Guest Opinion: Recreational marijuana? The price is too high

Seth Leibsohn

Seth Leibsohn

Advocates say we need to regulate pot like alcohol in Arizona, but their measure doesn’t even do that.

If insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results, no word better describes the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Arizona.

Colorado and Washington, the first states to do this, have seen increases in teen use of marijuana, traffic fatalities and emergency room visits (including of toddlers) — all tied to marijuana. In Denver, home of most of the pot shops, more than one in three 11th- and 12th-graders are now regular marijuana users, an increase of 20.5 percent from two years ago, according to the latest Colorado youth survey.

Big protections for pot industry

Sheila Polk

Sheila Polk

Arizona should expect similar results, especially since this 20-page initiative is chock full of protectionism for the marijuana industry. Written by out-of-state lobbyists and Arizona marijuana-business owners, it creates two new government agencies, including a seven-member commission with three members mandated to come from the marijuana industry so they can “regulate” themselves.

This initiative gives current medical-marijuana dispensaries a virtual monopoly on retail stores and cultivation. This is not simple legalization, but increased government protecting special interests to the detriment of everyone else.

The initiative would legalize hashish as well, opening the door to high-potency marijuana candies. The marijuana of the 1970s had potency levels of less than 1 percent. Colorado’s marijuana edibles have potency levels of 60 percent.

Stiffer penalties for alcohol than pot

The proponents’ claim that this initiative regulates marijuana like alcohol is disingenuous. The alcohol industry doesn’t dream of being treated as lightly as this initiative would treat marijuana. At every opportunity to advance public safety, the initiative protects marijuana use instead:

  • Using marijuana under the proposed initiative becomes a legal right. Someone who shows up for work drunk can be disciplined or fired based on an alcohol test. But under this initiative, showing up for work impaired by marijuana would be shielded from discipline until after the commission of an act of negligence or malpractice.
  • Any driver with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 percent is legally drunk. The Arizona law would prohibit a THC limit from ever being set.
  • Penalties for a minor using a fake ID to buy marijuana would be far lower than for his friend who uses a fake ID to buy alcohol. Same for someone selling marijuana to a minor using a fake ID.

The experiment in Washington and Colorado shows how disastrous this proposal is.

  • Fatal accidents involving drivers who recently used marijuana more than doubled in Washington in the year after legalization.
  • The rate of people going to Colorado emergency rooms with marijuana-related symptoms rose 44 percent from 2012 to 2014.
  • Employers there report having to hire out of state for a sober workforce.

No amount of cash can justify this

Just as in Arizona, marijuana’s apologists in Colorado and Washington said they wanted to keep marijuana away from children. It didn’t work out that way there and it won’t be different here.

And this is why that matters: Marijuana is “addicting, has adverse effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes,” according to the American College of Pediatricians.

At what cost? According to the Arizona legislative budget staff, expected revenue from legalizing marijuana could put $30 million into our education system, barely 0.33 percent of what Arizona now spends.

Now balance that minimal amount against the costs of treatment, tragic loss of life from traffic fatalities, workplace accidents, or the lost potential of young brains harmed by marijuana. No amount of money can justify that.

This law would contribute nothing positive to Arizona. Instead it exacts a tremendous cost, all to benefit a handful of marijuana-industry insiders. Arizonans do not need this and will not be able to afford it. The price is too high.

Seth Leibsohn chairs Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. Sheila Polk is the Yavapai County Attorney and vice chair of ARDP. Email them at info@ardp.org.

Arizona Catholic Conference: Bishops’ Statement Opposing the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Arizona Catholic Conference
ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE BISHOPS’ STATEMENT OPPOSING THE LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA

The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference oppose the campaign to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona because it is harmful to both children and families in Arizona.

Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana sends a message to children and young people that drug use is socially and morally acceptable. As people of faith, we must speak out against this effort and the damaging effects its passage would have on the children and families of Arizona.

Studies have shown that adolescents who use marijuana have significant differences in brain structure and cognitive functioning compared to those who do not use marijuana and experience up to an eight-point drop in IQ. Furthermore, based on what happened in just two years after Colorado legalized marijuana, it is estimated that if Arizona passes this measure, tens of thousands of additional 8th graders here will smoke marijuana for the first time.

