Arizona has emerged as a fierce battleground in marijuana legalization and lawmakers aren’t too happy about it.
Arizona is expected to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana after an advocacy group submitted more than 420,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot. But opponents have already attempted to de-legitimize state legalization in a lawsuit and a new adversary with a powerful position has also emerged — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
An official state voter guide argument was published last Monday and included commentary from notable figures on upcoming ballot initiatives. Ducey submitted an argument against legalizing weed in Arizona, calling it “a bad idea based on false promises.”
“We know from states that have fully legalized marijuana that it has real consequences: more deaths on highways caused by high drivers, dramatic increases in teen drug use, and more newborns exposed to marijuana,” Ducey wrote.
State Sen. Sine Kerr also wrote that she was “deeply saddened by the prospect of how this initiative would harm children.”
“Kids would become easy prey for an industry hungry to create a new generation of users,” she added. “The industry will succeed in hooking too many of our kids and stealing their potential early.”
However, studies have shown these comments to be misleading. Research indicates states have seen an increase of traffic deaths after legalizing marijuana. But those same states also experienced a stark drop off immediately following the increase, calling into question what role cannabis played in traffic deaths.
Multiple studies have shown teenage marijuana use decreasing after states legalize cannabis. One study actually claims that legalization discourages teen use.
The same voter packet also featured voices in favor of the marijuana, including comments by former Gov. Fife Symington III.
“Today the evidence is overwhelmingly clear: criminalizing law-abiding citizens who choose to responsibly consume marijuana is an outdated policy that wastes precious government resources and unnecessarily restricts individual liberty,” he wrote. “A far more logical approach would be to respect the right of adults to choose to consume marijuana while regulating and taxing its production and sale.”
A poll last month found that 62% of Arizona voters were in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis.