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Marijuana legalization is far from inevitable

Arizona students say they got pot from card holders

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Since the 2012 election, national news coverage about marijuana has focused almost solely on the states of Colorado and Washington, creating the impression the country is moving toward legalization. But anti-marijuana forces actually won most of the contests in 2012 and in 2010, and lost only when outspent by large margins.

So if the Arizona Legislature refers Proposition 203 back to the voters, which Rep. John Kavanagh has proposed, we will not be out of step with the rest of the country. A look at recent votes shows why:

In the past two elections, voters in four states considered initiatives to legalize pot. This year, Washington and Colorado voted “yes,” while Oregon voted “no.” Two years ago, California voted “no.”

In those same two elections, another four states voted on medical marijuana. The initiative in Massachusetts passed with 63 percent of the vote, while Arizona’s squeaked by with 50.1 percent. In Arkansas and South Dakota, the ballot measures were defeated.

So when voters considered legalization and medical marijuana, each side won half the contests. But there were also ballot measures to allow marijuana dispensaries in states where medical use was already legal, and the marijuana lobby lost those every time.

In 2012, five California cities voted on initiatives that would have allowed dispensaries; all five voted it down. In 2010, Oregon voters rejected a similar initiative. These two liberal West Coast states where voters saw the real-world effect of medical marijuana up close are apparently having second thoughts. Reconsidering Prop. 203 would be an expression of the same concerns.

That’s how the voting went, but money really explains how tenuous the pro-marijuana victories are. In Colorado, the marijuana lobby spent $3.5 million while opponents of legalization brought in only $700,000. In Washington, it was even more lopsided. The marijuana lobby spent

$6 million, while opponents had just $16,000. That’s 375 to 1. It’s not easy to get out your message against those odds.

Money also mattered in the two states that passed medical marijuana laws. In Arizona, opponents were outspent $800,000 to $25,000. In Massachusetts, it was $1 million against a mere $600.

This financial advantage makes a big difference. First, it can cost several hundred thousand dollars to get an initiative on the ballot. So if it passes, and the public later decides they were misled and so-called “medical” pot goes mostly to drug abuse, it can be prohibitively expensive to get the issue back to the voters.

Second, marijuana advocates depend on misleading the public to win elections. Opponents can defeat these initiatives only if they can expose the deception.

For example, to pass medical marijuana laws, the marijuana lobby runs ads designed to give the impression that the law is only for serious illnesses like cancer. That’s what happened in Arizona. And without money, opponents couldn’t tell voters that in most medical marijuana states, over 90 percent of the pot goes to people who claim pain, not serious illness.

The marijuana lobby told voters in Washington that regulating marijuana would keep it out of the hands of teenagers. However, states with medical marijuana laws have much higher rates of teenage marijuana use, even when it’s strictly regulated. Voters never heard that message.

In Arizona, the Marijuana Policy Project called its campaign “Stop Arresting Patients.”  They wanted us to picture grannies in prison, doing their knitting surrounded by tattooed gang-bangers. But the marijuana lobby was never able to name a single genuine patient in jail or prison on a simple possession charge. That’s because there aren’t any; no one is arresting genuine medical patients. The whole premise of their campaign was false, but opponents couldn’t get that message out.

Pro-marijuana initiatives have succeeded so far only because proponents can vastly outspend the opposition. And despite that advantage, they still lost most of the recent votes. In the California and Oregon legalization battles, pro-marijuana forces outspent opponents by more than 10 to one, and were still defeated. When opponents have the resources to fight back, they win.

So don’t assume that Americans are ready to legalize pot, or that Arizonans are happy with their medical marijuana law. If that were true, the marijuana lobby wouldn’t be spending millions trying to convince us.

— Carolyn Short is an attorney and chairperson of Keep AZ Drug Free, an organization that opposes legalization and medical marijuana laws.

69 comments

  1. You answered what the legalizers want:

    Profit, more profit and more profit

    You know darn well marijuana cannot be regulated. In Northern California, legal medical pot growers use so many pesticides that it is ruining the water and also messing up the ORGANIC FARMERS.

    As Mayor Blumberg said, “If you take marijuana away from the pot dealers, they’ll just sell more cocaine.” You’ll also get the human – trafficking etc.

    Just as we can’t control people using drugs, GOVERNMENT Will not be able to regulate its usage either……..I don’t think you believe it, either. That’s why they want it legal, more profit.

