Ashley R. Smith is a Cañon City resident, mother of six, regional mentor and leadership guide for teens and women’s self-defense student.
Ashley R. Smith is a Cañon City resident, mother of six, regional mentor and leadership guide for teens and women's self-defense student.
As a stay-at-home mother of six active children, it's surprising how often my children help keep my values in check. I'm compelled to stay "in line" as they question why I make the choices I do, and it's usually through the innocent comments of the youngest that I see where my integrity really lies.
It reminds me of the "The Emperor's New Clothes" when the openly honest boy states the obvious truth that their leader, the emperor, was fooled into strutting down Main Street in the nude. He didn't have to be a genius to figure that out. The same can be said for the common sense logic our principled youth have about the detriments of recreational marijuana on our community. Even my five burping boys know that endorsing recreational drug use isn't all that proponents are making it out to be.
But if Fremont County officials cave in and allow permits for businesses to cultivate, manufacture and sell recreational marijuana, what kind of message are we sending to our youth and future generations?
Cañon City, Florence and Penrose are all grappling with this highly charged issue. Short-sighted proponents are calling to take advantage of "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to get rich from "sin" taxes. Others say it'll jump-start our economy with jobs. The arguments are about as volatile as the amateur THC labs that have been literally exploding in Colorado homes.
Luckily, we've had time to assess the consequences of legalizing marijuana and new studies continue to roll in. As examples, (A) DUID's in the state of Colorado have increased, (B) More children are being hospitalized for ingesting marijuana at home, (C) Burglaries in drug homes and businesses are climbing, (D) THC levels, which are considerably more potent than joints smoked in the 1960s, are bringing out more violence and even death than expected, (E) Downtown Seattle businesses complain they've been harmed, not helped, by cannabis buyers and climbs in violence.
And all this doesn't even touch on the documented surges in physical harm to health and mind.
Just because a law was passed last year on a piece of paper allowing recreational marijuana doesn't magically make its sales and use healthy and risk-free. The medical and law enforcement studies remain the same. Nor is it right to justify promoting and endorsing recreational drug use in order to make a relatively small tax profit. The higher long-term expenses far outweigh the ill-perceived benefits.
This Monday, June 2, the Cañon City Council will consider putting the issue to vote on November's ballots, and many local residents believe we can easily defeat it. This isn't necessarily the case. In the 2012 election, only 51.24 percent of Fremont County citizens voted to oppose recreational marijuana and in light of the growing "but it's legal now" mentality, the polls are increasingly in favor.
With such an emotionally charged issue our elected officials should do their duty; to research, gather expert council, weigh the pros and cons and make an educated and rational decision for what's best. Numerous towns in Colorado have done just that and, as a result, have chosen to ban recreational marijuana sales and production. Our Fremont County Commissioners have already unanimously prohibited the operation of retail and production marijuana facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Although my children help keep my choices of late night television-watching and other questionable activities in line, ultimately, they look to me and to their community to judge what is right or wrong. Is our integrity worth stripping off basic standards of healthy and drug-free living to parade around town like the shortsighted and nude emperor?
We can make all the choices we want, but we can't choose the consequences. Don't let shortsighted people fool you into taking your clothes off.
Ashley R. Smith is a Cañon City resident, mother of six, regional mentor and leadership guide for teens and women's self-defense student.