The returns are in on Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana: (1) Large amounts of money are being made thanks to legalization, privately and by the state; (2) “horrible things are happening to kids.”
The quotation is from psychiatrist Libby Stuyt. She treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health effects of high-potency marijuana. Stuyt says: “I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety” stemming from legalization in the state.
Stuyt’s report won’t surprise anyone who has read Alex Berensen’s book Tell Your Children, which I discussed here. Berensen noted that over the past few decades, studies around the globe have found that THC, the active compound in cannabis, is strongly linked to psychosis, schizophrenia, and violence. He interviewed far-flung researchers who have documented the contribution of THC to serious mental illness.
Now, are we seeing these effects in Colorado. Libby Stuyt’s report from ground zero is bolstered by data. The Washington Post informs us that in the Denver area, visits to Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities for treatment of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis and other acute cannabis-related symptoms jumped to 777 in 2015, from 161 in 2005. The increase was most notable in the years following legalization of medical sales in 2009 and retail use in 2014.
As a reward for jeopardizing the mental health of its young people, Colorado is bringing in large sums of tax revenue. According to the Washington Post, in 2018 $1.54 billion in sales produced $266 million in fees, licenses, and taxes. The marijuana industry made out like bandits too.
No politician will admit that the financial benefits of legalizing marijuana are worth significant increases in psychosis, depression, and suicide, coupled with decreased ability to perform and learn in school. However, that’s the trade-off many of them support — not just Democrats but also Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner.
Money talks. The pursuit of it, and the power it confers, often overrides concerns over public health. It does, at any rate, in this case.
UPDATE: Our friend Seth Leibsohn disagrees with my statement that the state of Colorado is making a large amount of money thanks to the legalization of marijuana. He points out that Colorado’s budget is more than $30 billion dollars, meaning that the $266 million the state is taking in due to marijuana legalization is less than one percent of its budget.
Seth has a point.