By February 16, a mural on the side of Wellstone, a Colorado Springs medical marijuana “pharmacy” had been taken down. A figure resembling the popular Cookie Monster of Sesame Street fame had been painted on the building two weeks earlier. Many children were attracted to the popular children’s TV character carrying a plate of cookies, as well as a huge ice cream cone painted along the building’s exterior. There had been a local uproar over the picture and its appropriateness for a medical marijuana dispensary.
(The third article in a series about the battles in Coloradocommunities attempting to ban marijuana sales.) Palmer Lake, Colorado (between Denver and Colorado Springs), citizens filed a petition and voted in April 2014 – to not allow retail sales of marijuana in their town. Now it appears that the pro-marijuana activists are attempting to persuade Palmer Lake town council to overrule the law affirmed by their community.
The issue was to be considered again on the ballot in November. However the town council plans on taking a council vote this Thursday, October 9, 2014 to repeal the “no retail pot stores” legislation which passed in April.
“The citizens have already said we don’t want this, yet we are now being second-guessed by the leadership of the town. You can imagine how disheartening this is,” says town resident, Gerilyn McGaughran.
Proponents of retail pot in Palmer Lake are counting on the anticipated tax revenue community to convince the town council. Yet, landlords and business owners, parents and law enforcement anticipate such a move will cost Palmer Lake more than the gain.
(Part 1 on the battle to keep retail marijuana out of communities.) Colorado’s image as a healthy place to escape smoke and pollution is under attack at its core. Denver is not the only place where marijuana businesses are threatening the state’s image as place to pursue healthy activities.
Since its establishment in 1872, visitors have been flocking to Manitou Springs for the fresh mountain air, for rigorous hiking and for its healing waters. Manitou Springs is a darling community, founded upon the quest for healthiness, and community. It is seated at the base of Pikes Peak, just outside of Colorado Springs. Tourists may stop at several different natural springs of carbonated drinking water, each toting a distinct mineral content.
The city is also a great destination for families. The Manitou Springs Penny Arcade and unique shops entertain the town’s guests before and after their exploration of Pikes Peak and the famous Incline. The historic center is on the National Register of Historic Places. Historical buildings are colorfully painted and restored, and the homes that perch upon the mountainside are unique to this area. Manitou Cliff Dwelling is about five miles away.
Behind this lovely foreground is a community going to battle against the big business of marijuana. Since the approval of Amendment 64 in Colorado, legalizing marijuana, Manitou Springs has seen several medicinal marijuana dispensaries open their doors. On August 1, 2014, Maggie’s Farm opened its doors as the first recreational marijuana retailer in their community.
Under Section 5(f), Regulation of Marijuana, Amendment 64 states:
A LOCALITY MAY PROHIBIT THE OPERATION OF MARIJUANA CULTIVATION FACILITIES, MARIJUANA PRODUCT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES, MARIJUANA TESTING FACILITIES, OR RETAIL MARIJUANA STORES THROUGH THE ENACTMENT OF AN ORDINANCE OR THROUGH AN INITIATED OR REFERRED MEASURE; PROVIDED, ANY INITIATED OR REFERRED MEASURE TO PROHIBIT THE OPERATION OF MARIJUANA CULTIVATION FACILITIES, MARIJUANA PRODUCT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES, MARIJUANA TESTING FACILITIES, OR RETAIL MARIJUANA STORES MUST APPEAR ON A GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT DURING AN EVEN NUMBERED YEAR.
Many communities are saying that they were not asked to vote on having marijuana retailers in their community. They disagree with those who claim that when a majority of voters in community supported Amendment 64, it signaled agreement to have marijuana retailers in that community. Had residents known this would be the interpretation, many say they would have voted differently.
The group, No Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs (NRMMS) came to life after the Manitou Springs City Council decided on January 21st to permit retail sale of marijuana, despite the majority of residents’ objections. It didn’t take long after the vote for local marijuana businesses to take action. The construction of Maggie’s Farm, a recreational marijuana retailer found in multiple Colorado cities, began in Manitou in May and opened its doors on August 1st. Another dispensary, Reserve 1, distributing medicinal marijuana, received a license to sell the drug for recreational use. It is currently looking for a larger space to expand its operation.
Many community members have voiced opposition to the City Council’s decision. Tim Haas, Treasurer of NRMMS and local business owner, says that one of the major concerns of allowing marijuana retailers in Manitou Springs is the large number of pot smokers from neighboring communities that will flock to Manitou for their recreational fix. Colorado Springs with a population just under 432,000 is but a mere 15-minute drive away from Manitou. In July 2013, Colorado Springs’ City Council voted to ban recreational marijuana stores with a narrow vote of 5-4, meaning Manitou Springs is now a close and convenient source of marijuana for those without a prescription.
