Editorial: Alarm bells uncalled for


Craig Editorial Board, Jan. to March 2012

  • Al Cashion, community representative
  • Jeff Pleasant, community representative
  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
  • Chris Nichols, community representative
  • Josh Roberts, newspaper representative

Our View

Craig City Council member needs to support his medical marijuana claims with hard facts before tarnishing another city or school, and alarming the local community about an issue that’s more pandering than problematic.

During a recent meeting, Craig City Council member Byron Willems claimed that 10 percent of the Steamboat Springs population and nearly every student at Colorado Mountain College has a medical marijuana card.

He used little supporting facts when making his claims, and voiced concerns about the perceived marijuana problem spreading to Craig.

His soapbox on this issue has the Editorial Board thinking that at least 14 percent (Willems) of the city council is out of touch and trying to create an issue and concern in Craig and Moffat County where none really exists.

It’s not unusual for politicians (mostly ineffective ones) to grab hold of an issue that’s somewhat sensitive and ram it into the ground as a way to pander to voters.

These issues aren’t generally ones that have a large impact on a great number of people, but ones that touch nerves and play on emotions.

What’s rare in this case is that it’s happening at a local level, where grassroots and effective governing generally exist rather than a mirror of the cheap tactics of state and federal politics.

In his bid for re-election, Willems ran with the medical marijuana issue, as well as his support of a questionable city ordinance (social hosting), perhaps in an attempt to take attention away from his spotty attendance record at city council meetings.

It must have worked: his approach to medical marijuana and the social host ordinance gained him just enough favor to earn more time on the council.

Please don’t misunderstand the Editorial Board with this opinion piece. We’re neither voicing support nor opposition to medical marijuana in our community. We don’t know enough on this issue, and it deserves additional study and consideration.

However, the fact remains that it’s here and it’s a legal enterprise in our state and must be dealt with in a manner other than frantically sounding the alarm bells.

No, we’re critical of Willems today because he’s taken the issue and turned it into a platform when it shouldn’t be.

Does the city council not have more pressing concerns? Could Willems’ attention not be turned to matters that affect more people?

The last time we checked, it’s the economy — locally, statewide and nationally — that ranks as the biggest worry for most residents, not whether marijuana is running rampant.

We contend the council definitely has bigger issues to consider and work on, and if Willems wants to be a valued public servant like most of our elected officials are, he should stop thrusting his personal agenda onto the public.

The Editorial Board believes Willems has an obligation to back up his claims with facts.

If not, he owes the City of Steamboat Springs and the students and administration at Colorado Mountain College an apology for throwing dirt on their community and school, respectively, and one to Craig residents for wasting their time.

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fred gerber 7 years ago

Mr Willems has been dragging his personal views backed with no facts for quite a while now,when is it gonna stop,definate signs of a pompous ass thinking of no one but his own clouded views.take the blinders off and think of the innocent people you hurt with accusations like that


kathleenpost 7 years ago

Bigotry ,hate and intolerance of others that are operating within the law.It should be a hate crime to persecute m.j. patients,they are voter approved.


onewhocares 7 years ago

I'm with Byron ALL the way on this one. It's horrible enough that in just about every family at least one or two family members struggle with alcohol, but now we are literally condoning our society to become zombies (to spaced out to care about the world around them) which makes it that much easier for government to legislate agendas Not benefiting the public. ( Why do you think Hitler had his troops zoned out on meth & other horrible drugs?)

It's one thing for dying patients to use mj, it's quite another, when every other person and teenager uses every ache and pain in their body to justify a medical marijuana card, instead of putting their energies in learning how to heal themselves in a healthy way. Another cope out for Americans. We have become a society of sheep, and mentally checking out with drugs & alcohol is the easiest way of all to give all your power away to others. Regardless of Byron's stats, he is correct in his viewpoints. And don't try to say I don't know what I'm talking about, because I literally watched the love of my life uncle die of lung & stomach cancer at 36 yrs old from smoking mj everyday, not to mention my ex-husband who smoked it for 25 yrs and when he finally stopped had to begin taking anti-depressants from the damage done to his brain & oh yeah, and an ex-boyfriend I loved with all my heart, who would smoke mj and go into psychotic episodes while impaired. DON'T EVEN TRY TO SAY MJ IS HARMLESS because for those of us who have lived around it, know that is a bunch of crap.


