POLICE Magazine

JUL 2019

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34 POLICE JULY 2019 home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Golden State Bridge, Napa Valley, breathtaking national and state forests, and miles of coastal beaches. But all that glitters is not gold in the state some- times called El Dorado. It also stands out for its recreational marijuana use, ranking No. 10 in the nation. Other states with legalized laws also rank to- ward the top for marijuana use: Alaska (No. 1), Colorado (No. 3), Massachusetts (No. 5), Oregon (No. 6), Maine (No. 9), and Washington (No. 11). Marijuana use across the country is prevalent—even in states where the drug is illegal. e annual National Sur- vey on Drug Use and Health, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, finds approx- imately 26 million Americans, ages 12 and older, report using marijuana and that 2.6 million young adults report us- ing the drug daily. Lopey adds, "ere are an estimated 337,000 new addicts annually." Legalization, reports Lopey, has been shown to increase marijuana use. "Since legalization in Colorado, ad- diction rates among adolescents have increased 17%, use has increased by 65%, and calls to poison control have in- creased substantially," he emphasizes. Combined with the greater potency of today's marijuana, these numbers are cause for concern. "Today's marijuana is more addictive than the marijuana of the past; this is not your parent's pot," Lopey says. e amount of delta-9-tetrahydro- cannabinol, or THC, that marijuana contains determines its potency. THC is the compound that gives the drug its psychoactive effects. Studies find THC levels have increased from around 4% in 1995 to up to 39% today. In addi- tion, concentrated forms of cannabis, such as hash and hash oil, present even greater risk. ey may contain as much as 80% to 90% THC. As its potency rises, law enforcement officials report they are seeing more psychotic-type reactions to the drug while on duty, especially after someone ingests a high quantity of THC-con- taining edibles. is puts the public and officers at risk, reports Lopey, who suggests marijuana-induced psychosis can lead to active shooter situations and other violent acts against citizens and police. "Colorado's Legalization of Mari- juana and the Impact on Public Safe- ty" reinforces Lopey's warnings. e document reports edibles are raising concerns among health officials and police because it's unclear to those who ingest them what their potency levels are. e document concludes, "Due to the increased toxicity, medical and po- lice professionals have seen an increase in adult psychotic episodes resulting in hospitalizations and deaths by suicide or homicide." Lopey suggests the plan of attack here begins with widespread imple- mentation of the new D.A.R.E. program, which he calls outstanding. He says, "We need to put more dollars into this prevention program to show young people how harmful marijuana use is. e younger they start using it, the more damaging it is. We need to stop marijua- na use before it starts." He also advocates for more treat- ment programs centered on marijua- na abuse. "We need funding for these programs, and for additional research about the impacts of marijuana use," he says. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS ere's an area in California known as the Emerald Triangle, which is a 10,000-square-mile tract that includes Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity ENFORCING THE WILD WEST OF WEED "While cannabis is legal in California, and sells for approximately $1,500 a pound, if you take that same pound to a state where it's illegal, it's just tripled in value." —Matt Carroll, retired police officer and owner of Carroll Security Consulting PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES

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