Once Again: NO

08-30-2020Fr. John's LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

NO ON PROPOSITION 207 in November. We go down the road again of another attempt in Arizona to legalize recreational use marijuana. We have legal “medical” marijuana in AZ and in the last general election a ballot proposition to legalize recreational use marijuana failed. But the multi-million-dollar megacorporation cannabis industry will not give up. And neither should we give up defeating Proposition 207 in November. Make no mistake, for the cannabis industry it is all about profits. And those handsome profits are concentrated in a handful of marijuana growers and investors, all rich white folk, like former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who especially target poor and minority communities to sell their poison and maximize their profit.

I have previously written about this issue extensively but it may be time for a review of the facts versus the myths. This Proposition will be sold to you as “smart and safe”. It is neither. That of course is how legalized medical marijuana was sold to the voters of AZ. But what has happened since its legalization?

  • Regular use of marijuana by teens rose by 33 percent from 2016 to 2018, according to the Arizona Youth Survey.
  • One-fourth of teens have used concentrates. Often packaged as youth-friendly gummy bears or brownies, these high-THC products are up to 26 times more potent than the pot of the past and have been linked to higher incidences of psychosis. 
  • One-fourth of teens who use marijuana said they got it from a medical marijuana cardholder, and nearly 11 percent said they bought it at a dispensary—places that are supposed to be off limits to teens.

In Arizona, marijuana was listed as a contributing factor in nearly half of child deaths involving substance use in 2017, well ahead of alcohol or any other substance. The poison control center serving Maricopa County reports a tenfold increase over the past five years in calls regarding young children exposed to marijuana. Positive workplace tests for marijuana have tripled in Arizona since 2010, reaching the same level as in Colorado, according to Quest Diagnostics.

Didn't turn out so “smart” did it?

Back in 2010 the Medical Marijuana Lobby told us that if the medical marijuana use proposition was passed by voters, they would not press for the legalization of recreational use marijuana. So, despite all the promises made by the proponents of the Medical Marijuana Legalization Ballot Proposition, these promises were not kept nor has medical use cannabis been restricted to those with identifiable medical conditions. So why are we now to believe many of the same arguments namely that legalized recreational use cannabis will be any “smarter or safer”? If you want to understand the impact that legalized recreational marijuana use will have on Arizona just look at the studies and impact it has had on Colorado, the first state to legalize cannabis: https://arizonansforresponsibledrugpolicy.org The findings in Colorado show a significant increase in traffic related fatalities and accidents due to cannabis impairment, large increases in emergency room visits for marijuana poisoning especially in children. Another statistic we should carefully consider, since we live in the midst of one of the largest Public Universities in the country: College-age use increased 18 percent and is 60 percent higher than the national average in Colorado. Marijuana use is the number one indicator that someone will go on to use opioids. Right now, the Opioid Epidemic is giving COVID a serious run for its money. In fact, since the beginning of the Pandemic I have offered more Funeral Masses for overdose victims and victims of alcoholism than I have for COVID deaths.

Didn't turn out so “safe”, did it?

We have a lot to lose if AZ legalizes recreational marijuana use. Any increase in tax revenue will be offset by the cost of increased traffic accidents, hospital visits, including mental health visits and hospitalizations, increasing healthcare costs as well as the cost of social and family conflict. But get ready AZ for a strong and very well-funded propaganda campaign to convince you that “it’s just pot”. Except it’s not your father’s pot any more. The potency of today’s cannabis is nothing like the stuff you smoked in the 70’s and it is very harmful especially to the developing adolescent brain.

While we are being told to “Mask Up AZ” so that we each can help protect others and the common good including Public Health, we need to also “Vote NO on 207 AZ” so that we can protect our children and young people and our Public Health at large. Let’s flatten this curve and stop the spread of marijuana use in AZ. We can stop promoting drug use and increasing drug abuse by voting NO on 207 in November.


Fr. John B.