I received my vote-by-mail Oregon ballot today. There was also a 6 x 9 card mailer from "No on 91" apparently intended to scare the bejeebus out of Oregon voters. The front has a collage of packages for a variety of sweet marijuana edibles ... Pot Tarts, Mile High Mint Milk Chocolate, Baby Jane, etc. Accompanying this is a line across the bottom asking, "Why experiment on Oregon's kids with these MARIJUANA junk foods?" Not only is MARIJUANA in all caps and bold, it is also colored green.
The back of the mailer has a series of lies, half-truths and distortions, among them [Reefer Madness claims in BOLD, my responses in italic]:
BIG MARIJUANA BUSINESS TARGETS KIDS with marijuana gummy bears, sugary kids cereal, ice cream, candy, and soda.
No, marijuana edibles entrepreneurs - none being big businesses in the everyday sense of that term - target CONSUMERS who grew up eating these foods and continue to eat them. Meanwhile, the law specifically disallows sales to minors.
YOUTH USE OF MARIJUANA INCREASES when availability increases.
Pot use among Colorado Teens Appears to Drop After Legalization
Marijuana use among Colorado high school students appears to be declining, despite the state’s pioneering voter-approved experiment with legalization.
According to preliminary data from the state’s biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in 2013 - the first full year the drug was legal for adults 21 and older - 20 percent of high school students admitted using pot in the preceding month and 37 percent said they had at some point in their lives.
The survey’s 2011 edition found 22 percent of high school students used the drug in the past month and 39 percent had ever sampled it.
Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey show that nationwide 40.7 percent of high school students reported ever trying marijuana and 23.4 percent said they used it in the preceding month.
Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research
But opponents still have one trick up their sleeves, and it's proven to be a powerful and effective one: the notion that relaxed regulations on marijuana will lead to a rise in marijuana use among children and teens. Florida voters, for instance, will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana this November. Organizations opposing the measure have built their campaigns around fears about underage use.
More to the point, the notion that medical marijuana leads to increased use among teenagers is flat-out wrong. A new study by economists Daniel Rees, Benjamin Hansen and D. Mark Anderson is the latest in a growing body of research showing no connection -- none, zero, zilch -- between the enactment of medical marijuana laws and underage use of the drug.
The authors examined marijuana trends in states that passed medical marijuana laws. They tracked self-reported pot use by high school students in the years leading up to and following the enactment of these laws. They conclude that the effects of medical marijuana on teen use are "small, consistently negative, and never statistically distinguishable from zero."
NO STANDARD FOR DRIVING WHILE STONED: Washington has a limit. Measure 91 has no such limit.
The state of Oregon already has standards for driving under the influence of drugs, no need to include them again in the ballot measure.
IT FEEDS THE BLACK MARKET: Like Colorado, the black market will always be cheaper than "legal" taxed marijuana.
No, it cuts into the black market by providing simple legal access. People can buy alcohol and tobacco cheaper on the black market as well. By and large they choose not to do so.
MONEY LOSER: For every $1 the government receives taxing substances like alcohol and tobacco, it spends $10 in social costs.
This comparison is meaningless. Marijuana is nothing like alcohol or tobacco and has nowhere near the level of social costs associated with these substances. Meanwhile, what are the social costs of continuing prohibition? How many lives have been destroyed, not by marijuana, but by the results of marijuana law enforcement? How many people have been killed in drug raids gone bad?
They next claim ...
OREGON CAN LEARN FROM COLORADO'S MISTAKE
- Colorado's 12-17 year old marijuana use rate is 39% higher than the national average.
This is flat out false. As per the first link, 20% of Colorado teens have reported using marijuana in the previous month, and 37% report trying it ever. The corresponding national figures were 23.4% past month use and 40.7% ever tried.
INCREASE of 57% in marijuana-related emergency room visits.
This is highly misleading. An emergency room visit is deemed "marijuana-related" if the person has used marijuana in the recent past, regardless of the cause for the visit. Someone could be brought in due to bee sting allergies, and if they had smoked any pot recently it would be recorded as marijuana-related. Furthermore, multiple studies have found a negative correlation between recent use of marijuana and emergency room visits - as though marijuana had some sort of protective effect.
INCREASE of 100% in traffic fatalities where drivers tested positive for marijuana.
There are several problems with this claim. First, they would have you believe that there has been an increase of 100% in just the past two years since Colorado legalized recreational use. The study from which ALL of these misleading statistics were taken was actually conducted over the time frame of 2007-2012, roughly the time when the medical marijuana industry was growing in Colorado. Secondly, if a person has consumed pot in the previous 3-4 weeks they can still test positive for marijuana. So a 100% increase in the number of those testing positive simply means that more people are smoking pot. And given that traffic fatalities DECREASED by almost 15% in that same time frame, it's heavy lifting to claim that increased marijuana use made the highways more dangerous.
INCREASE of 268% in poison control center calls for children (ages 0-5) for marijuana.
OMG! a 268% INCREASE! This was based on data for the three years prior to 2009 and the three years following. And while the percentage increase sounds alarming, the raw numbers were 5 versus 18. Hardly the epidemic they make it out to be. These were cases of kids getting into their parents edibles and ingesting various amounts. Of course, kids never get into other legal substances and poison themselves, just marijuana.
They then point out that a relatively small number of people in Oregon prisons are there for marijuana. What they leave out is that there are many more who visit jail due to marijuana arrests. In 2012, the last year for which numbers are available, over 2,700 people were arrested in Oregon for marijuana offenses, and over 10,000 more were issued citations for possession of less than one ounce. All of these incidents cost money, both for the persons arrested/cited, and also for the state.
They close by pointing out prominent authority figures and groups who oppose legalization, including:
Governor Kitzhaber and his opponent Dennis Richardson,
OREGON PEDIATRIC SOCIETY
OREGON ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE
OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
"The NO on 91 Committee is a broad coalition of doctors, teachers, employers, parents, and law enforcement."
I find it interesting that three of the four organizations they list are law enforcement groups. I suspect that their "broad-based coalition" may be a mile wide and a millimeter deep.