Professor John Marsden heads to Colorado, which voted to legalise the recreational use of cannabis in November 2012, to investigate the impact this could have on teenage drug use.
Browse content similar to America's Stoned Kids. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
# Hits from the bong... #
In the heart of America, there's a drug revolution under way.
# Hits from the bong... #
The country is battling a teenage cannabis epidemic.
# Hits from the bong... #
I started smoking pot when I was, like, 13.
The White Snake is the only one I haven't tried.
Wow! It's very strong and pungent, isn't it?
'Now, the state of Colorado is legalising marijuana.'
# Hits from the bong... #
I prefer to use marijuana.
It's less harmful to my body.
That would be the equivalent of smoking between 12
and 15 marijuana cigarettes per piece.
The state of Colorado has a disease now with this marijuana thing.
It's the most radical experiment in drugs policy for generations...
There is a culture that very much wants the highest,
most potent cannabis out there.
..and what happens here could affect us all.
It's really, you know, ignited a huge conversation worldwide.
Kids aren't stupid.
I mean, they're going to find it one way or another.
I think it's a gamble with our children.
It's a gamble with our children's lives.
Founded during a 19th century gold rush,
this place is just about as American as you can imagine.
Until recently, there wasn't much to mark the city out as unusual,
apart from the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery
and freezing cold winters.
The altitude here is what gives Denver its nickname,
the Mile-High City.
But now, there may be another reason.
Already, there's the unmistakable aroma of marijuana smoke.
This is Club 64.
Club 64 is named after a new law that makes what these people
are doing completely legal.
Having a great time. Exercising my rights, freedom.
So we can, you know, break out, have a good time.
Can do a sack of weed and say, "Let's have a good toke,"
it's a good time.
-Colorado Chronic right there.
Colorado Chronic! Look at that.
Last November, on the same day that President Obama was re-elected
to the White House, Colorado also voted to legalise marijuana.
Tonight, you are part of history
because what you are in right now is America's first legal cannabis club.
Think about that for a second.
You can tell these stories to your grandchildren.
They're going to say, grandma or grandpa, you know, what did you do
-when prohibition ended?
All right? Thank you.
Club owner Rob Corry was a leading figure in the campaign
to get Amendment 64 passed.
Did you have to pinch yourself that it was real?
-I still don't believe it.
-Do you not?
Walking around my club, watching people smoke marijuana,
perfectly legal to do so, and me hosting this party,
I still don't believe that it's happening.
In a very conservative city and state.
Very conservative. This is the Rocky Mountain West.
This is Western cowboy individualism.
So you see Club 64 tonight as a real landmark event?
-No question. No question.
We're doing exactly what the voters of Colorado wanted us to do.
Would you expect there to be other clubs like this,
other cafes and bars selling marijuana?
Absolutely. I mean, my view is, let 1,000 flowers bloom.
And what's extraordinary, I'm standing outside this club
and in it is 200 or so people smoking marijuana.
And literally a year ago, this could not have happened.
There would be police cars all over the place, arrests being made, etc.
And, whatever you think about an event like that,
it is ground-breaking for such a conservative city.
So how did Colorado pass such a radical new law
and what affect will it have on its people?
I'm a psychologist and for the last 25 years, I've studied addiction.
Working with addicts, I've seen the damage that drugs can cause.
For the rest of the world, what's happening in Colorado is like
a giant experiment into whether legalisation is an answer
to the problems of drug abuse.
There is only one place to start,
Colfax Avenue in the heart of Denver.
More than a decade ago, Colorado legalised the sale and use
of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Doctors were allowed to prescribe marijuana for a variety of ailments
and special dispensaries opened to sell the drug.
Now, you can find them all along Colfax Avenue.
-How do you do?
Let me show you some of the products that we have,
if you're not familiar with them at all.
There are dozens of varieties on offer
and it's relatively cheap at around £100 an ounce.
Over here, there's the sort of classic array of flowers
and buds and things, yeah.
But there's about, I don't know, 30 different types here, at least.
Relative to the number of strains available,
this is just a tiny little drop.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life.
-I'll have a little sniff, if I may?
-Sure, my pleasure.
Wow! It's very strong and pungent, isn't it?
It is. Absolutely.
Larry, how many customers come through a day into the store?
I would say, generally, anywhere from 35 to 50.
I see a lot of people that are coming in for
-some type of analgesic relief for their pain issues.
Something other than these drugs, you know,
like the Vicodins, Percocets, you have a lot of side effects
from those drugs, whereas, you know, I think the biggest side effect from
consuming marijuana, whether orally or smoking it, is to go to sleep.
To buy marijuana here, you have to show a medical card
from your doctor.
That makes it legal to purchase a whopping two ounces at a time.
That smells great. Like, kind of fruity.
Purples normally kind of disappoint me but...
Right. That's why... Yeah. I kind of stay away,
but the look of that one is just awesome.
There are now more than 100,000
registered users in Colorado and hundreds of dispensaries.
Is it kind of sleepy?
I couldn't sleep and I smoked up all that. Is that a problem?
There's medical evidence that cannabis can have some beneficial
effects on conditions like multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
But many doctors here prescribe it
for a much wider variety of ailments.
