By Kirtley Ceballos
With the birth of my first child 10 months ago, this is a very special Mother’s Day for me. It is a time for me to pause and think about the mother I want to be to my little boy as he continues to grow. I plan to take some quiet time to imagine both the joys and challenges that lie ahead.
Looking down the road, I know, like every other parent, that one of the greatest challenges my husband and I will face is the possibility of teen drug, tobacco and alcohol use. Fortunately, as a parent, I have more than a decade before that really becomes an issue. But as a Colorado citizen, I have the opportunity this year to address the subject on a societal level.
In November, the voters in our state will consider Amendment 64, an initiative that would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. It would allow adults 21 years of age or older to use and possess a limited amount of marijuana. And it would direct the legislature to impose on excise tax on marijuana, with the proceeds going toward public school construction.
Most importantly, from my perspective as a future parent, the initiative would establish a regulated system for the cultivation and sale of marijuana. This means that marijuana would be sold in stores in which employees would be required to check IDs before conducting any transaction.
Taking the sale of marijuana out of the criminal market and putting it in the hands of state-regulated stores would be a dramatic improvement over the existing system. In fact, if your concern is the health and well-being of teens, it can be argued that we currently have the worst possible marijuana policies.
By keeping marijuana illegal, we are ensuring that the only market for marijuana, aside from the controlled sale of medical marijuana in the state, is the criminal market. One that is easily accessible in any Colorado neighborhood. Therefore, when teens inevitably decide to acquire marijuana, they enter a market where dealers have a financial incentive to turn them on to harder drugs.
In addition, marijuana obtained in the criminal market is completely unregulated and untested. A purchaser, especially a young, novice purchaser, has no idea whether there are any impurities or additives. For those concerned about the potency of marijuana, it is also relevant that underground marijuana is not professionally packaged or labeled.
Most of all, there is the simple fact that drug dealers don’t card.
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