Marijuana-related traffic accidents and other problems are also likely to dramatically increase if recreational marijuana use is legalized. In Colorado for example, marijuana-related traffic deaths dramatically increased after recreational marijuana was legalized. Additionally, Colorado witnessed similar dramatic increases in hospitalizations and emergency room visits related to marijuana usage after recreational use was legalized.

In states that have legalized marijuana, there has also been an increase in the use of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin since marijuana was legalized, which only further increased societal costs.

For the reasons mentioned above, and others, it is anticipated that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona will lead to more abuse by teens, more emergency room visits, more traffic deaths, and more societal costs. Accordingly, due to the detrimental effect it would have on children, families, and all of society, we strongly oppose this dangerous proposal.

Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson

Most Rev. James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup

Center for Arizona Policy: Arizonans Are Smarter Than the Marijuana Monoploy

Center for Arizona Policy

Those Who Stand To Make Millions Off Pot-Laced Candy & Amped-Up Marijuana Underestimate Commonsense

PHOENIX – A couple hundred thousand signatures and the Million-dollar Marijuana Monopoly thinks it’s a done deal. Arizonans will be toking by year’s end and they, themselves, will be rolling in the dough. Not so fast says Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod, “When voters learn the devastating consequences of legalizing recreational pot they won’t be so easily deceived by those trying to make a buck at society’s expense.”

For example, when gathering the signatures, the collectors probably didn’t tell voters a few things. Such as:

  • The only ones who will make money are the folks behind the big push. The dispensaries are monopolized.
  • Half the pot sold in Colorado is in the form of candy – gummy bears and lollipops spiked with ten times the THC as an average joint. Children in Colorado are ending up in the ER for accidentally and innocently overdosing.
  • Pot shops will pop up all over town. Within two years after legalizing marijuana in Colorado, pot shops now outnumber, Starbucks, liquor stores, and public schools.
  • Any money the state makes off legalizing pot will be outpaced by added expenses due to increased traffic accidents, workplace accidents, crime, rehab, needed regulation, and huge increases in accidental overdoses when kids mistake pot-laced candy for the real thing.

The marijuana monopoly likes to downplay the drug, stating it’s safer than alcohol and doesn’t hurt anyone. But Herrod calls that a dangerous deception, “This isn’t the kind of pot they smoked at Woodstock. Today’s marijuana is at least five times stronger. Even the DEA lists marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD, and meth. Are we going to legalize them too?” Herrod continued, “It has been proven, more people use marijuana when it is legal. That’s why Colorado is now the number one state for marijuana use. Arizona shouldn’t compete for that title.”

The marijuana monopoly probably did tell voters a few things when collecting all of those signatures. They tout regulation, revenue, elimination of the drug cartel, and black markets. But the truth is:

  • Alcohol and tobacco are also regulated and kids still get them both. Prescription drugs are regulated, and also highly abused. If regulation is supposed to also keep pot out of the hands of children, why are they putting it in candy?
  • The only people who make money off pot for pleasure are the monopolized dispensary owners.
  • The black market in Colorado thrives, supplying other states where it is illegal.Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed lawsuits against CO because their jails are being overwhelmed by smugglers getting caught crossing the border.

Herrod concluded, “Arizonans are smart. The commonsense conclusion they will reach – once they get the facts – is that amped-up pot and pot-laced candy are dangerous for our kids, detrimental to our society and way of life, and cost a whole lot more than they offer. The best way to keep Arizona’s youth safe is to keep marijuana illegal.”

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.

What some Arizonas are saying about legalizing Marijuana

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy

What They Are Saying

Legalizing recreational marijuana would be detrimental to Arizonans’ lifestyle, safety and productivity. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized the drug and are seeing disastrous repercussions in their youth, work places and communities. Read below to see what experts, Arizonans and those already effected by legal marijuana have to say.

Linda ValdezArizona Republic Reporter Linda Valdez
“Arizona doesn’t have to release the cat now. We can wait and see how things play out in Colorado and other states that are trying the legalization experiment.”