I'd arranged to meet a young man called Chas,
who uses medical marijuana, and his father.
'As soon as I arrived, it was clear that Chas had an unpleasant
'and debilitating condition.'
Nice to meet you.
So, what's going on?
-You want to tell him? Chas is having an attack and...
-Oh, right. OK.
He's got a myoclonus diaphragmatic flutter, which basically,
from here to here, his whole body goes into these spasms.
So Chas, how are you feeling at the moment?
Just real tense, tight.
Right. So you need to take your meds, is that right?
Chas was prescribed countless conventional medicines
for his myoclonus, taking up to 50 pills a day.
But he says nothing worked.
Just takes that.
-So just like that?
And what sort of effect have you had now?
My body's more relaxed. It's not as tense.
Basically, I just feel like normal, without my attack.
It's interesting, isn't it?
Because about a minute, if that, ago, you weren't speaking, you know,
very... you weren't able to speak very clearly, were you?
Like, it's all choppy and I can't really, like, get words out.
-So you're quite transformed, aren't you?
The use of medical marijuana is becoming increasingly common
across the country.
Soon it will be legal in half of all American states.
-What's up, dude?
-What's up, bro?
Chas, there's a lot of product here on the shelves.
Have you tried all of these?
Yeah, pretty much all of 'em.
I think the White Snake is the only one I haven't tried.
The White Snake, as you said, this is a new strain.
It's going to wake you up a little bit more.
Hopefully, it's still going to help you with that flutter of yours
Would you say Chas has become almost like a connoisseur?
Oh, he's definitely a connoisseur, yeah!
He was a connoisseur by the time he hit age 18!
But he's just a regular patient, but a loyal patient at that.
That's what really matters to us.
So this is your legal card, your medical card.
He shows me that number underneath his barcode.
I write it right on there. Legal!
It seems that marijuana can have medical benefits.
But critics claim that the lines between medical use and
recreational use have become increasingly blurred.
Do you feel that some people might sort of disapprove of the sort
of amount and type and duration of cannabis use that you've had?
There's always going to be people that don't know, like,
anything about what's happening to me or, like, the medication
I'm taking, so they just look down upon it, just cos of a stigma.
And it's pretty sad for them, you know,
just cos they're not opening up their minds to newer
medications that are healthier, that are making my life a lot better.
I mean, why are you going to look down on me for what I take,
just cos I'm sick?
The debate about medical marijuana is now irrelevant in Colorado.
Here, recreational use of marijuana is now legal, and from next year,
businesses will able to sell the drug openly to anyone 21 and over.
Marijuana is not deadly.
If those people want to use marijuana as a safe alternative
to alcohol, why would we not let them?
Mason Tvert led the victorious campaign for legalisation.
The people of Colorado clearly are more evolved
when it comes to this issue.
So you won by a ten-point margin, which is a huge win.
I mean, were you shocked and surprised at the scale of the win?
We ended up winning so dramatically
as a result of the groundwork that's been done here in the state over the
last eight years, to change people's opinions about marijuana, get
them thinking about it differently, getting them talking to each other.
Then we also... We've been fortunate enough to have one of the most
effective systems for medical marijuana in the state of Colorado.
People got to see these.
They got to see that it was possible to have these businesses,
to regulate them.
So, you know, people in Colorado didn't have to
imagine as much as they might in other states.
'Across America, the legalisation lobby is highly organised and
'extremely well funded.'
So, I understand that you spent
about 2 million on your campaign, which was a lot more,
four times more, I think, than the opponents to Amendment 64.
You know, opponents to making marijuana legal
have an 80-year head start.
You know, these guys have had 80 plus years to fill people's
heads with their propaganda.
We had 2 million to, over the course of, you know,
a year-and-a-half, get people to actually hear a lot of the facts.
I'm quite interested to see some of the things you used.
I mean, could you show me some of the commercials?
Yeah, absolutely. I've got a couple here I'm happy to show you,
and these really addressed a couple of the major issues that we
brought up during the campaign.
'This was a professional marketing campaign that used slick
'TV adverts and billboards to get the message across.'
-'Dear Mum, when I was in college, I used to drink a lot.
'It was kind of crazy.
'But now that I'm older, I prefer to use marijuana.
'It's less harmful to my body.
'I don't get hungover and honestly,
'I feel safer around marijuana users.'
And so, you can see that the goal here was really to get
people thinking about, you know,
just because someone uses marijuana, doesn't mean they're a bad person.
It means that, just like someone might like to have a cocktail after
work or they might like to have a glass of wine with dinner, some
people enjoy using marijuana, and it's just not that big of a deal.
'The campaign also claimed that
'legalisation would have economic benefits.
'Taxing growers and consumers could provide millions of dollars
'of revenue for the cash-strapped state government.'
-'If we pass Amendment 64, Colorado businesses would profit
and tax revenues would pay for public services
and the reconstruction of our schools.
Let's vote for the good guys and against the bad guys.
That's a bottom line, isn't it, to say,
"Look, we can have revenue for schools"?
It's kind of a no-brainer.
