Ken Buck: Pot legalization sure to fuel youth drug use, dropout rates

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck today told The Colorado Independent that he plans to take an active role in Smart Colorado, the group hoping to thwart marijuana legalization in Colorado.

“I just got together with Roger Sherman and Maria Garcia Berry (at CRL Associates) and offered my services to help defeat Amendment 64,” Buck said, adding that he didn’t have a title or any official role in the campaign at this time. He said he will speak out on the issue as much as he can and also help with fundraising.

“If marijuana becomes legal, we will see a proliferation of use among teenagers,” Buck said.

He said prohibition has helped to keep use down, but that it has not been completely successful, either. “A lot of what we have tried has failed,” he said. “We need to spend more on education and treatment.”

Buck rejected the argument that legalizing marijuana will make it harder for teenagers to get the drug. “Legalization will not make it harder for kids to get marijuana. It will make it easier for kids to get it.”

Likewise, he said it is a myth that legalizing marijuana will somehow reduce use of cocaine, heroin or other drugs. “Most kids first exposure to marijuana is not from a dealer,” he said, “it is from friends in social situations.”

Legalizing it, he insists, will increase the total volume of marijuana available in Colorado, and the total amount available to kids.

If Amendment 64 passes, Buck said, marijuana will become legal in Colorado in spite of federal laws that say marijuana is illegal in all 50 states. “Sure, the feds raid the occasional medical marijuana clinic, but they have limited resources, and if this passes, they are not going to be rounding up adults who have a few joints,” Buck said.

He predicted that if the amendment passes, Colorado will see its high school drop-out rate increase, highway accidents increase and more kids expelled from school.

Roger Sherman, whose firm, CRL Associates, is running the anti-legalization campaign, said they were glad to have Buck on board.

“He’s a sitting DA. He has been terrific, and he is very focused on this issue,” said Sherman. “I’m glad to have him on this campaign.”

Those campaigning in favor of legalization were also glad to have Buck on board as an official opponent. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has targeted women voters as being key to their victory in November and has aimed much of their advertising and literature at the female vote. Today, they said that women voters in Colorado are not likely to be swayed by Ken Buck, who lost a senate race in 2010 to Michael Bennet, at least partly because Bennet did so much better than Buck with female voters.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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