onewhocares 7 years ago

You can't be serious tselan.......No cancer risk????? What you obviously do not know about is all the fungicides and pesticides sprayed on the big crops. I lived for 16 years in the heart of the Cash Crop (on the northern Calif coast in the redwoods) and had a dear friend who worked for the growers in exchange for "bud" giving me first hand knowledge what went on those crops. Maybe you should look up the chemical compositions of pesticides and fungicides & then tell me it is not cancerous!!! As to the psychotic episodes, the mj is so ridiculously strong now a days that Newsweek had reported a few years back that ER visits for mj users went up 500% due to psychotic episodes. To make matters worse, the doctors were unable to determine whether the patient was mentally ill or on mj until it was out of their systems. Newsweek also showed a diagram of the dead patches in a person's brain after chronic use directly linking it to depression. Keep justifying your addiction to yourself tselan, but lots of us know better and just because the masses are making that decision, doesn't mean it's right. We are a society of poor choices!

(In all fairness, I do not know what medicinal operators are putting on their plants but being under the influence isn't healthy period)


truthhurts 7 years ago

Was alarming enough for the Wall Street Journal to cover it.


but as usual our paper prefers to spend month on articles voting for Moffat Counties best place to get gossip as opposed to news.


wm97 7 years ago

If your editors are still unsure about the marijuana issues, then read the following:

The short history of the marijuana laws at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm This is funny and fascinating. Try to find the point in history when the marijuana laws were based on anything but absolute lunacy.

Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm This is the best overall review of the drug problem ever written. It has been used as a basic college textbook for decades. You will find surprises on every page.

Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, the Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm This is the largest study of the marijuana laws ever done, commissioned by President Nixon.

Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer This collection includes the full text of every major government commission on drugs from around the world over the last 100 years. They all reached very similar conclusions.

The evidence on what to do about drugs is simply overwhelming. There is simply no real argument among people who have read the above research.


Nadja Rider 7 years ago

Looks like the editorial board owes Byron Willems an apology. The alarm bells need to be sounded. I don't doubt that there are a handful that legitimately need marjuana, but I'm guessing the majority are finding any excuse to use. Unfortunately there are doctors willing to accommodate. Colorado screwed up by not having regs in place when this bill passed, and they've been slow to regulate.

And now with that WSJ article - that's as good as an advertisement for all potheads to come to Colorado! Just what we need. Not!!


Shaun Hadley 7 years ago

Ok, let's just completely ignore the fact that his comments were about Medical Marijuana, and focus solely on the fact that Mr. Willems lied as a public servant. What gives him the right to make up whatever he wants to substantiate his point of view? Imagine for a second that the issue here was abortion, or gun control, or any other number of controversial issues - Would it still be ok for Mr. Willems to completely fabricate information, simply to support his own point of view? He can argue against Medical Marijuana, or whatever else he wants, but he is obliged, required, and EXPECTED to educate the communtiy with facts, and not absolutle fabrications.


George Robertson 7 years ago

You know if you are creative enough, you can take those alarm bells and make a really cool bong.


Nadja Rider 7 years ago

I do not know Byron personally, nor have I been to the City Council meetings. However his statements, as quoted by the Daily Press do indicate that we have a growing problem in the Yampa Valley. For the WSJ to pick up the story, tells me that we have a problem in our corner of the state. So we're already dealing with drunk drivers on our roads, do we really want to add marijuana intoxicated drivers as well? And yes, those numbers are going up.

It's a shame that people are so quick to attack someone personally, instead of sticking to the facts and discussing the problem.


Shaun Hadley 7 years ago

"It's a shame that people are so quick to attack someone personally, instead of sticking to the facts and discussing the problem."

I'll assume that you are talking about Byron in this sentance, considering he personally attacked Steamboat Springs, their College, and MMJ patients (Going so far as to call them RATS). He also lied, and completly falsified information to push his personal agenda, and failed to discuss the problem at all.

Again, forget that this has anything to do with MMJ. A City Councilor LIED, and misrepresented fiction as fact. That is what this editorial is about. Not Marijuana, but the abuse of power by a councilor to further his own agenda. Many people look up to and rely upon to information provided by the city council. If we allow this now, when will it ever stop? Where is the accountability? What will happen when it's an issue YOU care about, and Councilors are allowed to say whatever they want, backed by fact or not? Opinions are one thing. Spouting false Statistics as fact in another issue entirely.