Do we want it to be sold by criminals
and have the money go towards cartels or gangs,
or do we want it to be sold by legitimate businesses?
All right. So you ran a very successful campaign here.
Where are you taking things to now?
One of the most important things to come out of the victory
here in Colorado, as well as in Washington State this last election,
is the level of discussion it has forced in this country,
and around the world, about marijuana policy. I mean, we've seen,
not just state and local law-makers coming out,
saying they're going to bring forward legislation this year.
We've seen members of Congress, who have never really
talked about this issue, coming out, saying that they want to address it.
And we've even seen some leaders of foreign countries, particularly
Mexico, Central Americas, coming out and saying, "Well, hey, you know,
"if the United States is revisiting this, we want to revisit this, too."
It's really, you know, ignited a huge conversation worldwide.
The most controversial aspect of the debate is the impact
legalisation will have on young people.
In the heart of the city, East High is one of Denver's oldest
and most prestigious schools.
With a great academic and sporting record, it's been recognised
as one of the best state schools in the country.
But this is a school with a cannabis problem.
Jann Peterson is the deputy principal.
Jann, can you give me an idea of the numbers of sort of
incidents each year that are cannabis related?
So back in 2009, 2010,
I believe we had approximately 51 drug violations
that would be under marijuana.
In the 2010, 2011 school year,
our offences went up to 141.
Gosh! That's quite a huge increase, isn't it?
It's frightening. It's frightening.
Do you put it down to anything in particular?
We believe it's directly related to an explosion
of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
Tell me about why that is because these dispensaries,
they're not there to sell to minors, are they?
No, they're not, but we know that children, teenagers, young adults,
will try a variety of ways to get their hands on substances,
pretty much like they did for alcohol.
And when I look at our alcohol rates, they have not changed,
they've remained flat and steady, but there is a definite,
dramatic increase with the involvement of marijuana.
Supporters of legalisation claim that in states where
medical marijuana is legal, teenage use has gone down.
But the statistics are hotly disputed.
-Officer Rick Hill.
-Nice to meet you.
My day-to-day responsibility is to East High School.
I basically deal with all the criminal issues that come up inside
a school setting, just like they would outside of a school setting.
anything that would require a police officer to take action.
Do you think some of the kids, over their lunch break, would go out and buy marijuana?
They could, absolutely.
And where would they buy it from,
from a shop or a street dealer?
I'm sure they'd buy it from a street dealer but anything is possible.
Right. This is one of the alleyways that you would patrol up and down?
Absolutely. We've caught students on several occasions,
students smoking marijuana in the alleyways right there.
They like to find secluded areas
where they hope that the police will not find them.
This is a gas station, isn't it,
with quite a few people standing around, hanging outside?
They sell papers, I believe.
What, papers for rolling joints?
Lunchtime's about wrapping up, so everyone's making their way back.
In Britain and most of Europe,
cannabis use among teenagers has declined slightly.
It's a different story in America,
where the number of teenagers who say they've used marijuana
in the previous month has grown by nearly 20% in the past five years.
And Denver has the second highest usage in the whole country.
In American teen culture, smoking cannabis has gone mainstream.
What you do is you light all three ends at the same time.
-And then the smoke converges,
creating a trifactor of joint smoking power.
Young people smoke openly in Hollywood movies,
and stoners are often seen as comic heroes.
HE COUGHS AND SPLUTTERS
HE COUGHS AND SPLUTTERS
-I'm going to do it.
-Right, go for it!
Ian McDonald and Katy Leonard are A grade students at East High.
Can you both give me a sense of how marijuana
figures in the sort of leisure activities of the students here?
It's pretty big here.
You go to any party, and someone's always lighting up,
right then and there. And even at school, it's pretty big here.
Even when you're supposed to be learning, people are still smoking.
People come to class high.
It's a pretty common occurrence here.
Like, feeling high is just like feeling normal.
And let's see if we can put a figure on this.
If I said, what do you think would be the percentage
of the student body here that uses, say, regularly, say weekly?
25-30%. And then, like, maybe about 50% have used it,
like, more than once.
But both of you have used.
Do you consider that cannabis, marijuana, is a drug?
It's like hard to, like, think about me...
like to smoke marijuana, as a drug user, but it's, like...
cos with smoking, like marijuana is, like, about smoking a cigarette.
We don't really consider it a drug problem.
It's not like being drunk.
For some reason, it's just more acceptable to us
or to our community than being drunk at school.
Most teenagers assume that cannabis is pretty harmless.
Research into the effects of marijuana is sparse
and sometimes contradictory.
Some studies suggest it may be less damaging than alcohol.
But last year, the results were published of a 38-year study
carried out in New Zealand.
'I went to Colorado University to meet leading researcher
'Dr Paula Riggs, who is worried by its findings.'
-Hey, John. Good to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
'Paula is a psychiatrist who works with young addicts.
'She believes that drug taking in young people has long-term effects.
In as simple terms as you can, a young person that is
beginning to use marijuana on a regular basis, at a time
when their brain is really going into that sort of
expansion phase and developing and consolidating,
what is this drug doing to their brain?
The activities that you're predominantly involved in
in adolescence matters because it shapes the way your brain develops.
