Roger Marolt: Roger This

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Forget about “Colorful Colorado.” We are “The Altered State.” We went and got all stupid on Tuesday. Did we really just legalize pot in Colorado? I’m stunned. You read that right. I’m stunned, not stoned like apparently many people rejoicing over this “victory” are this week.

I know it’s crying over spilled milk, but for the first time in my life that has been lived entirely as a Colorado resident, I am embarrassed to live here. It’s not progressive thinking that prevailed. We got fooled.

How do I know? When I think of drugs, I think of the big cartels in Mexico and Colombia – well-oiled, well-funded, super-organized, gigantic conglomerates that know their business and have proven that they will not be deterred from promulgating their evil. Our response was, “So, let’s legalize pot; then we can tax it, regulate it and stop all the killing and crime that go along with its distribution.”

It sounds good. But if legalizing dope will put the bad guys out of business or even slow down the illegal drug trade and its horrific appurtenant effects, where was the opposition from the drug cartels? It was a pipe dream.

You think that if this idiotic legislation had any chance of putting a multibillion-dollar industry out of business that the industry giants wouldn’t have found a way to funnel massive amounts of dough into Colorado and mount a campaign blitz against this ballot issue to nip it in the bud and prevent it from spreading to other states? They wouldn’t have stopped at advertising. They would have slit throats if they thought this half-baked idea would ruin their lucrative enterprise. But what did they do instead? That’s right – nothing. Why? Because they know this type of legislation is good for their filthy trade.

If you truly want to stop the crime and killing associated with the drug trade, stop smoking pot. You hold the answer in your one-hitter.

What really galls me, though, is one particular reason many people gave for supporting this ballot initiative. It was for the good of our children! Apparently the first $40 million in taxes generated from the legalized trade of pot will go to fund Colorado schools. So, because we love our children so much, we legalized pot. I’m wondering what lesson we just taught them.

I know: We’ve already done this with alcohol. So what? Does that mean we need to promote another vice into the mainstream? To legalize pot “because it’s no worse than alcohol” is about the weakest argument anyone can make. How about this using the same illogic: Burning coal is legal. Burning garbage is no more toxic than burning coal. Therefore, burning garbage should be legal, too! Let’s go! I can get a hundred-gallon steel drum fired up at the end of my driveway tomorrow!

I think there will be unintended consequences from this new legislation. While I consider it a great embarrassment that we have legalized pot in this state, it is almost but not quite awful enough for me to pack up a five-generation-long connection to this place and move, but it might be enough to keep some people from vacationing here. As any parent knows, it’s a damn hard enough full-time job trying to steer your kids out of harm’s way – why risk leading them headlong into it on a family vacation? It’s simple enough to go somewhere else. I wouldn’t blame anybody from avoiding this place even if it is based solely on ideology.

And what about potential new businesses moving here? I don’t think it’s a big selling point to tell people that marijuana is legal and readily available in the community where their company might move. Conversely, we just made our state more attractive to potheads. I’m not talking about recreational users, either. I’m talking about people who make lighting up their lives a priority. Their presence and influence will grow. Our future looks a little hazy.

I have always prided myself that Colorado is the healthiest state. How can we possibly claim that now that getting baked is a high enough priority of ours that we felt the need to legally legitimize it? We have gone to great lengths to outlaw smoking in as many public places as possible, and now we legalize weed? Even if you choose to discount the potency of the drug, it’s still smoke in your lungs. Remember? In Colorado we are supposed to hate that. Count me as one in the minority who still does!