John Ransom

I hate to start something here with a trite phrase. But sometimes you read about things that make you wonder what some people are smoking.

In Colorado this year a cabal of known associates is getting together to try to legalize the sale, cultivation and possession of marijuana under what’s known as Amendment 64.

Their pitch says that by state regulation and control of dope deals, the consequent revenue collected can benefit K-12 education in the state, now under tight budget constraints.

Yeah, you heard that right: Make pot legal and build schools with the first $40 million in proceeds.

The Colorado Education Association, Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper and any other liberal who doesn’t want to commit political suicide has registered their token opposition to the amendment.

Some of their allies haven’t been that smart.



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A score of Democrat parties, including the Colorado Democrat Party, county Democrats in Denver, Boulder, Pueblo, El Paso and Douglas counties- some of the largest populations in the state- have endorsed the measure. They are joined by their allies at the ACLU, ProgressNow, the NAACP and of course, my favorite: Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.

Because when you are really trying to improve student outcomes, the first place you want to stop is the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.  

While the adults have offered thoughtful ideas on education reform like improved curricula, longer school days, more education choices, vouchers and options like STEM schools, Lefties go back to their roots: dope.

The pro-pot side says that by legalizing and regulating marijuana teen use will actually go down. That sounds like one of those arguments someone comes up when they are used to waking and baking every day.

“According to the latest report from the federal government, marijuana use by Colorado high school students has dropped since our state and its localities began regulating medical marijuana in 2009,” says the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “This bucks the national trend of increasing teen marijuana use over the past several years. Nationwide, past-30-day marijuana use among high school students climbed from 20.8 percent in 2009, to 23.1 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, in Colorado, it dropped from 24.8 percent to 22 percent.”

Yeah, but before you break out the bongs to celebrate, two years isn’t really long enough for all the unintended consequences of bad policy to manifest themselves. I mean even as housing was collapsing in the country, the people who designed the house of cards where cutting a new deck.

Most worrying is that media reports have indicated that this amendment to the Colorado constitution could pass.

From the Denver Post:

A new poll shows Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, with majority support among likely voters – the first time that’s happened in the campaign. Opponents of the measure are responding by blasting the initiative from every angle, while a proponent stresses that no vote will be taken for granted.

The poll, conducted by the Denver Post, found that 51 percent of likely voters surveyed support Amendment 64, while 40 percent oppose it. Here’s a graphic displaying the breakdown:

amendment 64 denver post poll graphic.jpg


The forces opposing the amendment however point out that there is a big difference between asking voters to decriminalize marijuana possession and asking voters to legalize it and socialize it.

More worrying is the long-term implications of trying recreational drug use to education funding. To say the least, this seems like a really bad idea.

Pot has been linked to the development of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. While the literature is not conclusive, there is enough evidence to take the link seriously.

“Repeatedly, studies have found that people with schizophrenia are about twice as likely to smoke pot as those who are unaffected,” writes Time. “Conversely, data suggest that those who smoke cannabis are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as nonsmokers. One widely publicized 2007 review of the research even concluded that trying marijuana just once was associated with a 40% increase in risk of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.”

And then there is the moral question: Do we really want the government in the drug business? Isn’t this the same government that sued the tobacco companies?

So we are for drugs when they help education bureaucracy, but against them when they result in private profits that can be taxed.

This seems like the logical extension of liberal policies in other areas too.

But in this case, at least we know what they are smoking.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.