If you're predominantly hanging out,
doing activities that are involved in drug use,
hanging out with peers, doing that
as opposed to doing math or whatever, it shapes the way...
which circuits go and which circuits are reinforced.
So, if you're using marijuana, that interferes with
development of certain neural pathways or executive functioning, your frontal lobes.
That's what's happening during adolescence.
'The New Zealand study looked at the long-term effects
'of heavy and sustained cannabis use among teenagers.'
The take-home message from this study -
reductions in IQ, from childhood into adulthood,
in these heavy cannabis users during adolescent development.
And significant drops in IQ?
Yeah. Referring to the six-to-eight point reductions in IQ,
-that's quite significant.
-Does it matter?
-Does it matter?
Chronic regular cannabis users during adolescence,
they have low underemployment, greater unemployment,
lower academic achievement and yeah, it plays out in your life.
You know, John, if there was something else, I don't know,
in the air, in the water, wherever,
that cut six-to-eight points off our kids' IQ
and caused persistent neurocognitive deficits
and maybe impacting their ability to achieve in life...
We'd be all over that. That would be big public health news.
That's why we're working so hard to try to get this message out.
What the science shows is this is not a benign drug.
What I've taken away from that is that there is now
pretty strong evidence that using marijuana at a young age
and then developing quite quickly a habit that may be,
say, daily consumption,
causes lasting problems for neurocognitive function,
the way we think, and that's a really sobering message.
So, how do you keep cannabis out of the hands of young people?
It's argued that legalisation will take the supply of the drug
out of the hands of criminal dealers.
Instead, marijuana will be sold by regulated growers and retailers
who will be banned from selling it to kids.
-Oh, hi. Dan?
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to me you. Come on in.
-Can I take my coat off?
-It's lovely and warm in here.
-It is awfully warm.
We try to keep it at a constant temperature.
So, this is the HQ for the operation?
This is our largest production facility.
What you see here in front of us is what we call the vegetative area.
This is where we allow the plant to grow and mature
and to start to strengthen.
And then once we get to the size that we want,
we move them into these flowering rooms.
Both of these rooms operate on a 12-hour schedule
-of light and darkness.
It forces them to start flowering.
-It starts to produce the medicinal qualities of the plant.
-Which is what you're after?
'Dan Rogers runs Greenworks
'and for the last four years,
'he's been a registered supplier of medical marijuana.'
This is the flower room with the light currently on,
-so if you want to go ahead and go in.
And if you want to walk down one of the rows,
I'll show you some of the unique things that you see,
-like, you know, sizes such as that.
-This is a monster, isn't it?
Yeah, that's what I would consider pretty big.
You don't see a lot of product get to that size
and then something like this, that's beginning to fall over.
And if you look in really close, you can see the trichomes
and the crystals and that's really the THC content in the plant.
So, that's really the piece of the plant that is the most valuable.
THC is tetrahydrocannabinol,
the main chemical in cannabis that gets you high.
So, all of your productions process
is really centred on getting as much of this as possible?
Yeah, absolutely. There is a culture that very much
wants the highest, most potent cannabis out there
and if you have something that's 28% THC,
they're going to drive hours to buy it.
In a country suffering tough economic times,
cannabis is a promising business opportunity.
I was in banking for 12 to 13 years,
working for one of the largest banks in the US
and I was actually looking to buy a recession-proof business.
So, what I'm hearing is a businessman
but a businessman that has a belief
-in the sort of medicinal production values.
-I do. Absolutely.
So, would you be interested in manufacturing for recreational use?
I believe that we should do both.
We're currently and actively looking to expand our production facility
to meet future demand.
Right now, we operate about 10,000 total square feet of production.
I think, I would like to see that move up to 25,000 square feet.
Would you? So, is there a sense that you might not be able to keep apace
with demand going forwards?
In my opinion, once Amendment 64 becomes fully effective
in January of 2014 and anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to purchase
up to an ounce of cannabis,
I see and expect a shortage in supply.
So, you're comfortable with people saying,
"I want to buy your product purely to put my feet up on the sofa,
"play my Xbox, listen to music, have a party."
Yes, you know, just as much as I'm comfortable with someone
saying that about having an alcoholic beverage.
Dan is just one of dozens of growers across the state
planning to increase production.
No-one quite knows what effect this increase in supply
will have on the people of Colorado.
Families across the US are already coming to terms
with widespread teenage cannabis use.
I hit the road and drove the 100 miles
to the city of Colorado Springs.
I'm off to see Lynette and Dan and their son Jared today.
Jared is a marijuana smoker, so it's a great opportunity for me
to talk to his parents who are worried about his consumption,
but also a great opportunity to sit down and talk to him.
Who's the fella in the cage?
Scratch, my iguana. I got him this Christmas.
So, tell me about your relationship with marijuana now.
How often are you using?
I'd say it's mainly a daily thing,
as if someone were to buy a pack of cigarettes, or liquor every night.
I feel like it doesn't really change me in any way.
I feel like it's just an activity that I like doing
and it just makes things a little bit more fun.
Do you think your marijuana use has changed over, say,
the last two or three years?
