cannabisColorado legalized pot, and immediately created issues for its neighbors, which include Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arizona — politically conservative states that fear the spread of the legal pot movement to their own communities.

So they fight back. Example: Vigorous anti-pot campaigns arose in Arizona, particularly around the issue of crime. Pro-cannabis Colorado politicians have complained.

I used to joke that the debate would continue until one side or the other got nuclear capability and nuked its adversaries. At least I thought I was joking.

This is a classic Propaganda War– most of what is said or published is heavily slanted to one side or the other. The practice is to seize on a fact (or kernel of a fact) and inflate its importance to your advantage. It’s a way to manipulate public opinion, to which we’ve all been exposed in 2016, perhaps more than ever before. One wag has already declared this the Year of BS. It’s hard to argue.

My take: Cannabis is neither devil drug nor savior. Both the dangers and the potential benefits have been greatly exaggerated. Because arrests for pot possession have already fallen dramatically over the past decade, we have a pretty decent picture of what happens when pot is widely available without risk of severe penalty. We wind up with a lot more pot smokers, and cheaper, stronger pot. Many users will become dependent on cannabis and later need treatment. Many users will also be using drugs such as alcohol, heroin, prescription painkillers, stimulants, and sedatives. It will be very difficult to measure the true effect of cannabis alone, other than in the most general way.

We’ll wind up reading articles about how the crime rate has gone up or drug offenses have gone down or teens are smoking more or smoking less, but that won’t tell us much of real value. It will keep the argument going.

In the state where we live, a former governor, himself an early advocate for full legalization of cannabis back when he was a Republican (he’s now a Libertarian), fought long and hard during his administration with a prominent opponent, an urban Sheriff who was also a Republican.

Times change — both are now involved in cannabis start-ups.

After all, there’s green at stake, and not only the plant variety.


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