(Anya Semenoff, Denver Post file)

Reader: ‘We should encourage a shift from alcohol use to marijuana use’

Here is the full, published text of legalization advocate Steve Fox’s letter to the editor:

By Steve Fox

Your editorial called a recent survey’s report of a rise in marijuana use in Colorado “disturbing.” Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that surveys of illicit drug use are subject to underreporting of use — a tendency likely to diminish once an activity becomes legal.

The more important question is why the editorial board considers an increase in marijuana use “disturbing.” This survey only showed a statistically significant increase in consumption by adults. Is this disturbing for moral reasons or is it based on societal costs? Did the survey cite any specific negative public health outcomes from increased adult use? (Answer: No.)

If the editorial board wanted to bemoan specific data in the survey, perhaps it should have focused on the statistically significant increase in binge drinking in the state. Given the fact that alcohol is objectively more harmful than marijuana, the reckless use of alcohol by adults in Colorado is the truly disturbing trend.

With both marijuana and alcohol now legal in Colorado, it is time for leaders to get over their anti-marijuana bias and adopt a more reality-based approach to the two substances. Why, we should ask, is the state launching a $5.7 million public education campaign about marijuana, called “Good to Know,” while remaining virtually silent about alcohol? Keep in mind, binge drinking is a widely recognized cause of major health problems and premature death.

If we truly care about public health, we should be focusing our resources on reducing harmful alcohol use. In fact, we should actually be encouraging a shift from alcohol use to marijuana use. If that seems jarring to you, ask yourself: Why do I prefer people use alcohol over marijuana? The answer, even if it’s just in your own head, would be good to know.

Steve Fox of Bethesda, Md., is executive director of the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation. Fox co-drafted Amendment 64, and managed the Amendment 64 campaign.