Would a marijuana store be good for Cordova?

By Rosanne Curran For The Cordova Times

Editor’s note: The Cordova Times welcomes civil commentary from the community on controversial issues of socioeconomic importance to Cordova. These commentaries reflect the viewpoint of the writer only.

A new store would provide more tax revenue for the city. That seems like a good thing. However, it is prudent to think about the total cost and impact of marijuana marketing.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana, SAM, a science-based policy organization, reports that federal excise tax collected on alcohol in 2007 totaled around $9 billion; states collected $5.5 billion. Combined, these amounts are less than 10 percent of the estimated $185 billion in alcohol related costs to health care, criminal justice, and the workplace in lost productivity. Each year, Americans spend more than $200 billion on the social costs of smoking, but only about $25 billion is collected in taxes.

Would marijuana have a similar negative effect economically? There is a very legitimate concern that increased costs of enforcement and other social problems will swallow up any tax profit.

The health of marijuana users is adversely affected. Over the past 20 years, the research has become increasingly clear about the harms of altering brain chemistry through the use of pot and the level of the active ingredient, THC in marijuana products.

The following information is provided by SAM:

  • Specific areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and reaction time are significantly and negatively affected. In fact, the negative after-effects can last up to 28 days after the last usage.
  • The risk of a heart attack increases by four times in the hour after use, and it can provoke chest pain in patients with heart disease.
  • Long-term studies in the United States and New Zealand show regular marijuana smokers – like cigarette smokers – demonstrate much higher symptoms of chronic bronchitis and emphysema than non-smokers. (Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.) And marijuana use is linked with depression, anxiety and mental illness – especially schizophrenia and psychosis, according to systematic reviews of studies published in Lancet, Archives of General Psychiatry and the British Medical Journal.
  • A study in the April2016issue of the Journal of Neuroscience found that juvenile usage increases the brain damage associated with the drug.
  • That same April2016 study found that large amounts of marijuana can create high levels of fear, anxiety and panic.

Addiction is a real problem. Maybe you are like me and have a family member or loved one who has drug addiction. If so, you will understand that it is impossible to put a price on the divorces, failed relationships, broken homes, poverty level living, failed employment, heartache of the children caught in dysfunctional and unsafe conditions, emergency room visits, jail time and the sheer waste of the personal talents of the human caught in addiction.

  • The Institute of Medicine found in 1999 that 10 percent of those who try marijuana become addicts. If marijuana usage starts in adolescence, the chances of addiction increase to 1 in 6 according to a study published in the July 4, 2013 edition of the psychiatry journal Neuropsycholpharmacology.
  • “Cannabis takes a lot longer to withdraw from than most any other substance we deal with,” said Ben Cort, director of the Colorado Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at University of Colorado, quoted August 2015 in Citizen Magazine.
  • Addiction is spiking in Colorado with the legalization and marketing of marijuana in 2013. According to RMHIDTA, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the number of people admitted to Denver’s Araphoe House drug rehab center that listed marijuana as their drug of choice rose from 284 in 2013 to 471 in 2014.
  • Marijuana use by kids between the ages of 12 and 17 is 58 percent higher in Colorado than the national average, according to the RHMIDTA. The rate of use among college-age adults is 54 percent above the national average. Drug-related suspensions from Colorado schools jumped 34 percent from the 2005-2009 period to the 2010-2014 period.
  • The same report (RHMDTA) showed the largest youth treatment program in the state with 95 percent of the kids in treatment due to marijuana use.
  • “The profits (for the marijuana industry) rely on addiction,” said Kevin Sabet, national president of SAM.

What would the cost to our community of Cordova be from commercialized marijuana?

I love my Cordova home and the people who live here. I want our children to be safe and healthy. I ask our city officials to protect our town and people from the negative effects of marketing marijuana.