  2. Mr. Schaffer,

    You can thank the train engineer who was high on pot and killed 14 passengers back in 1987. He is the one who is responsible for the government passing laws about drug testing in the workplace. (Also, his brakeman, who could have backed him up, had been smoking pot.)

    Because of that anyone who is doing drug testing is providing a tremendous service and saving lives. It’s about time MADD takes on the drivers who are high on pot; it should not be limited to alcohol.

    Here’s a great website: http://www.facebook.com/AllRise.org

  3. “You answered what the legalizers want:

    Profit, more profit and more profit”

    I told you the only three possible choices for who will run the trade and you didn’t answer. You seem to have a real problem with answering direct questions. (Just FYI, that is pretty typical of prohibitionists. They aren’t much for real conversations.)

    Once again, there are only three choices for who will run the trade – Government, Private Business, or Organized Crime. You need to explain why you think Organized Crime is the best choice.

    “You know darn well marijuana cannot be regulated. In Northern California, legal medical pot growers use so many pesticides that it is ruining the water and also messing up the ORGANIC FARMERS.”

    If it was legal and regulated, the people growing it would be the same people growing your standard food crops in the Central Valley of California, and under the same rules.

    “As Mayor Blumberg said, “If you take marijuana away from the pot dealers, they’ll just sell more cocaine.” You’ll also get the human – trafficking etc.”

    So your argument is that we need to keep marijuana illegal, so the drug dealers will have nice profits, because, if we don’t, they will just do something worse. In other words, we don’t really mean to stamp out marijuana. If we did, we would have to have the government grow it, and then sell it to the cartels, who would sell it illegally, and then we would bust them for selling it. All to keep them from selling cocaine.

    Yeah, it all makes a lot of sense.

    “Just as we can’t control people using drugs, GOVERNMENT Will not be able to regulate its usage either……..I don’t think you believe it, either.”

    Yeah, just like alcohol can’t be regulated, therefore prohibition of alcohol is better. right?

    ” That’s why they want it legal, more profit.”

    There are only three choices for who will get that profit — Government, Private Business, or Organized Crime. Once again, it is up to you to explain why Organized Crime is the best choice to spend all those tens of billions.

    So tell us — who do you think is the best choice to run this trade and why? Or are you completely unable to answer simple, direct questions?

  4. “You can thank the train engineer who was high on pot and killed 14 passengers back in 1987. He is the one who is responsible for the government passing laws about drug testing in the workplace. (Also, his brakeman, who could have backed him up, had been smoking pot.) ”

    You have no clue, Julie. All this happened long before that.

    “Because of that anyone who is doing drug testing is providing a tremendous service and saving lives.”

    Sorry, but there is no evidence that it saves any lives. There isn’t even any evidence that it reduces drug problems in the work place. That is not to mention that alcohol causes far more problems in the workplace than all the illegal drugs combined, and drug tests never catch that, simply because it passes out of the body too quickly.

    You can spend your weekend completely blitzed on alcohol, heroin, and speed, and still test fine for work on Monday, even though you are in no shape to work. So, even if drug testing really worked as they claimed, it still wouldn’t be any good at catching the really major problems.

    “It’s about time MADD takes on the drivers who are high on pot; it should not be limited to alcohol.”

    In terms of dangers on the road, marijuana isn’t even a blip on the radar compared to alcohol. If you are campaigning for the prohibition of marijuana for this reason — and not waging a campaign 100 times larger for the prohibition of alcohol — then you are just being completely hypocritical. Not that the marijuana laws ever had anything to do with intoxicated driving, anyway. They came up with that excuse only because people stopped believing that mj will turn you into a bat. (You did stop believing that mj will turn you into a bat, didn’t you? Or are we going to have cover the facts on that, too?)

    “Here’s a great website: http://www.facebook.com/AllRise.org

    Another prohibitionist site full of rah-rahs and cheers for their crusade, but not a single bit of actual research on drug policy.

  5. Very simple question, Julie — Why do you think organized crime is the best choice to run the marijuana trade, make all the rules for production and sales, and spend all the tens of billions that comes from it?

    Why do you have such a problem with simple questions?

  6. Clifford : ) May I put your link on our webpages?

  7. I have never read such silly lies obviously written by either someone real stupid or they are bold face liar.What a horrible state completely controlled by a cult from utah.

