Colorado’s Top Doc Debunks Legalization Fears

Legalization in DCContrary to the claims of many marijuana prohibitionists, regulating the adult use of cannabis in Colorado has not been associated with any significant adverse effects on public safety. So affirmed Colorado’s top doctor, Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health, in an interview Tuesday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Specifically, Dr. Wolk said that legalization has not negatively impacted teen use or traffic safety. He also expresses skepticism at the suggestion that legalization may stimulate the greater use of other controlled substances.

Here is a sample of his comments:


CBC: What have you seen since recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado?
Dr. Larry Wolk: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. … I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven’t seen that pan out.”


What about drugged driving?
“We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI’s since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here.”


Do we know if cannabis legalization is leading to higher uses of hard drugs?
“We are not seeing those kinds of increases. … I think we have yet to answer the question of whether or not legalizing marijuana helps reduce the consumption of those harder, more addictive drugs, or acts as a gateway. The jury is still out.”

NORML has recently posted a number of fact-sheets online here summarizing the relevant peer-reviewed science specific to these and other public policy issues, including: cannabis and traffic safety, marijuana regulation and teen use patterns, legalization and crime rates, the relationship between legal cannabis access and opioid abuse, the gateway theory fallacy, and the economics of statewide legalization policies.

0 thoughts

  1. This may be off topic or in the wrong place but people who use CBD oil need to be aware that even using CBD oil can make you test positive for THC. I live in the State of KY and our Governor has made it clear that medical will never be approved on his watch. I am a partially disabled Vet who has to take benzo’s for PTSD and chronic pain but this puts Doctor’s in a tight spot as far as writing perscriptions. I have not taken opiates in years for chronic pain but not all CBD oils are the same. I have failed 2 urine drug screens and have used nothing but CBD oil and smoked or vaped nothing. There is a study that was done in the 1940’s that showed CBD can convert to THC after prolonged exposure to simulated gastric acid so buyer beware. I know my Doctor is very opened minded about the positive effects of medical but as I told him since I live on fixed VA benefits how was I supposed to afford to check out any CBD oil I bought because there is no Government oversight? So once again buyer beware unless you want a false positive. :~/

    [Paul Armentano responds: CBD is not converted to THC in humans:
    A Conversion of Oral Cannabidiol to Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Seems Not to Occur in Humans
    “[T]he conversion of oral CBD to THC and its metabolites has not been observed to occur in vivo, even after high doses of oral CBD.”]

    1. Thanks for clearing that up Paul. My understanding has always been that nonpsychoactive CBD is the opposite of psycoactive THC. The beauty of whole plant marijuana synergy is that our bodies take the balance of what we need from both cannabinoids instead of relying on one synthetic patented molecule that without its opposing molecule creates undesireable side-effects.

  2. I have lost family and friends to tobacco, alcohol and opioids. Trumps plan to fight the opioid crisis is as simple as he is, get the nations number one marijuana hater, Chris Christie to head the opioid epidemic and the number two hater Jeff Sessions to shut down all state legal marijuana. Build a wall to keep illegal drugs (marijuana) from entering the U.S. from Mexico. Tell the children that marijuana is the reason for the opioid deaths across America. And best of all is the fact that if you ramp up the war on marijuana at the same time you are supposedly fighting the opioid war, then you will not be able to justify Medical Marijuana as an alternative to opioids because it will be considered just as bad. And that should end the opioid crisis in just a very, very, short time, believe me, I am very intelligent, the people love me…

    1. The problem with more bad propaganda is that there’s enough people in this world to see through it. And there’s a such thing as more fun for kids, cause it is illegal. Kids often smoke in the park over here, even though they can get arrested for it. They smoke it in blunts, thinking it is enough to hide its smell. They would have to build walls around the places here in America which legalized it. When I really think, I realize how expensive it would be to try to change things in certain states. Supply is high just now. Thing is, supply isn’t going anyplace. And if you keep forms of opioids legal, you will continue to have a problem. All they will end up doing is making more druggies out of people, and the problem will just get worse, if the police are too busy with marijuana. (Cannabis.)

      As soon as they are out of office, I believe it will be legalized. Could happen sooner, with Trump as well trying to fight it. They’ll be some sort of hearing on it. You know, in The Supreme Court, kind of thing. I am on a low grade level on my own language, I apologize.

      1. You mention that the popularity of BLUNTS rests on their use to hide the smell of cannabis. I.e. prohibition itself is causing irreparable harm to the lives of millions of young persons who, attempting to avoid detection and prosecution for cannabis use, get hooked on NICOTINE from exposure to it in the cigar-wrappers used to roll blunts.
        The Australian Department of Health referred to joint-smoking as a “Trojan Horse” luring children into nicotine addiction (in much of Europe and Commonwealth countries tobacco is mixed in with cannabis in a joint, originally because the cannabis was supposed to help get hashish to burn). Cannabis then conveniently receives well publicized blame for the devastation of lives caused by habitual tobacco combustion.

    2. Here is the Heritage Foundation’s plan for Sessions to follow (edited for space). Number 11 is the eye-opener. It’s a takeover by Big Pharma, the way I read it!

      1. Reaffirm support for the law. Issue a statement affirming the incoming administration’s commitment to reducing the use of marijuana in the nation.

      2. Coordinate with lower-level officials.

      3. Reassert America’s drug position on the world stage. The White House should make clear that the United States continues to support the three international drug conventions, and that it intends to change its domestic policy to reflect that support.

      4. Up the profile of key drug enforcement personnel. Restore to Cabinet-level status the position of the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

      5. Rescind and replace the August 2013 memorandum from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole—i.e. the “Cole Memo.”

      6. Select marijuana businesses to prosecute.

      7. Rescind the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s guidance for banks and oppose efforts to expand banking services to the marijuana industry.

      8. Support state attorneys general in nonlegalized states.

      9. Prosecute those dealing in marijuana—which is illegal under federal law—using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

      10. Prosecute those who provide financing for marijuana operations.

      11. Empower the FDA to take action to regulate marijuana in order to protect patients and the public. Marijuana legalization poses a public health problem, and the FDA should be tasked with investigating marijuana for chemical contamination and pesticides. Marijuana should also be subject to the standards of the rigorous criteria of the FDA approval process, which has been carefully constructed to protect consumer and patient health and safety.

      1. The Heritage Foundation–another right wing “think tank” that’s been set up to ensure that the rich get richer.

    3. I believe you hit the nail on the head as to the current situation. With Trump, everything has a simple solution.

  3. CBD breaks down similar to THC so the urine tests create a testing flag. Don’t let possible employers treat you like you have done something wrong by requiring a drug test for employment.

  4. I wonder if Dr. Wolk could be called as a witness to testify in the Washington v. Sessions case? His testimony over Colorado’s teen use and safety under state legalization is evidence to justify the temporary injunction:

    I love the background story of how NORML founder Keith Stroup and Congressman Lou Correa-CA, invited 11-year-old Alexis Bortell (dude, Ive been calling her “Bortelli” all this time?) to NORML lobby day last month so she could lobby to legalize the plant that has stopped her seizures for more than 360 days. Filing for a temporary injunction so she could bring her medicinal marijuana extract with her was clever and timely justice. Timely because the supremacy clause has already been weakened in an SJC court, and several states continue to modify or amend voter initiated mj legalization providing Federal courts with legislatively enacted references for legalization.

    By denying Alexis her 1st amendment right to lobby Congress in a redress of grievances then subsequently allowing a trial on the merits for preliminary injunction the court has already granted evidence of irrepareable harm in the public interest and documented evidence of a violation of Bortell’s civil rights and due process under equal protection as a citizen of the United States.
    The plaintiffs have until the 3rd to respond to Sessions Motion to Dismiss while the defendants (Sessions, the DEA, DOJ etc) have until the 15th to respond.

    1. This is the party that loves to protect the unborn, but isn’t as sympathetic to living, breathing 11-year olds. I wish that one of those heartless SOBs who continually vote against legalization would suffer the same affliction as that poor 11-year-old girl.


    Abbott Laboratories settled with the DOJ over depakote in August of 2012 for $1 billion dollars for off label marketing to elderly dimentia patients and schizophrenia, both not FDA approved uses for their kickbacks. (Subpeona…)
    As USAG, Sessions is now directly involved over the settlement of a drug for epilepsy, depakote, that he once received donations for as Senator of Alabama.
    His donations received from Abbott Lab. go back to 2008:

    Years after Abbott Laboratories was aggressively marketing depakote with off label kickbacks;

    And a lawsuit over depakote that claimed birth defects:
    …even though the evidence is clear that whole plant cannabis mitigates the symptoms of seizures and epilepsy

    If this doesn’t convince a Federal Judge of irreparable harm to justify an injunction on the scheduling of marijuana, read these side effects on depakote;

    And at the end it says “this is not a complete list of all side effects.”

    One side effect should read “use of depakote may result in kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories to purchase a hostile attorney general bent on outlawing safe and affordable treatment for epilepsy from marijuana to sell toxic depakote causing irreperable harm to the American public and the interests of national security.”

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