Our children, teens and young adults have so many challenges today. If you care about their futures, please vote No on Proposition 207.
The most common argument used in favor of legalization is the belief it will bring in tax revenue, but it always comes in much lower than promised to voters. During Colorado’s recent teacher’s strike, so many residents asked, ‘what happened to the marijuana money going to schools?’ In all states with adult-use marijuana, tax revenues from marijuana fall far below projections and account for less than one percent of revenue.
Once a state introduces recreational marijuana, loopholes allow consumers to get medical marijuana cards and buy at a lower tax rate. Furthermore, legalization doesn’t get rid of black markets, which grow more robust after legalization. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the California’s marijuana is black market, a reason that California is only getting approximately 40 percent of the tax revenue promised to voters on the ballot four years ago.
In the states with commercialized marijuana stores, the teens who use it manage to get ahold of the most potent varieties available. In Colorado last year, 52% of teen marijuana users were using “dabs,” which contain 40-90% THC, and one third of them were vaping THC.
The marijuana industry, like Big Tobacco, obfuscates and thwarts all sensible regulation such as caps on THC levels. In Colorado and Washington, the public and legislators tried to require caps on THC, the most psychoactive component of the drug. Both attempts failed, because the industry makes greater profits out of high-potency products such as concentrates and edibles. Today’s marijuana has at least 10 times more THC than “Woodstock weed.”
Adolescent pot use greatly increases the risk for long-term mental health issues. Most teens don’t know of the risk when they start, and many of them falsely think it’s safer than alcohol. Children with existing disadvantages, such as poverty, minority status, learning disabilities or a high amount of trauma, referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences, are harmed the most by early onset marijuana use.
Many people who support legalization do so for social justice reasons, thinking that drug is illegal in order to maintain systemic racism. Social justice advocates — who have legitimate concerns – may be disappointed to find that legalization has not fulfilled the social and racial justice outcomes that were promised by legalization. Discrepancies in the arrest rates of white, black and brown continue after legalization and in some cases grew.
Dispensaries are overwhelmingly owned by whites. Legalization unfairly causes more harm in minority and low income neighborhoods. One Hispanic neighborhood in Denver has a dispensary for every 47 residents. We argue that social justice is a reason not to legalize marijuana.
States with commercial marijuana, both medical and recreational, allow types of advertising such as billboards, which are completely banned for all tobacco products.
Data on traffic fatalities in Washington, the second state to open marijuana stores, shows that bicyclists and pedestrians were 6 times more likely to be killed by a marijuana positive driver than an alcohol-impaired driver. The percentage of traffic fatalities caused by marijuana impairment doubled in Washington after legalization.
Many of us parents against legalization don’t judge those who use marijuana, but we object to the advertising, the promotion of it and calling it harmless. Of course our addiction epidemic and rate of overdose deaths will not improve at the same time we’re legalizing pot. A recent study showed that “Early initiation of marijuana is a dominant predictor of Opioid Use Disorder.”
Those who care about the drug epidemic, as it relates to adolescents and adolescent marijuana use, should follow Parent Movement 2.0 and Smart Colorado, as well as our website, PopPot.org. Our alliance will soon form another campaign, Every Brain Matters.
Only a few players, mainly large corporations, even some with investments from Big Tobacco, benefit from the commercialization of marijuana. By all other measures, it’s failed policy.
Julie Schauer serves as Vice President of Parents Opposed to Pot, a nationwide non-profit aimed at preventing youth marijuana use by educating the parents.