Proposition 205, which would have made marijuana legal for recreational use, was shot down by Arizonans this past November. But not by a large margin, the vote was 52% no and 48% yes. Solve the city believes Arizonans should continue to shoot down legislation seeking to legalize marijuana in the state. Legalizing marijuana for recreational use would be an experiment on Arizonans as very little data exists on the long term implications of doing so, does very little to reverse mass incarceration as criminal justice reformers seek to achieve, and adds an insignificant amount of tax revenue to the bottom line.
The long term implications of the legalization of marijuana and it’s affects on society are unknown as data is just now starting to be generated and compiled years after the first states passed such laws. This fact infers that the states that have passed such laws are being the lab rats for the rest of the country. And they will continue to be for the next decade as no solid study will be available until enough data has been gathered, analyzed, and presented to the public. Arizonans, there’s no need to become lab rats, there are enough of them already. Eight states in the union have legalized marijuana for recreational use as of November 2016; Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, D.C, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Lab data gathered from these states over the next ten years will provide Arizonans with solid data to make a sound decision on whether marijuana should be legalized, wait until then. When people wonder why you keep shooting down the legislation, simply say, we are in the data collection mode and waiting for results.
Now, onto the SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors) concern with mass incarceration. Decriminalizing marijuana possession, selling, etc., they say, will help fix the ever growing issue of prison over crowding or the disparity that exist within the system with minorities being locked up at a higher rate. I concede that prison over crowding is an issue that needs to be addressed, however, the criminalization of marijuana does not explain this problem. In the March 2010 report put together by Daryl R. Fischer, Ph.D. for the Arizona Prosecuting Attorney Advisory Council entitled “Prisoners in Arizona – A Profile of the Inmate Population”, it breaks down the prison population by crime. Of the 40+ thousand inmates of the Arizona penal system, only 190 were there for marijuana possession. These prisoners served a median sentence of 0.65 years. Trying to make progress in the criminal justice reform effort by decriminalizing marijuana when those affected make up only 0.475% of the overall population, is not only a waste of time but also a waste of resources. Arizonans can remain at peace when rejecting future legislation attempting to get the state high, knowing that mass incarceration is not a function of marijuana possession.
Lastly, the amount of new tax revenue brought in by marijuana is estimated to be roughly 100 million dollars, approximately 0.7% of the total tax revenue collected in 2015. After paying for government cost, only a fraction of the generated revenue will actually reach the public school system and health programs targeting prevention as was intended by proposition 205. Arizonans know that the funds generated by legalized marijuana will not make an impact to the public school system or drug prevention programs, therefore, should not base future decisions to vote for legislation that legalizes marijuana on the hope that the additional tax revenue will be of great benefit. Arizonans are smart, they can brainstorm and come up with more effective ways to generate new revenue that doesn’t involve legalizing a gateway drug.
In conclusion, there was no real solid reason to legalize marijuana in Arizona in 2016, there likely will not be a reason to in 2018, 2020, and beyond. Allow the lab rats and guinea pigs of the eight experimental states to generate enough information so that the intelligent people of Arizona can make a data driven decision in future elections. Don’t worry about those who would make you feel guilty for not voting for legalization by mentioning the problem with mass incarceration, because, there’s no connection. And do not by amazed by the potential millions of dollars in new tax revenue, because, it pales in comparison to the already thirteen billion being generated and will pale even more when only a small fraction of that remain after the government has paid it’s cost.
Arizonans, keep watch and keep shooting down recreational marijuana.