The Arizona Republic | June 21

Congressman Matt SalmonMatt Salmon
“I am against this initiative legalizing marijuana in Arizona,” said Congressman Matt Salmon. “At a time when government should be shrinking and we should be having less government in our lives, the last thing I want to see is one more initiative that creates other levels of government.”

ARDP.org | June 20

Seth LeibsohnARDP Chairman Seth Leibsohn
“Leave it to the marijuana industry to take a holiday of joy and family bonding to promote the expanded sale and use of a drug better known by medical and scientific research to be the opposite of those very things. We are just now learning about increased traffic fatalities due to marijuana impaired drivers in states that have legalized marijuana for social and recreational use. We are just now learning about more and more childhood hospitalizations due to marijuana ingestion by our youth due to marijuana candies and edibles.”

ARDP.org | June 16

Roy BinghamHead of Pot-Industry Tracking Firm BDS Analytics Roy Bingham*
On an initiative to package marijuana with warnings that marijuana carries a risk of “permanent loss of brain abilities”:

“The initiative could devastate Colorado’s fastest-growing industry.”

CBS Denver | June 16

APS spokesman Jim McDonald
“Our concern emanates from the employment law language in the proposal, especially considering the public safety aspects involved in supplying reliable electric service to APS customers,” said McDonald. “The initiative simply does not support the kind of workplace required to operate the electric grid, make repairs to the system after a monsoon storm or operate the nation’s largest nuclear power plant.”

Phoenix New Times | June 14

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  • Roy Bingham is not a resident of Arizona.

Wendy Rogers to Paul Babeu: Come Clean to Pinal County

Wendy Rogers

Wendy Rogers to Paul Babeu: Come Clean to Pinal County

(Flagstaff, AZ) – Today, Col. Wendy Rogers, Republican candidate for Congress, issued the following statement calling on Sheriff Paul Babeu to make amends to the citizens of Pinal County for using his position to play politics:

“Sheriff Babeu displayed a profound lack of judgment. He showed poor faith and a callous disregard for the people of Pinal County and the 1st Congressional District.” Col Rogers said.

“Mere hours after warning the citizens of Pinal County about a grave threat to their safety from Mexican cartels on local television, Sheriff Babeu sent out a fundraising email to capitalize on the threat. Then Sheriff Babeu later admitted to a reporter that his warning was a calculated element of his campaign for Congress.”

“For an elected official, especially a member of law enforcement, to prey upon the fears of good people to advance his own political agenda is absolutely base and reprehensible. He exploits as a political football the very citizens he swore to protect. Sheriff Babeu must atone and come clean to the people of Pinal County.”

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Lt Col (ret) Wendy Rogers was one of the Air Force’s first women pilots. She and and her husband Hal are both retired career US Air Force officers. Since 1997, they’ve owned a home inspection business covering four counties spanning northern to southern Arizona. Col Rogers is a businesswoman, teacher, social worker and grandmother. She and Hal own their retirement home in the midst of where they do business in Flagstaff, Arizona.

SheriffCandidateBabeu

Debbie Moak & Seth Leibsohn Discuss Campaign for Responsible Drug Policy

Debbie Moak and Seth Leibsohn discuss the adverse effects of legalizing Marijuana for recreational use in Arizona. Both Debbie and Seth appeared on Newsmaker Sunday with John Hook.

Here is the video:

Arizona Republic: Poll shows Arizona marijuana-legalization campaign could fail if voted on today

Arizona Republic: Poll shows Arizona marijuana-legalization campaign could fail if voted on today

As seen on AZCentral.com

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
April 20, 2016

If a vote were taken today, Arizonans could reject an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults, according to a poll released by the campaign opposing the plan.

The survey shows 43 percent of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use while 49 percent would vote against it. About 8 percent of likely voters were undecided. The telephone survey has a margin of error of about 4 percent.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy released the poll on the eve of 4/20, a day on which the drug culture celebrates and consumes cannabis.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would allow people age 21 and older to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in a home occupied by at least two people, without obtaining licenses. It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado’s, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana, which would be taxed.

Barrett Marson, spokesman for the legalization campaign, said of the poll results: “We look forward to a vigorous campaign informing voters of the benefits of ending the failed policy of prohibition. By regulating and taxing marijuana, we benefit our schools and keep it out of the hands of teens.”

