Letter: Officials should think past revenues when considering pot licenses
January 16, 2014
To the Editor:
Fraser Trustees charged with regulating a new industry, which has the potential to harm our community, need to proceed by working to offset the damaging effects marijuana will have on Grand County citizens.
I am certain if the board was reviewing a liquor license, they would not be speaking of "letting the marketplace determine how many stores there are" as Trustee Vesta Shapiro said — or a "neighborhood getting what they asked for" in the words of Trustee Steve Sumerall. The vision of a town full of failed or failing pot stores with owner's desperately clawing for survival by pushing the regulatory envelope is not a picture any of us wish to witness. This message needs to be served to the Grand County Commissioners, who also seem to seek a pot free-for-all.
There was no talk of the impact of pot on our youth and adults. I will admit to being a user in the past. I quit after finally understanding the insidious effects this drug had on my memory, but more importantly on my motivation. I am old enough now (62) to see the long-term effect on the few friends I have who still imbibe. Their lives have been reduced to a meek day-to-day existence, dreams long since lost. We need to admit pot will drag our community down as some citizens lose the gifts they can give toward building our community's future.
More importantly, pot will continue to damage our children. A review of the 2012 Grand County Community Health Assessment finds this quote from a high school student. "You have to start with parents because everything starts with them, some parents support drinking." Open pot stores certainly sends this same message; a town full of these stores will give the message an exclamation mark.
The report proves what I learned while guiding two sons through our schools, that pot use starts in middle school. I began use of pot after high school, even then I am not sure I had the maturity to process its myriad effects. I am not sure what would have happened if I had started with the more powerful so-called "couch weed" (so strong the user can't get off the couch) when I was 12.
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Instead of the gleeful talk of general-fund tax revenues witnessed at the Jan. 8 meeting, the board should have been discussing how these funds can be invested in an attempt to undo the damage caused by the real potential of increased use.
Tax revenues should go to local agencies to offer free drug treatment to any person asking for it. Tax revenues should also go to enhancing healthy physical activities which can lure children and adults away from pot and liquor stores. Most importantly, the town should treat new pot store applications with at least as much respect as they do when licensing new liquor stores. I expect our Fraser Trustees to be the adults in the room when they consider pot regulations at their meeting on Jan. 22.