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Cannabis: A conflict in cash 

The bowl isn’t the only thing marijuana interests are cashing in

Doug Ducey doubled down, defending doobie deniers at an anti-marijuana summit in Atlanta April 20.

A group called Smart Approaches to Marijuana hosted a national event on the stoner sabbath to talk about how much they love hating weed.

One of the attendees, former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gen. Barry McCaffrey even said, "Medical marijuana is sheer poppycock."

Do we really need to ask at this point? We will anyway: what is he smoking?

Either through willful ignorance or perhaps a coma, McCaffrey must have missed the proven medical benefits of marijuana that have come to light since he last held the office in 2001.

At least 20 years ago the anti-marijuana organizations were more accurately named; "National drug control policy" is much closer to their agenda than "safe approaches".

Per the usual talking points, the SAM event took issue with children accidentally consuming marijuana due to colorful packaging and the appeal of edibles.

But this argument always falls a bit short of success. Which of us hasn't accidentally taken a swig of our parent's whiskey because, to a child, it looks a bit like watered-down Coca Cola?

It reminds me of a story my cousin likes to tell about the time his infant daughter accidentally got a little drunk off a bottle of fermented breast milk that had been lost in the crib for weeks. (Full disclosure: she's now a beautiful, happy, young woman loved and supported by her family.)

Where's the national coalition against fermented breast milk?

While SAM President and CEO Kevin Sabet expressed a few palatable concerns about the marijuana industry focusing on "profits over people" and a "punitive war on drugs," the point of the summit was clear.

"We're not giving up, folks," he said. "We're doubling down. This is about money now."

He's not wrong about that.

Ducey applauded the efforts—I mean cold, hard cash—of SAM in the efforts to defeat Prop 205 last November.

Sure, few in the cannabis community were really excited about Prop 205—some even say it was the opposition from within that condemned the proposition—but there's no denying that out-of-state interests played a large part in its battle.

Arizona was a battleground for marijuana interests last November as national organizations poured millions of dollars into the fate of marijuana in the state. This is indeed now about money.

But luckily, according to Ducey, there is a raft of bills headed through legislature right now to make sure that doesn't happen again. Hooray!

Several bills and referendums have been shoring up the voter initiative process making it more expensive to pay signature gatherers, increasing the likelihood of fines for initiative organizers and giving legislature more power to change the ballot measure should it pass.

How exactly does this keep out national, multi-million-dollar special interests? Ducey was as confused about the answer as I was.

"Fortunately, Arizona is a place where common sense still can work," Ducey said at the 4/20 event.

I agree, Mr. Ducey.

Common sense would say making the ballot initiative process more expensive and more difficult would hinder the ability for common people to influence the state's laws.

Common sense would say a lot of people who donated to Ducey's campaign also donated to the campaign against Prop 205, for which Ducey raised money.

Common sense would say something smells slightly skunky here, and it's not the pot.

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