Clergy Members Urge Arizona Voters to Support Legalization

arizona marijuana legalization proposition 205

In political campaigns, it is a cliche to state that you will fight for every vote, but it can also be a tried and true tactic. During the Measure 91 legalization campaign in Oregon, I was adamant that we shouldn’t give up on any potential voter, even if they were in a demographic that was likely to oppose us. The Measure 91 campaign could have relied upon just running up the score in Portland and liberal college towns, but it was nice to have a resounding 56% victory, instead of just barely eking out a majority. The announcement that a group of local clergy members are urging Arizona voters to end cannabis prohibition and vote “yes” on Proposition 205, is a great sign for the legalization campaign.

Arizona, barely legalized medical cannabis; it actually took a couple of days after election day for the late urban votes to come in and legalize medicinal use. We can expect a very close vote for legalization in Arizona, a traditional “red” conservative state that may just be trending “blue” this year as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton may just expand the electoral map and give Republican Donald Trump a run for his money in Arizona.

The Proposition 205 legalization campaign should help get out the vote for younger voters who are much more likely to support Secretary Clinton. While Clinton and Trump have both expressed a states’ rights position on cannabis, maybe legalization supporters can help convince Clinton to be more proactive if she sees that cannabis legalization helped her win the great state of Arizona.

The Arizona Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign released a press release as well as a letter signed by clergy members

PHOENIX — A group of local faith leaders is urging Arizonans to vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 205, citing a “moral obligation to support change” because current marijuana prohibition laws “cause significant harm to individuals families, and society.” In an open letter to voters, Arizona clergy members representing various faith backgrounds explain why they support regulating marijuana like alcohol.The full letter is available at the bottom of this release.

It is also signed by Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, executive director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, a national organization of faith leaders advocating for sensible alternatives to the failed war on drugs. Rev. Sharp is available for interviews Friday until 12 p.m.

“One does not have to use marijuana – or even approve of marijuana – to see that our current laws are not working, nor are they, in our view, just,” the faith leaders write. “As we seek to teach compassion and love, it seems inconsistent to support, in cases of private personal adult marijuana possession, the use of police, guns, and courts. The faith community, parents, peers, counselors, and educators are the appropriate means to address this kind of personal behavior.”

There were 151,276 arrests for adult marijuana possession in Arizona from 2005-2015, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, including 13,321 last year. Possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony under state law. Possession of up to one ounce will be legal for adults 21 and older if voters approve Prop. 205. Currently, it carries a penalty of up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

“If a punishment policy fails to meet its objectives and causes harm to humans, we have a moral obligation to support change,” the faith leaders write. “Our laws punishing marijuana use continue to cause significant harm to individuals, families, and society. In response to that harm, we support replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of strict regulation and sensible safeguards. We urge all voters in Arizona to support Proposition 205.”

# # #

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting Proposition 205, an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMarijuana.org.

PHOENIX — A group of local faith leaders is urging Arizonans to vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 205, citing a “moral obligation to support change” because current marijuana prohibition laws “cause significant harm to individuals families, and society.” In an open letter to voters, Arizona clergy members representing various faith backgrounds explain why they support regulating marijuana like alcohol.The full letter is available at the bottom of this release.

It is also signed by Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, executive director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, a national organization of faith leaders advocating for sensible alternatives to the failed war on drugs. Rev. Sharp is available for interviews Friday until 12 p.m.

“One does not have to use marijuana – or even approve of marijuana – to see that our current laws are not working, nor are they, in our view, just,” the faith leaders write. “As we seek to teach compassion and love, it seems inconsistent to support, in cases of private personal adult marijuana possession, the use of police, guns, and courts. The faith community, parents, peers, counselors, and educators are the appropriate means to address this kind of personal behavior.”

There were 151,276 arrests for adult marijuana possession in Arizona from 2005-2015, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, including 13,321 last year. Possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony under state law. Possession of up to one ounce will be legal for adults 21 and older if voters approve Prop. 205. Currently, it carries a penalty of up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

“If a punishment policy fails to meet its objectives and causes harm to humans, we have a moral obligation to support change,” the faith leaders write. “Our laws punishing marijuana use continue to cause significant harm to individuals, families, and society. In response to that harm, we support replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of strict regulation and sensible safeguards. We urge all voters in Arizona to support Proposition 205.”

# # #

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting Proposition 205, an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. For more information, visithttp://www.RegulateMarijuana.org.
Clergy Letter to Arizona Voters

We are clergy in Arizona united in our support of Proposition 205. This measure will regulate, tax, and control marijuana like alcohol. It will limit legal use to adults 21 years of age or older and generate tens of millions of dollars for public schools and education programs annually.

As clergy, we have the responsibility and the credibility to talk about what policies serve our community best. One does not have to use marijuana – or even approve of marijuana – to see that our current laws are not working, nor are they, in our view, just.

In Arizona, taxpayers spend millions of dollars annually to arrest, prosecute, cite and process thousands of people — disproportionately Latinos and African-Americans — for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Over 150,000 adults have been arrested for marijuana possession in Arizona since 2005. These arrests, even when they do not lead to incarceration, ruin lives.

