Transcript: (Part 1) Mike Hosking & Ray Padilla on legalised marijuana in Colorado

Mike:

It was this time yesterday that Chloe Swarbrick was trying to argue that Colorado was the place to look if you wanted to see cannabis legislation as a success story. So, let’s do that and see what’s happened. Ray Padilla is a police officer and president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association.  Ray, good morning to you.

Ray:

Morning.

Mike:

Appreciate your time very much. On a scale very… start with something broad… on a scale of one to ten, ten being this is the greatest thing you guys have ever done, one a complete bust, what’s your number?

Ray:

One would be it – complete.

Mike:

What’s gone wrong with it?

Ray:

There’s various… there’s various types of things. I mean you can look at it from the black market and how much we are dealing with black market marijuana now, versus kind of what we dealt with before. Um, you can look at… you can easily look at anywhere like traffic fatalities in the state of Colorado. You know, we think free (indistinct) marijuana related traffic deaths by about 151% in Colorado. Overall deaths increased by about 45%.

Mike:

Jeez we got a… got a slightly dodgy line, can I ask you to move just a little bit. Let me ask you about overall usage. Has overall usage gone up?

Ray:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Mike:

And what about things like arrests, court appearances and that sort of thing?

Ray:

Um, you know we kind of… we’ve somewhat decriminalised marijuana but we’ve also increased our enforcement when it come to black market and going after some of the organised crime and things of that nature so a lot of those numbers have gone up. Of course, possession and things like that of course have gone down because we don’t charge for that anymore.

Mike:

Having said that – the black market, one of the arguments here is that the gangs currently run the drug market in this country – if you legalised it which is what we are looking to do in this country, if you legalised it the government would run it therefore the black market would be diminished. Is that true?

Ray:

Um, that is absolutely untrue. What has happened in Colorado is similar to the argument you have here where the black market is going to go away, the gangs aren’t going to run crime anymore. We have more organised crime in Colorado now than we’ve ever had and it’s based off of black-market marijuana.

Mike:

And why is that? What’s the rationale for gangs to come to your part of the world and do it?

Ray:

Well there’s a couple of reasons. One is the… the market… the legal market is always going to be more expensive because people are going to have to pay more taxes etcetera. When you can get it on the black-market number one it’s much cheaper; number two you are going to have gangs and those here who will grow it in Colorado and then they ship it out of state. Right now, in dollars it’s about $800-$1200 dollars for a pound of marijuana in Colorado but if you ship it to the east coast it’s worth anything between $5,000-$7,000. So, there’s a huge incentive for these folks to make money and that’s the way they do it.

Mike:

One of the other arguments is that people use it anyway, making it illegal has failed, so let’s make it legal and nobody will use it anymore. Is that true, or do people start using it more?

Ray:

They start using it more. And then what you have is you become a… a… what’s happened in Colorado is we have become a state of cannabis tourism. We have a lot of people come into our state, they’re… they want to try marijuana, this is the first place they want to try it.

The difference between marijuana nowadays versus marijuana back in, let’s say the 80’s early 90’s, that we would typically get out of Mexico or California was only run at about let’s say 8-12% THC, now our flower marijuana here is anywhere between 25-35% THC. And then we have concentrates that are pushing up as high as 99% pure THC which is then causing a lot of issues with people who are trying marijuana for their first time or they’re coming to Colorado to try Colorado marijuana and they’re getting sick, they’re ending up in the hospitals, suicides are up, accidents are up etcetera.


To be continued…

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