  8. Cathy, please do. Education really helps. Thanks.

  9. For those of you sheep who are quoting federal studies, maybe you need to get some facts. First of all there is one Dr and clinic that is paid to only find negative outcomes with our tax dollars. There are dozens of upscale universities who have and are still seeking permission to do studies on the positive effects of marijuana and are denied, denied, denied. So you have a tax paid, one sided, one purpose study to keep the money flowing into privatized prisons, etc and in no way would hold up to scientific facts since it is a one sided trial. Second, if marijuana is so useless why does the US government hold a patent? Why is it that pharmaceutical companies have three countries using pure THC not synthetic and more on the way? Because until the government and the billionaires who don’t give a **** about the rest of us can take total control and profit of this herb they will keep it illegal. Once they pass the congress that this plant can be patented it will become legal and we will be forced to pay Big Pharm for it.
    As a patient who lost her teeth, liver and mind on prescription meds and who is now on two compared to 22 and physically able to function on MMJ I tell you to shove it up your ***.. you are misinformed and need to move forward and stop telling others what works is not good for them. You have no right and marijuana is a safe, clean effective medicine and recreational use is much safer than any alcohol or Valium. Get real. Do some real research from real sources not the USA propaganda. Its out there and has been for decades.

  10. I like to hear both sides of the arguement but if you can’t even get your facts straight it’s hard to listen. PROP203 HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CANNABIS.

    Here’s my sources words that I confirmed through azleg.gov which took me a while to find since many bill, laws, and propositions go through our state government.

    The Political Spectacle of Arizona’s Proposition 203

    Wayne E. Wright
    University of Texas, San Antonio; Language Policy Research Unit (www.language-policy.org) of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University.

    Abstract

    Arizona’s Proposition 203 places restrictions on bilingual and English-as-asecond-language programs and essentiality mandates English-only education for English language learners (ELLs). This article provides an analysis of this initiative and the wide variations in its interpretation and implementation. Data sources include official policy and related documents, media coverage, and observations of key policy events. The findings provide evidence that Proposition 203 and its implementation are political spectacle, rather than democratic rationale policy making with true concern for ELL students. The analysis focuses on the components of the political spectacle framework evident in the initiative, its campaign(s), and its implementation, including the use of symbolic language, the use of plots and story lines, the creation of leaders (heroes) and enemies, the evoking of symbols of rationality, and distinctions between on-stage and off-stage actions. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications for English language learners in Arizona.

    How do you connect banning Bilingual studies in school with legalizing pot? Also I have a few friends 50+ y/o who are in jail for a minor possession charge.

    Another fun fact, we have canibinol receptors in our brain and and the only known substance on this planet to trigger these receptors are TetraHydro9canibinol, Or THC. (The most active ingrediant in Cannabis)
    The other 20 anti-carcinagens need to be studied further (which with marijuana being a schedual 1 drug makes any form of research illegal) Ciggarettes have many CARCINIGENS.

    Studies show that smoking 1 joint a day for 7 years or 1 joint a week for 49 years has no adverse affect on the lungs. Also people say marijuana kills braincells (which are reproduced daily mind you) but they never consider that like cigarettes you are inhaling carbonmonoxide, which kills brain cells. Another study show’s THC affects the short term memory but actively stimulates the brain. (Ie. you won’t have strong memories of whats going on while you’re high but you make more and stronger connections. For instance if I asked you to list all the words you can that start with the letter r before smoking you will undoubtedly come up with fewer words somber then you would when you’re high.)

    My final arguement to this intelectually insulting article is look at alcohol. We banned alcohol and during prohibition we figured out we should re-legalize it. Look at all the prisons that we have built since the nixon administration, nearly all the new convicts in these newly built prison are only guilty of being pot-heads.

  11. A blog can never be questioned because you are free anything you want but I highly and positively questioned the blogger for posting this kind of blog. I am really impressed and amazed what a kind of knowledge the blogger has. The passion of blogging in this website shows a lot what kind of personality has the blogger. Congrats for a job well done. I salute your article content!

  12. This article give the appearance that the person writing this article has a financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal. This is nothing more than ignorant prohibitionist garbage. The reason that many of these states had more money for medical or legalization is that no one supports the ignorance of prohibition, nor do they want to support the criminal activity that prohibition encourages. Well at least no one with any common sense and a wallet.

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