No matter which side of the “Legalize It” debate you fall on, there’s no denying the arguments over legalized marijuana have strong political, social, and public relations aspects. Verbiage, slogans, optics, and assumptions are a big part of arguments on both sides, and a recent news story out of Colorado could offer some leverage to the “NO” crowd on this issue.
Residents of the town of Hugo, CO are receiving bottled water, because officials are conducting an investigation to test THC levels in the city water supply. THC, for the uninitiated, is the active ingredient in marijuana that produces the “buzz.” According to preliminary tests, there were elevated levels of THC found in the water supply by on-site testers.
According to state health officials, it’s far too soon to know whether or not the THC levels are intoxicating, and “experts” have weighed in, saying “no, it won’t.” Lab results are forthcoming, but, in the meantime, the issue has become a hot button for both defenders and opponents of legalized pot.
Those who oppose marijuana legalization and demonize weed are already saying this is evidence of potential problems if the drug is legalized nationwide. They “could be” intoxicated against their will. Conspiracy theorists have also taken the bull by the horns, having insinuated for years the government is putting pharmaceuticals in the water in order to cow the public.
Marijuana proponents are saying “hold your horses,” because we don’t even know what’s actually happening yet. But nobody seems willing to wait on this one before jumping to conclusions. The gloves are off, and all sides are coming out swinging.
One of the biggest of the trigger issues here is that marijuana cultivation and commercial stores are banned in Hugo, but the town might have pot in the water anyway. This allows them to argue for prohibition because they are being “affected” against their will. When presented in that fashion, it really doesn’t matter to voters if they are actually being affected. They don’t want the possibility of it Happening To Them. So count on the residents of Hugo to be upset.
Ronn Torossian is a PR maverick and the CEO of 5W PR in NYC.