A citizen initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona filed petitions on Thursday to appear on the November ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 258,582 total signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State.
150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters are needed to place the measure on the ballot. The secretary of state is expected to determine whether the initiative has qualified by late August. While proponents say they have turned in petitions with more than enough valid signatures to qualify, Arizona’s leaders are weighing-in for or against the measure.
Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen stated, “As a policy maker I have the responsibility to balance a budget each year with pressure to find the funds for many programs, some of these programs are directly related to the consequences of drug addiction creating a pressure on society. This strain on the General Fund diverts money from education and other constitutionally required issues that we must fund.”
“The argument that legalizing drugs will solve law enforcement and incarceration problems is not looking at the real problem and that is addiction.” Allen continued, “How does legalizing any drug solve that problem? When sociality says something is legal then our citizens especially our children think that means it is ok not being aware of the dangers that addictions bring. I encourage our citizens to really research the 22 pages of new law being proposed and to try and foresee the future consequences to our society and the strain that will continue to fund social programs that are directing a result of drug addiction.”
State Representative Bob Thorpe stated, “Marijuana is a harmful, addictive drug, and growing, selling and using it is against Federal Law. According to the American Lung Association, it has over 30-cancer causing compounds and 6-times the amount of tar as seen in tobacco cigarettes. After years of the ‘war on tobacco’, do we really want to legalize a new product that causes respiratory disease, when the smoke and secondhand smoke is inhaled, so that powerful corporate marijuana companies can be further enriched? Do we really want our children and pets to die when they overdose on edibles, as has happened in Colorado and Washington State? No we don’t… vote no on Recreational Marijuana.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas stated, “I believe we need a public school system that delivers the great education that all Arizona children deserve. When we look for new ways to support that system, we must not be seduced by the minimal profits gained from the legalization of an evil drug like marijuana. Our children deserve better and we must all work together to find a more appropriate way to give our schools the resources they need to be successful.”
Pamela Powers Hannley, candidate for Arizona’s Legislative District 9 stated, “I believe there are humanitarian and financial reasons for marijuana legalization. As far as the humanitarian reasons, there was a study by Harvard Medical Scholl just a couple of years ago that said states that had had medical marijuana for five years or more had a twenty-five percent decrease in death from opiate overdose. That is a huge benefit. Arizona has an opiate overdose problem, not a marijuana problem. There are medicinal and metabolic benefits to regular use. Some research studies have been published in the American Journal of Medicine, where I work. It is expensive and complicated to get a medical marijuana card. More people would be able to benefit from the medicinal benefits of marijuana if it were legalized. As far as economic reasons, I think that we have to look at the mass incarceration issue. Too many people are being jailed and arrested for a plant that never killed anybody. I think we should stop that. I think that is a waste of money, and it is discriminatory. If you’re a black or brown man, you are far more likely to be stuck in jail for pot. So yes, I think it should be legalized.”
Powers Hannley concluded, “All of this and the sales tax revenue. The decreased opiate overdose death alone should be a reason to legalize it. The Arizona Department of Health Services should look at our data to see if Arizona has seen a similar drop.”
Mark Napier, a retired police captain and current candidate for Pima County Sheriff stated, “I was a law enforcement officer for 28 years and possess a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice. While a law enforcement officer, I served in the DUI Squad and was certified as a Drug Recognition Expert. I can offer an opinion of the RTMA based on education, experience and training.”
Napier continued, “I have reviewed the RTMA in its entirety. This is bad legislation and bad public policy. I have reviewed the response drafted by the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy and I concur with its analysis. I would add that as a drug, marijuana is fundamentally different than alcohol. This complicates significantly determining thresholds for legal impairment and levels of THC in the system necessary to substantiate impairment. Marijuana is a fat-soluble drug and can remain detectable for up to 30 days. We do not have a firm scientific basis for establishing that XX nanograms of THC in the system constitutes legal impairment. Conversely, there is a basis for .08 BAC for alcohol impairment. Therefore, in the case of any employment action, accident or other event where impairment was an important element we would face tremendous difficulties and unknown liabilities. Finally, like all drugs, marijuana is not harmless. To suggest that there would be no health consequences, increased societal costs or higher potential for abuse as the result of the RTMA is simply false.”
State Representative Mark Finchem stated, “During my career as a cop on the street I saw so many young lives ruined, promising talent wasted and people living in enslavement because they would rather get high than work. I remember programs like D.A.R.E. and the “JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS” campaign to keep children, adolescents and adults off of drugs? I believe we all want what is best for our children and adolescents, but engaging in a pro-drug distribution campaign, and failing to learn from the failures seen in Colorado with their official experimentation in expanding the drug culture make me wonder; have we lost our focus on being the best we can be? Or are we more focused on killing the pain that is brought on by personal failure?”
Finchem continued, “Using the “it will increase tax revenue” claim, that more money will go to schools and teacher pay is cynical at best, and is in my mind absurd, especially in light of what we have seen with Prop 123 money that was supposed to be injected into the classroom. Instead, that money has been hijacked for other purposes, but I digress.”
“The claims of the pro-drug proliferation proposition and those who support its passage remind me of all the past “government program” failures brought to us by federal, state and local governments. Our schools are already fighting a massive drug problem, administrators in our government schools explain that from marijuana to heroine, the drug culture has expanded to late elementary school. I expect to see a massive expansion of government bureaucracy to regulate this poorly though out public policy. With regulation comes expanded police powers, and I am surprised that those supporting this measure actually want to see government expansion,” stated Finchem.
“We already have a problem with parents opting to get high instead of caring for their children; we are fighting the battle to get CPS under control and I expect this proposition if it passes to add even more cases to the already overwhelmed case load. If we as a society really care about our children, if children’s lives matter, we will not permit this initiative to pass. In my opinion, this proposition is one of the worse public policy moves I’ve seen,” concluded Finchem.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery stated, “The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act represents the very worst of special interests funding initiatives to promote their own goals. The people who will pay for their greed are the families who will lose loved ones to marijuana impaired drivers, teens who will suffer from the effects of high potency marijuana, and businesses who won’t be able to maintain a quality workforce or discipline those who show up high on the job. Say no to greed. Say no to RTMA.”
Lea Marquez Peterson, President/CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, stated, “The business community should be wary of this proposition. It greatly diminishes employers’ rights to regulate their workplace and provide a safe environment for their employees. As a state, we should be focusing on bringing high paying jobs and new businesses to Tucson – and to the state. We should not be fighting to add another addictive substance and government entity to our community.”
“This proposition will not accomplish anything its supporters say,” Seth Leibsohn, Chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP) said. “It does not permit limited amounts, it allows for twelve marijuana plants per household—pounds of marijuana. It also would allow hundreds of marijuana gummy bears per person. It will not eliminate the black market, just as it has not in Colorado or Washington. It will lead to more youth use, just as it has in Colorado and Washington. It will lead to expanded use in the rest of the population, worse education outcomes, and more traffic accidents, just as it has in Colorado and Washington. And the revenue to the state will be less than negligible, all the while increasing the costs to the state for such things as treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, accidents, enforcement, criminal violations and true education deficits. This proposition upends decades and decades of good and hard prevention work while at the same time negatively affecting everything from our health, education, welfare, and law enforcement systems.”
“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” said Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. We look forward to continuing the public conversation about the initiative, and we think most will agree it is a sensible step forward for our state.”