TIME Education

History Curriculum Promoting ‘Respect for Authority’ Prompts Student Anger in Denver

Ella Gonzales and Jordan Miller, high school students, take part in a walkout protest outside Arvada West High School in Arvada, Colo., Sept. 23, 2014.
Ella Gonzales and Jordan Miller, high school students, take part in a walkout protest outside Arvada West High School in Arvada, Colo., Sept. 23, 2014. Matthew Staver—The New York Times/Redux

A school board's bid to do away with history materials condoning "civil disorder" has created, well, civil disorder

Hundreds of high school students in suburban Denver walked out of their classes on Wednesday morning, expressing disgust at a local proposal to ax U.S. history texts that fail to promote “respect for authority” alongside respect for individual rights.

The 700-strong protest spanned six area schools and was the largest yet in a series of walkouts this week in Jefferson County, Colorado’s second largest school district, over curriculum revisions proposed by a recently elected conservative school board, the Denver Post reports.

The new school board wants to establish a committee that would review all texts used in the district’s history curriculum to make sure they promote “positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

“Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,” reads the proposal.

Meanwhile, material condoning “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law” should be jettisoned, it says.

On Twitter, commentators used the hashtag #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory to mock the proposal, offering tongue-in-cheek tweaks to common historical narratives.

“During WWII Japanese Americans were given free housing by the government,” tweeted one user.

“Roe vs Wade was about the best way to cross a river,” tweeted another.

The school board has not yet scheduled a vote on the proposal, the Associated Press says.

TIME Drugs

Pro-Pot Group Giving Free Weed to Colorado Vets

A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. on Feb. 7, 2014.
A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. on Feb. 7, 2014. Brennan Linsley—AP

The organization Grow4Vets is giving free marijuana to veterans Saturday

Marijuana-smoking veterans may find themselves flocking to Denver, Colorado Saturday, when a pro-pot organization will host a weed giveaway to get grass in the hands of military veterans who seek it.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Quality Inn in Central Denver, the group Grow4Vets will give out cannabis products worth more than $200 to veterans who RSVP for the event by noon Friday. Others will be asked for a $20 donation at the door and get more than $100 in pot products in exchange, organizers told ABC7 News Denver.

Grow4Vets exists to “reduce the staggering number of Veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose” by providing vets “with the knowledge and resources necessary to obtain or grow their own marijuana for treatment of their medical conditions,” the group’s website says.

A repeat of the event will be held September 27 in Colorado Springs.

TIME Disease

Hundreds of Children Stricken by Rare Respiratory Illness in Colorado

The illness appears to almost uniquely target children

Just as schools usher in a new group of students, plus all of their germs, hundreds of children in Denver have come down with an unusual and severe respiratory illness that has ailed communities across the U.S. in recent weeks.

Officials at Children’s Hospital Colorado told the Denver Post that the hospital has treated more than 900 children for the illness since Aug. 18. Similar outbreaks have been reported in geographic clusters around the Midwest this summer, including in St. Louis.

Health officials believe that the sickness is related to a rare virus called human enterovirus 68 (HEV68), the Post says. HEV68, first seen in California in 1962, and an unwelcome but highly infrequent visitor to communities worldwide since then, is a relative of the virus linked to the common cold (human rhinoviruses, or HRV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HEV68, which almost uniquely affects children, tends to first cause cold-like symptoms, including body aches, sneezing and coughing. These mild complaints then worsen into life-threatening breathing problems that are all the more dangerous to children with asthma. Since viruses do not respond to antibiotics, hospitals have treated the illness with asthma therapies.

Although extremely unpleasant, no deaths have so far been reported from this summer’s outbreak.

There is no vaccine for HEV68, and health officials are encouraging the same practices that guard against the common cold: keep your hands to yourself, and wash them often.

