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Pot seen as reason for rise in Denver homeless

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Author Topic: Pot seen as reason for rise in Denver homeless  (Read 282 times)
Psalm 51:17
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« on: July 26, 2014, 04:30:05 pm »

Pot seen as reason for rise in Denver homeless

DENVER (AP) — Officials at some Denver homeless shelters say the legalization of marijuana has contributed to an increase in the number of younger people living on the city's streets.

One organization dealing with the increase is Urban Peak, which provides food, shelter and other services to homeless people aged 15 to 24 in Denver and Colorado Springs.

"Of the new kids we're seeing, the majority are saying they're here because of the weed," deputy director Kendall Rames told The Denver Post (http://dpo.st/1l1vQER ). "They're traveling through. It is very unfortunate."

The Salvation Army's single men's shelter in Denver has been serving more homeless this summer, and officials have noted an increase in the number of 18- to 25-year-olds there.

The shelter housed an average of 225 each night last summer, but this summer it's averaging 300 people per night. No breakdown was available by age, but an informal survey found that about a quarter of the increase was related to marijuana, including people who moved hoping to find work in the marijuana industry, said Murray Flagg, divisional social services secretary for the Salvation Army's Intermountain Division.

Some of the homeless have felony backgrounds that prevent them from working in pot shops and grow houses, which are regulated by the state, Flagg said. He also thinks others may find work but don't earn enough to pay rent in Denver's expensive housing market.

At the St. Francis Center, a daytime homeless shelter, pot is the second most frequently volunteered reason for being in Colorado, after looking for work.

St. Francis executive director Tom Leuhrs also sees an economic reason for the increase of the number of homeless young people. They're having difficulty moving from high school and college to the workforce, Leuhrs said.

"The economy is not supporting them. There are not enough jobs," he said.

Edward Madewell said he was on his way back home to Missouri when he decided to head to Colorado so he could keep smoking the marijuana he uses to control seizures. "I'm not going to stop using something organic. I don't like the pills," he said.

Dusty Taylor, 20, said he moved back to Colorado, where he grew up, to avoid legal problems. "I don't want to catch a felony for smoking," he said.
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2014, 11:36:07 am »

WARNING!!! Legalizing pot will make income inequality a lot worse

Anyone who favors more states legalizing pot, or a federal law making it legal nationwide, needs to be aware of and prepared for some of the very predictable adverse results. Notably, that it will exacerbate income inequality.

For the record, I am in favor of legalizing marijuana. And not because I support marijuana use (I don't) but because I believe in more personal liberty.

Legalizing marijuana will have a number of ill effects: Marijuana addiction will go up. Marijuana-related DUI incidents will spike, as they already have in Colorado.

To be clear, none of the problems are serious enough to warrant keeping marijuana illegal. But the one we need to talk about is income inequality. Here is how legalization will widen the chasm between rich and poor:

1. States will choose the winners. Licenses to sell cannabis in any form are not exactly easy to come by — and the states decide who gets them and how many will be awarded in total. When the government controls the sole legal path to entry into any industry, those who are deemed worthy of government approval get a major economic and political advantage over many, many others. Eventually, the financial gains allow those businesses to influence the regulation and often cut off potential newcomers to that industry. It's all a key part of what we call "regulatory capture" — you see it in everything from liquor licensing to the issuance of taxicab medallions.

In other words, state control of industry almost by definition concentrates wealth in the hands of a lot fewer people than the total number of people with the ability and desire to get into that industry.

Result? More inequality.

2. More pot smoking means more unemployment. A lot of experts believed that when Colorado legalized pot, a big number of casual users from out of state would be the biggest source of revenue for the marijuana businesses. But the opposite has turned out to be the case.

Colorado's pot market is dominated by a small number of state residents who are very heavy users. The Colorado State Department of Revenue just reported that the top 20 percent of marijuana users are using more than two-thirds of the cannabis supply.

The same study shows that only 9 percent of Colorado residents are using marijuana at all, so we're talking about fewer than 2 percent of the state's population consuming more than 66 percent of Colorado's pot.

Now THAT's inequality!

And it's also likely to be economic bad news for those 2-percenters. A study published this year by The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that people with drug addictions are at least twice as likely to be unemployed than those who aren't.

Unless the majority of the people who do succumb to marijuana abuse and addiction are already in the 1 percent, their economic descent will only add to economic inequality in the states that legalize pot.

Former Congressman and recovering addict Patrick Kennedy wrote earlier this week about the hundreds of letters he's received from middle class families who lost just about everything as they were forced to dig deep to pay for marijuana addiction treatments for their children and other family members.

Demand for admission to Colorado's existing drug addiction has soared since pot was legalized, prompting some of the leading centers to begin major new expansion programs.

Again, that's their choice and they've had fair warning. And the same is true about alcohol addiction, which has been a job killer for centuries.

But everyone needs to be prepared for this likely outcome: Some new millionaires will be created and some new wealth will be distributed. But lots of that wealth will also be concentrated at the top, and there will also be a new cause of financial destruction for middle and lower classes.

Will marijuana legalization destroy our society? Of course not. But like any new enterprise, it will reward the harder working and lucky among us much more than it will spread the wealth. And that's this conservative's best argument for it.
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