Too Much Weed

04-30-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lest we “go to pot,” I need your help. Tempe City Council is being asked to expand the number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Tempe. Currently there are two Dispensaries in Tempe. Tempe has already expanded the hours of operation for these two and reduced the age to purchase medical marijuana from 21 to 18. While there are a little over 4,000 people in Tempe with medical marijuana cards, the two Dispensaries report that their sales are well below inventory. Which means there is no need for access to additional Dispensaries in Tempe. Also, it should be noted that a person with a medical marijuana card can purchase marijuana at any licensed Dispensary in the State. And many of them advertise “home delivery”, so you don't even need to go to the local dispensary to obtain marijuana.

Thankfully, the voters of Arizona voted down Proposition 205 in November, which called for the legalization of recreation use marijuana. Expanding the number of dispensaries is a back door way to achieve the goal of Proposition 205. Here’s why: the teens we have coming to our Full Circle Youth at Risk Program all report that they obtain marijuana from people who have a medical marijuana card. In fact, they tell us that buying marijuana is a lot easier and less expensive than purchasing tobacco! Young people today smoke more marijuana than cigarettes. Most of our teens get introduced to mind altering substances via marijuana. Many young people will tell you that they see no harm in using marijuana and, in fact, it is a sort of health food used for medicinal purposes. Expanding access to marijuana only reinforces that myth to our young people. Of course, the more people use marijuana for non-medical reasons, the more likely they will be to support legalization for recreational purposes.

At the first City Council hearing on the request to open more Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, the Council members seemed skeptical that more were needed. They are, of course, worried that if they say no, they will be sued by the very wealthy and powerful marijuana industry. My advice to them is that they should be prepared to be sued and to make their case as the regulations allow cities to regulate zoning and other aspects of dispensary locations and operations. Suing is part of what the marijuana industry does so it can have things on its terms. And its terms are maximum profit. The day after the original Medical Marijuana Proposition was passed, there were at least a dozen lawsuits filed just so Big Marijuana could make sure it got its way during implementation. Make no mistake - the marijuana industry is the new “Big Tobacco,” with all its deceptions and health complications.

Dr. Michael Crowe, President of ASU, is opposing the expansion of Dispensaries in Tempe . Obviously, as he is responsible for tens of thousands of young students, he knows the effects that making marijuana even more available and having dispensaries located in greater proximity to the ASU campus will only increase enticement for young people.

I ask you to oppose the expansion of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Tempe. Contact the City Council members and express your concerns. Below are the email and phone numbers for the council members. I encourage you to reach out to them today. The next Council Meeting is on Thursday, May 4, at 6pm, and you are welcomed to attend and speak.

Mark Mitchell  480-350-8793
Lauren Kuby  480-350-8507
David Schapira  480-350-8510
Kolby Granville  480-350-8796
Robin Arredondo Savage  480-350-8792
Randy Keating  480-350-8798
Joel Navarro  480-350-8795

We held the line in November for outright legalization, and a few years ago, out of compassion, we approved marijuana for medical use. Let’s keep it that way and keep our community from being overwhelmed by weed.

Fr. John B.