Heather Martyn: Slippery slope?
A couple of weeks ago, City Hall was standing room only with scores of parents, coaches, racers and board members advocating for Howelsen Hill. Thank goodness, as Howelsen is an important asset to our community.
I was there, not for Howelsen, but for the other 1,500 kids in our community that are faced with a different mountain that is eroding right before our eyes.
The Denver Post recently ran an article titled “Marijuana Use Remains Flat Among Colorado Teens, Survey Finds,” based on a 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey that was not without flaws. Yet they failed to highlight some serious increases in marijuana use in middle and high school students.
In our region alone, (which includes Routt, Jackson, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties) marijuana use over the past 30 days for our high school freshmen increased by 22 percent, there was a 72 percent increase in high school sophomores, a 19 percent increase for our juniors and a 57 percent increase in use for our seniors. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Colorado youth ranked No. 1 in the nation for past month marijuana use.Of the kids that are smoking marijuana, 30 percent of those are dabbing, aka the crack/cocaine of weed.
Now this is data, and many will say data is skewed to tell the story you want it to. Yet, it’s also common knowledge that resort towns notoriously have a heavier party scene.
Youth’s “perception of harm” of marijuana use and alcohol are lessoned by the messages they see on a daily basis living in Steamboat. Most resort towns are aware of this and passed a 2 to 5 percent excise tax on MJ growers or retailers before they were even allowed to open their doors.
When we voted to legalize recreational marijuana, we naïvely bought in to the fact that 60 percent of our tax money will go to “education.” The truth is that two-thirds of the education monies are going to build new schools. The other third is divided up between marijuana education and prevention programs, law enforcement services, substance abuse programs, poison control services and the local government retail marijuana impact grant program. That is a drop in the bucket to try to reverse the messages our kids are getting.
Not to mention the state marketing program designed to curb the use of youth is now being called a “debacle,” and there are deep concerns about potencies and youth use at a state level. Many counties are tired of waiting for the state to do something and are taking the problem into their own hands, such as Weld, Gunnison and Pueblo counties to name a few.
I was shocked at the “kicking the can” position the Pilot took a couple of weeks ago. Which I found surprising as they are always consistent in their support for youth-related initiatives and awareness. City Council takes direction from the voice from our citizens and the local paper.
If this is something that may concern you — show up for the council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2, write our council members and the paper. I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility and not a fan of new taxes. However, we got ourselves into this mess, and without proper funding for prevention programs, and those organizations that make the difference in our youth, it will end up costing more in the long run.
If you pass a 2 percent increase in taxes on marijuana and alcohol perhaps, together as a community, we can start to stabilize the mountain that is slowly being eroded for many generations to come.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.