Pubdate: Fri, 21 Oct 2016
Source: Mohave Valley Daily News (AZ)
Copyright: 2016 Mohave Valley News
Author: Rodd Clayton
SPEAKER ADVOCATES FOR ‘NO’ VOTE ON MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
BULLHEAD CITY – Proposition 205 is poorly written, creates two new bureaucracies and will greatly reduce Arizonans’ ability to affect marijuana policy in the state, Laurence Schiff says.
Schiff, a Kingman psychiatrist, outlined for the Colorado River Republican Women group several justifications for a “no” vote on the measure in the Nov. 8 election.
Proposition 205 would legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana for anyone 21 or older and tax sales at 15 percent.
He appeared on behalf of the “No on 205” campaign, but he said some aspects of the proposition make it hard even for pro-marijuana voters to support it.
He said that people who support the initiative generally make two arguments, one being that it would stop miscarriages of justice such as people being imprisoned for what many consider minor offenses, and the other being that legalized marijuana would generate revenue for the state, including for schools.
“There is nobody in jail because they smoked a joint,” Schiff said, adding that law enforcement officers frequently use marijuana laws to take off the street criminals who have broken other laws.
He said that while supporters have said legal marijuana will bring in $55 million to $70 million a year for the state, Arizona will incur “many multiples of that” in costs related to treatment, increased demand on social services, increased crime and healthcare.
The measure would establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana, and authorize local governments to regulate and limit marijuana businesses.
What would not be limited, Schiff said, is the potency of the marijuana or the THC content of edibles. He said that marijuana sold today is much more potent than that consumed in the 1970s.
Schiff also mentioned occasions of marijuana being adulterated with cocaine or PCP. The latter, a horse tranquilizer, has been known to cause violent behavior, he said.
Schiff shared anecdotes of eight or more police officers being needed to subdue a woman of slight build. He also cited studies that say about 1.3 percent of marijuana users “can become psychotic” under its influence.
Schiff said that the measure would make it harder to discipline workers who use marijuana.
Schiff also discussed marijuana as a “gateway drug,” leading users to try more harmful substances.
“A lot of people who smoke marijuana are not going to use heroin,” he said. “But if you ask anyone who uses heroin … they all started with marijuana.”
He also talked about the damage marijuana inflicts on adolescent brains, and shared some statistics from Colorado, where marijuana was legalized for recreational use in 2012.
Schiff said that backers of Amendment 64 claimed crime would go down after legalization.
However, he said, crime went up by 7 percent. Schiff did not attribute the increase to marijuana, but relayed the statistic as a rebuttal of claims of crime reduction.
Also, he said that more babies are being born with marijuana in their systems, an assertion borne out by reports from Colorado hospitals.
He also cited a study showing that accidental ingestion by children is up by 600 percent. Schiff said he did not know what number of children that amounted to.
Dr. Sam Wang is the lead author of a study that found that emergency room visits and poison-control calls for children 9 and younger who ingested pot in Colorado jumped after recreational marijuana stores opened. The overall numbers are described in that study as relatively low.
Colorado has amended its marijuana law dozens of times to address flaws that became apparent after legalization, Schiff said, but Proposition 205 doesn’t allow for similar fixes without another ballot initiative.
“If you don’t vote this down, you’ll have no say in the matter whatsoever, ever again,” he said.
Schiff said that marijuana dispensary owners are among major supporters of Proposition 205, and that pro-marijuana interests are using a state considered among the most conservative as a way of getting a foothold, with a plan to seek federal legalization after a number of states have approved its recreational use.
Supporters of Proposition 205 include U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego, State Sen. Martin Quezada and Buck Crouch, president of the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board.
Opponents include Gov. Doug Ducey, U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association.
The largest donor to the “yes” campaign is the Marijuana Policy Project, which has contributed $798,998.50 of the $3,182,009.69 collected by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, according to the latest reports from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. The Marijuana Policy Project Foundation added $241,972.38.
Schiff also urged a “no” vote on Proposition 206, which would raise Arizona’s minimum wage and mandate paid sick leave for some employees. He said that the measure would have a negative impact on small businesses.
State Rep. Sonny Borrelli also appeared, speaking briefly in opposition to both initiatives.
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