Home / Opinion / Commentary / Arizona should improve education rather than making it worse by legalizing marijuana

Arizona should improve education rather than making it worse by legalizing marijuana

Is anyone satisfied with the state of education in Arizona in relation to funding and test scores?

Then why would Arizona legalize a dangerous drug shown to increase high school drop outs, lower IQs, induce memory loss, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucination?

With considerable discussion about Arizona’s education funding, along with high school and college graduation rates, shouldn’t we do all we can to improve our state of education instead of making it much worse by legalizing marijuana?


Rep. Paul Boyer

Out of state special interest groups have already begun to aggressively push recreational marijuana here in Arizona. By now, some Phoenicians have seen advertisements claiming marijuana provides little harm. They base this claim on a fraudulent study involved in a pay to publish scheme.

A former editor of the journal Scientific Reports that published this study resigned in a public protest because the authors paid to have their work quickly reviewed by a private company. This means the study in question lost any claims to objectivity normally associated with the careful review of peer reviewed, scholarly research.

As for the substance of the study, the authors use what they say is “a novel approach to compare the health risk of different compounds and to prioritize risk management actions.” Novel indeed. This novel approach revealed that, beyond marijuana, every drug they studied was safer than alcohol, including cocaine, heroin and meth. One does not need to meet a meth, coke, or heroin addict to know how absurd this claim is.

Further, states that have already legalized marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, have seen a dramatic spike in marijuana exposure to children. The Journal Clinical Pediatrics has also found an over 600 percent increase in the amount of marijuana exposure to children six and under in states with marijuana-friendly legislation. This 2015 study suggests, “the rate of marijuana exposure among children is associated with the number of marijuana users.” This means if Arizona chooses legalization, we will see many more children exposed to marijuana, primarily through ingestion.

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. These effects are “strongly associated with marijuana use early in adolescence.”

It gets even worse. They also found effects of chronic bronchitis symptoms, and an increased risk of psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia).

This is something every well-meaning adult voter should consider before pulling the lever to vote for recreational marijuana in Arizona next year.

Meanwhile, the out-of-state special interests pushing legalization will not have to deal with the consequences of marijuana exposure to our children. Instead, parents, teachers, and the 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 that would be if we introduce a substance into society that will nullify, if not reverse, everything we are trying 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 Rep. Paul Boyer is the chair of the House Education Committee, a member of the House Health Committee, and teaches 10th grade Humane Letters. 


  1. Cannabis is good, get a life bro.

  2. Pure lies. So boring.

  3. What kind of jouranalism is this? No accurate information in there at all….. Marijuana increases your chance of stds? Are you kidding me? Your on the wrong side of history my friend.

  4. Only a complete idiot could possibly think legalizing marijuana is going to affect high school students, especially in this state. I never had an issue getting pot in Arizona’s high school back when it was illegal. This state is filled with drugs, probably because the populace is ruled by a government filled with out-of-touch politicians like this guy. Maybe if you did a better job as a politician in listening to the educated Arizona public’s opinion, we wouldn’t need drugs to deal with you.

  5. Sorry, the 8 point drop in IQ study failed peer review, it is nonsense. Teen marijuana use has declined in Colorado since legalization. I’m not sure what you are smoking, but that was an absurd attempt to push “reefer madness”. Marijuana use isn’t a crime, it never was an actual crime, and it is time our laws start reflecting basic reality.

  6. You should try researching once in a while. This is the dumbest article I have read by a prohibitionist in a while. Congratulations. You write articles like this while children die from epilepsy and cancer when we now know marijuana would save their lives. I have seen the devil and it lives in this article. Pure lies!

  7. How can you be so blind? We are really tired of hearing these 75 year old lies over and over, no one is buying it any more. Stop pretending it’s “for the kids”. Are you trying to protect your beer company stocks?

  8. The science in this article is accurate. The marijuana lobby has been using bad science and faux-scientific arguments for years. One of the commenters says the 8 point IQ drop failed peer review, but that is not true. It was challenged by people who said the author didn’t calculate for socioeconomic class, so she went back and did that, and still found an IQ drop in teenage marijuana users. These comments should scare people more than anything. Marijuana has been proved over and over to harm the teenage brain, yet people who use it are in denial about the harm it causes and have organized politically to convince the rest of us.

