Letter: It must be ‘Prohibition Season’ once again
After seeing the letter to the editor that decried the legalization of adult use cannabis included a few questionable opinions that were presented as factual I have some observations.
Regarding the industry ‘pushing’ for legalization, while the industry is funding the initiative and signature collection the citizens are the final arbiters of this issue.
Or at least they have tried to be. To be clear, medical cannabis passed with 65% of the vote in 1996 only to be rebuffed by the legislature, leading to a veto referendum passing in 1998 (the voters again wanting medical cannabis) but the initiative had wording issues and was ineffective.
That eventually led to the voter protection act that would ensure the legislature could not derail voter initiatives in the future.
In 2002, Prop. 203 failed with 43% of the vote, leading to eventual passage of Prop. 203 in 2010 with over 50% of the vote, despite efforts by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to defeat the measure.
That brings us to Prop. 205 in 2016. As with previous initiatives, the prohibitionist rhetoric was bombastic. In the end, the measure lost by about 2% of the vote.
So while the cannabis industry may be funding the ability for voters to have the chance to make their voices heard (now for the sixth time), there are just as many, if not more, industries funding the opposition. Alcohol, Las Vegas casino owners and opiate manufacturers spent over $6.3 million in an attempt to deny the voters their voices and votes in 2016. Imagine all of the drug treatment and education programs that money could have provided were it not spent to silence the 5th attempt to vote for cannabis in 2016.
Now that we know the past, I will provide a glimpse of the future. You can expect a steady stream of letters from medical professionals (it would be career suicide to not support prohibition when the county attorney comes calling right?), law enforcement professionals (another industry of its own), concerned citizens, bereaved mothers and even from our own county attorney.
That stream of letters will include alarming warnings about ‘slippery slopes’, the health and welfare of the youth, and every possible negative stereotype of a cannabis consumer.
They will cite ‘professionals’, studies and shocking statistics. A closer look will reveal that the ‘professionals’ are professional prohibitionists that may make a living on it, the studies and those shocking statistics are the result of cherry picking and outright misinformation. I have read the studies they cite and found even the conductors of them concluded that they were inconclusive or statistically insignificant so many times.
We could go back and forth endlessly on the individual claims and falsehoods, but I simply ask this: Who has been making those same claims for decades? Who has said the world as we know it will cease to exist with a pot shop on every corner and gangs in the streets? Who claimed that we needed to ‘wait and see’ how Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Michigan, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts turned out?
The same people have been telling you the same things for at least 23 years. None of it has come true.
So as we enter the next ‘Prohibition Season’, simply ask yourself if you should trust anyone that told you things that would happen for over 23 years and they never happened?
What we have seen is that the current medical system has over 205,000 patients that are less likely to be using, dieing from or addicted to opiates.
Those same people are walking among you daily as trusted co-workers, friends, employees and professionals just trying to live a peaceful life and avoid prescription drugs and alcohol.
Yet they will be painted as ‘less than’ decent people, as the stereotypical ‘stoner’ or inferior parents and so on. Even current legal card holding patients are still being targeted and felonized after they paid their own fees and purchased medication at state licensed dispensaries.
If we are still trying to felonize hard working, taxpaying, law abiding, state licensed patients what makes us think that voting -- against -- cannabis legalization isn’t the true ‘slippery slope’ here.
If we fail to learn from the past 23 years of prohibition, fear and stigma generated against cannabis and it’s consumers … then we will be destined to repeat that failure again and again.