The poll, released to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday, shows voters could narrowly oppose the measure. According to the survey of 500 likely voters conducted April 11 through April 14:

  • When asked if they would be more or less likely to support the ballot measure if they knew recreational marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent and the funds would go to public health and education, 50 percent said they would be more likely to support the measure, while 29 percent said they would be less likely to support it. Eighteen percent said the tax would not really change their decision, while 4 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
  • About 19 percent said they would be more likely to support legalization in Arizona after being told teen use of the drug here is 70 percent higher than the national average. About 53 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the measure, 21 percent said they still held the same view, 6 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
  • Asked if they knew the measure would allow growth of up to 12 plants in their homes and allow them to smoke in their backyard, 31 percent said they would be more likely to vote for it, 52 percent would be less likely, 13 percent said their opinion remained about the same, 3 percent were undecided and 1 percent refused to answer.

Of those who responded, 39 percent were Republican, 33 percent were Democrat, 28 percent were independent, and 1 percent didn’t know their affiliation. About 36 percent were 65 or older, 21 percent were 55-64 years old, 17 percent were 45-54 years old, 13 percent were 35-44 years old and 13 percent were 18-34 years old.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy argues legalization could upend decades of policies surrounding substance-abuse prevention, law-enforcement and health. They argue legalization could lead to the abuse of marijuana and negatively impact the workplace.

The group’s leaders, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and radio host Seth Leibsohn, say legalization could lead to increased incidents of impaired driving and lead to accidental ingestion by youth who may find marijuana-laced cookies and candies enticing without knowing they contain the drug.

“Advocates for recreational marijuana argue that legalization is inevitable, but this poll shows it’s just not true,” Leibsohn said in a statement. “Arizonans are beginning to understand that today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the past. It’s a great deal more potent — practically a different drug — and is made attractive to youth in seemingly innocuous candies like gummy bears.”

Campaign officials argue prohibition of the drug has been a failure, and it’s in the public’s best interest to try to regulate and tax it.

Taxation of the proposed program would pay the state’s cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. Twenty percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.

A state Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would regulate the “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and sale of marijuana” and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. Current medical-marijuana dispensary owners would get first dibs on licenses for the stores.

POLL: Maricopa County Voters Say Raise Age to 21 to Buy Tobacco, Keep Coyotes in Glendale

MBQF
MarsonMedia

Poll also shows voters want Arizona Coyotes to stay in Glendale

(Phoenix, AZ) — Only adults 21 and over should be able to buy tobacco products, according to a new poll of Maricopa County voters.

Of the 584 respondents to a poll conducted Dec. 29 by MBQF Consulting and Marson Media, 72 percent said they support increasing the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Just 28 percent oppose the move.

The poll also found Maricopa County voters prefer the Arizona Coyotes remain in Glendale, 55-45. And finally, Maricopa County approve of Indian tribes opening Las Vegas-style casinos off traditional reservation land by a margin of 45-39.

“It is clear among all political stripes that voters want to increase the legal age to buy tobacco to 21,” said Barrett Marson, CEO of Marson Media. “As cities in Maricopa County consider these proposals, they can move forward knowing voters support the move.”

Mike Noble Added, “What was interesting was that support to increase the legal age was basically the same between Republicans, Democrats and Independent voters.”

Despite spotty attendance performance throughout its years in Glendale, voters don’t support moving the Arizona Coyotes to a downtown Phoenix or East Valley location, the poll found. The team has said it will explore a move to a new arena downtown or could build an arena on the Salt River Pima Indian Community near Scottsdale.

“The Coyotes are locked in a battle with Glendale but voters actually prefer the team stays in the Gila River Arena,” said Mike Noble, CEO of MBQF Consulting.

As for Indian gaming, county voters appear OK with tribes opening casinos off of traditional reservation land. The Tohono O’odham recently opened a casino near Glendale though it lacks table games like blackjack that are at other casinos.

“Voters don’t mind Indian casinos in the metropolitan area even if they are operated by tribes far away,” Marson said.

In the automated telephonic non-partisan survey of 584 high efficacy voters, conducted on December 29, the survey calculates a 4.06% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points.

