Transcript: (Part 2) Legalised marijuana in Colorado

Mike:

I was going to ask you about that. You’re not medical of course, but medically speaking are we getting a read on what’s happening there in hospitals and medical clinics?

Ray:

Ah, definitely an increase in visits due to a lot of different things, a lot of psychotic episodes, mental health issues, our rehab clinics and things like that. There is rehab for marijuana.

People say you can’t get addicted to it – that’s absolutely untrue. We have a huge number of people there going through treatment for cannabis and marijuana addiction and then you have individuals. The emergency room rates are sky rocketing as well as poison control rates. You know emergency rooms are seeing people for anything from a variety of psychosis type related episodes to, we have something here called “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome” which people have pretty much a bad reaction to smoking marijuana – high grade marijuana – and they have vomiting episodes and things like that and they end up in the hospital.

And you know people come here for the tourism and they get here and they find out that maybe that marijuana they tried wasn’t such a good idea.

And then you know of course poison control is another thing we deal with where you have a lot of calls where you have children and a lot of things like those… children and pets that get a hold of this marijuana and the next thing you know everyone’s freaking out and you got to call poison control because a child has ingested some type of marijuana.

Mike:

Could I find a lot of people in your state that would argue the opposite of what you are doing and go “this has been fantastic and we’re having the best time of our lives”?

Ray:

There probably is. Absolutely, there’s going to be people that say this is the greatest thing ever.  Um, you know, but all those statistics and things, they come up with are not true. I present statistics and what we are seeing from a law enforcement stand point when it comes to this thing.

Will they make a lot of money? Yes, the government makes a lot of money but when you add up all the societal costs and everything associated, it’s not necessarily a great thing.

Mike:

And what do they do with the tax take? Because they make money off the sales, what does the government do with it?

Ray:

Well, you know, the first… the majority of the money is supposed to go back to our schools and that is ah… distributed on a basis depending on what you need. Like an urban… if a rural school needs new air conditioning or something like that, they can request the state pay for things like that. But if you look at some of the bigger school districts like Cherry Creek or Denver School District, their superintendents have vocally come out and said the only thing that they’ve seen from marijuana legalisation is more marijuana.  They’ve never seen any of the money and things like that. So, I think it Colorado it was kind of sold as a “you know this is going to be great for schools” etcetera. We have teacher strikes and they think that they can pay for teacher strikes with it but the bill and the way it was written for us – you cannot use the money for those type of things.

And then of course, everybody wants their hand in the cookie jar and everybody reaches in and grabs a little bit to repair potholes, they do things like that.

Mike:

What would your advice be to a place like New Zealand who is going to have a vote on legalising it?

Ray:

Um, I would tell everyone to absolutely not legalise marijuana based on… you know you always hear these stories saying it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and I will tell you from a… from a stand point of seeing it and dealing with it every single day – that’s not the case.

I think people need to do a little more research about marijuana, especially some of the things that are starting to come out now. You know, this was kind of a shot gun approach, Colorado went with it and now we are starting to see the mental illness effects we are dealing with, the traffic fatalities – everything.

You know, just because you legalise it – legalising a substance is just going to make things worse.

Um, you know they told us that alcohol use would reduce in Colorado if we legalised cannabis – absolutely untrue – we are using an unbelievable amount of alcohol in Colorado now.

So, a lot of these, you will have all these arguments that you’ll have… opiate deaths have gone down in states that have legalised marijuana – well that’s not true. Opiate deaths have gone down in those states because the US is now trying to fight the opiate epidemic with other means and going after those type of folks.

So, all these different arguments that people come up with – bottom line – the thing is greed. You know, people want money, people are making a ton of money off of this thing – we are having to deal with the societal consequences on the back side of it.

Mike:

Ray, appreciate your insight very much – I’m sure we will get you back between now and October. Ray Padilla president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association.

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