Today: Jul 06 , 2020

Opinion: Don’t be Fooled
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28 June 2020   Cathi Herrod

The president of the Center for Arizona Policy's thoughts on the marijuana initiative.

We find out next week which initiatives will likely be on the November ballot. The requisite signatures are due Thursday, July 2. The latest count indicates the “Smart and Safe Act” has far exceeded the 237,645 needed signatures to qualify. If those signatures prove valid, Arizonans will, again, vote on legalizing recreational marijuana come November.

We’ve learned a lot about the so-called "Smart and Safe Act" since its filing last summer, and it's not good. The initiative was written by people inside the marijuana industry - people who stand to make a lot of money if it passes. They were careful to ensure a steady stream of customers, and shield themselves from regulation, while couching details in confusing language.

The big marijuana companies behind the initiative claim they fixed problems Arizonans rejected in 2016, such as road safety, teen use, marketing to children, workplace safety, and dangerous potency levels. But like the new name, this recreational marijuana initiative deceives.

The Truth About the New Marijuana Measure:

It does nothing to address stoned drivers. In fact, it eliminates current law that prohibits driving with THC in one’s system. Instead, it states, “driving while impaired remains illegal” (emphasis added). But it gives no standard of determining impairment. Most concerning, it does nothing to address the increased dangers to our families on the road, as evident in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In Washington State, marijuana related traffic deaths almost tripled after legalization. In Colorado, nearly 70% of users admit driving stoned, a third admit doing it daily. And there is no reliable roadside testing to gauge stoned drivers like there is for drunk drivers.

It limits potency of only edibles – and not by much. The 10 mg of THC per serving limit on edibles creates a false sense of security, considering they hide ten servings in one cookie or candy bar. And there are no THC limits on joints, or waxes and concentrates -which can be up to 95% THC.

It ties the hands of employers who want to keep a drug-free environment. Employers can only prohibit marijuana use on the premises or while working. There is nothing to stop employees from using it elsewhere, and then going to work at a daycare, elderly care facility, or work site.

Marijuana insiders reap the economic benefits. The initiative puts a 16% cap on marijuana taxes, regardless of the increased associated costs in health care, law enforcement, and more. Colorado spends $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization for every dollar it generates in marijuana tax revenue. And contrary to common belief, the measure allocates no money to K-12 education.

It doesn’t discourage teen use and still markets to kids. Penalties for underage use are petty offenses that will likely go unenforced and will do little to deter underage users. Teens caught with marijuana would face more lenient consequences than underage drinkers. Under this Act, new teen users would no longer be eligible for court drug treatment programs. And it allows THC-laced gummies and other snacks that appeal to kids.

There’s more, but five minutes goes fast. You can read more about the harms of legalizing recreational marijuana here. CAP is working with Arizonans for Health and Public Safety to educate voters leading up to the November election. Follow AZHPS at azhealthysafe.com, where there will soon be a wealth of information to help get the truth out about the hidden dangers in this initiative.

A final thought: Remember that in Arizona, once voters pass a ballot initiative, legislators cannot make fixes, adjustments, or corrections except to further the measure’s purpose. So, regardless of the consequences, we would be locked in.