Thank you for your ongoing coverage of the efforts to improve mental health services in Colorado. As a young person, many of my peers have been impacted by family and academic pressure, struggles with mental illness, and unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse to handle stress.
State Sen. Owen Hill, a Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in a primary, on Monday called on the federal government to keep its hands off Colorado's legalized marijuana industry and tore into Lamborn for welcoming a recent shift in policy that could lead to a federal crackdown.
Regular readers of my columns (and I want to thank both of you) may recall my previous ruminations on representation as well as on hypocrisy. On representation I mulled over whether an elected senator or congressperson should vote in accordance with the will of the people (the “delegate model” of doing things) or should vote for what he or she feels is in the long term best interest of the citizens, even if it is not the current majority view of the folks back home (the “regent model”). Regarding hypocrisy, well, I really, really dislike it.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said on Twitter Thursday he's "prepared to take all steps necessary" to block a reported move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversing federal policy that has has let states legalize recreational marijuana. His Democratic counterpart, Michael Bennet, said the decision will "create unnecessary chaos and confusion."
Longtime advocates of Colorado’s bold step into legal recreational marijuana back in 2012 are sure to feel vindicated by new federal data indicating teen pot use is down markedly in the state. Indeed, legalization-movement pitch man Mason Tvert was practically on the media’s doorstep with the news this afternoon:
The federal government published survey data Monday that shows the rate of current marijuana use among Colorado teens decreased significantly last year and is now lower than it was prior to the state’s legalization of marijuana for adult use.
The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.
An antidote to the naysayers? Arguably, though if we’ve learned anything about statistics, it’s that there always appear to be more statistics that can and will be used to counter them. The latest numbers, for example, seem to contrast with some of the data in a previous iteration of National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As we noted earlier this year, legalization foes wrote Gov. John Hickenlooper in April, contending among other things:
The only representative sample of teens ever conducted in Colorado, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that Colorado now leads the nation among 12 to 17-year-olds in (A) last-year marijuana use, (B) last-month marijuana use, and (C) the percentage of people who try marijuana for the first time during that period (“first use”).
Meaning, we’ll probably be hearing from the other side this time around, too. Stay tuned.