Why Law Enforcement Group's Horrors of Pot Report Is Being Ignored

Jacqueline Collins
Since 2013, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federally funded law-enforcement organization, has been issuing highly critical, persistently biased reports about the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado.

But beyond a few scattered stories and a brief reference in U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer's unexpectedly strident September 28 anti-pot op-ed in the Denver Post, the group's latest salvo, released this month, has gotten comparatively little traction, especially compared to its earliest offerings.

Mason Tvert, co-author of Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational cannabis sales in Colorado, and spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, thinks one reason may be that half a decade of screeching about the sky falling begins to fall on deaf ears when people notice it's still there.

According to Tvert, corresponding via email, "Whatever credibility this federal anti-marijuana agency had was lost years ago when it became clear that its top priority was maintaining marijuana prohibition rather than public health and safety."

RMHIDTA director Tom Gorman, whose group's jurisdiction includes Montana, Utah and Wyoming in addition to Colorado, has acknowledged in this space that some of the data assembled for the reports is opinion-based, meaning it may not pass muster in a scientific survey. An example can be found in bullet points pertaining to the "societal impact of legalization" in the fresh update to the document, "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: Volume 5, The Impact."

Specifically, the declaration that "marijuana tax revenue represents approximately nine-tenths of 1 percent of Colorado’s FY 2017 budget" is a transparent attempt to convince readers that turning back the clock and banning pot wouldn't cause much damage to the state's bottom line. Likewise, the assertion that "violent crime increased 18.6 percent and property crime increased 8.3 percent in Colorado since 2013" implies that marijuana legalization is the reason for these boosts, despite the lack of any meaningful evidence to prove that's true.

Here are those grabby digits and more, as excerpted from the report's "executive summary:"
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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