TIME Drugs

Finally, Some Hard Science on Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy Patients

Matt Figi, Charlotte Figi
Matt Figi hugs his 7-year-old daughter Charlotte inside a Colorado greenhouse. The plants are a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, which was named for Charlotte after she used the plant to treat epileptic seizures Brennan Linsley—AP

A groundbreaking clinical trial may provide some answers to medical marijuana as a seizure treatment

Correction appended, Sept. 5, 2014

For years, some parents have turned to medical marijuana to treat their children’s debilitating epilepsy, crediting the drug with dramatically reducing seizure activity. A groundbreaking clinical trial about to begin recruiting test subjects may finally provide some science to back their claims.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus will study the genes of those with a kind of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome who have been treated with a strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. The study will attempt to determine if specific genetic components can explain why some epilepsy patients see positive results from ingesting Charlotte’s Web, while others do not.

The plant, grown by five brothers in Colorado through a non-profit organization called Realm of Caring, is low in THC, the compound that produces marijuana’s psychoactive effects, and high in CBD, a compound believed to reduce seizures in those suffering from certain forms of epilepsy. It is administered to epilepsy patients, including many children, in the form of an oil. The plant is named after Charlotte Figi, a young girl who was the first epilepsy patient successfully treated with the strain.

While anecdotal evidence suggests Charlotte’s Web can be highly effective in treating such conditions, scientific investigation of the product has been stymied by federal drug laws that severely limit marijuana research. Edward Maa, the principal investigator of the Charlotte’s Web study, says the new trial could be a first step toward building a body of research on how and why medical marijuana can be used to treat epilepsy. “This is the first attempt to get the information people are interested in that is observational in nature,” says Maa, an assistant professor at the CU School of Medicine and chief of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Programs at Denver Health.

The new study will recruit epilepsy patients who have already taken Charlotte’s Web. The patients will be divided into two groups—those who have seen seizure activity reduced by at least 50 percent on Charlotte’s Web and those who have had less dramatic or no results from taking the marijuana oil. Genetic analysis of the patients in both groups will then be performed in hopes of discovering what genetic components may cause a patient to be responsive to medical marijuana. Interventional studies, in which patients would be given Charlotte’s Web to measure its efficacy, are far more difficult to conduct. “That would be the Holy Grail,” says Maa.

Still, researchers on the CU Anschutz team will collect data on dosages used by patients in the study, for example, which could allow for further research down the line. “The more data we are able to collect in a large sample, the closer to the truth we will get,” says Maa. He says the study could allow children with Dravet Syndrome to be genetically screened before taking Charlotte’s Web so parents could know ahead of time if their children would benefit. It’s possible to conduct the study in Colorado because Charlotte’s Web is grown there legally and is home to many families who have moved to the state to specifically to access the marijuana strain.

“Do you uproot and move your entire family to not have an effect? I think this could be very helpful to answer this question,” says Maa.

Recruiting for the new study will begin within a month and data will be collected until February 2016.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the location where a study on medical marijuana will take place. It is the University of Colorado Anshutz Medical Campus.

TIME Drugs

Colorado Hits a New High for Pot Sales

Pot Prices Double as Colorado Retailers Roll Out Green Carpet
An employee pulls marijuana out of a large canister for a customer at the LoDo Wellness Center in downtown Denver, Jan. 9, 2014. Matthew Staver—Bloomberg/Getty Images

More than $114 million worth of the drug has been sold since January

Colorado marijuana dispensaries sold an estimated $24.7 million of recreational marijuana in June, according to tax figures released Friday by state Department of Revenue.

The figure makes June the most successful month for dispensaries on record since January, when marijuana became legal for recreational use in the state. Marijuana sales in the state have been surprisingly strong. A recent study of the market found that more than 10 tons are being sold every month, and the average price for consumers was for $220 per ounce.

In total, more than $114 million worth of the drug has been sold since January, based on Colorado tax figures.

Not everyone is joining in. President Barack Obama visited the state recently, but, when asked, passed on the opportunity to take a hit.

TIME Crime

Toddler Shot by 5-Year-Old Boy in Colorado

Boy who found the handgun learned to use it “from video games like Black Ops”

A 3-year-old girl from Colorado is in critical condition after a 5-year-old boy shot her with a gun that was left unattended by the mother’s boyfriend, say Pueblo police.

