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.

Arizona Free Enterprise Club: Minimum Wage Initiative a Ploy to Unionize Workers

Free Enterprise Club

Reposted from The Arizona Free Enterprise Club.

Currently there is a massive effort underway to get several “California-style” initiatives on the ballot in November. The Club encourages anyone approached on the street by one of these petition carriers to “decline to sign.” One of the initiatives likely to get the signatures necessary to qualify jacks up the minimum wage and mandates minimum state-wide paid sick time.

Specifically, the measure increases Arizona’s minimum wage from the current $8.05, to $10 starting January 1st, 2017 – and tops out at a whopping $12 an hour in 2020, then defaulting back to increases based upon the cost of living index. Additionally, if passed, it would mandate businesses with more than 15 employees provide 40 hours of paid sick time and 24 hours of annual paid sick time for businesses with less than 15 employees.

This voter protected act would have a devastating effect on Arizona’s economy. Minimum wage schemes set an arbitrary floor on every industry, every business, and every job – and divorces wages from the actual economic value a position creates. As a result, minimum wages do not heed any more buying power for the people they purport to help, but instead increase costs and therefore create an eventual pressure to increase prices. Mandatory paid sick leave is another invention of the left which seeks to create policies in a vacuum outside any economic realities.

However the real intent of these “worker welfare” movements is more and more obvious. The campaign “Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families” is being pushed by the union-backed organization LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona) who since 2013 has advocated the “Fight for $15” for fast food workers and other out-of-state union groups. The battles are for minimum wage and paid sick leave; the war is unionization of the total workforce. This is evidenced by the fact that this very initiative exempts workers under a collective bargaining agreement. In other words, we have hit a new level of hypocrisy. If this was about creating the workers’ paradise, and not about incentivizing unionization, there would be no exceptions.

As if this all wasn’t damaging enough, the initiative has another kicker, which allows cities and towns to pass more generous wage and benefit mandates. With cities such as Tempe, Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson – Arizona can expect to have a patchwork of employment laws – making doing business across city borders an arduous endeavor.

Arizonans should be wary this election season. Union groups and leftist interests are out in full force – trying to make the Grand Canyon State look more like an increasingly bankrupt California. If voters are wise, they will reject destructive ballot initiatives such as this one.

Follow Arizona Free Enterprise Club on Facebook and Twitter.

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:

Recall Douglas Officially A Miserable Failure

After all the hype, help from the AZMedia and AZ’s organized Left, the Recall Douglas has failed to garner even 10% of the roughly 450,000 signature needed to recall AZ Superintendent of Schools, Diane Douglas.

Read the story here

 

OpEd: Colorado’s problems reveal danger of legal pot

By Seth Leibsohn and Sheila Polk

As Arizonans prepare for a public debate on legalizing marijuana, we encourage a close look at Colorado — the first state to fully legalize recreational use and sale of marijuana – and Ohio, the most recent state to defeat it.

Ohio—a key bellwether state—defeated legalized marijuana this week by a margin of 28 points. What Ohio made clear is that when the facts about today’s more potent and dangerous marijuana are aptly communicated and exposed, there are no good reasons left to make it both legal and more widely available – and it loses.

Perhaps recent news in Colorado is what informed Ohioans. For example: legalization advocates claimed it would help put an end to the black market and illegal sales. In just the last month in Colorado, however, we witnessed the contrary. To wit:

October 28: Officers find 6,400 illegal marijuana plants in southern Colorado forest.

October 9: 32 busted in big Colorado illegal marijuana cultivation crackdown.

October 6: DHS suspends 7 cross country runners.

October 8: Manitou Springs police: Mustangs boys’ soccer marijuana issue handled by school.

As Chief John Jackson of the Colorado Association of Police Chiefs said on 60 Minutes earlier this year, “I can resoundly say that the black market is alive and doing well.”

The largest of these raids, also last month, found 20,000 marijuana plants, 700 pounds of dried weed, and more than 30 guns. Among those arrested were Honduran, Mexican, and Cuban nationals. Clearly, instead of putting an end to the black market, legalization in Colorado has created a magnet for it as legality and availability drive sales and consumption.

As just this one month in Colorado also reveals, the notion that we can solve an international drug cartel program by legalizing a dangerous product that harms our youth is, quite simply, a fraud.

As noted above, high-school marijuana use—including by those on athletic teams—is also a major problem and growing concern. Why? As explained in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors just last month: “[A]s marijuana has become more accessible and adults have become more tolerant regarding marijuana use, adolescents perceive marijuana as more beneficial and are more likely to use if they are living in an environment that is more tolerant of marijuana use.”

