Pot legalization: Bad news for families in Colorado, Washington

Saturday, January 5, 2013
James Lambert - Guest Columnist

Lambert, JamesIt's a sad day when the official platform of a major political party -- in this case, the Democratic Party of Colorado -- openly endorses the legalization of recreational marijuana in their state. That group was the first major state party in the U.S. to do so in 2012, despite the efforts of several underfunded opponents to defeat these bad initiatives in Colorado and Washington state.

Despite the unfortunate loss at the polls in those two states, we should be proud of the efforts of organizations like the American Family Association for sending out well over 82,000 emails to people in three states (Oregon also considered a similar initiative) in an attempt to dissuade people to vote in favor of legalizing pot.

Nevertheless, in November the majority of the voting public in Colorado and Washington approved legalization of recreational pot; voters in Oregon did not. Opposition to this effort was much more organized in Oregon. Opponents of the initiative in Oregon did a good job in communicating their message. Even the liberal newspaper, The Oregonian, editorialized against legalizing the substance.

In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper (D) seemed giddy when he recently signed into law Amendment 64, which now makes recreational pot legal in his state. Colorado's law tells us that adults over the age of 21 can now freely use the substance "but not in public." Already, that "public" provision is being challenged openly by users in Denver. Pot smokers by the dozens have been filmed lighting up on state grounds all around the State Capitol. It will be interesting to see if Colorado police will uphold this provision of the new law.

Still, far too many people -- including notable church leaders and ministry spokespersons in Colorado -- simply would not take a stand on the issue of recreational pot.

I remember conferring, as spokesman for MarijuanaHarmsFamilies.com, with more than 60 church leaders regarding California's attempt to legalize recreational pot during the 2010 election cycle. Approximately a third of the church leaders I spoke to refused to take a stand against that California initiative (Prop. 19). Fortunately, we were successful that year in stopping marijuana advocates such as Peter Lewis (CEO of Progressive Insurance), thanks in large part to the support of the California Chamber of Commerce and -- surprisingly -- Latino and African-American voters in Southern California.

Yet this year, the outcome was much different in Colorado and Washington. For families in those two states, the legalization of recreational pot will have negative consequences. It seems inevitable they will see an increase in their state's public health costs, decreased academic performance, decreased productivity among the workforce, and increased traffic accidents. But perhaps the most prominent change will be the noticeable increase of pot use among teenagers and young people.

Over 20 years ago, citizens in the state of Alaska saw the damaging effects of legalizing this substance after state legislators did so in the 1980s. Practically overnight, use of pot almost tripled among teens. Wisely, Alaskan state legislators overturned their decision in 1990.

Even today we see what regular pot use is doing to too many high school students across America. Regular marijuana use among Americans has increased 13 percent (from 15 to 17 million) in just the last four years.

As Christians, we offer a personal solution to such negative issues. Please join me in providing a positive response to substance abuse of all kinds -- encourage pastors to speak out against substance abuse ... encourage educators not to water down the facts about the consequences of drug abuse ... and above all, pray for your family members and friends who are struggling with substance abuse, that they will find strength in the Lord to defeat the evil hiding behind the substances they crave.

James Lambert is a licensed nationwide real-estate mortgage loan sales agent in Southern California and a regular contributor to OnenewsNow. He is available to speak in public forums about the damaging consequences of using recreational marijuana. He is the author of 16 Amazing Stories, which includes several testimonies of individuals who, with God's help, overcame substance abuse.

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