Robert B. Stevenson: Why is pot the whipping boy?
I have been jarred enough times today, and to a sufficient degree each time, that I write regarding Wednesday’s edition of Steamboat Today’s article, “Doctors back pot tax — Levy would generate funds for substance abuse prevention, treatment.”
I have nothing against using tax money to address what Yampa Valley Medical Center CEO Frank May described as “the intersection of untreated mental health conditions and abuse of both legal and illegal substances.” A tax locally-dedicated to that purpose sounds OK to me, because most governments have greatly curtailed expenditures on mental health.
But, really, why is pot the whipping boy? Again.
The article referred to nine Northwest Colorado overdose deaths this year. I think we can be sure none of those was from pot. And I think we can be pretty sure that when it comes to being a source of mischief, misery, disorientation and death in Northwest Colorado, alcohol has a huge lead against pot. I bet prescription drugs and opioids also have a big lead.
I would not be surprised if more suicide victims, murderers and impaired drivers drank water than used pot. We could tax water usage and be sure we’ve hit every miscreant, and dedicate that tax money to “the intersection of mental health and substance abuse.”
Maybe pot is low hanging fruit. Tax it to regulate it; tax it to make sure our children aren’t running wild in the streets on reefer. And now, tax it for problems related to “the intersection of mental health and substance abuse” — an intersection I submit pot doesn’t really frequent, or at least not as do alcohol and other substances.
But pot is an easy target. Alcohol has been legal since 1933, pot only recently. I guess alcohol has seniority, and boy, does it show that in negative effects in the community. If we are to do something genuine and logical here, alcohol would be the suggested source of funds. So a choice: easy whipping boy or logic.
I object to the stigmatization and over-inclusion of pot. We could as easily tax car repair or egg dishes at restaurants and raise money to be used for “the intersection of mental health and substance abuse.” If pot is to be the designated whipping boy (again), let’s not pretend it’s because of pot overdoses.
Robert B. Stevenson
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