It’s not only a question of increasing road traffic, but also people traffic. Manitou Springs’ population of homeless seems to have risen in the last few years. The anecdotal evidence is the appearance of an increasing number of young people gathering on the corner, sometimes smoking pot openly. It alters the feeling of the friendly town. Though many of the young and old homeless and panhandlers who congregate at the circle on Manitou Ave. are harmless, the question of safety may cross their minds of tourists who come to the area. Since the passing of Amendment 64, the Colorado cities of Denver and Colorado Springs have reported a large influx of homeless youth; many stating they are in Colorado for the weed, and it seems safe to say that Manitou may see the same ripple effect.
With some of these negative side effects becoming apparent, Haas, as a parent, is concerned. He has chosen for his children to attend the Manitou Springs’ schools, coming in from a neighboring town.
What might happen if parents begin to perceive Manitou Springs as a center for recreational marijuana? A large percentage of Manitou’s High schoolers are “choiced” in, meaning that if parents change their minds based on the reality, or purely their own perception, of what is going on in Manitou, the local schools could lose money. Just losing 20% of the students would be enough financial cause for the schools to have to cut teachers and the other students would be left to face the consequences.
NRMMS created the petition to ban retail marijuana shops from the Manitou Springs community shortly after the City Council’s vote. The group gathered 593 signatures, 465 being certified, almost double the required number of 275 certified signatures — 15 percent of the number of voters in the last general election (1,833). The question will appear on the November 4th ballot allowing voters to decide if the current ordinance should be upheld, or overturned, banning retail marijuana establishments in the city of Manitou Springs. At least two groups are working together to ban the marijuana shops in Manitou Springs, Don’t Let Manitou Go to Pot and People Against Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs.
Resident voters will receive their ballots by mail on October 16. They should be returned no later than November 4. Voters who did not participate in the last election may need to update their voter status and request a ballot. For more information or to check your voter status in Manitou Springs, please visit the Manitou Springs City website. Voters wishing to ban the stores should vote YES on the marijuana retail ballot question. The Colorado Springs Gazette endorses a Yes vote on 2G. Former Mayor Marcy Morrison recently wrote this opinion piece in the Gazette.
(Part two of Marijuana and Child Neglect/Abuse. Last week we published an article about neglect; this week we cover violence, anger and explosions.) A 15-year old boy living in fear of his violent father was afraid to go home and confided in a friend’s family. The friend’s mom told police, who went to investigate the child abuse. They found out more, accidentally discovering an illegal, indoor marijuana grow. Yet marijuana activists tell us they are calm and non-violent.
Butane hash oil explosions are another way children surrounded by marijuana face grave danger. In Medford, Oregon, a 12-year old girl suffered many broken bones when she had to jump from the 2nd floor of the apartment building to escape the flames.
After three children died in Colorado because of parental neglect while parents smoked pot followed by a string of hash oil explosions with children at home, it should have been easy to pass child protection laws in Colorado. On April 27, 2014, an 8-month old baby had be rescued from the 2nd floor of a burning townhouse in Littleton, after a father and his girlfriend sparked a fire by burning hash oil. The neighbor whose adjoining townhouse was damaged rescued their 4-year old. Just 10 days earlier, on the 17th of April, a couple in Colorado Springs endangered their 3 children, the oldest a 7-year old, using fire to make dabs from hash oil.
Since the Alliance for Drug Endangered Children began in the 1990s, there are fewer meth lab explosions. Instead, the promotion and legalization of marijuana has created one of its most dangerous by-products: hash oil explosions fueled by butane gas. In short, it’s called BHO.
Hash Oil Explosions
As of early May, Colorado had experienced 31 hash oil explosions in 2014, 10 of them involving serious burns. The Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (CoDEC) has been taking steps protect children from the drug-using parents, but two child-protection bills failed to pass.
On April 1, 2014, state Senators Linda Newell and Andy Kerr introduced two Senate bills to strengthen protections for children whose parents’ drug usage, manufacture or cultivation put them in danger. Unfortunately, an associate of the Drug Policy Alliance had written a letter to the Denver Postimplying it was unfair to marijuana users.
The bills HB 177 and 178 were voted down at the beginning of May. The outcome was undermined by interests of the marijuana industry, marijuana users and politics. When the city of Denver met September 16 to restrict unqualified individuals from making hash oil — the marijuana activists again objected.
