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'Cause I Got Issues, But You Got 'Em Too - At Least Mine Have References 🤷

A graphic was shared by Russellville's current Mayor, Richard Harris, on his official Facebook page. In my opinion, images like the one he shared are dangerous. They have zero sources, they use inflammatory language, and are overall poorly designed (but the skull and crossbones are pretty rad).

Also, I can't seem to find the original graphic that could give some much needed context. According to the Google image search it only lives on 5 politicians facebook pages. (Mary Bentley, Delia Haak, Steve Unger, Richard Harris, and Karilyn Brown). An interesting observation is that there are 3 different versions among those pages. The version below, a version with just the bottom "drug problem" part, and a third that adds the colorful language "Meth, opioids, heroin, and fentanyl are killing our kids. Now the same liberals who want gun control, open borders, and defunding the police want us to legalize drugs."

Well, okay then.

Issue 4 is about legalizing recreational marijuana use. But, as with any amendment, there's a lot more to the bill than meets the eye. Below I will be breaking down the image and then letting you know how I will be voting on Issue 4, and why. Buckle up! We're starting in the top left corner, road deaths.

Marijuana involved in 1 in 4 road deaths in Colorado

See also: Speeding involved in 1 in 4 road deaths. Not buckling up involved in 1 in 2 road deaths. This statistic, given no context, lacks purpose. Please note how it just says "involved" not "caused by". In 2018, 588 deaths were caused by traffic accidents in Colorado. Of those, 13.5% of the drivers tested positive for cannabis. That's 79-ish people. Meanwhile, 889 deaths were caused by firearms in that same year. Where is the cool and poorly designed graphic for that? Did you notice how I just took a statistic and crammed it by another statistic that had no relation? Yeah. It's easy to do.

Don't be fooled. Only 15% of the 10% tax revenue will go to law enforcement. Meaning only 1.5% goes to law enforcement

This one I'm just going to leave at "Well, that's still more than 0%." Because the specifics of it aren't decided yet. Just that the "1.5%" would go towards an annual stipend for officers certified by CLEST. Which, seems strange to me. *adds "more research" to tomorrows daily tasks*

Currently, THC in Medical Marijuana is limited to 10 mg per serving. This amendment removes all THC limits

There should be an asterisk at the end of this. The actual language states it would remove a requirement that food or drinks combined with marijuana for medical purposes not exceed 10 mg of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per portion. [THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.] So, again. Misleading.

Child suicides rose 140% in Colorado after marijuana was legalized

This one truly upsets me. First, they use the word "child" instead of "youth" because it evokes a stronger emotion. Second, youth suicides are nothing to be flippant about. Third, I wasn't able to find this statistic ANYWHERE. And I had 23 browser tabs open at one point.

Since they said "child" and didn't specify an age we'll go with 10-14 years old for our research.

Number of suicides among ages 10-14 in Colorado and the yearly percentage change:

2013 - 12

2014 - 19 (+58%)

2015 - 17 (-10%)

2016 - 12 (-29%)

2017 - 23 (+91%)

2018 - 25 (+8%)

2019 - 21 (-16%)

2020 - 18 (-14%)

2021 - 19 (+5%)

Overall increase from 2013 (after marijuana was legalized) to 2021 - 58%. NOT 140%.

These are actual reasons suicide rose that 58%. If you click the photo you'll see that the top 3 substances present in the toxicology reports are opiates, marijuana, and antidepressants. Causation vs correlation needs to be considered.

This amendment loosens packaging requirements, significantly increasing the likelihood of poisoning children

As stated on page 22 of the Public Policy Voter Guide -

If approved by voters the amendment would "delete a section that says the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division establish advertising restrictions for dispensaries and cultivation facilities related to artwork, building signage, product design, indoor displays and other medical marijuana-related advertising. The ballot measure would replace that wording with a requirement that the Division establish advertising restrictions that are “narrowly tailored” to ensure advertising isn’t designed to appeal to children. Packaging also must be child-resistant and designed in a way that doesn’t appeal to children."

As a graphic designer by trade, I interpret this whole section as a way that designers can have more leeway in the packaging design. Not with any intention to lure children to ingest the product. But, I didn't write it so the intention is unknown.

Marijuana users are 2X as likely to move on to abuse opioids according to studies

Ah, finally, a reference to a study! Wait. But, what study? According to WHAT STUDIES?!

This could be 100% true but if you don't tell us what studies how are we supposed to know for sure? No worries, I found some studies we can discuss.

According to the CDC "Most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” drugs."

Hmm. That sounds kind of like the opposite of the studies this graphic references.

In one study, they saw that smoking tobacco was associated with increased likelihood of cannabis use, but they also observed... the opposite. Whether looking at the gateway hypothesis (marijuana use leads to opioid use), common liability model (a biological/psychological trait), or route of administration model (the use of marijuana and tobacco went hand in hand) the results all basically say the same thing. Personality traits, substance availability, peer influence, and other factors are the most likely to lead people to opioid use.

I'd be remiss to leave out the American tradition of being needlessly prescribed opioids by a medical professional, and how that has fueled the opioid epidemic far more than these marijuana users.


Now that I've spent 8 hours on this little blog I suppose I shall come to my conclusion.

Don't carelessly share graphics that contain unfounded statistics.

Also, I voted "no" on Issue 4.

In my opinion, it's just a poorly written initiative that doesn't cover important factors. The original 40 (medical) dispensaries will automatically receive a second license for recreation, and leave only 40 more dispensaries open for recreational licensing. Since you would be allowed to have controlling interest in up to 18 dispensaries competition could be easily eliminated. Additionally, "there is no provisions for expungement on criminal records, so those that have had their lives destroyed by sometimes as little as a joint, continue to have their lives destroyed while these conglomerates rake in millions of dollars."

If I find myself inspired to do the other 3 ballot initiatives you all will be the first to know.

GO VOTE! You have 5 more days left (if you read this the day it was published, otherwise it will be fewer that that).



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