It can be argued that Cochise County has benefited from the decriminalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Though the county has just one dispensary, the crop has fueled several agricultural business ventures that have added employment and helped the economy.
Much like the wine industry — which grows most of the grapes used to make wines native to the state — the volume of marijuana grown in Cochise County is more than enough to meet the demand for all of Arizona.
If the argument on Prop. 207 was strictly economic, the benefit created in Cochise County would be a convincing reason to vote “Yes” on Nov. 3.
We’re urging you to vote “No.”
Arizona already provides ample opportunity to obtain marijuana, regardless of its restriction as a “medicinal” drug. The state has more than 200,000 license holders who have been diagnosed with one of a variety of conditions that qualify them to legally obtain the federally-restricted narcotic. There are about 120 dispensaries throughout the state, selling more than 61 tons of marijuana each year, about two-thirds of a pound per licensed user. Sales generated about $333 million in state revenue in 2019, which is far less than California ($3.8 billion), Colorado ($1.7 billion) and Michigan ($1.21 billion).
Proponents argue that state revenue will grow significantly with the approval of recreational pot. Despite that probable increase, the costs paid by taxpayers to support additional public services that will be needed if marijuana is legalized will also increase substantially.
After retail marijuana stores opened in Colorado, emergency room visits related to marijuana shot up nearly 30 percent and hospitalizations related to marijuana rose 200 percent. Poison-control marijuana exposure cases for kids ages 9 and younger increased more than five-fold in Colorado after legalization.
Marijuana-related traffic deaths rose 62 percent following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that fatal crashes involving marijuana doubled after legalization in Washington. The Highway Loss Data Institute found an increased crash risk in legal marijuana states and said collision claims in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington increased 6 percent as compared to states that don’t have legal marijuana.
Approval of Prop. 207 in Arizona isn’t doing our teenagers any favors, either. The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds using marijuana is higher in every legal marijuana state than the national average. For example, 16.21 percent of Colorado teens and 18.86 percent of teens in Alaska reported marijuana use in the past year, compared to an average of 12.29 percent for the United States overall in 2015-2016. Colorado past-month teen marijuana use jumped 20 percent in the two-year average after marijuana was legalized for adults.
Legalizing marijuana in Arizona won’t generate social justice or equity, it won’t bring the state a windfall of tax revenue and it will do nothing to stem the state’s existing issues with cartel activity. Instead, it will enrich existing corporations while leading to further harms to health, safety, and commonsense.
Vote “No” on Prop. 207 on Nov. 3.