Arizona Legalization: Split Down Party Lines
A proposed 2016 ballot initiative would legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona. Similar to laws passed in Colorado, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow adults 21 and older to be in possession of up to one ounce and grow up to six plants for personal use only. It would also create retail shops to sell the herb with a 15% excise tax on sales. Much of the tax revenue would fund the implementation and enforcement of state regulations, while 40% would go to education.
Backers of the measure believe they could bring in more than $40 million a year for schools.
However not everyone in the Arizona government is supportive of the idea, Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, stated, “This was a pathetic display -- this marijuana cartel is trying to recruit Arizona’s educators by pledging a share of the future profits from the marijuana industry.” Alexis Tameron, chair for the state’s Democratic Party, fired back at Graham, telling the Huffington Post, “I’m not surprised the Arizona Republican Party finds itself yet again on the wrong side of history, nor am I surprised they’re opposing something that would generate so much money for our schools. Do you know that it is currently easier to obtain marijuana in Arizona’s high schools than alcohol? I’m pretty sure drug dealers and their cartel bosses don’t ask for I.D., yet well-regulated and well-run businesses that sell alcohol do. Regulating marijuana like alcohol will eventually dry up the black market, making it harder for kids to obtain it.” A recent poll seems to show agreement with Tameron, with 53% of adult heads of household in the state supporting the legalization of small amounts for personal use.
|Tribal Chairman, Gary Besaw|
A Menominee Tribe, located in Wisconsin, passed a proposal to grow both recreational and medical marijuana in an advisory referendum this month. The actual vote on the proposal will happen later in the month, but tribe members are giving mixed reviews about legalizing the substance on their land. Some members of the tribe feel marijuana is a way for the tribe to make extra money after Governor Walker rejected a proposal for the tribe to build a casino. There are other members, however, that say the drug has too many bad side effects. Ultimately if the proposal is approved growing will only be available to tribal members on tribal land. Leaders of the group realize passing the law would still create other concerns. According to abc2 – WBAY, Gary Besaw, Menominee Tribal Chairman, mentioned precautions that would need to be taken, “like making sure minors do not have access to it, gangs are not involved in it, and that it does not go outside of the reservation to place where it is illegal.”
The Oregon Court of Appeals put to rest a case from 2012 where a man’s home was searched due to a complaint about the offensive smell coming from inside. However unlike garbage or commercial industry smoke, the court ruled that the smell of marijuana is not legally offensive. The Oregon Court of Appeals declared, “For a condition to be hazardous or physically offensive, it must create some physical harm or danger. The odor of burnt marijuana does not put anyone in physical danger. City odor regulations don’t apply to the personal use of cigarettes, pipes, or marijuana.” According to the state an odor is classified as ‘physically offensive’ if it is “offensive to the senses rather than just morally or intellectually offensive.” Rotten eggs and garbage have been considered by the court to be harmful to the senses, but the court states it is not prepared to declare “that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage.”
Police in Willimanitc, Connecticut are now investigating seven synthetic marijuana overdoses that all happened within a 24hr span. While the highly dangerous drug is illegal in the state, is it still easy to acquire online. Police believe that not only are some using the synthetic substance to get high but they have also started drinking an entire bottle of cough syrup with the spice. Cpl. Stanley Parizo says the department has encountered some cases where the user has been combative to emergency crews but most have been compliant with those attempting to help. Cpl. Parizo says users have been experiencing core body temperatures of 102-104 degrees with blood pressures upwards of 200/100, complications that could potentially lead to death. Synthetic marijuana, or spice, is plant material sprayed with chemicals that is smoked. The chemicals produce a stronger high with more dangerous side effects when compared with the real stuff. Law enforcement struggles to combat the illegal substance as the packaging appears legitimate and some still believe it is safer and cheaper than smoking real marijuana. Officers feel to change the trend awareness is key. Parents need to be aware of the easy accessibility while users need to be informed of the very real dangers of smoking unknown chemicals.
Marijuana-Related Crashes Data
Marijuana has been legal in Washington for almost two years and unfortunately marijuana-related fatal crashes in Washington have nearly doubled. Data released this month shows the number of fatal accidents involving drivers who have tested positive for active marijuana went from 38 in 2013 to 75 by the end of 2014, which was the first year the plant was legal in the state. Traffic and Safety Commission members find the numbers alarming, especially since the number of alcohol related fatal crashes has been steadily declining. While only about half of the fatal crash drivers were above the state’s legal limit for marijuana-impaired driving, the commission says many of those drivers also tested positive for alcohol or other drugs.
The Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado has begun to launch a new campaign aimed at keeping teens away from marijuana. The project will cost around $2 million and includes a series of PSA’s, mostly encouraging adults to have open, honest conversations with their teens about the problems of the legalized substance. Since the retail market in Colorado has taken off, many believe the next step is youth use prevention and even the adult marijuana smokers agree. A parent and user told News Channel 13, “I think that as their brains are developing, they need that [education and prevention campaign]. I don’t think that they will reach their full potential when they are using marijuana. I think it distracts from the things they need to be focused on, preparing for their future.” Many parents are hopeful the campaign will be a success, especially as about 1 in 5 high school students in the state claim that they have used marijuana in the last 30 days, and stress that open communication may be challenging but it is crucial. The education and prevention campaign is funded by the marijuana tax revenue this year.