Marijuana Growers and the "Mold Menace"

By Tony O'Neill 03/07/12

Denver's controversial new DEA chief blasts out a bizarre warning.

The threat faced by marijuana growers
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Joe Biden’s current pro-prohibition tour of Central America may be hogging headlines, but a more spectacular proponent of such views resides in Colorado, where the new head of Denver’s Drug Enforcement Agency has been stirring up major controversy. In a recent interview with the Denver Post, Barbra Roach railed against the liberal approach toward medical marijuana in her new home state. Roach—who had ambitions to become a criminal lawyer before deciding “It's more fun to catch ‘em than cook ‘em” when it comes to drug users—has already vowed to find a city in Colorado where “no marijuana dispensaries are allowed” for her and her family to live. “By federal law, marijuana is illegal," she says. "There is no medical proof it has any benefit.” And then, in a bizarre think-of-the-children twist, Roach attacks marijuana growers over the dangers of…mold.

“People are not taking into account what can happen to those who are growing it,” Roach warns. “There are homes with mold and water damage in the hundreds of thousands and there are children in there too.” In response to this bizarre scaremongering, Representative Jared Polis (D- Colo) tweeted, “Drug Enforcement Agency's new motto: Protecting America from mold & water damage... Running out of excuses vs #marijuana.”

Roach’s opposition to the democratic opinions of the people of Colorado (some of the most pro-MMJ folk in the US) has caused a firestorm in the Denver Post comments section: “This woman's job is the oppression of innocent people who need marijuana for relief from debilitating illnesses, and those who provide the medicine they need," says one observer. "Her apparent delight in wielding usurped power points to a depraved, power-hungry personality. I hope someday she gets the serious professional help she needs.” Obviously still equally incensed by Roach’s comments, Rep. Jared Polis has taken to his Facebook page to issue a longer rebuttal, which reads in part: “Her choice of where to live in our state is absolutely her own decision (though I question her judgment...) but to publicly state shortly after arriving in a state that living in our premier city and many of our great towns is outright unacceptable to you is nothing short of an affront to our entire state.”

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.