Colorado Officials Ask Arizona Prohibitionists to Stop Lying

RMLAArizona

Cannabis prohibitionists have been known to lie, from the early days of Harry Anslinger’s to the continued Reefer Madness of today, led by the likes of Sheldon Adelson, Maine Governor Paul LePage and Project SAM. The so-called quarterback of the prohibitionists, SAM Director Kevin Sabet, was just caught lying to Massachusetts voters. Every year prohibitionists will fear monger about the nonexistent “epidemic” of marijuana-infused candy given to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Most recently, Arizona prohibitionists have been caught lying about cannabis tax revenue and teen usage in Colorado and Colorado officials have asked them to stop spreading misinformation about their great state.

The cannabis industry has created thousands of new jobs and generated millions of additional tax revenue in Colorado and the state is booming. U.S. News & World Report named Denver, Colorado, the best place to live in 2016, with Colorado Springs coming in 5th. Forbes has named Denver at the very top of the Best Places for Business and Careers two years running. Boulder was named the top city for entrepreneurs by Livability.com and the #5 city overall.

Cannabis commerce has generated more than $114 million for Colorado’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, but legalization opponents in Arizona have decided to mislead voters, lying about the the tax revenue and the costs of regulations. State officials in Colorado have sent a letter to the “No on 205” campaign, setting the record straight. Hopefully, voters in Arizona will see through the latest lies of prohibitionists and will vote “YES” on Proposition 205 and bring more jobs and revenue to their state.

Full press release on the lies in Arizona from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, as well as the letter from Colorado officials:

Colorado State Officials Ask Opponents of Arizona Marijuana Initiative to Stop Airing Ads That Feature ‘Inaccurate and Misleading’ Statements About Marijuana Tax Revenue and Teen Use in Colorado

Colorado legislators sent an email to leaders of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy on Monday citing statements made in ‘No on 205’ ads and providing government documents that clearly disprove them — the full letter is pasted below and the documents can be found at http://bit.ly/2eoYROw

‘No on 205’ ads say Colorado schools did not receive the millions of dollars they were promised and that politicians spent more on regulation; actually, $138+ million went to schools and less than 10% of marijuana tax revenues was spent on regulation, according to Colorado officials who played a central role in the budgeting of marijuana tax revenues

PHOENIX — Colorado state officials are asking opponents of Prop. 205 to stop airing ads that “convey inaccurate and misleading statements about Colorado’s experience with regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use.”

In a Monday morning email to Seth Leibsohn and Sheila Polk, the leaders of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, Colorado Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Millie Hamner and Jonathan Singer cite multiple “No on 205” ads that include incorrect claims about marijuana tax revenue spending and rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado. They counter the statements with information drawn from three state government documents that they also attached to the email. (Note: The original email was signed by Steadman and Singer, and a follow-up message was sent shortly after to notify Leibsohn and Polk that Hamner had added her name to the letter).

The officials’ full letter is pasted at the bottom of this release, and the three attachments can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2eoYROw.

“As members of the Colorado Legislature who played a central role in the budgeting and appropriation of marijuana tax revenues, we feel it is our duty to set the record straight so that voters in both [Arizona and Colorado] have accurate information about this subject,” the email reads. Hamner is chair of the Colorado Joint Budget Committee and vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Steadman is a member of the Joint Budget Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, and Singer is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“We can say with certainty that the claims about Colorado marijuana tax revenues featured in your committee’s ads range from highly misleading to wholly inaccurate,” it continues.

For example, the Colorado officials highlight two “No on 205” television ads that claim marijuana tax revenue never made its way to Colorado schools and that more money was spent on regulation. They point out that more than $138 million in marijuana tax revenues has been distributed to the Colorado Department of Education, including nearly $115 million for the state’s public school construction funding program. They also note that only about $21.5 million, or 10% of marijuana tax revenues, was spent on regulating marijuana.

“We respectfully request that you stop airing or otherwise publishing campaign ads that contradict these facts. We also trust they will be reflected in any of your future communications to Arizona voters regarding Colorado’s experience with regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use.”

Statement from J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting Prop. 205:

“We applaud these Colorado officials for bringing the facts to light and join them in calling on our opponents to stop airing such overtly dishonest ads. The facts are clear. Regulating and taxing marijuana is raising tens of millions of dollars per year for schools in Colorado, and Prop. 205 will do the same for schools in Arizona.”

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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.

Letter from Colorado Officials to ARDP

Dear Mr. Leibsohn and Ms. Polk:

It has been brought to our attention that your committee has produced and aired television ads that convey inaccurate and misleading statements about Colorado’s experience with regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use.

Specifically, your ad titled “Empty Promises” features a former Colorado local school official saying, “We were promised millions of new revenues for our schools, but they were empty words.” It also features a Colorado school principal saying, “Politicians spent more money on regulation and bureaucracy than in the classroom.” Similarly, in your ad titled ”Mistake,” former Denver mayor Wellington Webb says, “We were promised new money for education. Instead, that money is going to regulation and the pot industry.”

The proponents of the initiative you are opposing and members of the Arizona media have raised questions about the validity of these claims. We have also heard from Colorado residents who read or saw stories about these ads in our local media outlets and were confused by the claims that they make.

As members of the Colorado Legislature who played intimate roles in the budgeting and appropriation of marijuana tax revenues, we feel it is our duty to set the record straight so that voters in both states have accurate information about this subject.

We can say with certainty that the claims about Colorado marijuana tax revenues featured in your committee’s ads range from highly misleading to wholly inaccurate. As you can see in the attached issue brief provided by Colorado Legislative Council staff and fact sheet produced by the Colorado Department of Education:

•    Of the approximately $220.8 million in total marijuana tax revenue distributions made in FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17, more than $138.3 million was distributed to the Colorado Department of Education to benefit Colorado schools. This far exceeds the amount that was distributed for the purposes of regulating marijuana, which included $15.8 to the Department of Revenue, $2.4 million to the Department of Agriculture, $2.8 million to the Department of Law, and less than $500,000 to the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination.

•    Of those funds, $114.9 million was distributed to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) public school construction program. When Colorado voters adopted Amendment 64, they were promised a tax on wholesale marijuana transfers would raise $40 million per year for the BEST program. That tax actually raised more than $40 million in the last fiscal year, resulting in $40 million for the BEST program in FY 2016-17, plus an additional $5.7 million for Colorado’s Public School Fund.

•    In addition to the funds raised for the BEST program and the Public School Fund, more than $5.5 million was used to increase the presence of health professionals in our schools, and more than $4.3 million was used for health-related programs in schools. In addition, $2.9 million was used for drop-out prevention programs, and $2.9 million was used for school bullying prevention and education.

It is also worth noting that more than $1.5 million in marijuana tax funds were distributed to the Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which is the most comprehensive survey of our state’s middle and high school students. As you can see in the attached fact sheet from that department, the survey’s findings contradict the claim that “marijuana use among our students soared,” which is made in your ad titled “Empty Promises.” Rates of teen use have actually remained relatively unchanged since 2009 and are in line with the national average. In fact, they were slightly lower last year than they were prior to legalization.

We respectfully request that you stop airing or otherwise publishing campaign ads that contradict these facts. We also trust they will be reflected in any of your future communications to Arizona voters regarding Colorado’s experience with regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jonathan Singer
Member, Colorado House Appropriations Committee

Rep. Millie Hamner
Chair, Colorado Joint Budget Committee
Vice Chair, Colorado House Appropriations Committee

Sen. Pat Steadman
Member, Colorado Joint Budget Committee
Member, Colorado Senate Appropriations Committee

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 128 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.