The more I use it, the more I kind of support it
cos I feel it doesn't really have any terrible harmful effects
compared to other things that are legal.
Jared has tried just about every type of cannabis
since he began smoking at the age of 15.
So, how did you find out information about these different forms?
My friend went to a dispensary,
kind of got information on that stuff, how they tested it
and stuff like that and found out what it basically does.
Was he buying it, when he went to the dispensary,
for a medical condition?
Oh, yeah. He had chronic back pain that he gets from...
passed down from his family.
And did he choose or select from different types
and found one that was very good for chronic pain?
He, basically, just likes trying new things,
so he'd find something that's pretty popular that week and get that
and then usually say either, "Wow. This is really good,"
or, "This isn't as good as last week," or something like that.
That's usually how he finds out the best stuff.
And I kind of took note of that and wanted to try things to see
if it was right and if it was any good, if I liked it or not.
Hey, we're just brewing some coffee. Do you want a cup of coffee?
That would be great.
'Lynette and Dan are Jared's parents.'
Tell me, I suppose, about your current feelings
about his marijuana use.
Well, it's been an issue for quite some time.
We've never really allowed it in our home.
So, would he like to smoke indoors?
It won't happen. Not in our house.
I'm still the king of my castle and I will, you know...
He will want to find another place to live if he does
or I catch him and I can't watch him 24/7,
so I can't be around him all the time.
But, you know, I take the opportunity when I can
to talk to him about his choices
and the choices that he makes and how it can affect his life.
Do you think marijuana has had an influence on changing him?
There have been times that we haven't even been able
to talk to him, you know, because he's so...angry.
To me, he seems angry.
One instance, I had to hold him physically down
-because he was coming at me.
-And I said,
"What are you doing? Oh, my gosh.
"Where is that little boy?"
I feel like when parents over freak out about it
or something like that, I feel like that pressures the kid to do more
of what their parent doesn't want them to do
and I think that could be another cause of the gateway effect,
leading to other drugs, so that the teenager feels the satisfaction
of not doing what their parents want.
Jared turned 18 just after Amendment 64 was passed legalising cannabis.
I felt like my state had let me down.
-Yes, I was like, "We've got to move."
That was my first words out of my mouth.
So, what thought did you have?
"I can't believe that they have done this to my family."
I think it's a gamble with our children,
to gamble with our children's lives and it's not just the adults,
the 21-year-olds, who are allowed to smoke it.
I think that just makes it all that more acceptable
so that the younger kids are going to say, "Well, it's OK.
"It's not bad for you."
Great to meet you all. OK. Thanks again.
-Thanks again. Jared. Pleasure. Catch up soon, yeah?
OK. Cheers then. Bye-bye.
But not all families are opposed to legalisation.
I've been invited for a drink with some of the parents
who campaigned for Amendment 64.
What were the sort of arguments that you were putting forward
in the campaign that said that people should vote
for this amendment?
For me, it comes down to making it safer for the society,
for the general public. To take marijuana out of the streets,
from the dealer's hands, put it behind a counter in a store front,
that's all they do,
and have it controlled where anyone coming in is 21 or older. Period.
I don't think we're sitting here saying, "Oh, you know, every person
"should go out and smoke pot." I mean, that's not...
We need to look at things in a different way
and we want to look at regulation and see what happens.
We did medical marijuana, the sky didn't fall out,
things stayed the same.
Let's continue with this because something is working.
It's interesting talking to you because
the first thing that people think about
when they think about parents and drugs
is a group of people that are going to be absolutely against it
because they're going to be fearful of the future for their kinds.
-Kids aren't stupid.
-Yeah. I mean, they're going to find it one way or another.
Yeah. You still have to give them all the information
and you have raise them in a way
that they're going to make the best choice.
Sex, drugs - probably the two hardest conversations
you can have with your child.
But they're conversations that a parent has to have.
You know, talk about it. That's really the key to it. Open up.
Let's run the clock forward now
and all of your kids are now fully grown-up.
Do you think they'll say to you, "We're actually really glad
"you voted for this"?
Oh, absolutely. Without a doubt.
I mean, what are going to be the consequences?
We have more tax dollars coming in. We have education.
My hope is that when they come of age and become adults,
and especially parents on their own,
that they'll see the value of the work that I've been a part of,
that we've done together.
'Those in favour of legalisation have a clear vision
'of what it should mean -
'A controlled and regulated industry, much like alcohol.'
But on the streets of Denver, things aren't so clear cut.
Sergeant Jim Gerhardt is one of Colorado's most experienced
It was difficult to know where all of the lines
and boundaries were just with medical marijuana.
When the citizens voted for this Amendment 64
that passed in November,
it became much more difficult to find the line.
The medical marijuana law allows people to grow
a limited amount at home.
It gets very complicated. A person over 21 can only have six plants,
unless you're helping another person who's over 21
and there's no limit on how many people you can help
that are over 21. This will be the loophole.
Everything that we believe will happen, our basis for thinking
that it's going to happen, is our evaluation of medical marijuana
because people didn't abide by the limits.
They're diverting marijuana to kids.
They're diverting it into the community.
They're even sending it to other states.
