Aspen Times Editorial: The lingering stigma of marijuana | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Editorial: The lingering stigma of marijuana



The opposition to the proposed marijuana-cultivation center outside Basalt, which would span more than 50,000 square feet, appears to be born out of the very paranoia unfairly associated with the leafy, and now legal, drug.

We won't debate the merits of the size of the facility. That decision ultimately will fall to the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, which will begin its review on Aug. 28. The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended that the county approve the project. The Basalt Town Council, however, was unable to establish a position as a referral to the county commissioners, at a meeting Tuesday night.

Approximately 15 residents of the Holland Hills neighborhood, which is near the proposed grow site at 24480 Highway 82, voiced opposition to the facility.

Among their reasons: the potential for violence, the "odor" of pot and the grow site's proximity to schools. Never mind that licensed marijuana-cultivation centers face scrutiny from state regulators, who require a tracking system of the growers' pot inventory, among other criteria.

Since the perceived hazards of marijuana are fueling neighbors' concerns, we encourage them to attend upcoming Pitkin County commissioners meetings regarding how they plan to regulate the cultivation and selling of pot.

After voters passed Amendment 64 in November, making marijuana legal in Colorado, some residents of this state ultimately will need to come to terms with the fact that yes, we are free to smoke weed — though the feds might disagree — and even grow it, in some instances.

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Still, local governing boards have the power to ban retail sales of marijuana, and more than two dozen Colorado cities have taken such steps.

While municipalities have those rights under the state Constitution, much of the shunning is the result of the unfair stigma associated with marijuana, in which there is no evidence of a single overdose, while 80,000 people annually die in the U.S. from excessive alcohol use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 32,885 people died in 2010 because of drunken driving, based on the latest statistics available from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Yes, marijuana is legal in Colorado, but its stigma lingers for those who can't grasp the fact that the world is changing around them.