The Sad Search to Find Anything Negative About Marijuana Legalization
Prohibitionists try to connect cannabis legalization with violent crime, but don’t have the facts to back them up.
George Brauchler, a prosecutor in the suburban counties to the east and south of Denver, is one of the hopefuls looking to become Colorado’s next governor.
In the Trump era, being governor of a western state where marijuana is legal means protecting the local cannabis industry against threats from the federal Justice Department. But in Brauchler’s estimation, marijuana’s greatest threat is itself. And it might be, if Brauchler were the least bit honest. Instead, he’s running with a war on facts that’s even more dangerous.
Brauchler opposed Amendment 64 in 2012, and since then, as Colorado records more than $1.3 billion a year in commercial cannabis sales, he’s remained unswayed, mostly because he believes marijuana legalization has been a menace to society. “Whatever benefits there may be from the legalization of marijuana, eradicating violent crime associated with it is not one of them,” he said in a recent statement.
See here: Since Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, cultivators and dispensaries have been the target of “significant violent crime,” Brauchler claims in a recent post over at Westword. In that time, Brauchler’s area, home to 45 percent more people than the city of Denver, has seen no fewer than 11 murders “motivated by marijuana,” including an as-yet unsolved shooting death of a dispensary security guard.
“Those eleven homicides do not include the many more robbery, burglary, and attempted-murder cases in our community also motivated by marijuana,” says Brauchler. Across the state, he claims, criminal-justice colleagues across the state are “overwhelmed with trying to enforce the crimes involving marijuana.”
Eleven murders! Sounds bad. And it is. It’s bad math, bad public policy, and a bad, bad display of the great lengths to which legalization opponents must go, stretching truths and twisting facts into unrecognizable braids of dishonesty in order to make their case.
For Coloradans, “there have been increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room costs,” according to an anti-legalization petition being circulated by the Centennial Institute, a think-tank at the Trump-loving Colorado Christian University. “The effects in Colorado have been devastating, and we do not wish these negative consequences of legalization upon the nation.”
What’s afoot? “Know that in Colorado there have been increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room costs. States that have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana have the highest youth use rates in the country,” according to the petition. A similar message was recently printed in USA Today, which ran with a headline declaring that Colorado has been “devastated” by legalization. Poor, poor Colorado!
This is a near-perfect rote repetition of the Bible for the prohibition set, a certain report produced by the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. HIDTAs are initiatives overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is prohibited by act of Congress from supporting legalization. In most circles, this is known as an institutional bias. And the HIDTA report has alternately been blasted as “fake,” “dishonest,” or at the best, inconclusive in showing whether or not statistically significant but numerically very small increases — from a hundred to several hundred, for example — in emergency-room visits are caused by marijuana legalization.
As for Brauchler, his laser focus on eleven homicides over a nearly five-year period is baffling. Colorado sees more than 200 homicides and more than 300 overdoses related to prescription opioids a year. Seems like someone should be doing something about that, or at least raising the issue.
Not Brauchler. Not all of those deaths were in Brauchler’s district, but here’s a prosecutor, in a state where deaths from prescription opiates outnumber all murders by more than 50 percent, honing in instead on just a select few murders, which might be connected to marijuana.
What’s he doing? Why does he care so much about finding fault with legalization when far greater evils stalk the land? It’s called ideology, and in Brauchler’s case, it’s called failed ideology. He may win over some fellow anti-legalization zealots, but this is no way to run a political campaign. It’s also no way to behave as a public servant ostensibly in charge of the health and welfare of the public.
TELL US, dare you buying into the idea that cannabis legalization increases crime?