Reefer Madness in Colorado: Weld County’s “Cannabis is not harmless” campaign says pot users are sad, stupid, sick and un-lovable

Reefer Madness in Colorado: Weld County’s “Cannabis is not harmless” campaign says pot users are sad, stupid, sick and un-lovable

The anti-cannabis movement is apparently still alive and well

VicesMarch 13, 2020 By Will Brendza

Cannabis has been legal in this state for six years now, and people are still strung up over it. You might think that the propaganda of the drug war would have worn off by this point; after people started smoking weed regularly, legally all over Colorado and chaos didn’t consume the state.  

Still, despite all of the obvious and anecdotal evidence that pot is in fact safe to consume, and not detrimental to you metal or physical health, some particularly conservative (and stubborn) parts of Colorado are still investing their time and money in anti-marijuana campaigns.

Specifically: Weld County.

Known for its abundance of farmland and fracking wells, this working-class county is one of Colorado’s largest (area-wise). It sits directly east of Boulder and Fort Collins and it is renowned for its conservative bent. It’s not the reddest county in his state, but it’s certainly one of them.

A fact that’s clearly demonstrated by Weld County’s most recent public health campaign: “Cannabis is not harmless.”

“We acknowledge Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana,” Mark E. Wallace, the executive director of the Weld County Health Department, said in a statement. “However, the general public, and especially youth, need to understand that marijuana use is not harmless. There are consequences to driving impaired and using frequent amounts of marijuana.”

So, Wallace and his department initiated this anti-cannabis campaign. According to their data, which comes from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, an anti-marijuana organization, traffic deaths have doubled since the legalization of cannabis (although that statement doesn’t account for population growth). They say that every three days in this state, someone dies from a “cannabis-related” car accident.

Which might be technically true — but fails to adequately define “cannabis related.” Was the driver ripping a phat caviar blunt, stoned off their brain and lost in the clouds when they crashed? Or did they just have trace amounts of cannabis in their system from taking a puff off a bowl earlier that day?

And really, just because cannabis was “related” to an accident doesn’t mean it was the cause. How many accidents are related to caffeine, but not caused by it? How many accidents are related to annoying billboards about the dangers of cannabis, but not caused by them?

It’s a tenuous statement, at best.

Here’s the thing, though: Cannabis is not entirely harmless. The health officials of Weld County are correct in that statement — smoking bud is bad for your lungs, sure (just like smoking anything is); and it’s never advisable to get ripped and get behind the wheel. Depending on your tolerance, how much you ingested and when you ingested it, you might be too high to drive and you might be putting your life at risk, or someone else’s, too. Not cool, bro.

That’s a statement that Weld County could’ve made without resorting to flimsy drug-era statistics and scare tactic billboards. But they didn’t stop there.

The Weld County Department of Health goes on to say, that cannabis users often exhibit, “lower life satisfaction, poorer mental health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success.”

You hear that kids? If you smoke pot you’re going to be sad, stupid, unsuccessful and die alone.  It’s a tragic fact, but according to the health department of Weld County, that’s what happens when you get hooked on reefer. It’s “science” they took from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which also lists psychosis, hallucinations and delusions as side-effects of using cannabis.

Funny enough, you don’t see any billboards around Weld County suggesting that beer or liquor “are not harmless;” nor do you see any billboards about the dangers of opiates, or anything about sugar or junk food. In fact, it seems like Dr. Wallace and the Weld County health department have taken a rather pointed stance against one specific substance they don’t like.

Dr. Wallace never returned my phone calls for comment on this story.

But listen, if Weld County wants to make the roads safer by getting high drivers off of them, that’s all well and good and I stand with them. But Reagan-era anti-drug propaganda tactics are not the way to do it. Mis-leading people about the real effects of cannabis use, don’t make the situation any better, it only makes it more confusing and makes authorities seem less trustworthy.

Besides, if they really want to reach the “youth” as Wallace suggests, there are better mediums than billboards.