Off the rails: that's how a Colorado resident describes the situation now that recreational pot is legal.
"People are trying to justify that there is some economic value to the legalization of marijuana, but if you speak to sheriffs in various counties, you're finding out that illegal grows are rampant because of the tax on marijuana," says Debbie Chaves, executive director of Colorado Family Action. "We see homeless people coming to our state because they want marijuana. They're running out of money and they go to that illegal market then."
Chaves adds that DEA officers are saying Colorado is the number one exporter of illegal marijuana.
"We've kind of gone off the rails,” she warns, “so we're setting ourselves up for something that we cannot sustain.”
It doesn’t do any good to look at tax revenue coming in, she says, if you aren’t willing to look at the cost elsewhere, from crime problems to energy and water usage required to grow the crops.
It was on January 1, 2014 that Colorado began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana to people age 21 or older.
Sales are similar to those involving alcohol, except people buying marijuana can purchase only an ounce at a time.
Meanwhile, a recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds marijuana-related E.R. visits have increased at one large Denver-area hospital.
Lead author Dr. Andrew Monte of UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital told The Associated Press that it's not enough to entirely swamp the emergency department but it stresses an already-burdened system.
Chaves wants to see more research on marijuana, including the sudden onset of psychosis.
"We're not looking to what this does to young brains," she adds. "Many people say, Well, it's not legal for children, but we're seeing that more children are being exposed to marijuana and they are actually using marijuana in some way shape or form."