The introduction of Ballot Measure 2 is providing Alaskans great opportunity for a lot of questions, answers and a host of testimony surrounding the pros and cons of marijuana access for all uses. Recreational and medicinal users coupled with caretakers and victims of marijuana abusers are bravely engaging in public hearings around the state expressing how marijuana is either helpful or hurtful.
The proponents of this initiative are relying on notions that THC is better than and will curb alcohol consumption. They smack at opponents for having reefer madness and a prohibitionist mindset. Meanwhile opponents are exposing flaws in an initiative that is loaded with vague unwritten intentions and takes away local control of communities from pot importation, cultivation, and/or advertisements. This topic is worthy of more discussion and analysis, that needs more time than the weeks we have left to vote.
If initiative 2 passes it would enact the production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana and all its derived edibles that would rival the candy and snack section of a convenience store. Alaskans should not allow themselves to be the petri dish for this experiment especially when we can learn from those states who are already wrestling with the consequences of legalization. The big idea of the National Marijuana Policy Project behind this initiative is to see that a marijuana industry, just like alcohol and tobacco is developed in Alaska. I urge we pause and ask if the idea of promoting increased use of another harmful intoxicant is good for Alaska.
With the advent of medical marijuana allowances in other states, proponents of this initiative suggest everything about marijuana is good or better for you. They make unreasonable comparisons to alcohol, calling it “safer” and cite medical claims that are false, exaggerated, or invariably unique to the individual user. While medicinal applications and useful hemp products are notable, this initiative does not target that nor address our flawed laws that need re-structuring for controlled medical access and use. Instead it is written for much broader and harmful prospects.
Proponents accuse opponents of being prohibitionists, yet Alaska has de-criminalized marijuana use and already allows small amounts in possession and plants to be grown in the privacy of homes. According to the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police and the Alaska Department of Corrections, there are currently no inmates incarcerated solely due to simple marijuana possession.
Proponents claim opponents are inducing fear and have “reefer madness”, yet they are actually cutting through the smoke and seeking “reefer clarity”. Increased pot use around the country has invoked more peer reviewed scientific studies which conclude negative health impacts of regular pot use on the brain and body. This information is complimented by testimonies from Alaskans having experiences with marijuana abuse that include insurance claims, violent outbursts, apathy, dwarfed personal development and deaths.
Pot use is not as benign as users claim and is classic cause for minimalizing true realities of life. Those who claim their problems with alcohol were relieved when they switched to marijuana examples this obscurity if not an apparent cross addiction. Summarily, negative outcomes of alcohol consumption are overt and akin to sins of commission, whereas effects of marijuana use is more covert and akin to sins of omission. The activities, or lack thereof, might look different yet results of both are eventually far-reaching and expensive.
While current cannabis consumption by a variety of users is undeniable, we should not deny its true impacts on our State if this initiative passes. Rather than supporting increased marijuana use in Alaska, we should admit to existing intake of all mind altering and addictive substances and identify the true costs. This in itself should obviate the need for cessation plans and addiction therapy programs. However to make the millions of dollars in tax revenue, and create the high paying jobs proponents claim, additional to alcohol, marijuana marketing, distribution and recreational consumption must increase substantially. This will be hugely consequential and runs counter to sustaining an already lacking local workforce for our existing industries as well as providing Alaskans a healthy socio-economic environment to thrive in.
Ballot Measure 2 is not about claiming civil liberties or rights for people as much as it is about strapping families, communities, businesses, and educators with more social costs that Alaska is already behind on facing and addressing honestly. I urge voters to take a more intelligible approach to how marijuana policies should be shaped for Alaska specifically. Big Marijuana is not the answer. Please vote No on Prop 2 and let’s re-visit all substance abuse in Alaska.
Rhonda A. Hubbard is Area Coordinator for Vote No on 2 Campaign, lifelong resident from Seward, concerned parent and business owner in the Alaska fishing, marine and transportation industries.