Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


NO on Prop 207

10-11-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Catholic Bishops of Arizona have taken a position against Prop 207 (The legalization of recreational use marijuana and hashish in AZ). They ask us as Catholics and faithful citizens to consider the harmful effects that passage of Prop 207 would bring to our young people and our communities in general. The harm is not theoretical or hypothetical but is based on the experience of US states that have legalized recreational marijuana as well as the increased use of marijuana in AZ since the legalization of medical marijuana.

For instance in Colorado, the state has seen a huge increase in infants born with THC (the psychoactive agent in marijuana), increased rates of marijuana poisoning in children (many marijuana products are sold in candy form, such as gummy bears), because of the very high levels of THC present in today’s marijuana there is also a large increase in marijuana induced psychosis and schizophrenia particularly among teens. Simply put marijuana harms developing brains. Colorado also has seen an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities with drivers who test positive for THC. In AZ, 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. Maricopa Poison Control Center reports a ten-fold increase over the past $ve years in calls regarding young children exposed to marijuana. Read more about Colorado’s and other states failed experiment with recreational marijuana at www.arizonansforresponsibledrugpolicy.org

Many people confuse decriminalizing marijuana with legalizing it for retail sale. They are not the same thing. Currently marijuana is de facto decriminalized. Very few people are arrested, jailed and sentenced for possessing marijuana. Law enforcement tends to look the other way unless it is a large amount and a person is selling or trafficking it. You can check the data from the Dept. of Justice or AZ Dept. of Corrections and see that almost no one is serving time exclusively for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Some also think that since alcohol is legal why shouldn't marijuana be legal for retail sale? (In AZ, Medical Marijuana is legal for those with a physician’s diagnosis and prescription.)

Alcohol is still our biggest substance abuse problem: alcoholism, alcohol related injuries, traffic accidents and fatalities, hospitalizations, family discord and social problems have not decreased because alcohol is legal. Adding marijuana, another intoxicating substance to the legal list only doubles our trouble.

Prop 207 is cleverly written to be as self-serving as possible to absolve the retail marijuana industry from conducting business without the usual oversight, regulation, or safety requirements like other businesses. As with all voter approved propositions it makes the legislatures ability to refine, tweak or amend the proposition very difficult. In fact, the only way Prop 207 can be amended is by another voter approved proposition or by the state legislature with an incredible 75% majority!

Prop 207 would prevent the state from regulating marijuana as it does alcohol. The state would not be able to regulate the THC potency levels in marijuana products that are smoked, vaped or dabbed. It also removes the DUI standard which has been effective in removing impaired drivers from the road and prosecuting intoxicated drivers for DUID. Prop 207 makes it very difficult to get impaired drivers off the road. Also, unlike tobacco, marijuana will be able to advertise and market on every platform including social media, TV, radio and print.

One of the big selling points is that legalized retail marijuana would increase tax revenue. Prop 207 conveniently caps the tax at 16ij and the evidence from other states is that they never met their projected tax revenue from the sale of marijuana. (California marijuana retailers are very frustrated with the amount of regulations and high taxes in CA so the writers of Prop 207 made sure they eliminated those obstacles.) Part of the reason for lower than anticipated tax revenue is ironically legalized marijuana has caused the black market to flourish since you can get it tax free from the dope dealer. Legalization allows the black market to hide in plain sight. Additionally, while Legislatures often increase the tax on alcohol to help pay for the medical costs and social damage associated with alcohol abuse and to provide prevention and education in our schools. Prop 207 would not allow any tax increase and does not allot any tax revenue to fund K-12 education or prevention. Prop 207 drains the Medical Marijuana Fund in AZ to zero to pay for costs associated with getting Prop 207 up and running and also to partially fund DUI Enforcement and Substance Abuse Programs. Ironically, they are tacitly admitting that our roads will have lots more intoxicated drivers and our families and communities will see an increase in substance abuse.

Workplaces that depend on a safe and sober workforce, like those in the childcare, senior care and healthcare industries will not be able to do much if their employee tests positive for marijuana since Prop 207 creates a personal right to use marijuana. Prop 207 makes it very difficult for employers to maintain safe and drug-free workplaces.

The Bishops of Arizona in asking us to vote no on 207 are reminding us of our moral obligation to the common good and to the welfare of each human person, especially our vulnerable young people. Prop 207 would cause harm to many people, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, increase healthcare and social costs, and contribute to further degrading our communities by fostering more substance abuse and the myriad problems that come with it. Along with our Bishops I ask you to vote NO on 207.

Love,

Fr. John B.

PS Support the efforts to defeat 207 at: www.nopropuesta207.com and www.no207az.com

BACK TO LIST