According to a police statement, the handgun was found by a 9-year-old boy in a home outside of Colorado Springs on Monday. Police say he then gave it to the 5-year-old boy in the backyard, who proceeded to point it at the girl and pull the trigger.

Police asked the 9-year-old boy learned how he learned to “manipulate” the gun, and he apparently told them he “learned it from video games like Black Ops.” The boyfriend of the victim’s mother, 22-year-old Adrian Chavez, fled the scene after the incident but was later taken into custody.

The girl was shot once and the bullet entered and exited her body without breaking any bones. As of Monday afternoon, she was listed in critical but stable condition.

The two boys will not be charged because of their age. However, Chavez will be charged with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.

TIME 2014 Election

Democrat Jared Polis Withdraws Support for Colorado Fracking Initiatives

U.S. Representative Jared Polis during the Colorado Democratic Party's State Assembly in Denver on April 12, 2014.
U.S. Representative Jared Polis during the Colorado Democratic Party's State Assembly in Denver on April 12, 2014. David Zalubowski—AP

Vulnerable Colorado Democrats breathe a sigh of relief

Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, announced at a press conference on Monday that he would be withdrawing his support for ballot initiatives restricting fracking in Colorado. The move comes as a relief to fellow Democrats worried that the initiatives would’ve driven out Republican voters in the fall.

In exchange for withdrawing the controversial initiatives, Polis won a blue-ribbon panel that will be set up to analyze whatever problems might exist. The panel will propose fixes over the next six months to a year.

The initiatives had so scared Democrats that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had spent the better part of the last month trying to come up with a legislative compromise so he could call the state legislature back into a special session to waylay Polis. But with an Aug. 4 deadline to lock in ballot initiatives, hope for a legislative fix was dwindling.

Meanwhile, Democrats have privately and publicly called on Polis to withdraw the initiatives, but he has refused to do so, saying the Democratic base supports these moves. While that is true, many Democrats worried the fracking issue could draw pro-Republican advertising into the 2014 election in Colorado, motivating more Republicans to vote while hurting Democratic chances among independent voters.

At stake was Democrat Hickenlooper’s tough reelection, along with the reelection of fellow Democratic Senator Mark Udall—and, given the electoral map, potential control of the U.S. Senate. Oil and gas groups were gearing up to pour in $20 million in Colorado to defeat the initiatives, which they say would’ve essentially halved or effectively halted fracking in Colorado. Fracking generated $29.5 billion in economic activity in Colorado in 2012, creating 111,000 direct jobs with an average wage of $74,811, according to the Colorado Petroleum Association.

Polis argued that it’s such a big issue for his constituents, he cannot ignore the problem. He has also introduced federal legislation, which has stalled in the GOP-controlled House.

TIME politics

Colorado Tightening Regulations on Marijuana Edibles

Colorado officials are tightening the rules governing marijuana edibles in an effort to reduce the risk of accidental overdoses. Regulators were not only concerned about overdoses, but also wanted products to have more child resistant packaging.

Officials drafted an emergency rule on Thursday making it easier to tell how much THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, would be in the edibles for sale. The result of this action will be weaker edible products and new packaging.

Similar regulations have been implemented in Washington, the only other state where edible sales are legal.

TIME plague

3 New Plague Cases Confirmed in Colorado

The state health department has found a total of four people infected with the pneumonic plague

Three new cases of plague have been identified in Colorado for a total so far of four, the state health department announced Friday.

The four people diagnosed all had contact with a dog that died of the plague. The initial patient remains hospitalized but the three infected later “all had minor symptoms, were treated with appropriate antibiotics, recovered and are no longer contagious,” the health department said in a release.

Plague is spread from rodent—in this case prairie dogs—to other animals, including humans, by rogue fleas.

Of the 60 cases of plague in its various forms that Colorado has seen in recent years, nine people have died from the disease, according to a Bloomberg report. Doctors recommend keeping a safe distance from any rodents, alive or dead.

