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Denver, CO- On Monday, October 13, 2014, Aurora opened its first retail cannabis store, having banned medical dispensaries and retail stores until now. In response to The Cannabist’s coverage of the milestone, a particular Aurora resident (known online as the3Ds) suggested that the appropriate response is to publicly shame other parents who shop at the new store.

As a graduate of Cherry Creek High School and a former student at four other Cherry Creek Schools—all of which are in this particular part of Aurora. It offends me to think that another person would consider seeing my parents entering a liquor store as an indication of alcoholism.

This parent resorts to the “coming to the wealthy suburbs with good schools and low crime” argument, which is typical of opponents to cannabis legalization. What this person fails to consider, however, is that he or she is using the reputation of District No. 5 to unfairly judge and harass other human beings.

More importantly, this person mentions that the suburbs have ‘low crime,’ seemingly in an attempt to positively correlate the presence of legal cannabis businesses with an explosion of criminal activity. Quite the contrary, violent crime, highway fatalities, and underage use have all decreased since the implementation of Amendment 64 in January. Additionally, public schools have received an influx of revenue from the taxes collected on retail cannabis sales, a fact that the reasonable person would assume to garner support from a parent who, so fervently, claims to care about the local schools.

Perhaps other parents around the district did not want cannabis shops in their neighborhood, either. So, they contacted their local representatives at the City of Centennial and successfully implemented a moratorium on cannabis businesses. The City of Aurora had in place a similar ban on medical cannabis businesses, as well as a temporary ban on retail stores. Aurora City Council formed an Amendment 64 Ad Hoc (A64), however, which first convened on February 18, 2013 to publicly debate the issue of lifting the moratorium and licensing the city’s first cannabis stores. A64 met 15 times, culminating on March 18, 2014.

While the3Ds uses the feedback from a private subset of 24 parents to puportedly represent the best interests of more than half of the 50,000 CCSD students, the local political process tells a different story. On April 28, 2014, the city’s retail marijuana program was introduced to the Aurora City Council and passed on May 2 with an effective date of June 14, 2014. Where was this person during the A64 meetings? If he or she was active during public debate, his or her failure in maintaining a moratorium in Aurora may allude to the3Ds’ motivation for concocting such an absurd plan.

This parent also claims that any person seen entering a retail cannabis store is a frequent consumer, or a “pot-head”. The danger in jumping to such a conclusion can be seen in his or her reply to another user’s comment. The other user, Ry, responded to the3Ds’s comment by stating, “I should follow you to the liquor store…and shame you for it too I guess….” to which the3Ds responds, “Knock yourself out, loser. My bottle of wine lasts me all month.”. By being forced to clarify that he or she only consumes one bottle of wine per month, the3Ds illuminates his or her own unfounded assumption about a person’s cannabis use. Given that the City of Aurora has approved cannabis sales, publicly shaming patrons of local businesses is no less preposterous than documenting all CCSD parents that enter a liquor store and informing school principals that they are “drunks.”

Furthermore, insinuating that anyone who consumes cannabis is a “pot-head” and unfit to care for a child is extremely offensive. It would be equally ignorant for someone to assume that all stay-at-home parents relax and drink wine all day and should, therefore, be barred from participating in their own child’s education. At one point, our society also believed that all Black American males were “cocaine crazed negroes” and that women were mentally inferior to men, and thus incapable of participating in the political process. These vague and statistically unsubstantiated stereotypes have been prevalent throughout U.S. History, but our collective intellect and reason has worked to dispel such ridiculous notions.

The most potentially damaging assumption drawn by the3Ds, however, is the reason for which the hypothetical parent is purchasing marijuana. The City of Aurora was quick to ban medical cannabis stores from opening. As such, legally registered Aurora medical patients have been forced to drive to a neighboring city, like Denver, to procure their medicine. Before shaming another person, please take the time to consider that person’s situation. He or she may be suffering from a severe medical condition and unable to drive to a medical marijuana center (MMC) elsewhere. Alternatively, he or she may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or another condition that is not listed as a Qualifying Medical Condition with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), but for which cannabis has been accepted as providing relief in other states. Unfortunately for many similar parents around the country, they do not even have the option to choose between a close-by retail store and a farther MMC. Instead they are forced to resort to the black market. The threat of public shame for an Aurora medical patient may drive the individual back to the black market, where neither product nor sales are regulated, tax is evaded, and black market profiteers prosper.

“Spying” on law-abiding citizens, in most circumstances, requires either a law enforcement badge or federal security clearance, in addition to a warrant. It would appear this person realizes the questionable ethics surrounding such a task as he or she has chosen to hide behind a screen name. I find it terribly ironic that this fanatic whose sole objective is to “expose” other people hides behind an anonymous user name. Ultimately, recruiting an angry mob of misguided parents to photograph every customer of any given business amounts to stalking.

So, to Mr. and/or Ms. the3Ds, please stop using your house in a ‘wealthy suburb’ and the reputation of my alma mater and district as an excuse to judge other parents for choosing to engage in an activity that, in the great State of Colorado, is a constitutionally-protected right. If you don’t agree with Amendment 64, might I suggest a move to one of our neighboring states, where you can find a new middle-class suburb and a fresh reason to stalk and judge other parents.

Regardless of what you choose, I implore you to cease this bigoted, fear-mongering commentary.

If you care to step out from behind the computer screen, I invite you to engage in an intelligible public discourse with myself or other members of the cannabis industry.

Sincerely,
Sohum J Shah, COO
Cannabis Commodities Exchange
[email protected]

Photo Credit: diganja.com

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