John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

The politics of pot in Colorado sure seem to be heating up to climax of some sort, don’t you think?

As the state government continues in its determined effort to overrule the voter-approved legalization of medical marijuana, with prohibition-style tactics, the entrepreneurs who tried to make a legal business out of catering to the new market are running scared.

Why else would someone dump three tons of equipment and material, used in the cultivation of medical marijuana, in a gulch north of Rifle?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the illicit dump held potting soil, fertilizer containers and “associated trash” that was placed there over the past two months, although there apparently were indications the dump site had been used for perhaps a couple of years.

First and foremost, let me say that I abhor the dumping of garbage on public lands. Whether it’s old cars, household appliances, or the results of a spring cleaning of someone’s house, it is reprehensible.

Unfortunately, the practice of dumping unwanted detritus is all too common, and for time uncounted has been the method of choice for people too simple-minded to see the damage they are doing, or too self-centered to care.

The fact that a frightened pot farmer has chosen to burden the public with his (or her) gear is depressing, but not that surprising. Couldn’t exactly take it to the landfill, now, could they?

Imagine the scene: A truck pulling up to the landfill gate, where the inevitable examination of the truck’s load would result in a quick call to the cops and a quick trip to the local jail. Even if the cultivation operation was legitimate, under Colorado’s medical marijuana laws, the situation would prove uncomfortable at best.

In all likelihood, the cops would do their damnedest to get the farmer behind bars, and once the cell door slammed shut, they would do all they could to keep it shut and to crank up the machinery of prosecution.

It all seems to me to be just one more example of how we have allowed a police-state mentality to overshadow the will of the voters. In the year 2000, it should be noted, the voters of Colorado passed an amendment to the state constitution legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Unfortunately for advocates of that law, the state has done what it could to reverse the voters’ will, throwing up statutory roadblocks and laying legalistic land mines along the legislative road to regulation of the burgeoning industry, making it as difficult as possible to fulfill the intent of the amendment.

And now, we learn, a subsidiary group of the Cannabis Therapy Institute has filed suit to overturn portions of the state legislature’s medical marijuana laws, on the grounds that the laws are designed “to restrict patient access to medicine and violate patient privacy rights guaranteed by the Colorado Constitution,” as stated in a news release issued on June 30 by the Institute.

The group behind the suit is named the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project, and it is arguing that the medical marijuana laws improperly limit a patient’s right to choose his or her caregiver, which is the term used to describe people who grow and sell medical marijuana.

Lest we forget, the laws are a reflection of a knee-jerk belief that marijuana is evil, a belief that has its roots in early 20th century racism and corruption. A prevailing bigotry of the era held that pot was the drug of choice for minorities and jazz musicians, and that those groups were horny for white women. The fear and intolerance created by those lies is still in force today among a certain noisy subset of our population, and timid politicians are easily swayed by the shouts and threats emanating from this subset.

Another point that should not be ignored is that the state is thrashing around trying to wipe out what is, in light of the constitutional amendment, a legitimate industry. The mere fact of that industry’s growth, not to mention the majority vote that created the industry, is proof that our legislature, the cops and, in fact, the political power structure of the state, are on the wrong side of this fight.

It is all a waste of public money and resources, for no good reason.


Professional dancers return to Aspen to perform in ‘The Nutcracker’

Roaring Fork Valley natives Emily Ridings and Nikki Ferry have come full circle when it comes to dance. Both studied dance with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) as kids, continued their training with other prominent schools, and now return this weekend, as ASFB presents “The Nutcracker” at Aspen District Theater.

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