What we've done is made a haven for people to grow and produce
and then ultimately sell this stuff.
The confusion over the cultivation, selling and use of marijuana
reaches almost farcical proportions
when you realise that under US federal laws
governing the whole country,
any possession of marijuana, even for medical use, is still illegal.
And as if to illustrate the chaos, Jim and his team answered a call
from a member of the public complaining their neighbour
was growing marijuana illegally.
-How are you doing, sir?
We've got some information there might be
marijuana growing inside your house.
So, you got anything like that going on?
We need to just check and make sure you're in compliance
-with all the new laws if you do have that.
-I do have 24 plants...
-minus six and my grandson has six more.
So, you guys have medical cards?
I actually have all their cards,
-but you're more than welcome to look, gentlemen.
-OK. We appreciate that.
-You're welcome to look.
The man had a sizeable number of marijuana plants in his house.
He said he was growing them legally on behalf of his relatives.
When she gets here, would you do me a favour and determine
if he is actually doing something or not?
Cos if he's not, I'm going to have patrol take him for cultivation.
The man didn't want to be filmed but he agreed to speak to me.
Are you aware that if you grow more than the law says you can,
-that these guys could arrest you?
-Oh, yes. I'm in the law. Yes.
So, is this, in a very small way, part of the confusion here?
I wouldn't say it's in a small way. I'd say you're seeing exactly
what all the problems are. This is the confusion.
How many plants can he have?
Under which amendment is he allowed to have them?
Under what exemption? Under what circumstances?
It's a confusion for him, it's a confusion for us...
-and that's what's so difficult about this. It's just crazy.
After two hours and with night falling,
the man was eventually cautioned for being in technical violation
of Colorado's marijuana cultivation laws.
You know what, I really don't need it?
-I don't blame you.
-I really don't need it.
Jim, what do your colleagues think from other states?
I mean, do they think Colorado's gone completely nutty?
Oh, yes. They think we've lost our minds here
and I don't often dispute that.
I think we have done something that is crazy.
We are going to be continuing to embrace marijuana use
and then with that will go hand-in-hand
a lot of other drug use
that people will become more and more desensitised to.
Then I think we're going to start to see clear evidence
of all the problems. I think we're really going to understand
the impact to neighbourhoods, to families, to kids.
Probably like tobacco and alcohol, we will regret the fact
that we ever, ever went down the path to allow these things to be
as free, as open and as common as they are
and as accepted as they are.
But criminalising cannabis has hardly been a success either.
In America, cannabis is the biggest reason for kids
entering residential drug-treatment programmes.
More than alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy and all other drugs combined.
The number of admissions to these programmes has gone up
by more than 200% since the mid-1990s.
Fire Mountain is a drug treatment centre outside Denver,
in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Nearly all the kids who come here have been heavy marijuana users.
-John, nice to meet you.
-And you. Good morning, sir.
-Thank you very much. Nice to be here.
-I'm glad you're here.
Let me introduce you to some of the boys.
-Alex, nice to meet you.
'Kids come here when pretty much every other therapy has failed.'
Can I ask you, how long have you guys been here? Claire?
-Two months? How have you found it?
-Good. I like it.
-And Alex, how long have you been here?
I've been here about a month.
It is hard for the first two or three weeks,
but you kind of get used to it.
Caylib, how long have you been here?
Nine months, I think.
-Nine months? Gosh.
So, have you stayed for a while and then gone? Left and come back?
I went home and then I came back.
'The average for American teenagers to start smoking cannabis
'is getting lower. Caylib started two years aged just 13.'
Caylib, how did you sort of end up here?
I started smoking pot when I was, like, 13.
Then I started, like, breaking into cars and...
..just doing things...
..doing, like, bad things so I could get drugs.
Back then, how often were you using?
-Like, once a week.
-And then three times a week
and then every day. All I could see was me smoking weed.
-It got quite bad for you, did it?
-Yeah. Pretty bad.
Over here's our organic garden. Watch out for the ice here.
We're still in the shade.
'Aaron Huey who runs this programme
'is himself a former marijuana addict.'
The majority of our clients are 14 or 15-years-old and these are kids
who are using marijuana four-to-seven times a day.
In school, around their house,
hiding it from their family, being high in front of their families.
We see dependency happening so much faster now
because of the strength of marijuana.
I mean, if you think about it, what these kids are smoking
five-to-seven times a day, the THC level is off the chart.
These kids are wrecked for the day.
So, tell me about the structure and the methods that you use here.
First phase is sobriety.
Lasts about a month, a month-and-a-half.
We just want them to get in and stop the behaviours
that have led them here.
So, after that they're in phase two which is the emotional growth phase.
That's really when the drugs are totally out of their system,
especially THC. It takes about 30 days to get it all out of your system.
So, that's where we really get to meet the person
that the parents called us about.
The third phase is integration and that's where we really get
everything focused on going back home.
So, somewhere around the fourth month.
And everything they do is about what they're going to do when they leave.
'The kids are encouraged to learn from each other's experiences.'
This is a word that I have questions about.
The idea of you not being able to stop.
"I can't stop." That you can't stop using drugs.
And my question is, "Can he?"
