decreases in youth marijuana consumption, suicides, traffic fatalities, and crime. All of these studies point to one conclusion -- Colorado's medical marijuana framework is working," he writes, adding, "MMIG's members are responsible business owners who support rigorous enforcement of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, and work to ensure the industry is run with the highest standards."

Note that Elliott doesn't question the incidents mentioned in the RMHIDTA report or deny that some Colorado MMJ may be used for non-medical purposes.

Mason Tvert, one of the primary proponents for Amendment 64, takes a more direct approach in a statement of his own.

"We have hundreds of state-legal cannabis businesses operating in Colorado and they were able to cite a few dozen examples of problems over the past three years -- and relatively few were from 2012," he notes.

By the way, Gorman says law enforcement agencies that responded to the RMHIDTA's request for information about incidents involving Colorado medical marijuana generally avoided mentioning current cases or ones that have not been resolved.

On a related topic, Tvert argues that "these agencies are desperate to have the marijuana trade completely underground so that they can keep making arrests and seizing assets. They are motivated by a desire to shut down regulated shops. They cannot even accept that by regulating the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, we are actually moving toward the elimination of underground sales, not the expansion of it."

Here's the full release from MMIG's Elliott:

Since Colorado regulated the sale of medical marijuana in 2010, Colorado has seen decreases in youth marijuana consumption, suicides, traffic fatalities, and crime. All of these studies point to one conclusion -- Colorado's medical marijuana framework is working.

While prescription drug overdoses recently overcame traffic fatalities as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, marijuana has never been responsible for an overdose death, making it an extremely safe alternative for qualifying patients.

As the most regulated industry in Colorado, we applaud the efforts of law enforcement to prevent illegal distribution.

MMIG's members are responsible business owners who support rigorous enforcement of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, and work to ensure the industry is run with the highest standards. MMIG will continue our efforts to guarantee that qualifying Colorado patients have safe access to effective medical marijuana, while also supporting state regulatory agencies and all levels of law enforcement in preventing criminal distribution of properly regulated medications.

References/Citations

1. Colorado teen marijuana usage down: Colorado's teen marijuana usage rate went down almost 3% from 2009 to 2011, according to the 2011 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During this same period, teen marijuana usage went up nationally. Colorado's rate fell below the national average. This is also the time period when the medical marijuana industry blossomed in Colorado, and came under very restrictive state and local regulations.

a. Colorado: Click here -- Youth marijuana usage in Colorado went down 2.8% (24.8% to 22%) from 2009 to 2011.

b. National: Click here -- Youth marijuana usage nationwide went up 2.3% (20.8% to 23.1%) from 2009 to 2011.

c. National v. Colorado: Click here -- Youth usage in Colorado fell below the national average in 2011 (23.1% US v. 22.0% CO).

d. Finally, click here to see a new research paper which indicates that medical marijuana laws may be responsible for decreased teen marijuana usage.

2. Suicides down: Medical marijuana laws may be reducing suicide rates. Click here.

3. Traffic Fatalities Down: Medical marijuana laws may be reducing traffic fatalities because they reduce drunk driving. Click here.

4. Crime down: National and State studies indicate that medical marijuana laws may be reducing crime.

a. National: Click here for a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

b. Colorado: Click here for a state analysis by the Denver Post.

5. Prescription Drug Statistics

a. Click here for a report highlighting that prescription drugs now kill more people than traffic accidents

b. Click here for information on the DEA's website about prescription drug abuse.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Colorado Democratic Party convention supports Amendment 64."


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