Amendment 64 may pass, but the War on Drugs will remain

Editor’s note: The Collegian Editorial Board incorrectly wrote that Dr. Christian Thurstone spoke in Berthoud on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to debate the legalization of marijuana. Thurstone was invited to speak in Berthoud on that day, but another commitment kept him from actually speaking. Dr. Adam Bursteim spoke in his place. The Collegian regrets its error. 

Clarification: The Collegian Editorial Board was using information from a preview in the Denver Post ( about the event, and wrote this editorial prior to the event. 


Dr. Christian Thurstone, a CU-Denver professor and medical director of youth substance abuse clinics in Colorado, and Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, visited Berthoud on Wednesday to debate the legalization of pot and its positive and negative effects on society, the economy and the individual.

When it comes to marijuana legalization, we’ve heard the same arguments for decades. Often overlooked in this debate, though, is the simple truth that regardless of whether Colorado legalizes marijuana, the “War on Drugs” will continue.

Whether Colorado approves Amendment 64, more than a million legal consenting adults will be incarcerated for drug possession.

Fareed Zakaria wrote in TIME Magazine that in 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges — more than those who were arrested for either larceny or assault. In fact,  four out of five of those 1.66 million drug arrests were simply for possession.

Currently there are more than 6 million Americans in prison, which is more people than Joseph Stalin’s forced labor camps had at the height of its power.

Doing drugs may not be good for you and it could possibly ruin your life. Unfortunately, the way it’s most likely to ruin your life is simply if you get caught.

Voting in favor of Amendment 64 may not do much to combat the greater injustice of the national War on Drugs, but at least it will ensure that the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens in our own community are not ruined for consensually partaking in their drug of choice.