2014 in Review: The Top 10 Stories from Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

While sheriff's deputies check on other prisoners, an inmate makes a phone call in Unit 4C of the Pueblo County, Colo., jail on April 4, 2014 during his single hour of time out of his cell each day. Inmates with mental illnesses are often placed under administrative segregation in 4C and other parts of the jail where they are kept isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day and their only human contact is with the guards.

Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

While sheriff\’s deputies check on other prisoners, an inmate makes a phone call in Unit 4C of the Pueblo County, Colo., jail on April 4, 2014 during his single hour of time out of his cell each day. Inmates with mental illnesses are often placed under administrative segregation in 4C and other parts of the jail where they are kept isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day and their only human contact is with the guards.

The top 10 most read stories produced by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News for 2014 included reports on Colorado’s experiment with legal recreational marijuana, an exclusive interview with discredited cyclist Lance Armstrong, and the Untreated series on the enormous costs of mental illness in Colorado.

The top ten:

1. Back to the Drawing Board as Legal Pot Doesn’t Measure Up to Public Demand

According to a report commissioned by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, the state’s legal medical and recreational cannabis outlets will provide about 77 metric tons of product this year.

The problem, according to the same study, is that residents and visitors will consume an estimated 130.3 metric tons of marijuana in 2014.

2. Lance Armstrong Speaks Candidly about Doping Era that Derailed Him

American cyclist Lance Armstrong during the 17th stage of the Tour de France on July 22, 2009 on the Col de la Colombire between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Le Grand-Bornand in the French Alps.

Competitive bicyclists historically were considered “convicts of the road” because the sport was so brutal. Riders raced far more demanding courses than the Tour De France, hundreds of miles a day, and they took and did whatever type of enhancement was available to them, Lance Armstrong, the disgraced seven-time Tour winner said.

“We all knew that history, even when I was young in the 1990s,” Armstrong said during a taping of the June 27 Rocky Mountain PBS show “Colorado Quarterly.”

3. Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Health Costs Us All

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In this I-News Special Report, hear from Pueblo jailers who say mentally ill inmates cost more and stay longer, and are often kept in solitary confinement. Meet a mother in Grand Junction who had to leave her seven-year-old son in a psychiatric hospital 300 miles away, because no other bed was available.

Learn why some of the newest efforts to cut medical costs in the state are focusing on mental health, and why intervention remains such a difficult task.

4. Supreme Court Takes Case Involving Police Use of Force and the Mentally Ill

Do police officers have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to accommodate people with mental illnesses when making arrests?

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to take up this question.

5. Utilities Push Back Against Increasing Popularity, Reduced Costs of Solar Power

The cost of solar is falling rapidly–down 60 percent in just the last three years. These days, solar is not only good for the environment, it’s becoming more of a smart financial move for households and communities.

And people are buying.

6. Feds connecting legal marijuana transactions with suspicious activities

Dominic Powelson of Blue Line Protection Group, right, picks up cash from Brooke Dingess at a Strainwise marijuana store in Denver on Nov. 17, 2014. Legal marijuana businesses are a cash-heavy operation and many rely on armored car services like Blue Line for cash transportation and protection.

The federal government is stockpiling hundreds of “suspicious activity reports” that could provide federal agents with sufficient evidence to shut down any state-legalized marijuana business.

While it may appear that federal authorities have taken a wait-and-see approach to marijuana legalization in the 23 states that now allow either medical or recreational use, these reports are poised like a blade over the budding industry should federal laws be enforced.

7. Federal Tax Burns Up Recreational Pot Profit

U.S. Forest Service photo of a lush groundwater spring.

8. Say Goodbye to Water Year 2014, which was Reasonably Gentle to Colorado

9. Rape Kits Can Be Hard to Find for College Students

10. I-News Analysis: Ticket Splitting Keyed Gardner, Hickenlooper Wins

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