Opposition to medical marijuana law not a good political prescription
Published: March 18, 2013 at 9:32 am
As the father of two young boys, I have great respect for the good work of Keep Arizona Drug Free, even as I may disagree with their political punditry, as expressed in the Feb. 22 commentary “Marijuana legalization is far from inevitable.”
The point of the piece was seemingly to give political safe harbor to elected officials seeking to re-vote and repeal Arizona’s thrice- approved medical marijuana law.
It did so with red herrings, mixing observations about full marijuana legalization and medical marijuana programs.
But the current discussion isn’t about full legalization. It is about whether Arizona voters will be respected and whether a well-regulated medical marijuana program will have a chance to prove itself here.
I do not wish to re-litigate the 2010 campaign that enabled the current program. There are good people and arguments on both sides.
But when an advocacy organization goes astray to mistakenly play political consultant, it justifies a response.
The opinion piece observed that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act “squeaked by” in 2010, yet failed to note it was the most Republican turnout since 1994. If the same matter would have been on the 2012 ballot “handily” might be a more apt description of how it would have passed.
That’s why two different and recent polls show support increasing in Arizona from the margin in 2010. A poll from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed a 22-point increase. A survey of likely voters from Republican-leaning Summit Group showed a 16-point increase.
Others can focus on other states and circumstances. These are the facts in Arizona. Medical marijuana has been approved three times. And the margin of support is growing not diminishing. But others shouldn’t just take our word for it. Take the time, draft good questions and pay for a statewide survey. You will find the results to be no different.
In providing cover to those wanting to insult Arizona voters with repeal, the argument cited disproportionate spending in support of successful campaigns. But wouldn’t that be an indictment of just about every person currently serving in the Arizona State Legislature, most of whom outspent their opponents to win? Support typically flocks to merit. There are exceptions of course, but to suggest medical marijuana has gained approval because of lopsided resources — in the face of opposition from law enforcement and the federal government — is to again insult voter intellect.
And can we finally disabuse the discussion that medical marijuana has contributed to more marijuana use among children since passage? It’s actually gone down according to the Arizona Youth Survey, commissioned by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.
Finally, if readers are confused by the back and forth, perhaps we should engage former U.S. Attorney Melvin McDonald as a referee. On these same pages he wrote one of the most compelling guest columns in defense of any issue — “As a former U.S. attorney, here’s why I support the medical marijuana law,” published Feb. 15. After Mayo, Barrow and UCLA all failed his seizure-plagued son, medical marijuana delivered. Now that’s a person and a story that’s a real chronic pain… for those seeking to deny voters and patients the choices and rights they deserve.
— Jason Rose is president and founder of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations. The company provides public relations services to the Regulated Dispensaries Association of Arizona.