Chairman of the anti-legal marijuana group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, Seth Leibsohn, and a former state superintendent, Jaime Molera, aren't glorifying the possible revenue legalizing weed would bring to Arizona's education system.
Earlier in the day, the Marijuana Policy Project, which leads one of a handful of initiatives seeking to legalize weed in the state for adults 21 and over, held a press conference in Phoenix, where they discussed that their measure could generate more than $40 million annually to go toward education.
The group's measure proposes taxing marijuana at 15 percent from licensed retail stores selling to adults 21 and older. A lot of that money will be used for implementation, and enforcement of regulations. All additional tax revenue collected, 40 percent would go to the state's Department of Education for school construction, maintenance, and operating costs, and another 40 percent to the department's full-day kindergarten programs.
Leibsohn says there is no tax high enough to offset the dangers of making a "dangerous substance more widely available."
"It has no place in the conversation on positive education reform," he says in a statement.
"We know that one in six adolescents who experiment with marijuana will become addicted, that today’s marijuana is far more potent and damaging than the marijuana of the past, and that marijuana use can lead to lower IQs, higher propensities to drop out, impaired cognitive function, negative changes in the brain, and a rise in suspensions and expulsions," he says. "There's no tax high enough to offset the risks of making a dangerous substance more widely available in our society, and it has no place in the conversation on positive education reform."
To what Molera adds: “To regulate marijuana like alcohol, knowing all the damage alcohol causes in our school-aged population, is an education, social, and financial policy disaster. One cannot legalize a dangerous substance for adults and expect it to be kept out of the hands and brains of our youth — that is why far more Arizona students currently use alcohol than marijuana. Legalizing marijuana will mean more students will use a dangerous substance that negatively affects every single outcome that serious education professionals have dedicated their lives to improving."
MPP has to collect more than 150,000 valid signatures to get on the November 2016 ballot. The campaign has already collected about 60,000 total signatures since May.