Adult-use marijuana a failed policy, vote no on Prop 207


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.”

Julie Schauer
Julie Schauer

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.

Group to write alternative to recreational marijuana ballot proposal

A group of businesses has united to oppose the initiative being circulated to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

But it’s not that members of the Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce want to keep all adults from being able to use the drug. It’s that they don’t like some of the provisions – particularly one that would give the companies that already sell medical marijuana a virtual monopoly on the recreational market.

So now they’re crafting their own version in hopes that lawmakers who share similar sentiments will put theirs on the 2020 ballot as an alternative.

“We’re pro adult use,” said Mason Cave, a member of the advisory board which is composed of some independent dispensaries, consultants and suppliers.  “We just think there’s a better way to do it than what the initiative has proposed.”

Issue No. 1 is who gets to sell the drug.

As originally crafted, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act would have not just limited the number of licenses to about 130 but reserved virtually all of them to the companies – and some multi-state corporations – that already are allowed to sell medical marijuana to patients.

A slightly revised version filed this past week adds 26 “social equity” licenses to the mix, with provisions for additional shops in rural areas with no dispensaries or just one.

But Cave told Capitol Media Services that his members still find that lacking, calling it a “drug cartel-ish approach to the whole situation.” That, he said, isn’t fair to others.

“They basically removed the green rush and the idea of being able to go out and start your own business in this wonderful new industry,” Cave said, keeping it to themselves.

Stacy Pearson
Stacy Pearson

The initiative is being financed largely by several major multi-state players in the marijuana industry including CuraLeaf and Harvest Enterprises, both of which already have multiple dispensaries in Arizona. But Stacy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the campaign, argued that giving the initial licenses to existing medical marijuana dispensaries and the overall limits both make sense.

For the former, she said it ensures that if voters approve recreational marijuana in 2020 that there will be a network of shops already in place and already regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services for people to buy the drug.

As to the limits – one for every 10 pharmacies in the state – Pearson argued that would keep Arizona communities from looking like sections of Denver with marijuana shop after marijuana shop.

“Folks don’t want it everywhere,” she said. “They want them discreet and limited.”

But Cave said that is a manufactured fear, pointing out that existing Arizona law limits where dispensaries can be located to certain non-residential zones.

“It’s very difficult to find sites that work currently for zoning medical marijuana,” he said.

So how many licenses does Cave and his group think should be allowed?

He has no answer, saying it should be “somewhere between 126, which is probably too few, and one on every street corner.” That detail, said Cave, is still to be worked out.

“But it’s not the right thing to do to say, ‘This is better and we’ll control all the licenses and not have one on every corner,’ ” he said. “I think that’s a little disingenuous.”

Isela Blanc
Isela Blanc

Those limits in the initiative also have caught the attention of Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe.

Blanc said she is studying the revisions and understands that there are opportunities for some new licenses. But she isn’t sure that goes far enough.

“It’s still a form of monopolization of an industry,” she sad.

Cave said his organization has other issues with the initiative.

One is the 16 percent tax on sales. Backers say the $300 million a year that would be generated would help fund community colleges, public safety and health.

But Cave said a levy that high could be counterproductive.

“We’re watching what’s going on in Colorado with the black market,” he said, with a certain amount of marijuana still being sold outside the legal dispensary system because it is cheaper.

And Cave questions whether it makes sense to have the health department regulate the dispensaries and, more to the point, police the sales to ensure that minors are not able to purchase the drug. He said it might make more sense to put those responsibilities into the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control which already does similar enforcement to prevent alcohol sales to minors.

Blanc, like Cave, wants the measure crafted by the Legislature. But she is hoping that lawmakers agree to enact the plan themselves rather than what Cave wants to simply putting an alternative on the 2020 ballot alongside the other initiative.

She conceded that convincing some of her colleagues to vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana could prove difficult. But Blanc said she believes that as lawmakers study the issue and as they see repeat polls showing strong public support for adult use they will recognize that it makes more sense for them to craft a program they find acceptable.

“If we don’t do it, Arizonans will,” she said.

And there’s something else.

If there are flaws or tweaks needed in a legislative plan, changes are possible, requiring a simple majority of the House and Senate along with the governor.

But the Voter Protection Act of the Arizona Constitution says that anything approved at the ballot needs a three-fourths vote of the Legislature to alter. And even then, changes are permitted only if they “further the purpose” of the original measure.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he recognizes that distinction and believes that if there is to be recreational use of marijuana it should be under rules approved by lawmakers and subject to alterations.