TIME 2014 Election

Friendly Fire Over Colorado Fracking Could Cost Democrats the U.S. Senate

U.S. Representative Jared Polis during the Colorado Democratic Party's State Assembly in Denver on April 12, 2014.
U.S. Representative Jared Polis during the Colorado Democratic Party's State Assembly in Denver on April 12, 2014. David Zalubowski—AP

The reelections of the Democratic governor and U.S. Senator in Colorado are threatened by ballot initiatives pushed by a renegade House Democrat

Correction appended July 15, 2014

With a nail biter election on the horizon that flip control of the U.S. senate, the biggest concern of many Colorado Democrats is one of their own—a wealthy congressman named Jared Polis who is pushing statewide ballot initiatives that party strategists fear could increase Republican turnout in November.

Polis has introduced and is helping garner enough signatures for a state ballot effort would restrict oil and gas fracking, a major issue in his home district where four of the five biggest towns have banned it.

The initiatives have so scared Democrats that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has spent the better part of the last month trying to come up with a legislative compromise so he could call the state legislature back into a special session to waylay Polis. But with an Aug. 4 deadline to lock in ballot initiatives, hope for a legislative fix is dwindling.

Meanwhile, Democrats have privately and publicly called on Polis to withdraw the initiatives, but he has refused to do so, saying the Democratic base supports these moves. While that is true, the fracking issue could motivate Republicans more, by making the oil and gas industry front and center this election year.

“The concern among many Democrats is that the ballot initiatives that we’re talking about are very very appealing the farther left you go; troubling at the center; and on the right, they are turn out machines,” says Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist and Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign manager. “If you’re in a safe district, you’re not concerned. But if you’re a Democrat that has to win statewide these things look a lot different.”

At stake isn’t just Democrat Hickenlooper’s tough reelection, but that of fellow Democrat Senator Mark Udall—and, given the electoral map, potential control of the Senate. Oil and gas groups are gearing up to pour in $20 million in Colorado to defeat the initiatives, which they say would essential halve or effectively halt fracking in Colorado. Fracking generated $29.5 billion in economic activity in Colorado in 2012, creating 111,000 direct jobs with an average wage of $74,811, according to the Colorado Petroleum Association.

“Oil and gas has been the spark of the recovery for Colorado and these initiatives would destroy that,” says Stan Dempsey, head of the association. “Why [Polis] thinks that only he has the perfect solution rather than the experts at the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission is beyond me.” Dempsey notes that the industry just went through an extensive rule making process last year in Colorado.

First elected in 2008, Polis is a wealthy businessman and philanthropist, who founded a number of ecommerce companies, including ProFlowers.com. In 2008, he became the first openly gay parent elected to Congress, and while in office sponsored the Race to the Top education reform and has been a defender of the virtual currency Bitcoin. He represents a relatively safe seat, and given his personal fortune is not beholden to leaders or rich patrons to fundraise.

He first got involved in fracking issues in early 2012 when he lobbied Encana Corp. to halt construction on wells close to Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, Colorado. “Many families have moved out of that area,” Polis tells TIME. “It absolutely hurt the housing market, then people saw fracking going in.” Polis says that having fracking within eyesight of a building reduces property values between 5% and 15%. He also cites environmental concerns given that there were 400 spills last year alone, many of them in populated areas.

Polis says he isn’t anti-fracking and that he believes in an “all of the above” energy policy. “It’s exciting that our state is contributing to American energy independence,” Polis says. But, he adds, he wants companies to act more respectfully of the population. One of his initiatives would require extending setbacks to 2,000 feet from existing buildings, a move that would cut in half the amount of available land or fracking in Colorado, Dempsey says.

Polis argues that it’s such a big issue for his constituents, he cannot ignore the problem. He would prefer a legislative solution, but the “window for that is closing,” leaving him no choice but to proceed with his ballot initiatives. He has contributed personal money to the push to get enough signatures to get on the ballot.

The Colorado Petroleum Association’s Dempsey compares Polis’s tactics, given the ongoing legislative process, to “negotiating with a gun to our heads.” “If he was serious he’d set aside the ballot initiatives, sit down with all the stakeholders and thrash out a compromise,” Dempsey said of Polis. “But it’s his way or the high way and the high way is going to be an expensive and potentially divisive political fight.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the fracking setback in the Polis ballot initiative. It is 2,000 feet.

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