Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries came under fire Wednesday for using his public email account to widely distribute an email from a leader of a committee formed to oppose Prop. 205. The email, written by Seth Leibsohn of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, included the subject line, “Alcohol ‘safer’ than marijuana,” and featured a link to information about marijuana and alcohol.
On Thursday, the chairman of the committee formed to support Prop. 205, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), sent the following email to Jeffries to request equal treatment.
Subject: Marijuana safer than alcohol
Director Jeffries –
We appreciate your interest in Proposition 205 and your desire to provide information to your subordinates about the measure. In order to ensure that you are not attempting to influence the outcome of the election, we hope you agree it is appropriate to distribute to that same email list the information that we have compiled on the same topic covered in the email you forwarded from Seth Leibsohn of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. To be fair, we have made the subject of this email similar to Mr. Leibsohn’s so that you can simply forward it in a similar manner. Thank you in advance for providing equal treatment to both sides in this debate.
Here is a link to information we have compiled about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol:
Chairman, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
In July 2015, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion in which he concluded that it is impermissible to use public resources for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. As noted in that opinion, “‘Influencing the outcomes of elections’ means … supporting or opposing a ballot measure, question or proposition.” Experts believe that a government distribution list of more than 7,000 employees constitutes a “public resource” and sending information to that list is considered use of that public resource.
Statement from CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak:
“By circulating ‘information’ heavily slanted against Prop. 205, Director Jeffries has clearly acted in violation of the Attorney General’s July 2015 opinion prohibiting the use of public resources to influence the outcome of an election. To rectify the situation, we have asked him to circulate a link to facts we have compiled on same topic as the earlier email — the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol.
“In truth, virtually every objective study ever conducted has concluded that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana is less addictive, less toxic, and far less likely to be associated with violent behavior. By providing this additional information, Director Jeffries will expose employees to both sides of this important issue so they can judge the facts for themselves.”