As the chair of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, I’m often accused of not understanding the repercussions of the criminal justice system, as if I live in a world where drugs don’t exist and nothing bad happens. Trust me, I understand. I have visited someone I love in jail. In rehab. In prison. I’ve seen an underweight, paranoid person be taken away, and a healthy, more educated individual return. Only to witness the cycle repeat over and over again.

For the record, I’ve never seen this person drunk. And I know for a fact this path started with marijuana. My phone rings at night and I wonder if this is the dreaded call. I’ve seen it age my parents. I’ve watched them cry, fight, love fiercely, and never give up. I watched a village of people come together to ensure three scared and sad kids don’t go down the same path.

So, do I believe our criminal justice system could do better? Probably. Do I know that not everyone is fortunate to have a support system and resources to help endure the battle? I do.

But I also know states that legalized recreational marijuana have among the highest teen use rates in the nation. I know that young brains are developing far past the age of 21, and marijuana negatively impacts that development. It causes permanent IQ loss, and it hinders learning, attention, and emotional responses. And, it can lead to long-term dependence.

I know that today’s marijuana is far more potent than the marijuana of the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. As late as 1990, the average THC level of a joint stood at 4 to 5%. Today, it's more than 15%, and up to more than 80% when consumed in a concentrated form, such as what is used in vape pens. These vaping devices eliminate the distinct marijuana odor, so parents and teachers don’t even know it’s a problem until its too late.

I know that children don’t understand that when eating pot-laced snacks, you take one bite of a cookie or candy bar, or a single gummy. The little ones certainly can’t tell if the goody is infused with THC, and the older ones aren’t patient enough to let the single dose take effect. So, they take another bite, or the whole cookie, a full ten servings.

Which leads me to this: If you support criminal justice reform, I’ll stand beside you to work with law enforcement and prosecutors. But Prop 207 is not the answer. In fact, I would argue that this self-dealing measure, written and paid for by big marijuana sellers, is designed to attract and keep a customer base. They have invested more than $5 million in Prop 207, all to serve themselves at the expense of Arizona citizens and taxpayers. Arizonans young and old; Arizonans of all races and genders, from big cities and rural towns, and different socio-economic backgrounds.

If you think for one minute the marijuana billionaire cares about you, think again. Because, when writing Prop 207, he didn’t remove the requirement for a medical director for your wellbeing. He didn’t allow advertising on all platforms for your benefit. He didn’t remove the only clear standard of impairment on the roads for your safety. He didn’t limit an employer’s ability to keep a drug-free workplace for your good. And, he didn’t base it all on transforming not-for-profit medical dispensaries into for-profit businesses for your prosperity. He did it to enrich himself, at the expense of your family and mine.

Don’t be fooled. Vote no.

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