Prop 207 doesn’t simply decriminalize marijuana. That could have been done in a page or two. Marijuana sellers, instead, wrote 17-pages of changes to Arizona law, creating a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for themselves, at the cost of Arizonans. The sweeping changes in Prop 207 would impact current laws governing driving impairment, workplace safety, as well as protections through employers, landlords, and HOAs.
Perhaps the more egregious change is the elimination of Arizona’s DUI standard for marijuana impairment. Prop 207 rids the books of this law without replacing it with another clear standard of impairment. This makes it harder to prosecute impaired drivers, while we still lack the technology to gauge marijuana impairment during a roadside stop by police. This leaves police ill equipped to keep our roadways safe. Marijuana-related traffic deaths in “legal” states bear that out.
The tragedy on the roadways in these states shouldn’t come as a surprise, nearly 70% of marijuana users in Colorado admit to driving stoned, and almost a third, do it daily.
Prop 207 doesn’t limit the risks to roads. It ties the hands of employers who want to keep a drug-free workplace. The initiative forbids employers from taking any adverse action against employees based on their use of marijuana, and limits their ability to keep employees from coming to work stoned. Prop 207 only allows employers to prohibit employees from using marijuana and its high potency concentrates at the worksite. There is nothing stopping employees from using the drug, and then going to work stoned.
Consider the consequences of day care workers or employees at an elderly care facility.
The authors of Prop 207 put profits above kids by allowing the sale of marijuana-laced candies, gummies, cookies, and other snacks that appeal to kids. They further serve themselves by allowing advertising of such pot-snacks on TV, radio, and social media.
This, though we know marijuana use damages the developing brains or teenagers. It impacts learning, memory and coordination, causing academic failure, according to the Mayo Clinic. It inhibits brain development , causing permanent IQ loss, and it hinders learning, attention, and emotional responses. And, it can lead to long-term dependence.
A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that after the legalization of recreational marijuana, the number of cases of adolescent marijuana use disorder increased 25%.
States that legalized recreational marijuana have among the highest teen use rates in the nation. Is this what we want for Arizona’s future?
The marijuana sellers who wrote Prop 207 are more concerned about creating and keeping a future customer base. That’s why they made using marijuana a statutory right under the initiative, and hamstrung landlords and HOAs to ensure nothing stops their customers from growing a dozen 10-foot tall plants in their back yard; and virtually no community can ban pot shops from their neighborhoods. They even included in the proposition front porch delivery, regardless of how many kids are playing out front.
You won’t find these details in their ads, on their road signs, or even in most news reports. Instead, they tout the 16% tax that they claim will bring much needed revenue to the state. But the tax is capped, and the revenue is earmarked, assuming it’s ever realized – which is unlikely.
In the six Western states with recreational marijuana, tax revenue accounts for less than 1% of state revenues. And Colorado spends $4.50 on marijuana related expenses for every $1 in marijuana revenue.
As these details emerge, support for Prop 207 drops. A recent poll shows support at just 46%, and opposition at 45%. Another poll puts likely voter support at just 47%. These are far lower numbers than early polls indicated.
As voters consider all the facts, they must remember this key point: Arizona laws passed by ballot initiatives are almost impossible to change or fix. The state legislature cannot remedy problems that arise. Arizona would be stuck with every detail of Prop 207, just as the marijuana industry intended.
Communications and Media Specialist
The Center for Arizona Policy
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