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact Mike Noble or Barrett Marson.

Steve Henry & Lando Voyles: Drive Hammered, Get Nailed

HenryVoylesBannerLaw & Order Team Vigilant for the Holidays – Keeping families safe in Pinal County from DUI related incidents

HenryVoyles

(Florence, AZ) — Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles and Steve Henry announced a new coordinated DUI enforcement effort during the holiday season.

Steve Henry stated, “Every year PCSO makes a push during the holiday season to keep impaired and drunk drivers off the road.  Nothing is worse than one of our officers being called to a scene where a drunk driver has severely injured or killed another fellow citizen.  Since 2012 we have arrested just over 840 of these impaired individuals during these coordinated efforts.”

Pinal County is spread out and travel time is much higher compared to more metropolitan areas like Phoenix.  More distance means more chance of an impaired driver causing harm or property damage.

County Attorney Lando Voyles stated, “Just this year alone the Pinal County Attorney’s office has a 98% conviction rate on 401 charged DUI cases.  This is made possible to continued cooperation between PCSO and the County Attorney’s office.”

Steve Henry & Lando Voyles stated,  “We have been on the front lines of enforcement and our number one goal is to keep our fellow citizens and families of Pinal County safe.  That is why it is critical we elect qualified leaders to continue keeping Pinal County a safe place to live, work and raise a family.”

They also added, “Please be extra cautious this holiday season, do not drive impaired and if you do plan on drinking please designate a driver.”

Legalizing Marijuana in Arizona Will Nullify Education Results

By Paul Boyer

Paul BoyerThe marijuana legalization movement in Arizona is relying on a specious study to make the case for recreational marijuana at the ballot next year. Their study says marijuana is 114 times safer than alcohol. Interestingly, it also says meth is ten times safer than alcohol, while heroin and cocaine are twice as safe.  On that logic, why not make meth, heroin, and cocaine like alcohol, as well?

Meanwhile, serious peer reviewed research regarding the effects of marijuana has been shown to increase high school drop outs, lower IQ, induce memory loss, and in some cases cause paranoia and psychosis – especially among adolescents.

For those of us concerned with the state of education in Arizona, this is extremely alarming. With considerable discussion about Arizona’s education funding, along with high school and college graduation rates, we should be working to improve our state of education, not exacerbate an already bad situation by legalizing a substance detrimental to every outcome we want for our children.  And make no mistake, legalizing this dangerous drug for adults will lead to more use by children, just as we see with alcohol.

States that have marijuana-friendly legislation have seen a dramatic spike in marijuana exposure to children.  The Journal Clinical Pediatrics found an over 600 percent increase in the amount of marijuana exposure to children six and under in such states. That study suggests, “the rate of marijuana exposure among children is associated with the number of marijuana users.” We don’t need that here in Arizona.

Nor can the toxic health, educational, and behavioral impacts to children be overstated. A 2014 New England Journal of Medicine study lists the damaging health effects of just short term marijuana use, including: impaired short term memory and motor coordination, altered judgment with an increased risk of catching and transmitting sexually transmitted diseases, and paranoia and psychosis in high doses. And let’s not forget that today’s marijuana is much more potent than that of previous decades.  We are not talking about Woodstock and commonly grown marijuana anymore, we are talking about a high potency drug.

Similarly, long term or heavy use effects of marijuana include: addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes with an increased risk of dropping out of school, cognitive impairment with lower IQs among frequent users during adolescence, and diminished life satisfaction and achievement.

And who will have to address the consequences of legalization? All of us, including parents, teachers, and an already over-burdened healthcare system will have to pick up the pieces left in the wake of legalization’s destruction.

Given all our debates about funding education in Arizona, one is left asking what the point of all this would be if we introduce a substance into our society that will nullify, if not reverse, everything we have worked so hard to improve when it comes to our children’s education.  Whatever plan we settle on with education, adding marijuana into the mix will render this debate, and its result, essentially pointless.

State Representative Paul Boyer represents Legislative District 20, which includes Glendale and North Phoenix. He is the Chair of the House Education Committee, a member of the House Health Committee, and teaches 10th grade Humane Letters.