The True Cost of Marijuana: A Colorado Town That Went All-In
PUEBLO, Colo.–It’s a common story across America: A city loses its main employer, usually a manufacturing company with well-paying, blue-collar jobs (that often go to China). The city’s economy crumbles, and those who can move out, do.
Decades later, and looking peeling-paint tired, the city hasn’t managed to recover, but drugs have found a permanent home.
In Pueblo, Colorado, the manufacturer was a steel plant beleaguered by a market crash in the 1980s and worker strikes in the 1990s. And one drug was given a red-carpet welcome.
For years, Pueblo has been looking for industries to revive its economy, and when recreational marijuana was legalized for retail sale in Colorado in 2014, many saw it as the answer. More people would be employed and the tax money would go to schools and infrastructure.
The county commissioner at the time, Sal Pace, went all-in on the industry, promoting Pueblo as the “Napa Valley of cannabis.” Pueblo is situated 100 miles south of Denver, with a population of around 160,000 people.
Marijuana grow operations and dispensaries sprung up quickly and now employ around 2,000 people, Pace told Colorado Politics in September. According to employment website Indeed.com, the majority of dispensary jobs in Colorado pay $12 to $15 per hour.
Pace said about half of the commercial construction in Pueblo County since 2014 has been related to cannabis.
“The cannabis boom in Pueblo is real and sustainable, and we’re well positioned to be a national cultivation hub after federal legalization,” Pace told the publication.
So far, 11 states have legalized retail marijuana and four others–New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota–are considering it. Marijuana is still an illegal, Class 1 drug according to federal law.
An emergency department sign in Pueblo West, Colo., on Sept. 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
View From the ER
Two emergency room doctors in Pueblo see a different side of the equation and say the deleterious effects of cannabis legalization far outstrip any benefits.
Dr. Karen Randall, who trained in pediatrics and emergency medicine, spent years as an ER doctor in Detroit, but Pueblo turned out to be a whole other level.
“It’s like a horror movie,” she told The Epoch Times. Every shift in the ER brings in a patient with cannabinoid hyperemesis. In layman’s terms, that means someone is screaming and vomiting uncontrollably. The sound is wretched and apocalyptic. It’s caused by chronic cannabis use, usually high-potency products, and it stops when the person stops using cannabis.
“I was in Detroit for 18 years and the cannabis psychosis here is worse than anything I saw in Detroit,” Randall said. “They’re very violent. The combination of this high potency THC and meth just creates this incredibly violent person.”
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive ingredient in today’s marijuana products, is now being extracted to reach a potency of more than 80 percent. In the 1990s, the average potency of a joint was around 4 percent THC.
For complete story go to The True Cost of Marijuana — The Colorado Town That Went All In!