After Failure to Pass Child Protection Bills
In mid-May, a Manitou Springs, Colorado, couple cooled the hash oil in the refrigerator. The refrigerator door blew off and landed on the woman’s three-year old child. Multiple charges of arson and child endangerment have been leveled against each of the parents in Colorado who put the lives of their children in danger. They are indeed lucky that none of the children burned or died in the fires.
Making hash oil at home is perfectly legal in Colorado. However, the state of Colorado should be blamed for putting the marijuana users’ freedom and the “good name” or reputation of marijuana ahead of the children. The evidence is that the legalization of marijuana has put more children in harm’s way.
Huge Problem in Other States, in West
Hash oil explosions are frequent in other states, too, particularly on the west coast. On August 25, a man living in Santa Rosa, California, had an explosion and burned badly. While he did not have children, the family next door with 5 children were put in the line of danger. Today, the LA Times reportsof 20 hash oil explosions within the last year in San Diego County, California. One of the 4 groups currently under investigation involved a child put in danger, and the offending party has been charged with child endangerment.
In May, the Oregonian reported that nine major hash oil blasts had occurred in Oregon since 2011, four of them in homes or hotel rooms where children, including a newborn, were present. In one case, a 12-year-old girl suffered multiple broken bones after leaping from the second floor of an apartment building rocked by a butane hash oil (BHO) explosion.
Last year a 10-day old and one-year old baby and two women suffered injuries from a hash oil explosion in Forest Grove, Oregon, the site of another extensive fire from making hash oil in January, 2014. Two months ago, on July 22, it was announced that the District Attorney in Seattle filed charges against seven who caused explosions in the state of Washington.
Marijuana users like to claim they don’t get mad and violent, like the cocaine addicts and some alcoholics routinely do. If their marijuana usage leads to explosions, selfishness, abandonment, or narcissistic rage and anger, they fall into the same violent category as other substance abusers.
A case of violent child abuse erupted in Tampa, Florida in June. Christopher Finlayson, who babysat an 11-month old girl, tried to amuse her by tossing the child into the air. He tripped and dropped the child face-first onto the floor. When the child continued to cry, Finlayson went into a moment of rage and he “lost it.” The baby was totally unresponsive when the mother returned home. She took her to the hospital and authorities were called. The man admitted he had smoked a “blunt and a half” of marijuana the previous day and was unable to sleep the night before the incident.
Just a few days ago when police in Nevada went to investigate a case a suspected child abuse, they discovered a fetus in the freezer, with a gun and marijuana in the bassinet. This year authorities in Utah discovered that Megan Huntsman, heavy marijuana user, had buried 6 of her children over several years.
In July, four adults in south Modesto, California, pleaded no contest to severely beating a 7-week old girl. The child had several broken ribs, a lacerated liver and spleen and swelling on her brain. When authorities investigated the home 3 were used for growing marijuana for sale. They parents were charged with two counts of child cruelty, illegally growing with intent for sale, stealing electricity and damaging power lines.
According to a recent article “chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.” This study is one of many articles or studies using data while trying to promote marijuana usage. The study didn’t show what happens when one partner does marijuana while the other does not, sometimes a problem in abusive marriages. It also did not track child abuse.
Why is marijuana likely to make some people violent, if using can cause a “blunted emotional reaction to threat?” The nature of a psychologically addictive substance is that a person needs it to feel ok and to feel normal. Take it away and there can be panic which results in anger. Leah Allen tells the storyof how her cool, chronically high father abused her mother. Furthermore, disagreeing with the marijuana bloggers gets them so riled and angry.
What About DEA mistakes?
The tragedies of children lost to parents’ marijuana usage, and other drug usage, are larger than the widely-publicized mistakes made by the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA. No teacher, parent, police agency, politician or worker of any sort is free from making mistakes. This summer a story spread about a failed raid which resulted in a grenade hitting a 20-month old child. It’s regretful that there was an injustice suffered by this child for that mistake. However, this baby and his parents will have their justice with law. There will be no justice for the marijuana – endangered children, as long as the marijuana community holds all the cards.
It’s a tragedy that because “Drug Wars Don’t Work,” Americans have legitimized a very dangerous drug. It’s a tragedy that the current anti-government trend spreading in American political circles also leads to more chaos and more abused children.
Based on the fire, anger, rage and explosions, we cannot continue this marijuana experiment if we are to have a saner, safer society.