  9. Hello Paul Boyer,

    After reading you’re opinion piece above it would seem you argue your stance from a very weak position.

    1. Legalization doesn’t make Cannabis legal for kids

    2. For over 30 years > 80% of kids have reported Cannabis to be easily obtainable.

    3. IQ drops & other science you list is highly controversial due to it’s lack of consideration to socioeconomic & other details.

    Not only do you ignore the above, you’ve completely ignored the side effects that come with prohibition.

    Kids aren’t stupid. Trying to pass along a disingenuous take on legalization isn’t helping anyone.

    If you actually care anything for the youth in our nation it may be a good time for you to take a step back and reassess your stance.

    Google is your friend. Ignorant suggestions of “faux science” is quite laughable when the science you list is on such unstable ground.

    Have a great day!


  10. The research that they quote involves a small New Zealand study that found that those who begin to use marijuana at a very early age experience problems. That same study failed to see a drop in IQ’s for other age groups that started later. The early group of marijuana users has been studied extensively because they also use other substances earlier. This group also has conduct and impulse control problems that may be responsible for these effects. To generalize these results in the manner that they did is deceptive and not based upon the evidence that they studied.

  11. Associate Prof Simon Denny, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, comments:

    “Overall this paper shows that increasing frequency of cannabis use increases the risk of poor outcomes in adulthood. This paper provides the best evidence to date on the harms of marijuana use during adolescence as it combines three large longitudinal studies that track the lives of children through to adulthood. However as it is not a randomised study, there is still the possibility that adolescents who use marijuana have other aspects of their lives that make them more susceptible to poor outcomes during adulthood. Especially adolescents who use marijuana frequently, these young people are obviously in different family environments from adolescents whose families don’t allow these behaviours.

    “While the authors of this study have attempted to account for the family environments, it remains possible that there differences between adolescents who use marijuana and those who don’t that explain the poor outcomes in adulthood. The other interesting finding in this paper is dose-response relationship between increasing frequency of marijuana use and increasing likelihood of poor outcomes in adulthood. Adolescents with the highest risk of poor outcomes were using daily at some point during adolescence. One question is whether there is a safe level of marijuana use; this paper would suggest there isn’t as all groups had poorer outcomes compared to adolescents who had never used marijuana.”

    Professor Max Abbott, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of technology, comments:

    “This study, drawing together findings from three longitudinal Australian studies, provides the most robust and compelling support for the view that heavy cannabis use during early to mid-adolescence leads to some subsequent adverse mental health and developmental outcomes during later adolescence and early adulthood. Study strengths include its large sample size, longitudinal design and adjustments made for multiple potentially confounding factors. This means that it is likely that it was heavy cannabis use per se that led to lower educational outcomes and higher likelihood of later cannabis dependence, other illicit drug use and suicide attempts, rather than other factors associated with heavy cannabis use. While a degree of doubt remains regarding whether or not these associations are causal, the findings are broadly consistent with those of less adequately designed previous studies.

    “These study findings advance our understanding of the effects of adolescent cannabis use. In my view they give good reason to err on the side of caution and to adopt policies that seek to prevent or delay adolescent cannabis use. That said, this is not reason to oppose reform of cannabis legislation. The 2012 United Nations Drug Report found that New Zealand and Australia have the highest use of cannabis in the world, around three times the international average. The legal status quo is not effective in this country. In my view it has failed to reduce cannabis use, needlessly criminalised tens of thousands of New Zealanders, wasted police and court resources and fuelled organised crime. I believe the adverse health and social costs of current legislation and attempts to enforce it are likely to far outweigh any direct costs of this type stemming directly from cannabis use.

    “In my view there is compelling logic supporting decriminalisation with resulting cost savings contributing to preventative and other measures that are likely to prevent and delay cannabis use. My concern is that the study findings will be misused to support policies and law that fail to do what they are supposedly intended to and overall do more harm than good.