Shaun Hadley 7 years ago

"However his statements, as quoted by the Daily Press do indicate that we have a growing problem in the Yampa Valley."

Just to illustrate my point, you apparently also rely upon the city council for information. And, because Mr. Willems lied about everything from more dispensaries being able to open in town, to the number of patients in Steamboat and their College, you now believe there is a growing problem, when in all reality, there is not any sort of issue in Craig.


truthhurts 7 years ago

I see everyone is disputing what Councilmen Willems said but I have seen no facts to back up either side. If he misspoke then show data that proves otherwise.


MattBeckett 7 years ago

Here is some data-

Routt County has 1,183 registered medical marijuana patients and a population of 11,000 in Steamboat Springs Roughly 10%.

Moffat County has 222 patients. Roughly 2% of the population in Craig.

94% of all medical marijuana patients in Colorado list chronic pain as the medical reason for having a medical marijuana card.

Cancer is 2%



Shaun Hadley 7 years ago

You are overlooking a very important factor there matt - Those numbers you cited are for the entire countys, not cities. There are 1183 patients in Routt county (Hayden, Milner, Clark, Steamboat and everywhere in between) putting the true number at less than 1% of the populaltion, no where near your 10%. There are 222 patients in all of Moffat County (Craig, Maybell, Dinosaur and everything in between), which is also less than even 1% of the population. The very site you cited has the true percentages posted right there, next to those numbers. Your post assumes ONLY people in Craig and Steamboat have cards, which is ludicrous. More public figures twisting numbers and facts to their own gain.....why not just be honest when the truth is so easily available on a public state ran website?

Also, Colorado mountain college in steamboat has roughly 1400 students, and Mr. Willems stated nearly all of them had their cards.....I guess that means the only mmj patients in Rout County are the college students?


MattBeckett 7 years ago

SayWhat you misread the data the percentage next to the number of patients isn't the percentage in that county but the percentage of the total number of Colorado patients. If you do the math with you 1% or less than 1% it doesn't add up.

Routt County has 22,980 1,183 have medical marijuana cards so roughly 5% of the entire county holds a medical marijuana card and Moffat County has 13,184 residents with 222 card holders or under 2%.

With regards to the number of CMC students who are card holders I am looking for data on that topic but this was from the Steamboat City Council minutes:

Mr. Brian Hoza, Colorado Mountain College Campus Dean of Student Affairs

stated that during time of these dispensaries they have had three times the marijuana incidences on campus and he is responsible to control that environment. There are not that many severe medical issues on campus, so this is simply an access issue. He stated that it is the framework that is flawed, not necessarily the dispensaries.

Not sure Byron could be condemned for insulting a school when they see a rise in incidents and agree that the framework is flawed.


Nadja Rider 7 years ago

SayWhat, the percentage is wrong on the "official" site. Yeah, even they can make mistakes. Here is the official census site - so you do the math.


It may not be 10%, but it sure is no 1% either.

Bottom line, is that you're skewing the facts to make your point, which is no worse than what Byron was doing by exagerating the numbers.


mmg3647 7 years ago

I can't believe this much time and effort has been expended on this issue, when the national unemployment rate currently stands at roughly 10%. Toke or don't toke...I don't care. I would be far more interested in hearing Willems' discuss cognizant ways to bringing long term, sustainable employment opportunities to Craig, CO than listening to him rant about medical marijuana using students at CMC. Can we not move on, already?


justthefacts 7 years ago

Fact: The next thing that will happen, is MR. Willems will be telling us that the Fire District voters really voted for a Fire Training Center, they just forgot.

Fact: Mr Willems and the fire board manipulated that one!!!!

Fact: Get a copy of the minutes from the last several fire board meetings and read how Mr. Willems and the fire board understood the ballot question vs. the rest of the community.

Fact: The community, twice voted against a fire training center, but now, the fire tower is a "component" and not a real building????? ( per Mr. Willems). Really Really???

Fact: Someone should be getting a new tittle: " The Great Deciever" ( Who could that be???????)

Fact: Mr. Willems is starting to acquire a history of deception!!!!

Just The I was fooled Facts ( along with about 8000 other people)


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