Keep the smoke from getting in their eyes

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With passage of Amendment 64 a newly legal scent of secondhand smoke is sure to waft toward our children now and then.

The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force at the Statehouse is busily working to address the law gaps and safety concerns accompanying legalization of recreational marijuana for 21-year-olds.

In conjunction, we are writing stories about numerous related issues — such as likely impacts to children — brought to bear by 64.

In general, we accept the logic of proponents and the will of voters in the state, but we are not so happy about the measure becoming part of the constitution, and we would have been fine to have other states tackle the change first, so our state could save on legislative time, related costs and brain damage – no pun intended.

But here we are.

As for the impact to children, we agree with Adams County Youth Initiative Executive Director Becky Hoffman, who said in one of our recent stories that although some supporters claim 64 will not get marijuana into the hands of children, it will.

The amendment puts marijuana on the same plane as alcohol — those who turn 21 can use marijuana, and it’s a mighty temptation for the underaged to try either one before they are old enough.

Further, marijuana will be more and more visible on countertops and tables in homes as well as in plain sight other places since adults no longer must conceal it.

Marijuana will simply be more on hand and the act will be more in plain view — although mostly from afar — for children.

Anyone who shrugs at the impacts, we submit two additional items from an Adams County Youth Initiative survey — one indicates children who report marijuana use are five times as likely to abuse prescription drugs, and the other notes high schools with the highest student reported marijuana use produce the lowest graduation rates.

With Amendment 64, greater responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of all lawmakers and other adults. So we add to one of our standby sayings “there is right, there’s wrong and there is the law,” the words “there is a need for good modeling from adults.”

We commend the ongoing work of lawmakers at the Statehouse and the invited input of law enforcement, the medical field and the community in general. And as of press time the Sixty-ninth General Assembly Colorado Children’s Caucus planned related presentations Jan. 28 — topics to include addressing adverse health risks to children due to indoor marijuana grow operations and difficulties arising around intervention responses to drug use by child protection services and law enforcement.

Smoking is smoking, so we hope there will be increasing information as more research on marijuana smoking becomes available — much like the campaigns to warn the dangers of smoking tobacco during the past several decades.

Amendment 64 brought steep learning curves — ones we want to see the state climb quickly for the sake of the children and the good of the state as a whole.