  12. One person is killed every half-hour in the US due to drunk driving. Each year over 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes. Alcohol is a factor in about half of all traffic fatalities. Every 2-3 minutes someone is seriously injured in an alcohol related crash. Beer drinkers are the largest, most lethal, terror group in America. They destroy over 10,000 innocent lives each year and over 88,000 will perish of alcohol related problems. An estimated 20 million cases of beer are sold to Americans for consumption on a typical Super Bowl game day. Some of these people will end up driving drunk. There will be accidents. There will be deaths. There will be fights and domestic violence. There will be people puking, people passed out, and many folks will end up doing things they will really regret the next morning. Some people will die from an alcohol overdose. The narcotic, cancer-causing DRUG, ethanol found in beer, wine and liquor is the leading cause of fatalities for ages 16-20 according to National Institute of Health statistics and the leading cause of date rapes on college campuses across America. Cannabis… none of the above.

  13. We can argue all day over whether or not pot is good or bad for you or has medicinal value. It doesn’t matter because the federal government has no Constitutional authority to tell anyone what they can or cannot put into their own body. The entire “drug war” is unconstitutional. It has cost billions of dollars, destroyed tens of thousands of lives on both sides of the battle, given us the highest incarceration rate per capita of any nation on earth and accomplished absolutely nothing. The serious narcotic addiction rate in the year 2000 was virtually unchanged from that in 1900. Portugal has had tremendous success with ending their drug efforts. More people are getting help with substance abuse and it’s been very lucrative for the treasury. When will we get our heads out of our collective ***?

  14. I am yet to see an addict that would ever accept any scientific study to the contrary of their drug of choice nor likewise consider any collateral damage like an infant trapped in a house for an extended period of time filled with exhaled smoke

    It seem potheads are wrapped up in a conspiracy theory that people are out to get them! Go figure !!

  15. Assuning your premises are true, there is a lack of thought put into your support of policies for handling this “problem.” Marijuana consumption exists, as u know, no matter what prohibition has tried to accomplish we must also deal with this fact. Tax regulate, manage, and turn the “evil” drug into a tool to fight itself like we do tobacco is the sane approach rather than expending even more valuable taxpayer resources on a drug war vs marijuana that has not worked. Call me anytime 520 909 4334 I will explain more and give you evidence not about the merits of consumption but the merits of solving our “problem” in a different manner.

  16. The only ones who are against marijuana legalizations are, Morons, street dealers and gangs, bankers laundering a half trillion a year in tax free profits, and politicians who get graft to keep the banks swimming in blood money. I have 20 years in LE and these criminals are going to pilfer this country and our pensions leaving us to hold the bag, for their tyranny.

  17. I don’t know where he gets his research from, but his assertions about the safety of Marijuana are false. I never put anyone in a body bag for it, but put many for alcohol , cocaine, heroin and even to many energy drinks. But hey, he gets to scare the devil out of seniors.

  18. sorry, “too many energy drinks”

  19. All of you cretins who are defending the use of Marijuana might consider this fact: Everyone who has ever overdosed on hard drugs and died started with Marijuana. There are no exceptions! I am sure all of you will remain true to the code of the dolts. Ignorance is bliss !!!!!

  20. The first fallacy in these arguments that IQ is lower in marijuana users is that IQ tests are by no means an accurate measure of different intelligence’s. There are multiple types of intelligence’s and most IQ tests only measure one type and quite inaccurately at that. The level of mind synchronicity, left right brain coordination, memory, listening ability, rhythmic tempo, hand-eye coordination it takes to be a good musician is a use of the mind that is far beyond the average non-musician. And many of them use marijuana daily. Marijuana obviously stimulates the right brain which governs not only musical ability, but creativity, imagination, intuition, compassion, coordination and much more. Another important use of marijuana is its ability to help the user view his subconscious motivations that are not apparent in a so called conscious state. So it can be idea for spiritual growth. The actual benefits of marijuana requires volumes which is why it is banned in most places. Governments have for many years profited by criminalizing marijuana and denying its numerous medical healing qualities.

  21. Under the guise of protection comes loss of liberties, always. Try parenting it works.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Check Also

Flanked by staffers, Attorney General Mark Brnovich explains Tuesday his decision to use state consumer fraud laws to sue two companies that manufacture and sell vaping devices. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Recovery should be top priority, conservative posturing a distraction

Arizona voters are increasingly realizing that conservative principles no longer serve the best interests of our state, evident in an historic election for Democrats this past cycle. As new officials take up office, and other Democrats plan for critical statewide and local elections in the months and years to come, we should remember that the Brnovich playbook must be left behind.

/* code for tag simpli.fi */