Last week marked the fifth anniversary of Colorado’s decision to sanction the world’s first anything-goes commercial pot trade.

Five years later, we remain an embarrassing cautionary tale.

Visitors to Colorado remark about a new agricultural smell, the wafting odor of pot as they drive near warehouse grow operations along Denver freeways. It would make sense to look into how strong the smell would be when you’re growing marijuana beforehand, so it doesn’t look as obvious to the people who are passing through your street, especially when it has a particular smell.

Because of the legalization of marijuana in this state, more people are deciding to smoke it, as well as even possibly cooking with it if they wanted to take part in the whole process. Of course, the smell of marijuana wouldn’t be a problem if people decided to use something like an Ardent decarboxylator to help make the correct dosage for their habits. The more marijuana that is made, the stronger the smell will be. And it seems that people are smoking more marijuana than they need, especially if the odor is that noticeable. Residential neighborhoods throughout Colorado Springs reek of marijuana, as producers fill rental homes with plants. Not to mention, these plants have great medicinal properties too so those suffering from various illnesses can seek some relief. The plants can also have CBD extracted from them in order to make CBD oil which can help combat anxiety and depression as well as chronic fatigue and pain.

Five years of retail pot coincide with five years of a homelessness growth rate that ranks among the highest rates in the country. Directors of homeless shelters, and people who live on the streets, tell us homeless substance abusers migrate here for easy access to pot.

Five years of Big Marijuana ushered in a doubling in the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, based on research by the pro-legalization Denver Post.

Five years of commercial pot have been five years of more marijuana in schools than teachers and administrators ever feared.

“An investigation by Education News Colorado, Solutions and the I-News Network shows drug violations reported by Colorado’s K-12 schools have increased 45 percent in the past four years, even as the combined number of all other violations has fallen,” explains an expose on escalating pot use in schools by Rocky Mountain PBS in late 2016.

The investigation found an increase in high school drug violations of 71 percent since legalization. School suspensions for drugs increased 45 percent.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found Colorado ranks first in the country for marijuana use among teens, scoring well above the national average.

The only good news to celebrate on this anniversary is the dawn of another organization to push back against Big Marijuana’s threat to kids, teens and young adults.

The Marijuana Accountability Coalition formed Nov. 6 in Denver and will establish satellites throughout the state. It resulted from discussions among recovery professionals, parents, physicians and others concerned with the long-term effects of a commercial industry profiteering off of substance abuse. Hopefully, those who are suffering from their drug abuse will find their way back to their old selves, perhaps even using services and treatment like that found on the website of Enterhealth.

“It’s one thing to decriminalize marijuana, it’s an entirely different thing to legalize an industry that has commercialized a drug that is devastating our kids and devastating whole communities,” said coalition founder Justin Luke Riley. “Coloradans need to know, other states need to know, that Colorado is suffering from massive normalization and commercialization of this drug which has resulted in Colorado being the number one state for youth drug use in the country. Kids are being expelled at higher rates, and more road deaths tied to pot have resulted since legalization.”

Commercial pot’s five-year anniversary is an odious occasion for those who want safer streets, healthier kids and less suffering associated with substance abuse. Experts say the worst effects of widespread pot use will culminate over decades. If so, we can only imagine the somber nature of Big Marijuana’s 25th birthday.

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