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What a long strange trip: A lookback on drug policy changes over five years

As five years has passed since my first Examiner article was unleashed on the public, a lot has changed. Going back a little further to 2008 when I started on this journey of discovery and enlightenment, even more change can be crammed into the experience.

2008 was the year I obtained my permit in Colorado to treat the nerve damage I suffered in a snowboarding accident four years prior. Marijuana ultimately enabled me to stop taking morphine and various other pharmaceutical drugs used to treat said nerve damage. One of the most useful effects of cannabis was the way it helped me stop taking 240-360 mg/day of morphine.

Fast forward to 2014... Marijuana is legal for recreational use in my home state and Washington state. My first experience of walking into Cherry Creek Health for the first time in 2008 can now be shared by the general public in Colorado. Maybe not at Cherry Creek Health (that place is long gone), but the options are most likely amazing.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, plus Washington D.C.. Various rules apply in each state, but that's quite a difference from the 13 states that offered some sort of medical protection back in 2008.

Interestingly, I've had the opportunity to sit in on some drug court sessions for juveniles and something we may want to stay aware of is the early identification of mental illness by certain types of drug use among teens. I'm not on the train that believes cannabis causes mental illness, but rather tend to agree with the idea that teens with mental illness may be drawn to using the drug in attempt to self-medicate, hence the rationale behind the need for awareness to the indicia.

This said, it's great that Colorado is generating so much revenue for education, but really just for public school construction projects. Education is the one place where that kind of money can be put to proper use by its mere necessity, specifically to address the school to prison pipeline issue. Using $40M for construction alone seems to bypass the entire purpose of dedicating that money to public schools. For this, I have a lot of questions about what's going on there.

Substance abuse will never be acceptable in the eyes of the public schools, so issues related to drug and alcohol abuse and use in schools will always be deserving of some kind of special funding. Hopefully, these types of additional funds will also help resolve the other issues unnecessarily leading kids into the judicial system (ie., conflict resolution, peer adjudication).

While I imagine there are some pretty serious issues within the industry in each state, it's good to see the movement of progress in its current direction. There are clearly some big political issues just on the surface, so scratching a little deeper may reveal some of the same old games. Otherwise, it seems like five years ago was yesterday, and the struggles of that time are slowly fading into a new reality of progress and forward-thinking. Nice job people, nice job!

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