Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jul 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Authors: Seth Leibsohn and Sheila Polk
Note: Seth Leibsohn chairs Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.
Sheila Polk is the Yavapai County Attorney and vice chair of ARDP.


If insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting 
different results, no word better describes the legalization of 
marijuana for recreational use in Arizona.

Colorado and Washington, the first states to do this, have seen 
increases in teen use of marijuana, traffic fatalities, and emergency 
room visits (including of toddlers) - all tied to marijuana. In 
Denver, home of most of the pot shops, more than one in three 11th- 
and 12th-graders are now regular marijuana users, an increase of 20.5 
percent from two years ago, according to the latest Colorado youth survey.

Arizona should expect similar results, especially since this 
initiative is full of protectionism for the marijuana industry. 
Written by out-of-state lobbyists and Arizona marijuana-business 
owners, it creates two new government agencies, including a 
seven-member commission with three members mandated to come from the 
industry so they can "regulate" themselves.

The proponents' claim that this initiative regulates marijuana like 
alcohol is disingenuous. The alcohol industry doesn't dream of being 
treated as lightly as this initiative would treat marijuana. At every 
opportunity to advance public safety, the initiative protects 
marijuana use instead:

Using marijuana under the proposed initiative becomes a legal right. 
Someone who shows up for work drunk can be disciplined or fired based 
on an alcohol test. But under this initiative, showing up for work 
impaired by marijuana would be shielded from discipline until after 
the commission of an act of negligence or malpractice.

Any driver with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 percent is legally 
drunk. The Arizona law would prohibit a THC limit from ever being set.

Penalties for a minor using a fake ID to buy marijuana would be far 
lower than for his friend who uses a fake ID to buy alcohol. Same for 
someone selling marijuana to a minor using a fake ID.

The experiment in Washington and Colorado shows how disastrous this 
proposal is.

Fatal accidents involving drivers who recently used marijuana more 
than doubled in Washington in the year after legalization.

The rate of people going to Colorado emergency rooms with 
marijuanarelated symptoms rose 44 percent from 2012 to 2014.

Employers there report having to hire out of state for a sober workforce.

Just as in Arizona, marijuana's apologists in Colorado and Washington 
said they wanted to keep marijuana away from children. It didn't work 
out that way there and it won't be different here.

And this is why that matters: Marijuana is "addicting, has adverse 
effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both 
cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated 
with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes," 
according to the American College of Pediatricians.

At what cost? According to the Arizona legislative budget staff, 
expected revenue from legalizing marijuana could put $30 million into 
our education system, barely 0.33 percent of what Arizona now spends.

Now balance that minimal amount against the costs of treatment, 
tragic loss of life from traffic fatalities, workplace accidents, or 
the lost potential of young brains harmed by marijuana.

This law would contribute nothing positive to Arizona. Instead it 
exacts a tremendous cost, all to benefit a handful of 
marijuana-industry insiders. Arizonans do not need this and will not 
be able to afford it. The price is too high.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom