Pot tale of the week

After we reported that federal and Colorado state figures conflict with a claim that Colorado teen use of marijuana has “gone up since legalization” (“Pot tale of the week,” RN&R, July 28), prohibitionist Genoa lawyer Jim Hartman sent us a link to a report issued by the “Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” (RMHIDTA).

We were aware of the report. It does indeed indicate that teen marijuana use in Colorado is higher than the national average. What it neglects to include in that statistic is the fact that its numbers nevertheless still show a level of teen use in the state that is lower than it was before legalization. In other words, teen use has gone down since marijuana became legal.

That’s the business RMHIDTA is in—spin. It does not generate its own research. Rather, it uses—and often misuses—research by other organizations such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Quinnipiac University survey, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

RMHIDTA is not a research entity. It is a propaganda entity—a federally funded prohibitionist organization. Forbes Magazine writer Jacob Sullum described it this way after a distortion of a Quinnipiac survey that showed increased public support in Colorado for legal marijuana: “Honest drug warriors would acknowledge the Quinnipiac numbers and perhaps try to balance them with other poll results. Dishonest drug warriors would do what the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) does in its new report on marijuana legalization: change the numbers.”

In fact, it is illegal under federal law for RMHIDTA to provide even-handed information on marijuana. Title VII of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 prohibits RMHIDTA funding from being used for “any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use)” of marijuana. Little wonder prohibitionists use it.