For decades, marijuana prohibition has been inefficient, wasteful, and counterproductive. By all measures, Arizona’s marijuana laws have failed. In addition to the millions of dollars spent on enforcement, our police waste precious time enforcing these policies. This is time that could be directed toward preventing violent crimes. Despite all these efforts, about three-quarters of teenagers in national surveys consistently report that marijuana is “fairly or very easy to get.”

As we seek to teach compassion and love, it seems inconsistent to support, in cases of private personal adult marijuana possession, the use of police, guns, and courts. The faith community, parents, peers, counselors, and educators are the appropriate means to address this kind of personal behavior.

We should work to make our communities safer. Illegal marijuana sales are the foundation for criminal markets that operate in every community in our state. When people, both old and young, seek to purchase marijuana in the underground market, they are often exposed to – and are encouraged to purchase – far more dangerous substances.

We need to break the link between marijuana and more dangerous drugs. And we can do so by shifting sales of marijuana out of the criminal market and into regulated businesses that check ID’s for age and generate tax revenue for needed services.

How we punish people and what we punish them for are central moral questions. If a punishment policy fails to meet its objectives and causes harm to humans, we have a moral obligation to support change. Our laws punishing marijuana use continue to cause significant harm to individuals, families, and society. In response to that harm, we support replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of strict regulation and sensible safeguards.

We urge all voters in Arizona to support Proposition 205.

Rev. Sherman Fort
Senior Pastor, Canaan Missionary Baptist Church
Mesa, AZ

Rev. Terry Sims
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Sunrise
Sunrise, AZ

Rev. Bart Smith
Pastor, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church
Tucson, AZ

Rev. Warren Stewart, Jr.
Lead Pastor, Church of the Remnant
Phoenix, AZ

Rabbi Dr. Schmuly Yanklowitz
President and Dean, Valley Beit Midrash
Phoenix, AZ

Rev. Jim Wiltbank
Pastor, St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church
Tucson, AZ

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp
Executive Director
Clergy for a New Drug Policy
Clergy Letter to Arizona Voters

We are clergy in Arizona united in our support of Proposition 205. This measure will regulate, tax, and control marijuana like alcohol. It will limit legal use to adults 21 years of age or older and generate tens of millions of dollars for public schools and education programs annually.

As clergy, we have the responsibility and the credibility to talk about what policies serve our community best. One does not have to use marijuana – or even approve of marijuana – to see that our current laws are not working, nor are they, in our view, just.

In Arizona, taxpayers spend millions of dollars annually to arrest, prosecute, cite and process thousands of people — disproportionately Latinos and African-Americans — for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Over 150,000 adults have been arrested for marijuana possession in Arizona since 2005. These arrests, even when they do not lead to incarceration, ruin lives.

For decades, marijuana prohibition has been inefficient, wasteful, and counterproductive. By all measures, Arizona’s marijuana laws have failed. In addition to the millions of dollars spent on enforcement, our police waste precious time enforcing these policies. This is time that could be directed toward preventing violent crimes. Despite all these efforts, about three-quarters of teenagers in national surveys consistently report that marijuana is “fairly or very easy to get.”

As we seek to teach compassion and love, it seems inconsistent to support, in cases of private personal adult marijuana possession, the use of police, guns, and courts. The faith community, parents, peers, counselors, and educators are the appropriate means to address this kind of personal behavior.

We should work to make our communities safer. Illegal marijuana sales are the foundation for criminal markets that operate in every community in our state. When people, both old and young, seek to purchase marijuana in the underground market, they are often exposed to – and are encouraged to purchase – far more dangerous substances.

We need to break the link between marijuana and more dangerous drugs. And we can do so by shifting sales of marijuana out of the criminal market and into regulated businesses that check ID’s for age and generate tax revenue for needed services.

How we punish people and what we punish them for are central moral questions. If a punishment policy fails to meet its objectives and causes harm to humans, we have a moral obligation to support change. Our laws punishing marijuana use continue to cause significant harm to individuals, families, and society. In response to that harm, we support replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of strict regulation and sensible safeguards.

We urge all voters in Arizona to support Proposition 205.

Rev. Sherman Fort
Senior Pastor, Canaan Missionary Baptist Church
Mesa, AZ

Rev. Terry Sims
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Sunrise
Sunrise, AZ

Rev. Bart Smith
Pastor, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church
Tucson, AZ

Rev. Warren Stewart, Jr.
Lead Pastor, Church of the Remnant
Phoenix, AZ

Rabbi Dr. Schmuly Yanklowitz
President and Dean, Valley Beit Midrash
Phoenix, AZ

Rev. Jim Wiltbank
Pastor, St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church
Tucson, AZ

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp
Executive Director
Clergy for a New Drug Policy

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 123 Articles
Anthony Johnson, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, is the director of New Approach Oregon, working to effectively implement the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature, before regulatory bodies,and at city councils and county commissions across the state.He was proud to work as Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort and director of the Vote Yes on 91 PAC, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. He also advises cannabis entrepreneurs on how to comply with Oregon's laws and helps organize the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference. Anthony's blogs on are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization. You can see his work here at WeedNews.co as well as MarijuanaPolitics.com.