Rocky Mountain High

01-12-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Have you gotten a contact high yet from that giant cloud of marijuana smoke wafting down from Colorado? Now that marijuana has been made legal for "recreational" use we'll get to see how this social experiment turns out. Will it be a really groovy Rocky Mountain high or one toke over the line?

So far I've noticed the following "tweets" from the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

U.S. Drug Policy (@ONDCP):

Teen marijuana use is higher in states with medical marijuana laws.

1/3 of high school seniors in medical marijuana states report getting marijuana from someone else's prescription.

CHART: Did you know more teens now use marijuana than smoke cigarettes?

Voters were promised that state regulatory schemes would keep marijuana from hands of young people, but that's not the case.

Now that's just in states where marijuana use is legal for medical purposes. So what will it look like in Colorado where its use is legal for anyone 21 and over? Well here is one recent headline (Jan 4):

Legalized Marijuana Cookie Sends 2-Year-Old Girl To Hospital In Colorado

Apparently the little girl found a cookie laced with pot and ate it. I know it is hard to imagine a pothead being so sloppy as to leave one of their cookies just lying around but... So is this a foretaste of things to come in a 'Pot-is-Harmless world'? Well according to the same article maybe so (

In May, medical toxicologist George Sam Wang and his colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver published a study about pediatric marijuana poisonings. "We are seeing increases in exposure to marijuana in young pediatric patients, and they have more severe symptoms than we typically associate with marijuana," Wang said in a statement. "We hadn't seen these exposures before the big boom of the medical marijuana industry."

So apparently the old meme "its just pot" is a fable. Pot does harm both directly and indirectly.

But how did we get here? Most of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana laws were voter-approved initiatives (including AZ's Medical Marijuana Law). It seems today many people have bitten the libertarian apple of the supremacy of individual rights. What that position fails to account for is the rights of others or the fact that even individual rights exist in the context of other people. Take for example the model for the individual rights obsession: No-Fault Divorce: any spouse has the right at anytime to terminate a marriage for any reason or no reason without consideration for the rights of the other spouse and more importantly the rights of any children in the marriage.

The fact is that most of us are a little too enthralled with the idea of individual rights, of no one telling us what to do or how to live our lives. But we have to realize that part of being in a family and in a community means that at times a claim to sovereign individual rights is not absolute. Considering how a right affects us and not just me needs to be part of our consciousness. Just because I may theoretically have a right it may not be right to exercise it in all cases.

Unless we start thinking and making decisions and voter choices with an eye to what's good for us, then, well, our society might just go to pot.

Love, Fr. John B.