I write in response to Councilman Rice's recent opinion piece urging to keep the door open for future establishment of marijuana dispensaries in Elko. The article is articulate and well-presented. However, I would ask readers to note the following.
First, in commenting on health and safety issues, Mr. Rice cites statistics comparing deaths related to alcohol and opiods to the (allegedly zero) deaths attributed to cannabis overdose. In context, the implication appears to be that potential death is the only health and safety concern that is relevant. That simply is not correct. As two examples of other health and safety concerns:
• Studies show that teenagers who regularly use marijuana have lower IQs, and do worse on college entrance exams.
• Studies show that THC, the psychoactive component in today's marijuana, has devastating effects on the developing teenage brain.
Even marijuana's proponents have not attempted to refute these findings.
Additionally, even if it is true that no deaths have been directly attributed to cannabis overdose, that does not mean that no deaths are attributable to cannabis in general. As one example, the following information was presented in the Voter Information Pamphlet in 2016, and was not refuted by marijuana proponents:
• Fatal accidents involving marijuana-impaired drivers have more than doubled in Washington, where marijuana has been legalized.
More recently, in August of 2017, The Denver Post published findings regarding traffic fatalities in Colorado, including the following:
• In 2013, drivers tested positive for marijuana in about 10 percent of all fatal crashes. By 2016, it was 20 percent.
• More drivers are testing positive for marijuana and nothing else. Of the drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 who tested positive for cannabinoids, more than 52 percent had no alcohol in their system. By 2016, it had grown to 69 percent.
Mr. Rice compares marijuana with legal prostitution, making the case that the latter is more dangerous. This suggests the apparent logical fallacy that "X is less dangerous than Y. Y is allowed in our community. Therefore X should be allowed in our community." Unless Mr. Rice is, for example, suggesting a vote on whether marijuana dispensaries should replace legalized prostitution and/or other harmful activities or substances that are legal in Elko (a vote which I, for one, would observe with interest), I believe that the comparison of marijuana with other dangerous activities and substances is irrelevant.
Marijuana is not harmless, and I applaud the City Council for doing its part to keep it out of Elko.