Legalizing an intoxicating substance for adults will not keep it out of the hands of our youth—which is why 77% more of Arizona’s youth use alcohol than marijuana today. Making marijuana like alcohol means more adolescents will use more marijuana…just like they do alcohol. And it’s critical to note that today’s marijuana is not the same as it was in decades past—it’s at least five times more potent, practically an entirely different drug.

One month in Colorado is, of course, not the whole story; we recommend reading September’s Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report. This report documents that, since legalization in Colorado, marijuana has been associated with such social fallout as increased homelessness, school suspensions and expulsions, and traffic deaths.

It couldn’t be clearer: Arizonans should not want this for its families and communities, and we certainly do not need it.

Seth Leibsohn is the host of The Seth Leibsohn Show on 960am/KKNT. Sheila Polk is the Yavapai County Attorney. Respectively, they are the Chair and Vice-Chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.

Guest Opinion: The New Reefer Madness: A Very Bad Idea

Marijuana

By Seth Leibsohn

Since just the beginning of this year, local media—both television news and print—have publicized and promoted at least 10 stories on the effort to legalize recreational marijuana use in Arizona. Two bills are being sponsored in the state Legislature and an initiative aimed at our  electorate for 2016 is being drafted. Little has been said or written as to why all of this is a very bad idea for our state and our country. But it is just that, a very bad idea.

Almost every argument in favor of legalization is, quite simply, wrong. At the economic level, we are told the revenues from legalization would boost our state budget and help solve our deficit. That was a promise made by the pro-legalization movement in Colorado, which predicted $40 million a year for school construction and $30 million for general state funds from marijuana taxes in the state. But, as the non-partisan Tax Foundation found, the numbers thus far have come nowhere close, making it “unlikely to even meet that $40 million need each year, leaving nothing for enforcement costs.”

Ask any governor of any state if they would rather keep all the revenue from alcohol and tobacco taxes or all the monies alcohol and tobacco abuse costs the state, and you’d get the same answer: The costs of substance abuse to each and every state are never even close to covered by the revenues generated by the taxes on those substances. As President Barack Obama’s former senior advisor on drug policy, Dr. Kevin Sabet, has put it, “[S]ocietal costs that accompany increased marijuana use will significantly outweigh any gains in tax revenue. Our experience with alcohol and tobacco shows that for every one dollar gained in taxes, 10 dollars are lost in social costs.”

Criminalizing alcohol and tobacco would be nearly impossible and equally ill-advised at this point. I am not advocating that at all. But adding one more dangerous substance to the list of already too many legal and dangerous substances is pure madness. The debate as to whether marijuana is more or less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco is irrelevant. We need, rather, to understand that marijuana is just, plain dangerous; and adding one more dangerous product (regardless of degree of danger) is more than a bad idea; it is public policy malfeasance.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported just last year that marijuana use by adolescents is associated with everything from increased risk of depression and anxiety to psychosis. And, it “exacerbates the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia.” Marijuana use is also associated with impaired school performance and increases the risk of dropping out of high school. In lay terms, marijuana damages the brain, especially the teen brain. Society has made tremendous strides in marginalizing and thus decreasing the use of cigarette smoking—which negatively affects the lungs and hearts of smokers. It is curious, then, that more and more are now turning toward legalizing a product that not only damages the lungs (like cigarettes), but also the brain.

Many adults think marijuana is relatively harmless based on their experiences in high school and college a generation or more ago. But that marijuana is not today’s marijuana. Today’s marijuana is a different drug, with THC levels reaching into the 20 and 30 percent range of potency, as opposed to the one-and-a-half to five percent potency of the 1970s and 1980s. And it is getting stronger by the day as vendors compete to provide ever stronger affects with an ever more potent product.

The quest to legalize marijuana at the state level is also an unconstitutional nullification of federal law—as a range of Supreme Court Justices from Anthony Kennedy to Stephen Breyer to Antonin Scalia agree. It also negatively impacts other states as pot sold “legally” in one state flows across borders and causes problems in neighboring states, thus nullifying those states’ decisions to remain within the law. Indeed, some 44 percent of the marijuana sold in Colorado is sold to citizens of other states.
Despite what many say—either from unfamiliarity with the science or because of a political point of view or because some people simply want to get high legally—marijuana is dangerous. Making it legal will cost society more in financial and human damage than can ever be made up for by the false promise of tax revenue. And it will further destigmatize what every study on marijuana use and stigmatization has shown: the more society explains the dangers of marijuana, the less it is used; the more society countenances it, the more it is used.  Marijuana is illegal not because of bad policy but because it causes a lot of problems—a lot more than we will ever be able to apologize for if we unload this dangerous product on, and in to, more and more of our state’s and nation’s youth, which is—like alcohol and tobacco—where it will end up and do the most damage.

Seth Leibsohn is the host of The Seth Leibsohn Show, airing nightly on KKNT/960 am, and a Senior Fellow with the Claremont Institute.

Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen –
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.