Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today, we are sharing an interesting article from Janice Black in preparation for the upcoming November election.  Enjoy.

Statements and opinions expressed in editorials and articles are not necessarily those of the El Paso County Bar Association

Evidence That Smoking Marijuana Harms Youth
Don’t worry, I am not going to subject anyone to a repeat of the lectures we all heard in the 60s, 70s and 80s, those of us who were teeny-boppers then.  The fact of the matter is, most of us (or them) did not become marijuana addicts.  But the truth of the matter is, some of us (or them) did.  And many more youth, today, are. In Colorado, about one in every 15 teens is using marijuana on a daily or near daily basis, the highest rate since 1981.  In the marijuana used today, concentrations of the active ingredient, THC, are higher than they were decades ago (20% today versus 2 or 3% then).  Another alarming phenomenon is that significant numbers of younger children are using as well.  Anyone making decisions about the best interests of children needs to be mindful that whether or not marijuana is harmful to adults, we now have a growing body of evidence that it is harmful to children:  it can be damaging to their developing brains.

*Although I do not cite the hot-off-the-press studies which lead to these conclusions, I am happy to provide those references and point you to them.  I can be reached at (719)201-0887 or

Disproportionately, marijuana dependence develops in people who try the drug before the age of 18: according to one study, 17% versus 9% (of people who use the drug as adults); and according to another study, adolescents are 9 times more likely to develop symptoms of dependence than are adults.

Children, including teenagers, are more at risk of permanent harm from marijuana, of actual organic, irreparable brain damage, and of physiological and psychological dependence on the drug.  This is because of the rapid growth and neurologic organization that is taking place before 18 years of age.  Science now pinpoints some specific ways in which smoking marijuana can harm a developing brain.  It can cause changes in the brain’s very structure.  This can subsequently cause a decrease in cognitive functioning: memory, motivation, attention span and attentiveness are impaired significantly; verbal intelligence and fluency, word recall, and visual scanning decrease; and reaction time and decision making slow down.  Reminder: these are the effects of marijuana intoxication in adults as well as adolescents.  However, while an adult brain can return to normal over time, the altered state can become the new NORMAL for the adolescent brain.  For increasing numbers of youth, lower cognitive functioning is the new normal. This alarming point warrants emphasis: when adult onset users stop using marijuana their cognitive and emotional functioning return to higher levels; when adolescent onset users stop using, their functioning does not return to previous levels.   

Psychosis occurs at higher rates in young adults who were exposed to marijuana before the age of 18 at rates two to four times higher than in young adults who did not use marijuana as adolescents – even if they do as adults.  In at least eight studies involving thousands and thousands of people over generations and in several populations and countries, this has been found to be true.

As any traffic cop knows, aggression and automobile accidents are linked.  Marijuana withdrawal in many cases leads to aggression, which is another reason why the increasing rates of marijuana use and dependence is frightening.  Rates of drugged driving (or at least the rates of THC being found in the blood of drivers) doubled in the first year after medical marijuana became legal in Colorado.  One study found that among drivers under the age of 30 who were killed in traffic accidents, 30 percent were acutely intoxicated by marijuana.  And it is 3.3 times more likely to be found in fatal accidents than not.  The leading cause of death to adolescents is accidents, and marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of accidents.  This correlation cannot be ignored. 

What contributes to the use (or abuse) of any substance?  The consensus points to three external circumstances: availability, social acceptance and perceived harmlessness.  The current and likely future status or position of medical marijuana in Colorado today impacts these variables significantly.  Teenagers who report that they know someone with a medical marijuana license are about twice as likely to use marijuana as those who do not.  With marijuana more available and socially acceptable, and with the popular notion that it is harmless, adolescents are particularly vulnerable.  Their brains are primed to seek pleasure, thrills and adventure – which accounts for why they are known risk takers.  (Indeed, there is an evolutionary benefit to risk taking, one job of a developing child is to actively engage in the world.)  At the same time, the parts of the brain that are in charge of impulse control and judgment, that weigh risks, evaluate consequences and put a stop to a pleasurable activity, are not fully developed or functional in adolescents.  (This is why adults, with the benefit of mature brains, capable of applying brakes to impulses, and making reasonable judgment calls when necessary, must watch over children and guide them.)  Even as we condone use of this drug for various reasons by responsible adults, we must determine how to protect adolescents.

* As a mental health professional, I recognize some internal or psychological risk factors also contribute to the use of mind altering substances, but will refrain from discussing them here.

Active use is one issue; passive exposure is another.  Are there physiologic effects of being around marijuana grow operations?  Yes, there are.  They include some frightening phenomena that occur in the air around marijuana plants that are being grown commercially: high spore levels of penicillin (which is not good news for any of the increasing number of asthmatics); unsafe residues of pesticides and fungicides; and high levels of carbon dioxide  and carbon monoxide about.  Doesn’t exposing children to environments such as these amounts to child abuse!

