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Comparing Colorados marijuana influence on Kansas is incomplete
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Dear Editor,
I read the Great Bend Tribune article: “Colorado pot in Kansas” (Jan 14 issue).  While I believe that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sincerely seeks data on Colorado-purchased marijuana and its impact on Kansas, the broad concept seems good, but it is bound to be incomplete and flawed. How can this be measured accurately? Further, the law-enforcement agencies as well as county and district attorneys can only collate data on people they “catch.” Oftentimes, we hear of a Kansas State Trooper pulling-over a vehicle on some minor violation only to discover they are transporting a large amount of marijuana. Yet, it is virtually impossible to quantify how many motorists commit the same offense, but who aren’t caught. The statistics are so arbitrary and vague, I think it’s a waste of Kansas’ Treasury money to make such a “study.”  
The article noted Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir saying: “there is no scientific proof of this, but it looks less handled, cleaner, has a higher grade, and the packaging is different than what we used to see.” With easier access, the Sheriff even noted that some people have “confessed when they get caught that it came from Colorado.” That is my key point: Only those people who get caught are able to confess. Therefore, any data by Attorney General Schmidt relies on apprehended people.
Even if Kansas was able to demonstrate pinpoint statistics down-to-the-penny in costs incurred by Kansas in damage, crime, law-enforcement costs, and dollar costs of lost productivity, it wouldn’t change the fact that many lawbreakers aren’t found, and worst of all, it’s information that Kansas cannot use. Colorado has made pot legal. Attorney General would be studying a problem where there is no further recourse at all. I am not in favor of legalizing marijuana. I am still reserving judgment on so called Medical Marijuana. If it works to help ease pain of genuine medical patients, fine. However, even then, I think the “patient” should be temporarily confined to a facility such as a hospital, not just for the patient’s safety but also for public safety. When I was in the hospital after a major operation years ago, and received major painkillers such as Demerol or Morphine, which I was not accustomed to, I was under the watchful eyes of hospital staff. I am glad I was monitored by someone.
Marijuana shouldn’t be legalized simply to boost Kansas’ tax coffers. And, by the same token, the Attorney General shouldn’t file a lawsuit against Colorado or any other state on the harm of any given law it enacts. Any “harm” has to be directed to individual persons who possess or attempts to distribute it in Kansas. Some people compare it to prohibition, but that is comparing apples and oranges. Legalizing pot so more prisons will have less overcrowding is foolish. Police have pulled over impaired drivers who were drinking, doping or sleepy. Hazards exist in many forms. The offender is the offending person, not a law on paper. I have no doubt that a lot of marijuana has made its way in and perhaps through Great Bend and environs simply due to major highways intersecting with Interstate I-70, with it being a fast-paced straight shot to Colorado.   
James A. Marples