Arizonans on Nov. 2 will decide for a third time since 1996 whether marijuana can be sold and used as a medicine.
But Proposition 203 is the wrong fight for the wrong reasons and state voters would be wise to reject the measure for a better, less shameful effort to legalize marijuana use.
Trying to break down the doors of marijuana prohibition by trotting out people suffering the horrible symptoms of chronic disease who cry at press conferences about how marijuana helps them feel better is an outrage.
If you want to smoke dope to get high, fine, organize into a political committee, raise some money, educate the public then elect a majority of state and federal legislators who will change the law.
Or use the ballot box state by state to eliminate the prohibition on its recreational use – with reasonable limitations and taxation similar to those imposed on alcohol production and sales – and set up a state’s rights showdown with the federal government.
But if you think marijuana is a medicine, then the ballot box is an improper way to go about setting health care policy in this state.
Medicines belong under the purview of scientists and state and federal health regulators. The proper agency to determine the health benefits of a drug and regulate its use is the Food and Drug Administration.
Yet there is little reliable research demonstrating the consistent, beneficial effects of marijuana use. Oh, sure, there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence, and a handful of double-blind tests on using the drug to ease anxiety and reduce nausea that show benefits slightly greater than placebo.
But there is nothing comprehensive or definitive. And there is little research comparing the drug’s alleged benefits against its alleged harms, including prolonged use, so that doctors can weigh one against the other and determine the best course of treatment for their patients.
What is clear is that marijuana prohibition has failed miserably. Efforts to prevent its cultivation, importation, wholesale distribution, retail sale, possession and use have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the decades to little effect.
If you want dope, you can get it in any city in America with only a modicum of inconvenience.
Moreover, interdiction efforts have created a billion-dollar pot industry controlled outside of the country by enormous, brutal criminal cartels, and inside the country by the cartels’ associated urban criminal gangs who commit murder, kidnappings, robberies and other mayhem to control their interest in this lucrative trade. Those criminals are resisted by a billion-dollar criminal justice industry bloated with prosecutors, defense lawyers and cops who clog the courts and jails with millions of Americans who are turned into “criminals” simply because they wanted to get high, while soaking those same “criminals” and the rest of us for taxes to pay for it all.
Marijuana has similar debilitating health and cognitive effects as alcohol and it’s ludicrous to continue this expensive, futile effort to keep joints out of the mouths of Americans.
But recreational use of marijuana and medicinal use of marijuana are not conflatable and the latter should not be used to affect changes in attitudes and laws on the former.
Vote no on Prop. 203.