With addiction, you don't have a choice.
That's how it feels for you, that you don't have a choice?
Yeah, you're powerless over it.
Which one of those two is the addict?
-The can't or the won't?
-I could stop but I wasn't letting myself stop.
-Cos I was addicted.
How come you did drugs, Alex?
I was in pain.
Why were you in pain? What was hurting?
-When did your heart problem start?
When my parents got divorced.
Alex, you felt you were medicating for feeling sort of anxious
and you had a low mood.
And then, did it just become quite addictive?
Yeah, it really did. I didn't think it was addicting.
I didn't think I was addicted,
but when I couldn't go two hours without getting high...
-Yeah. I was either getting high
or finding a way to get high.
That's pretty much all I did.
Looking back, do you wish, you know, you'd spent more time
with your parents rather than smoking?
Yeah, I think that I would have ended up better off
if I spent more time with them because they're more...
They're a better friend than pot is.
'Aaron is on the front line of tackling teenage cannabis abuse.
'I was interested to know what he thought about
'Colorado's decision to legalise it.'
Do you think Amendment 64 is going to result in
more demand for your service?
I think Amendment 64 is going to make it easier for children
-to get their hands on drugs.
-Yeah, because it's made it easier
for other people to get it and where do you think children get it?
This problem's going to get worse and in fact, I'm willing to bet
that I'm going to have a... I've already got a waiting list
and my waiting list is going to grow
because it's going to be easier to get.
when shops will be allowed to sell marijuana to anyone 21 and over,
arrives in Colorado at the beginning of next year.
The industry will be regulated,
but it's not yet clear what form that will take.
How hard will it be for kids to get hold of the drug?
The main suppliers will be the businesses
which currently provide for the medical marijuana market.
Dixie Elixirs & Edibles is one of Colorado's biggest.
-Advice would be don't touch anything
because you could be in for a long and mellow afternoon.
'Tripp Keber is the managing director.'
We're recognised by the state of Colorado
as a medical marijuana-infused products manufacturer.
So, what that means is, we take cannabis in its raw state
and we infuse it into the various products that we have.
From next year, Tripp's potential customer base in Colorado
will expand from the 100,000 registered medical users
to the whole of the state's adult population.
Not surprisingly, the value of this company is rocketing.
-So, Tripp, this is big business?
-It is. It's incredibly big business.
In just the last 72 hours, we added approximately 200 million
-to our market cap...
-..because we're a publicly-traded company and so...
marijuana both for medicinal use and recreational purposes
is very sexy these days and so we consider ourselves fortunate.
-So, what you're looking at here, John, is our flagship product.
It is the medicated Dixy Elixir.
This is a 12-ounce sparkling redcurrant
that maintains 75 milligrams of active THC.
THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that provides the euphoria
and that would be the equivalent of smoking between six and seven
This is not a single serving?
It's not designed to be, but there are individuals,
there's patients here in the state, that actually will consume
that entire product and potentially, more than just one.
'Eating marijuana rather than smoking it
'allows more of the active ingredient THC
'to be absorbed into the body.'
We have the award-winning medicated chocolate truffle
which won us the High Times Cannabis Cup Award for Best Edible.
This product is 150 milligrams per piece and so that would be
the equivalent of smoking
between 12 and 15 marijuana cigarettes per piece.
Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That's...
How much? That's serious, isn't it?
Yes, that would be an incredible amount of medicine to consume.
All right. You and I open this, we have one of these each...
-We're going to be on the floor.
-I wouldn't dare touch it.
-I wouldn't touch it. I don't personally medicate,
but that would provide an incredibly powerful euphoria
that would last probably 24 hours.
So, for patients that are really trying to avoid pain,
this would be a product that they could consume.
And the interesting thing about this packaging to me, Tripp,
is that it's got a stonking dose of cannabis in there,
but I don't see a big warning. You know, "Danger, danger. Be careful. This has got a huge dose."
It's ultimately the responsibility of the patient, the consumer,
to ensure what they're getting into.
'If a child ate one of these truffles,
'they could potentially overdose and end up needing hospital treatment.'
Tripp, I understand cannabis as a medication, I get that.
What I struggle to understand, in all honesty,
is the sort of different products you've got in this room, this vault,
which look to me like candy.
Surely there's a sense that to the eye,
they're not intended as medicines and they also look as if
they could be intended, really, for a young person.
Sure. Well, certainly the intention in the manufacturing
of these infused products is to ensure that they get to the patients
that are recognised by the Colorado Department of Public Health
as having a need for the medicine.
Nonetheless, it is your choice as a wholesale manufacturer
-to produce it in that form, to look like a candy.
But we're working to educate both children and adults alike
the power of these products which today are realised as medicine,
but as we progress into 2014, for adult use
and that's not something we should take lightly as an industry.
That's probably the hardest question I've ever been pressed on.
I don't get it. I don't get it.
I can see that there might be a medical application for marijuana,
but why do you need to produce it in the form that looks like
a chocolate or a sweet?
It just surely is attractive to young people.
Businesses are driven by profit and increasing sales
and that means marketing and advertising.
Professional legitimate businesses are likely to be better at this
than drug gangs and criminal cartels.
Colorado's state government is currently debating what restrictions
there will be on packaging, labelling and advertising
when the laws finally come into effect.
These decisions are likely to be crucial in preventing a rise
in cannabis use among young people.
I was coming to the end of my stay in Colorado.
From what I'd seen, there has been remarkably little thought put
into the process of legalisation and how this could impact on drug use.
Before I left, I wanted to catch up with Jared and his family.
They'd invited me along to a big night in the high-school gymnasium.
MUSIC: The Star-Spangled Banner
Jared was competing in front of his proud parents.
So, is this quite an important match tonight?
Yes, a lot's riding on this match tonight
because it's his last dual match, but probably a lot too
-because the two schools are rival schools.
Greco-Roman wrestling is a huge sport in American high schools.
And encouraged by his parents,
it's a motivation for Jared to stay off cannabis.
I feel that giving up marijuana during wrestling season
helps me a little bit.
I noticed that wrestling is a little bit harder
with marijuana in my system, so I try to stay out
or away from it a little bit more.
It helps me stay focused and keeps my eye on the prizes at the end.
Come on, Jared! Let's go, Jared.
There you go.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Do you think a really good win like that for Jared...
Do you think that's going to shift his focus,
so that he might be making decisions to not use marijuana going forwards?
That's what we're counting on. We're hoping that it's important
enough to him to hold off until he's completely done with his wrestling.
I'm just in the process of encouraging him
to think about life after high school.
Number one, getting out of high school. Number two,
where and what are you doing?
You know, what are the decisions? Start thinking about that now.
-Help you down the stairs?
-Yeah, help the old woman down!
Jared, congratulations, mate. That was tremendous. Are you pleased?
Yeah. I dedicated myself a little bit more.
Maybe took my mind off that
and focused a little bit more on what I need to do.
For Jared and his parents, it seemed like a positive outcome.
Back at the Fire Mountain Rehabilitation Centre,
it was nearly time for 15-year-old Caylib to go home.
Caylib, wait at the top right there.
Give everybody a boost through.
Leaving the security and the support
of this small community won't be easy.
People who develop a heavy marijuana habit in their early teens
have a one-in-four chance of developing
a lifelong dependency on the drug.
I guess you're beginning to think about moving on,
but give me a sense of what this programme has meant for you.
They give me a place to come. If I need help with anything...
I know I can call them.
They got me sober.
That's probably the best thing they did for me
is they got me sober.
And Aaron, not to be too cliched about it, it doesn't end,
it continues and begins, doesn't it?
Yeah, this is boot camp for Caylib. This isn't the real world.
The real world's outside the door waiting for him when he graduates.
And relapse is easy. Smoking a joint is easy.
It's this emotional work that's hard. It's recovery that's hard.
It's dealing with life that's the challenge.
Are you worried about when you leave here?
Are you worried that, you know, marijuana is just everywhere
and it will be very tempting to go back?
Um, yeah, I think that the...
the whole marijuana being legalised is, like,
I don't think it's a good idea
because there's people like me and him. We're addicts.
And that worries me for when I get out because
I can get it so easily.
Aaron, are you worried for Caylib as he moves from here
into the other world, as you put it?
Absolutely. I'm worried for every single one of them.
It's not going to make it harder to get.
Regulation is crap. It doesn't work.
These kids find a way. They're resourceful.
We'll have a line at the door. That makes me sad.
I wouldn't mind being out of work.
It's a gloomy prediction, but the truth is, no-one knows
what will happen here
when the impact of legalisation hits next year.
And it's not just Colorado.
A similar process of legalisation is happening in Washington State.
In many other parts of America,
marijuana laws are being liberalised.
There are powerful arguments to say that 80 years of prohibition
and criminalisation have failed to stop the rise in cannabis use.
But equally common sense would suggest that making the drug legal
sends out a message that it is acceptable
which can only increase consumption.
For me, the USA is starting out on a public health experiment
and increases or decreases in use, dependence
and rates of admissions to treatment clinics
will be the real way of judging success or failure.
And one thing's for certain -
while the two sides are slugging it out,
America's teenagers are trapped in the middle
and there's a real risk that more and more will be using
at a younger age and my fear is that for some,
they'll be storing up problems for their futures.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
In November last year the American state of Colorado voted to legalise the recreational use of cannabis. It is the most radical experiment in drugs policy for generations and the world will be looking to see what happens, particularly to drug use amongst teenagers. In this hour long documentary for This World, clinical psychologist and addiction expert Professor John Marsden heads to Denver, the state capital, to assess the likely impact of legalisation on a country already suffering an epidemic of teenage marijuana use.
At a local high school, John hears from A grade students who explain that getting stoned is now more socially acceptable than getting drunk. At an addiction clinic that treats children as young as 12, John hears how marijuana is already the number one reason for kids to enter residential programmes more than alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs combined. With rates of teenage cannabis use in the USA the highest that they have been in years, it is widely acknowledged the war on drugs has failed. However the question is, will full legalisation manage to take the selling of the drug out of the hands of the street dealers and into the hands of the legitimate business people and be the answer to stopping America's kids from getting stoned?