Colorado Chief Health Officer: No Big Issues From Pot Legalization

Colorado Cultivation Business Faces Neighboring Landowners in Trial Over Strong Smell
Dan Skye/High Times

Canada is expected to legalize cannabis come July 1, 2018, and naturally, there are some question marks surrounding the regulation of the plant. On Monday, Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer of Colorado, where recreational cannabis was fully legalized back in 2014, told Island Morning host Matt Rainnie that several Canadians have reached out to him for weed-related advice.

Wolk’s message was simple: “We haven’t experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization.”

A Green Model

Although there have been reservations amongst Canadians on the cusp of widespread legalization, Wolk seemingly appeased some detractors with his short and sweet message.

“The short answer is we haven’t seen much,” Wolk told the CBC radio host.

One of the primary worries amongst marijuana conservatives is the belief that upon legalization, children might gain easier access to the psychoactive plant. However, Wolk said that this is far from the case in Colorado.

“One in four adults and one in five youth use marijuana on a somewhat regular basis,” Wolk stated, while adding that these numbers have not changed since the inception of recreational pot.

The current regulations in Canada require consumers to be 18 years or older to purchase marijuana, but provinces can choose to increase the age requirement at their own discretion. Colorado currently requires purchasers to be at least 21, the same requirement for acquiring alcohol.

Wolk believes finding a proper age is somewhat of a gray area but says aligning it with the legal drinking age makes sense for the time being.

“Biologically, we know the correct age should be 25,” Wolk explained. “Nineteen may be a little too young, I mean because, again, of the developing brain issues, but if that’s the legal drinking age, and you already have a high prevalence… then it may make sense to align that with the legal drinking age.”

Wolk also added that for safety precautions, marijuana shouldn’t be sold in bars or liquor stores. He noted that combining the two substances could be a recipe for disaster.

“The co-use of marijuana and liquor is a bad idea,” Wolk said.”Marijuana in [and] of itself—or the THC—and alcohol in [and] of itself can cause impairment, and we know that those effects are not just additive but exponentially increased if somebody chooses to co-use both substances.”

Final Hit: No Big Issues From Pot Legalization

While Wolk provided CBC listeners with sound advice, he also admitted there are still some grey areas when it comes to legalization of the plant.

He mentioned there are many unanswered questions when it comes to legalization, specifically citing impaired driving. Wolk said he hasn’t seen an uptick in recorded impaired driving, but admitted those numbers are hard to track.

Ontario already has a zero-tolerance policy for stoned driving set in place, which could set a precedent for other provinces if it proves effective.

Wolk also admitted that there has been a small increase in hospital visits, but noted that most were tourist-related, and not long-time residents used to the accessibility of legal pot.

Additionally, Wolk said he believes cannabis should NOT be considered a gateway drug, and while there has been an influx of heroin-related deaths in the state of Colorado, he attributes the increase to the widespread opioid epidemic sweeping the nation.

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