In determining issues such as parenting time and residences for children, we must be mindful of these risks and how science and statistics inform us.  Again, I am happy to point you to the research on which I base these assertions.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Upcoming Fall Events

Fall Welcoming Ceremony for New Attorneys
Mark your calendars for this event that has been a tradition for the El Paso County Bar for almost 30 years.  Join your local judges and magistrates on Tuesday, October 30th at 5:30 pm at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum for a small ceremony to welcome our newest colleagues to our community.

November Bar Luncheon
Please join us for the November Bar Luncheon on November 20th at 11:45 am at Springs Orleans.  Our presenter will be Mark Fogg, President of the Colorado Bar Association.

If you would like to prepay for your luncheon using your credit card to avoid standing in line at the luncheon, send a message to Claire at with your RSVP and a note to prepay.  We will call your office to run your credit card before the day of the luncheon.  Don’t forget that Bar Association Luncheons are held bi-monthly on the third Tuesday of that month.  After November, the next luncheon date is January 15, 2013. 

Annual Holiday Social
Don’t miss out!  Join us for our annual holiday gathering on Thursday, November 29th at 5:30 pm at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.  Join us for a beer, cocktail, and some heavy hors d'oeuvres after work and celebrate the holiday season with your colleagues. 

New Board Members Elected

New Board Members Elected
Congratulations to the new Board members elected in the 2012 Election:
President-Elect: Yolanda Fennick
Treasurer:  David Webster
Trustees:  Paul Haller & Vincent Rahaman

Our most heartfelt thanks is extended to our outgoing Board members for their care and support of the Bar Association.
Carl Graham – Treasurer
Stuart Thomas – Trustee
Jina Koultchitzka - Trustee

Thank you all!

October is Legal Professionalism Month in Colorado

October is Legal Professionalism Month in Colorado

Chief Justice Bender, along with the CBA and all local and specialty Bar Associations in Colorado, has declared October Legal Professionalism Month.  The goal is to encourage members of the legal profession, professional entities and judicial officers and staff, to rededicate themselves to demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism and integrity, and promote public confidence in the profession and the court system.  

More about Legal Professionalism Month can be found here:  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer at the Bar

Summer is a quiet time at the Bar Association, a great time to start new projects and brainstorm ideas for the coming year.  Our staff really enjoys having a few less busy weeks to really enjoy each other and our members.  There are a few great events coming up that we want to remind you all of, however. Check it out below and we hope to see you all at each of these great events! 

We're kicking off our summer events with our regular Paper Shredding Day, July 21st from 8 am - 11 am.  at the Jury Parking Lot on the corner of Cascade and Vermijo.  This event is free, but a suggested donation of $2 per box of paper will benefit the Pikes Peak Pro Bono Project.

The Annual Summer Social is on Thursday, July 26th at 5 pm in the Courtyard at the office of Melat Pressman and Higbie (711 S. Tejon St.).  Join us for Mexican food and margaritas, as we kick back, relax, and celebrate the summer season with our colleagues.  This event is a benefit for the Lawyers for Literacy Program, so all attendees are asked to bring a new or gently used children's book to be donated to the Children's Literacy Center.  This event is co-sponsored by the El Paso County Bar Auxiliary and all significant others are welcome to attend!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!  Finally, join us on Saturday, July 28th at 6:05 pm for the Sky Sox Summer picnic. Ticket price includes food, parking, and VIP access.  This event is sponsored by NAIFA and the El Paso County Bar Association New Lawyers Section and is open to all members!  For more information, visit our website:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1st is Law Day

Happy Law Day! Law Day is an annual event, which was conceived in 1957 when American Bar Association President Charles Rhynes envisioned a special national day to mark our commitment to the rule of law.

This year's theme, "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom," underscores the importance of the courts and their role in ensuring access to justice for all Americans.

Check out all of the El Paso County Bar Association's activities surrounding Law Day on our website.  And make sure to join us for the 1El Paso County Bar 10th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, May 3rd at 5:30 pm at Jack Quinn's.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Trial Advocacy School 2012

Trial Advocacy School 2012 

We hope you will join us for this great event, the first of its kind since 1976.  Don't miss out on your chance to refresh  your Trial Ad skills, while earning CLE credits.  A great faculty has been assembled, from whom you will learn what judges, DAs, and attorneys want to see from the art of Trial Advocacy.  Here's more info about this 12 credit program:

The 2012 Trial Advocacy School is scheduled for 4 consecutive nights: February 27, 28, 29 and March 1, 2012. 
6:00 – 9:00 pm each night, all sessions held at the Courthouse

·         Monday the 27th will be a presentation on the 7 Deadly Sins of Trial Advocacy with Dave Johnson and Judge Thomas Kane– followed by short presentations by various judicial officers on the specialty courts here in the 4th Judicial District (drug court, veteran’s court, protective orders court, etc.)
·         Tuesday the 28th will be a primer on evidence – with Dan Edwards from the State Attorney General’s Office.
·         Wednesday, the 29th is a track day with the option for the student lawyers to attend a specialized track in civil, criminal, juvenile or domestic.
·         Thursday the 1st features a judges panel with structured comments and Q & A with a sizable judges panel.

12 CLE Credits
$75 for Bar members, $100 non-Bar members, $50 for New Lawyers (practicing 5 or fewer years)
Download the registration flyer here!